Darfur v. Zimbabwe: Is U.S. Foreign Policy Just An Elite Plaything?

American politics,

foreign affairs
is considered to be a more
prestigious calling than the

logrolling grubbiness
of domestic politics.

Yet it`s becoming less and less clear what America
actually gets out of the immensely complicated foreign
policy devised by our foreign affairs mavens.

Strange as it may seem to readers of the Washington
, there are countries that essentially have no
foreign policy—such as

, which has espoused

strict neutrality
for the last two centuries, and

, which was forced to

delegate its foreign policy to the Soviet Union
1945-1989—and yet are famously pleasant places to live.

The basics of a sustainable, sensible foreign policy are
simple—1) Don`t

invade anybody;
and 2) don`t

let anybody invade you.

And that`s not very hard accomplish these days. because
war has gotten too expensive to be profitable. Sure, in

age of Metternich
, foreign entanglements were
essential for any country in danger of being overrun.
Back then, most of the asset value of a conquest was in
the farmland, which war couldn`t damage. But now, most
assets are buildings, equipment, or human capital. These
are terribly vulnerable to the destructiveness of modern

So, since invading other countries is seldom profitable
nowadays, humanity is losing interest in it. The portion
of the rest of the world`s Gross Domestic Product spent
on the military has dropped to only about one and a half
percent. America, which spends about four percent of its
GDP on the Pentagon, now accounts for

almost half
of the entire world`s outlay on the

Foreign policy is becoming a luxury good indulged in by
countries during times of prosperity, such as oil-rich
Venezuela and Russia following the rise in oil prices
earlier in this decade.

Hugo Chavez
has had a

grand time
giving away his country oil earnings to
his allies in Cuba, Colombia, and elsewhere. But how his
profligacy has benefited the Venezuelan national
interest is not obvious.

Likewise, the suspicion is growing that, two decades
after victory in the Cold War, American foreign policy
is becoming an extremely expensive hobby for various
cliques of elites, who vastly overstate the benefits
that any particular foreign policy (other than a
negative policy of "Stop doing stupid stuff") can
bring to Americans.

The various foreign policy hobbyist factions can be
loosely categorized as:

  1. What

    Dwight Eisenhower
    called the

    military-industrial complex.

  2. Lobbyists, flacks,
    and intellectuals on the payroll, directly or
    indirectly, of foreign interests.
  3. Ethnic lobbies,
    such as


    , and

  4. War Enthusiasts.
    These are guys who should be spending their energies
    on what successful hypercompetitive men normally do
    across this great land of ours: bribe star

    high school football
    players to

    sign with Old State U.
    Yet, because the most
    influential Enthusiasts typically went to colleges
    with weak sports programs, such as the Ivy League or
    the military academies, they instead funnel their
    enormous competitive urges into playing the Game of Nations

    as if
    the United States of America was their alma mater`s
    team, even when there is very little national
    interest at stake. Historians may someday attribute
    much of America`s hyperactive 21st Century foreign
    policy to the lack of

    first-rate college football teams in New York City
    and Washington D.C. to soak up the aggressive
    urges of the rich and influential.

  5. The

    Stuff White People Like
    set, who demonstrate
    their moral superiority by demanding that
    something be done


    , and a handful of other fashionable
    topics. They somehow know with complete certainty
    who are the good guys and who are the bad guys in

    obscure territories on the other side of the globe.

    Of course, after they succeed in driving out the bad
    guys and the good guys inevitably begin to act like
    the bad guys they replaced, the Stuff White People
    Like people lose interest and move on to the next

John McCain is clearly a War Enthusiast. Over the last
15 years, he`s

seldom met a war he didn`t like.
He wistfully dreams
of new wars to come … if only the American people could
somehow prove worthy of them.

However, as with so much about him, it`s unclear where
Barack Obama stands. Although he`s often extolled by his
supporters as the international man par excellence, his
entire career trajectory up through his early forties
was centripetal, as he tried to remold himself from an
exotic in to a

“race man”

on the parochial

South Side of Chicago.

The only foreign countries Obama has shown much interest
in are

—where his father was born and where his friend

Raila Odinga, Luo warlord and new Prime Minister
claims (dubiously) that

Obama is his first cousin
—and Indonesia, where Obama

spent four years as a small child
. (Obama admits in

The Audacity of Hope
that he`s largely lost
touch with Indonesia.)

The common denominator linking Kenya and Indonesia is
that both were nominally capitalist allies of America
during the Cold War—much to the dismay of Obama`s
leftist parents.

Obama`s white mother
despised the Texas oilmen with
whom her Indonesian second husband, Lolo, socialized as
part of his job with the government oil company. When he
asked her to attend a business dinner with her fellow
Americans to help his career, she hissed: "They are

my people."


Obama`s economist father pushed socialism for Kenya
earning the ire of Kenya`s biggest “Big Man”,
Jomo Kenyatta. Kenyatta`s Kikuyu tribe sided with the
U.S. in the Cold War, so the Luo, their rival tribe, to
which Obama`s father belonged, were anti-American.

Has Obama`s inherited disdain for America`s Cold War
foreign policy made him skeptical about foreign policy
in general? Or does he feel we just needed a more left
wing foreign policy? Although Obama is largely running
on his autobiography, his

Dreams from My Father
, nobody seems to have
asked him these obvious questions about the influence of
his leftist parents.

would be nice to find out before the election.

Obama has, however, done a nimble job of exciting the
Stuff White People Like coterie—by repeatedly acting as
if he cares about Darfur, a god-forsaken expanse of arid
grassland just south of the Sahara in western Sudan,
where militias backed by the

central government in Khartoum have
been attacking locals.

Darfur  has become a cause célèbre among

such as

George Clooney
and Matt Damon. Obama has been

fashionable rallies
and hiring foreign policy
advisors, such as

Samantha Power
, who are passionate about America
getting involved in this huge bit of damn-all in the

middle of nowhere

Darfur`s appeal as a foreign policy issue to many
Obamaniacs is it`s utter uselessness—America has no
national interest in Darfur whatsoever, so therefore we
should get involved because it wouldn`t do us any
—thus demonstrating the purity of our

contrast, virtually

no celebrities
have expressed any interest in "raising
about Zimbabwe, a verdant country at
a pleasant altitude in southeast Africa. Over the last
decade, dictator Robert Mugabe has destroyed the economy
and driven his subjects to the brink of starvation. As
with Darfur, the U.S. has negligible national interest
in Zimbabwe. Nevertheless, in contrast to Darfur,
Zimbabwe doesn`t interest the partisans of purity
because of the unfortunate details behind why it is now
prostrate: In 2000, Mugabe unleashed his goons to beat
up and steal the farms of the efficient white farmers
who raised most of the food.

Several members of Barack Obama`s inner circle of
foreign policy advisers are leaders in the movement to
demand we

do something
about Darfur. For example, in a
2006 Washington Post op-ed entitled "We
Saved Europeans. Why Not Africans?
confidantes Susan E. Rice and Anthony Lake and Obama
superdelegate Donald M. Payne called for the U.S. to
wage war upon Sudan. After the expiration of a one-week
ultimatum, they trumpeted<

United States, preferably with NATO involvement and
African political support, would strike Sudanese
airfields, aircraft and other military assets. It could
blockade Port Sudan, through which Sudan`s oil exports
flow. Then U.N. troops would deploy—by force, if
necessary, with U.S. and NATO backing. If the United
States fails to gain U.N. support, we should act without

Similarly, in an interview entitled "The
McCain Doctrines
with Matt Bai in today`s
New York Times Magazine
[May 18, 2008], John McCain
volunteers that he`s

often thought

starting a war with Sudan,
if only a way could be
found to make it practical:

asked McCain if it was true … that he had been brought
to a more idealist way of thinking partly by the
genocides in

Rwanda and Srebrenica
. `I think so, I think so,` he
said, nodding. `And Darfur today. I feel strongly about
Darfur, and yet, and this is where the realist side
comes in, how do we effectively stop the genocide
in Darfur?` He seemed to be genuinely wrestling with the
question. `You know the complications with a place
that`s bigger, I guess, than the size of Texas, and it`s
hard to know who the

is, who are the killers, who are the
victims. It`s all jumbled up. … And yet I look at
Darfur, and I still look at Rwanda, to some degree, and
think, How could we have gone in there and stopped that

Note that, although McCain likes military adventures,
the simpler task of intervening in Zimbabwe to avert
famine does not appeal to him at all. While McCain
volunteered Darfur, the NYT`s Bai has to bring
Zimbabwe up:

then, I asked McCain, shouldn`t we go into

, where, according to that morning`s paper,
allies of the despotic president, Robert Mugabe, were
rounding up his political opponents and preparing to
subvert the results of the country`s recent national

McCain tries to spell it out euphemistically for the
journalist why a white President of the United States is
not going to depose a black tyrant who wrecked his
country by persecuting productive whites:

think in the case of Zimbabwe, it`s because of our
history in Africa,` McCain said thoughtfully."

Well, not that thoughtfully—the U.S. doesn`t
actually have much of a history in Africa.

McCain notices his mistake and tries to make himself
clear without actually mentioning the W-word:

so much the United States but the Europeans, the

colonialist history in Africa

course, Europeans had a memorable colonialist history in
Sudan, too: General "Chinese" Gordon`s

last stand in 1885

Winston Churchill`s cavalry charge
at the

1898 battle of Omdurman
, and Kipling`s

Barracks Room Ballads

`ere`s to you, Fuzzy-Wuzzy, at your `ome in the Soudan;
You`re a pore benighted `eathen but a first-class
fightin` man…

So, "colonialist" isn`t the difference between
Darfur and Zimbabwe.

Indeed, it`s closer to the opposite. What makes Zimbabwe
so unsexy compared to Darfur is that in 1965 the British
Colonial Office tried to give the colony of Rhodesia to
its black majority. But its white population

declared independence
and for

15 years resisted an international trade embargo,

building a substantial manufacturing base. Finally, in
1979, Margaret Thatcher organized the handover of the
country to Robert Mugabe.

The new President devoted the next decades to
slaughtering his

tribal enemies
, largely leaving the white farmers
alone to feed the country. In 2000, however, Mugabe
began to reward his supporters by telling them to

drive out the white minority and steal their land.

Not surprisingly, his bully boys proved to be worthless
farmers and the country has

on the brink of starvation

ever since
. Mugabe`s government has responded to the
shortages it created by
printing money,
driving the annual inflation rate up

in April 2008.

Since 2000, Mugabe has clung to power through three
elections due to the

of the black South African government, which
provides him with cheap electricity. As McCain
delicately tried to put it:

government of South Africa has obviously not been
effective, to say the least, in trying to affect the
situation in Zimbabwe, and one reason is that they don`t
want to be tarred with the brush of modern colonialism"

reality, the ruling African National Congress
sympathizes with the Zimbabwean despot as they follow
the path blazed by Mugabe a decade and a half earlier.
Oxford historian R.W. Johnson writes from Zimbabwe for

London Review of Books

since the Zimbabwe crisis first erupted in 2000,

[South African leader Thado] Mbeki had seen it as his
role to support Mugabe (while insisting that he was
using `quiet diplomacy` to solve the problem) and give
him time to carry through his land revolution (i.e. to
get rid of the white farmers) …"
do we go from here?
May 8, 2008]

contrast to Zimbabwe`s famous role in the defeat of
European white rule, Sudan is a member of the

Arab League
and the government espouses
fundamentalist Islam, so it lacks the black cred of
Zimbabwe. Granted, Sudan`s leader

Omar Hassan al-Bashir`s
complexion isn`t much fairer
than that of the typical member of the

Congressional Black Caucus.
But that little detail
gets lost in most of the Darfur coverage.

From the perspective of an American politician such as
McCain, Arabs are basically white people. Practically
every successful politician in America knows at least

Tony Rezko

wheeler-dealer who is willing to whip
out his checkbook and help a needy politician who might
someday help him get a zoning variance or an earmark.

So, the racial taboos about criticizing blacks don`t
apply as much to the Sudanese Arabs. In the American
politician`s mind, they`re just white people, more or
less. But some of them are misled by anti-Semitism or
Islamofascism or

just like the Germans were misled
by Nazism, So, it`s okay to kill them. (Indeed, for
neoconservative Darfur enthusiasts, killing Arabs is not
a bug, it`s a feature.)

But killing Mugabe`s goons? They`re black. And

they beat up white farmers
. Oh, man, that`s a whole
different kettle of fish—lots of domestic political
implications that nobody wants to touch. So few white
American politicians are excited about getting involved
on the side of whites being victimized by blacks.
There`s no domestic political profit in that!

a white American politician like McCain, Zimbabwe is the

Jena Six brouhaha
writ large. As you may recall, the
six star football players on the Jena H.S. team had been
using their

privileged position as local sports heroes
to run
amok for years, beating up people. But their coaches and
fans kept getting them out of trouble so they
could continue to star on the Jena H.S. football team.

Finally, the Six went too far when they
kept stomping a single youth
after he was
already unconscious on the ground.

So, just like in Zimbabwe, you had a gang of black thugs
outnumbering and beating up a white person. What was the
upshot? Why
Rev. Jesse and Rev. Al and all the media came to town

and denounced the

white people of Jena for their horrible racism!

was hilarious, but you can see why even a war-lover like
McCain wouldn`t want to get involved in such a directly
analogous situation in Zimbabwe.

Generally, African-American politicians have only
loosely formed an ethnic lobby comparable to the Miami
Cubans or the many boosters of Israel. From 1965 to
1994, they urged the overthrow of white governments in


South Africa
. In 1994, during the Rwanda genocide,
Bill Clinton closely monitored the Congressional Black
Caucus`s views to see if he should intervene, What he
found, however, was the African American politicians
weren`t interested in saving Tutsis. Their priorities
were celebrating

Nelson Mandela
`s victory in South Africa—and
consequently in no mood to call attention to the
problems of black-ruled countries like Rwanda—and having

U.S. military invade Haiti
to overthrow the

mulatto regime

Since then, African American politicians haven`t shown
much excitement about foreign policy, although they were
(correctly) suspicious of the Iraq Invasion. In general,
they seem to find Africa`s many troubles to be
depressing, confusing, and embarrassing.

Barack Obama, however, with his family ties to East
Africa, may prove an exception to that trend.

Africa, especially the broad belt south of the Sahara in
which Muslims and non-Muslims are most likely to clash,
will probably furnish an increasing fraction of the
excuses for American intervention over the next two
Presidential terms.

The U.S. military has quietly been building bases in
northern Kenya to combat the perceived jihad threat
supposedly emanating from Somalia. Kenya parliamentary
candidates now campaign in the U.S., soliciting funds
from Jewish groups to outspend their Muslim opponents
back home.

Likewise, the U.S. sponsored the recent Ethiopian
invasion of Somalia, a revival of the grand strategy of
Europe in the post-Crusades era in which the Pope and
kings from

1306 onward
negotiated with

Prester John, king of Abyssinia,
to open a second
front against the Musselmen.

There is increasing pressure from liberal
interventionists and neocons to

intervene militarily in Africa
along the vague
divide between the Arab-speaking and non-Arab parts of
Africa. The bad guys will be portrayed as Muslim,
fairer-skinned, and/or Arab, while the good guys/victims
will be portrayed as more authentically African—blacker,
not-Arab speaking, not Muslim. They won`t be able to
come up with a perfect division along those traits each
time, but they`ll come up with something pretty close,
like in Darfur.

hope is that Obama knows from his


that this is all hype, that Africa is of
minimal strategic important to America, that
Islamofascism in Africa is a joke, that Africa`s

go much deeper
than just the current set of Bad Guys
in power—and that America should just stay out.

But I don`t know that he knows that.

could easily picture Obama getting bullied by the
"serious people"
into intervening militarily in some
ludicrously unimportant place like Darfur just to prove
he`s tough enough and

enough. I can see Obama wrapping it all
in a lot of

rhetoric about America

paying any price, bearing any burden
to ensure

hope and change
in the strategically crucial
crossroads of the Sahel.

the other hand, to Obama`s credit, I can`t see Obama as
any more likely than McCain to get us involved
militarily in Zimbabwe. Obama

didn`t spend 20 years in Rev. Wright`s church
to put
a bunch of

white farmers
back on their farms, even though

that`s what it would take
to save hundreds of
thousands of blacks from starving.

It`s better that Africans starve than that the black
race be embarrassed—As Rev. Wright will be happy to tell

[Steve Sailer (
him) is founder of the Human Biodiversity Institute and

movie critic


The American Conservative
His website


features his daily blog.]