In conjunction with United Nations Day 2007, Amnesty International has made the call to have a Day of Action on Darfur. The Afrosphere Darfur Action Coalition has headed the call and proposes a “Day of Blogging Against Genocide” to raise public awareness and thus political pressure for the U.S. and the world to act now.
Please give to one of many humanitarian organizations listed in the side bar. The refugee camps have their own issues and at times are hard to get to with new conflicts still possible.
Educate yourself about Darfur as we suggest our previous post.
Monday in WAPO in Shankar Vedantam’s column Hoping Someone Else Fixes Everyone’s Problem tells of Stephen Gent, a political scientist at UNC- Chapel Hill wonders if the free rider problem explains the situation which seems to have wrapped it’s arms around international politics. The situations over the last few years with Darfur, Burma, Armenia and Rwanda in which everyone agrees on the situation but did or does very little to actually stop it, are used as examples.
Gent says “Everyone agreeing on something is not sufficient to cause action — that’s the free rider problem”.
“Gent recently analyzed all civil conflicts after World War II. He found that when the United States, Britain and other powers unanimously agreed with each other on the importance of some issue, they were the least likely to actually do anything about it, especially if no private benefit, such as access to oil or territory, was also involved”.
Noting that when countries have intervened to stop repression their have usually been private benefits involved.
Michael Barnett, a political scientist at the University of Minnesota argues it’s because we don’t really care about genocide in far away places, and Stephen Krasner, a Stanford University political scientist say we don’t care enough to get our soldiers killed.
All that having been said Gent says,
“It could be the public good to you is worth more than the cost of intervention,” he said. “If your interest in this country is so high you are willing to pay all the costs to get this public good for everyone, you will see unilateral intervention.”
In other words, if the pothole is right in front of your house or poses a problem especially for you, you may be willing to fix the problem on your own. Small countries do step up to the plate — when the problem is at their doorstep. African nations, not major powers, are the ones now sending peacekeepers to halt the killings in Darfur.
What it comes down to is a trade-off between what Gent calls salience — the connection a country has to another country’s problem — and the cost of doing something. Problems in nearby countries, or in places that share historical or ethnic ties, are like the pothole in front of your house.
Difficult problems in distant lands such as Burma are like potholes way down the block. For such problems, the world simply clucks its disapproval and then does nothing.
Lets make it for our public good. By making it our cause, the cause of people of all nations, something we won’t be able to live with so it must end, maybe just maybe we can help end this thing.
Participate in the Day of Action for Darfur.