In case you missed it, I put some snark-free thoughts about arming South Sudan onto the computer screen over at Think Progress.
Arming South Sudan with air defense systems would put them into deeper conflict with the North, not bring the two closer to peace. Further, South Sudan’s army still doesn’t have the requisite training to use and maintain an air defense system. That poses a distinct problem when it comes to distinguishing friendly aircraft from the North’s attack aircraft. In 2007, a UN panel of experts sent a report to the Security Council documenting the North’s use of attack aircraft painted to look like UN aircraft in bombing raids of Darfuri villages. Were the North to use this tactic in the South, it could put UN aircraft at risk.
David Sullivan, a policy analyst who—to borrow from Andrew Exum’s bag of tricks—I respect very much, responded for the Enough Project, an organization which promoted sending surface-to-air missiles to South Sudan, calling them a “less bad option.”
In a recent post for Think Progress, guest blogger Lauren Jenkins raises some salient concerns about the provision of air defense capabilities to the Government of Southern Sudan, an idea that Congressman Don Payne (D-NJ) proposed during last week’s hearing on Sudan. Given that Enough endorsed this approach in a press release that same day, it’s worth taking a moment to address some of these concerns.
Salient! That’s going on the resume. But I’m pretty sure “less bad” is still bad and bad is something of which South Sudan can’t afford much more.