Would Someone Please Send Captain Picard to Darfur

The situation in Darfur notably worsened yesterday. In response to the International Criminal Court issuing an arrest warrant for President Omar Hassan al-Bashir for war crimes, the Sudanese government quickly moved to expel thirteen humanitarian groups serving over a million displaced people in Darfur. While leaders at the UN and Secretary Clinton  have been vocal in condemning al-Bashir, most of the American left has been strangely silent.

After Obama’s victory in November, optimism flourished at the UN and in diplomatic circles that the United States would reclaim a leading role in multinational organizations. One of the chief criticisms of George W. Bush’s presidency was the United States' failure to work with international bodies like the UN and the ICC in shaping world policy. Even W’s old man took his son to task on this. With the ICC’s indictment of al-Bashir and recent developments in the ongoing tribunals to prosecute war crimes in the Balkans, the moment would seem to be ripe for a renewed debate on the United States' future involvement in international organizations and world governance.  


This discussion has yet to take place. While there has been some movement on Sudan, leading progressive and radical journals remain silent on the al-Bashir indictment and what the Obama administration can and should do in terms of the ICC and the UN. While celebrities have attempted to stir American opinion on Darfur, it is discouraging to see well-established periodicals miss the bigger question--what is the United States' role in the international community in the 21st century?

Support for a strong framework to craft and enforce international law has never been strong in the United States despite the occasional expansive politician, rousing bestseller and iconic intellectual supporting it. NGO's and activists push for a stronger American commitment to support cohesive global governance, but for the most part, they remain on the fringes of power with little real clout. One notable exception is Strobe Talbott, former Deputy Secretary of State under Clinton, and long-time advocate of world federalism. While, Talbott recently wrote a book on the history of international governance, he has not been particularly vocal on the Darfur issue or re-evaluating the American role in the world. Instead, he has focused on pontificating on relations with Russia and advising Secretary Clinton.

So supporters of a stronger American commitment to international law and global governance are left once again with a missed opportunity, just like at the end of World War I with the Senate’s rejection of the League of Nations; just like after World War II when the nascent Cold War shattered any possibility of a stronger UN; and just like after 9/11 when the need for international action against terrorists was never more apparent.

At least we have the celebrity-humanitarians. If American attitudes on global federalism are going to change, it will be the result of cultural factors, not political ones. Strobe Talbott was my commencement speaker when I graduated from college in 1996. I can’t remember a thing he said, but I can remember almost every single episode of the television series that introduced me to the concept of international cooperation. Where's Captain Picard when you need him?

'Upstreamism': Your zip code affects your health as much as genetics

Upstreamism advocate Rishi Manchanda calls us to understand health not as a "personal responsibility" but a "common good."

Sponsored by Northwell Health
  • Upstreamism tasks health care professionals to combat unhealthy social and cultural influences that exist outside — or upstream — of medical facilities.
  • Patients from low-income neighborhoods are most at risk of negative health impacts.
  • Thankfully, health care professionals are not alone. Upstreamism is increasingly part of our cultural consciousness.
Keep reading Show less

Meet the Bajau sea nomads — they can reportedly hold their breath for 13 minutes

The Bajau people's nomadic lifestyle has given them remarkable adaptions, enabling them to stay underwater for unbelievable periods of time. Their lifestyle, however, is quickly disappearing.

Wikimedia Commons
Culture & Religion
  • The Bajau people travel in small flotillas throughout the Phillipines, Malaysia, and Indonesia, hunting fish underwater for food.
  • Over the years, practicing this lifestyle has given the Bajau unique adaptations to swimming underwater. Many find it straightforward to dive up to 13 minutes 200 feet below the surface of the ocean.
  • Unfortunately, many disparate factors are erasing the traditional Bajau way of life.
Keep reading Show less

Golden blood: The rarest blood in the world

We explore the history of blood types and how they are classified to find out what makes the Rh-null type important to science and dangerous for those who live with it.

Abid Katib/Getty Images
Surprising Science
  • Fewer than 50 people worldwide have 'golden blood' — or Rh-null.
  • Blood is considered Rh-null if it lacks all of the 61 possible antigens in the Rh system.
  • It's also very dangerous to live with this blood type, as so few people have it.
Keep reading Show less

Scientists create a "lifelike" material that has metabolism and can self-reproduce

An innovation may lead to lifelike evolving machines.

Shogo Hamada/Cornell University
Surprising Science
  • Scientists at Cornell University devise a material with 3 key traits of life.
  • The goal for the researchers is not to create life but lifelike machines.
  • The researchers were able to program metabolism into the material's DNA.
Keep reading Show less