Jolie Bolsters Foreign Policy Bona Fides With Post Op-ed

With this blog post we’ve officially spent too much time talking about Angelina Jolie. As a publication that aspires to some level of seriousness, we know we risk mockery for this.

But after we noted Monday that the sultry actress is an aspiring member of the Council on Foreign Relations, we can’t help but alert our readers to her Bahai, Chad-datelined op-ed in today’s Washington Post (which we linked to in today’s Media Roundup).

We’re normally not inclined to be generous toward celebrities when they wade into the policy arena. But, with that disclaimer, Jolie’s op-ed seemed eminently sensible to us. For a celebrity-penned screed, it was notably lacking in simplistic polemics (unlike George Clooney, for example, she didn’t fall into the trap of blaming Darfur on Bush) and naive idealism. It might be a stretch to call Jolie a realist, but her piece was clear-eyed about the nature of the regime in Khartoum and she sensibly knocked down at least one fuzzy-headed straw man erected by those who remain sanguine about the prospects for more jaw-jawing with Sudan’s perpetrators of genocide:

Until the killers and their sponsors are prosecuted and punished, violence will continue on a massive scale. Ending it may well require military action. But accountability can also come from international tribunals, measuring the perpetrators against international standards of justice. . . .

Some critics of the ICC have said indictments could make the situation worse. The threat of prosecution gives the accused a reason to keep fighting, they argue. Sudanese officials have echoed this argument, saying that the ICC’s involvement, and the implication of their own eventual prosecution, is why they have refused to allow U.N. peacekeepers into Darfur.

It is not clear, though, why we should take Khartoum at its word. And the notion that the threat of ICC indictments has somehow exacerbated the problem doesn’t make sense, given the history of the conflict. Khartoum’s claims aside, would we in America ever accept the logic that we shouldn’t prosecute murderers because the threat of prosecution might provoke them to continue killing?