Movie Semi-Review – The Devil Came On Horseback.

"The Devil Came On Horseback" Movie Poster
Get "The Devil Came on Horseback" at

This review is going to differ from my usual review format, mainly because in this case, the film I’m reviewing, which is a documentary about the Genocide in Darfur, asks a few questions, and I’m going to try to give some opinion based answers.

The Premise:

Brian Steidle was a captain in the US Marine Corps who, after his term of service was up, left the Corps and became an unarmed monitor for the African Union, tasked with monitoring the cease-fire between the Sudanese government and rebel groups. There he observed the Darfur genocide, documenting it with thousands of pictures and hundreds of reports sent to the AUC commanders, which were ultimately classified and ignored.

My Thoughts:

This is a touchy subject. Firstly – the situation in Darfur is a Genocide. Anyone who says otherwise is a damn liar. Anyone who says it shouldn’t be stopped is – at best – an assclown to the highest degree. The question is – how do you stop it?

How do you stop a genocide in a land-locked country in Africa, which can’t be stopped through diplomacy – we’ve tried – and whose neighbors won’t put boots on the ground to stop it? And how do you do it without raising the specter of colonialism, without sticking yourself hip deep in a potentially drawn out war that could be just as prolonged as the wars in Afganistan or Iraq – and could lead to messes like the Battle of Mogadishu?

That’s the problem.

I don’t know if anyone’s thought about it that way yet. At this point – I don’t know of another way to fix it. The militias which are engaging in genocide are spreading it beyond the borders of Sudan and into neighboring countries like Chad, and the government of Chad isn’t willing to defend the refugees because they risk starting a war with Sudan. Humanitarian groups are pulling out of the refugee camps because their aid workers are at risk of being attacked. In theory UN Peacekeepers could be sent in – but Sudan isn’t willing to allow them in the country. The African Union didn’t act on this before, and aren’t acting militarily now.

The United States is still in Iraq, though they’re slowly pulling out, and they’re going to be sending more troops into Afghanistan. From a military standpoint, we don’t have the troops to commit – no matter how many letters we send to the Government. Sure, if we start a draft, we could get the troops that way – but that’s not the right way to get the manpower we need.

Ultimately, we need a (and I apologize for using this term again) “Coalition of the Willing” again – lead by someone else. The US doesn’t have the manpower to be the world’s policeman at the moment. We’d need UN Peacekeepers who’d be willing to start a war with Sudan to protect refugees, to get them back in their homes, and to keep them safe.

I can’t see any way the US could provide that until 2013, and you’d need a president who was both a bleeding heart and a hawk to do it. Barack Obama might be that president – I don’t know. Sarah Palin definitely isn’t that president. John McCain, maybe – but I doubt he could get the Republican nomination again, and that’s assuming he’s dumb enough to run. Anyone the Tea Party wingnuts could bring to the table or could force a Republican Party nomination might well be a hawk – but the stench of racism from the Tea Party makes me doubt that any member of that group cares about black people – particularly black people killing other black people in another country.

I, on the other hand, feel that the genocide in Darfur is an hideous atrocity, and one of the first of such in the 21st Century. I’d love to have it be the last. I can’t think of any way for it to be that way unless more countries take military action against genocide – and at least for a while, I can’t think of anyone who’d be willing to take such action.

The Verdict (on the movie):

If you’re not pissed about the genocide in Darfur – watch this movie, it will explain why you should be pissed. Also, despite what I said above about writing your Congressional representatives not necessarily leading to action – write to them anyway. Especially if they’re on a committee related to the armed forces, budgets, or foreign policy (especially Africa).