South Sudan, Samantha Power, and the Failure of Liberal Internationalism

Samantha Power at a U.N. Security Council Meeting on South Sudan

Last month in Juba, the capital of the relatively new nation of South Sudan, a small motorcade carrying the U.S. ambassador got entangled with a larger convoy ferrying a senior government official. Frustrated with the delay, a soldier in the South Sudanese convoy got out of his truck, fired two shots into the bulletproof glass of one of the embassy vehicles, and rejoined his own motorcade, which drove away.

So it goes in Juba. Since last December, when an coup allegedly perpetrated against the country’s Dinka president by his Nuer vice president led to Dinka troops going house-to-house in Juba, murdering men, women and children and trucking their bodies out to the bush, a civil war has been underway. The fighting calmed through much of the middle of 2014, but the dry season has arrived. Traditionally in South Sudan, negotiating is for the wet season, and the fighting renews at its conclusion.