Are there any developments in the effort to halt the genocide in Sudan's Darfur region? 

Don't Panic ... your war questions answered

The United Nations just passed a resolution to send 26,000 soldiers and police to Darfur. They will attempt to stop the genocide that has taken place there since 2003.

If the troops are indeed deployed and successful in stopping or slowing the genocide, Mia Farrow deserves a thank-you note.


Yes, Mia Farrow, the actress. The Mia Farrow who used to date Woody Allen until she found out he was having an affair with her adopted daughter.

The Mia Farrow who, at the age of 21, received a wedding ring-a-ding-ding from the then-50-year-old Frank Sinatra. They divorced two years later, because Farrow continued to pursue her acting career. Sinatra wanted a stay-at-home wife. That ziti doesn't bake itself, ya know?

It's a good thing Sinatra broke it off. If he hadn't, Farrow and her sister might not have gone to India in 1968 to meditate with the Beatles, and John Lennon probably wouldn't have camped outside Farrow's sister's bungalow to sing her a song he wrote teasing her about how often she stayed inside. Farrow's sister's name is Prudence.

Back to the matter at hand.

In March, Farrow, with her son, penned a brilliant op-ed column in the Wall Street Journal titled "The 'Genocide Olympics'."

In it, she took China to task for its support of Sudan's genocidal government. China invests billions in Sudan's oil industry. It has also used its permanent seat on the U.N. Security Council to scupper previous international efforts to act in Darfur.

But that wasn't the brilliant part.

The brilliant part was how the column located and precisely attacked China's weak spots: the 2008 Summer Olympics and Steven Spielberg.

The only thing China is more interested in these days than securing the flow of oil from Sudan is for the Beijing Olympics to dazzle the world. China's leaders are banking on the games being an international debutante ball, quinceañera and bar mitzvah all rolled into one.

"We're not just the country that makes all of the cheap plastic crap in your house and poisoned your dogs," China hopes the games will signal to the world. "We're a great, modern, civilized superpower."

To make sure the games dazzle on a grand scale, China has hired perhaps the world's most successful grand-scale dazzler, director Steven Spielberg, to help direct the games' opening ceremonies.

Farrow's column names and shames Spielberg for agreeing to help put on the Chinese government's show:

"Is Mr. Spielberg, who in 1994 founded the Shoah Foundation to record the testimony of survivors of the Holocaust, aware that China is bankrolling Darfur's genocide? ... Does Mr. Spielberg really want to go down in history as the Leni Riefenstahl of the Beijing Games?"

Leni Riefenstahl was Hitler's preferred filmmaker. She famously documented the 1936 Olympic Games in Berlin, which Hitler hoped would be Nazi Germany's coming-out party to the world at the time.

Zinged in terms he could not ignore, Spielberg wrote a letter to Chinese President Hu Jintao in April.

In it, Spielberg said he valued his association with the Chinese games, but he wanted China to come around to help stop the genocide:

"I add my voice to those who ask that China change its policy toward Sudan and pressure the Sudanese government to accept the entrance of United Nations peacekeepers to protect the victims of genocide in Darfur."

Stung by Spielberg's letter, no doubt, and desperate to make sure the 2008 games aren't boycotted, China reversed its policy of blocking U.N. efforts to send troops in Sudan. On July 31, China voted to allow 22,000 U.N. troops. If it happens, it will be the largest peacekeeping mission in the world.

But that's a big "if." The United Nations doesn't have an army. It relies on member nations to provide troops. Such a large force will almost certainly require troops from Asian nations, something Sudan's government has opposed. Also, a deployment of 22,000 troops will require roughly $2 billion in the first year.

Spielberg's worth about $3 billion. Maybe he'll pitch in.

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