Government forces have chased civilians through swamps, crushed them with tanks, and even used attack helicopters to fire on a hospital. The opposition, for its part, has lured children into battle by giving them new guns. An arms embargo could help to curb these abuses.
In response to the latest round of slaughter, the UN Security Council recently decided to send 4,000 more peacekeepers to South Sudan. Many countries asked for an immediate arms embargo as well, but US officials said they will support an embargo only if South Sudan blocks these new peacekeepers. Using the embargo as a bargaining chip has been tried before. The South Sudanese increasingly see it as an empty threat.