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Sudan Will Really Miss The Judgments Of President Bush

December 9, 2008

The lack of will and determination from the Bush Administation to squeeze the balls of the Sudanese government in order to stop the horrors in Darfur has been galling.  Lip service from Washington has not been enough, and the carnage shows that to be true.  In fact, the situation has splintered into a number of groups and cross fighting that has made a horrible situation on the ground even worse after years of careless leadership from Washington, and most of the world.

The coddling days from the Bush Administration are about over.  And Sudan knows it.

There are many competing interests in Darfur to be sure, and long-term gains must be weighed as heavily as short-term ones, but one thing is clear.  The genocide must end, and those responsible must not escape the heavy hand of international judgement, nor the harsh act of justice.  While no one wants to make the situation worse, there is no moral rationale for doing nothing.  We have witnessed these past years that taking only token actions so to be seen as doing something just for political expediency is not an answer, but is part of the problem.   The people in Darfur that have been living targets need and deserve a response to this truly evil Sudanese government.  They have been burned out of their homes, raped as a form of warfare, stranded in refugee camps, and killed for no reason other than who they are. 

It is time for a new administration in Washington to find the moral code for international relations again, and apply it swiftly in regards to Sudan.  For me, and for millions around the world, this will be the litmus test that we apply to Barack Obama.  I have faith he will act with honor in Darfur, but I will not be quiet for anything less than what the situation demands.

“Compared to the Republicans, the Democrats, I think they are hawks,” said Ghazi Suleiman, a human rights lawyer and member of the Southern People’s Liberation Movement, which has a fragile power-sharing agreement with the ruling party. “I know Obama’s appointees. And I know their policy towards Sudan. Everybody here knows it. The policy is very aggressive and very harsh. I think we really will miss the judgments of George Bush.”

While the Bush administration most recently advocated the idea of “normalizing” relations with Sudan as a carrot approach to ending a crisis it labeled a genocide, Obama’s foreign policy appointees have pushed for sticks.

But an Obama campaign adviser who worked closely on the candidate’s Africa positions said the naive move would be to think it is possible to trust Bashir’s regime, which has a long history of broken promises and is highly unpopular across much of Sudan.

The adviser noted that the government only signed the deal with the south after the U.S. helped push it into a corner by indirectly arming the southern rebels. Eventually, the government realized it could not win.

Accountability should also be part of any long-term political settlement in Sudan, the adviser said; the leaders who orchestrated the campaign in Darfur must face their misdeeds, he said, even if that comes several years late.

If we accept the notion that the brutality we’ve witnessed from this regime over the past two decades is acceptable to bring about temporary stability, then shouldn’t we have done the same for the Nazis in Germany?” said the adviser, who was instructed not to speak to the news media.

Obama is likely to face choices on Sudan soon, as judges at the International Criminal Courtare expected to decide whether to issue an arrest warrant for Bashir on charges of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes.

Obama has pledged to increase U.S. cooperation with the Hague-based court and is expected to honor an arrest warrant for Bashir.

But the adviser said that military options, including covert operations and regime change, are likely to remain under serious discussion in the new administration.

“These people have been in power for almost 20 years ” the adviser said. “I doubt that the majority of Sudanese would cry if they were ousted.”

One Comment
  1. Bert permalink
    December 9, 2008 10:33 AM

    Good post. I would add that the best leverage point is China, the arms source for the Sudanese government and thus for the janjaweed. Bush’s craven caving to China was on display for the entire world during the Olympics. I am hoping Obama orchestrates a wide diplomatic effort to put smarter, harder pressure on China. Start with using the bully pulpit to shine the light on this genocide.

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