Topic(s): Genocide | Comments Off on Rene — WHAT'S TO BE DONE ABOUT DARFUR? PLENTY

By Nicholas D. Kristof
The New York Times
November 29, 2005 Tuesday
Late Edition – Final
In 1915, Woodrow Wilson turned a blind eye to the Armenian genocide. In
the 1940’s, Franklin Roosevelt refused to bomb the rail lines leading
to Auschwitz. In 1994, Bill Clinton turned away from the slaughter
in Rwanda. And in 2005, President Bush is acquiescing in the first
genocide of the 21st century, in Darfur.
Mr. Bush is paralyzed for the same reasons as his predecessors. There
is no great public outcry, there are no neat solutions, we already
have our hands full, and it all seems rather distant and hopeless.
But Darfur is not hopeless. Here’s what we should do.
First, we must pony up for the African Union security force. The single
most disgraceful action the U.S. has taken was Congress’s decision,
with the complicity of the Bush administration, to cut out all $50
million in the current budget to help pay for the African peacekeepers
in Darfur. Shame on Representative Jim Kolbe of Arizona — and the
White House — for facilitating genocide.
Mr. Bush needs to find $50 million fast and get it to the peacekeepers.
Second, the U.S. needs to push for an expanded security force
in Darfur. The African Union force is a good start, but it lacks
sufficient troops and weaponry. The most practical solution is to
“blue hat” the force, making it a U.N. peacekeeping force built
around the African Union core. It needs more resources and a more
robust mandate, plus contributions from NATO or at least from major
countries like Canada, Germany and Japan.
Third, we should impose a no-fly zone. The U.S. should warn Sudan
that if it bombs civilians, then afterward we will destroy the
airplanes involved.
Fourth, the House should pass the Darfur Peace and Accountability
Act. This legislation, which would apply targeted sanctions and
pressure Sudan to stop the killing, passed the Senate unanimously
but now faces an uphill struggle in the House.
Fifth, Mr. Bush should use the bully pulpit. He should talk about
Darfur in his speeches and invite survivors to the Oval Office. He
should wear a green “Save Darfur” bracelet — or how about getting a
Darfur lawn sign for the White House? (Both are available, along with
ideas for action, from www.savedarfur.org.) He can call Hosni Mubarak
and other Arab and African leaders and ask them to visit Darfur. He
can call on China to stop underwriting this genocide.
Sixth, President Bush and Kofi Annan should jointly appoint a special
envoy to negotiate with tribal sheiks. Colin Powell or James Baker III
would be ideal in working with the sheiks and other parties to hammer
out a peace deal. The envoy would choose a Sudanese chief of staff like
Dr. Mudawi Ibrahim Adam, a leading Sudanese human rights activist who
has been pushing just such a plan with the help of Human Rights First.
So far, peace negotiations have failed because they center on two
groups that are partly composed of recalcitrant thugs: the government
and the increasingly splintered rebels. But Darfur has a traditional
system of conflict resolution based on tribal sheiks, and it’s crucial
to bring those sheiks into the process.
Ordinary readers can push for all these moves. Before he died, Senator
Paul Simon said that if only 100 people in each Congressional district
had demanded a stop to the Rwandan genocide, that effort would have
generated a determination to stop it. But Americans didn’t write such
letters to their members of Congress then, and they’re not writing
them now.
Finding the right policy tools to confront genocide is an excruciating
challenge, but it’s not the biggest problem. The hardest thing to
find is the political will.
For all my criticisms of Mr. Bush, he has sent tons of humanitarian
aid, and his deputy secretary of state, Robert Zoellick, has traveled
to Darfur four times this year. But far more needs to be done.
As Simon Deng, a Sudanese activist living in the U.S., puts it:
“Tell me why we have Milosevic and Saddam Hussein on trial for
their crimes, but we do nothing in Sudan. Why not just let all the
war criminals go. When it comes to black people being slaughtered,
do we look the other way?”
Put aside for a moment the question of whether Mr. Bush misled the
nation on W.M.D. in Iraq. It’s just as important to ask whether
he was truthful when he declared in his second inaugural address,
“All who live in tyranny and hopelessness can know: the United States
will not ignore your oppression, or excuse your oppressors.”
Mr. Bush, so far that has been a ringing falsehood — but, please,
make it true.