What Should Obama Do About Darfur?
Today, The New Republic opens an online debate including Richard Just (the editor), Alan Wolfe, Eric Reeves, Elizabeth Rubin, and myself, on the question of what the new U.S. Administration’s policy should be on Darfur. The debate will last several days and can be accessed here.
Given the legal pedestal established by the ICCâ€™s arrest warrant over al-Bashir’s indictment on five counts of crimes against humanity (murder, extermination, forcible transfer, torture and rape) and two counts of war crimes (pillaging and intentionally directing attacks against civilians), Obama with his high rating and wholesome credibility only needs to make a clarion call for the rule of law to stand.
In fairness, no one should expect Obama to hurriedly dispatch a battalion of soldiers or even a team of diplomats to Sudan at this time. Doing so could be politically suicidal as his charity must begin at home – he needs to fix the economy and the damaged image of America over the abuses in Gitmo.
I also think he needs to, in his characteristic charismatic approach, find a way of talking directly (YouTube, local TV station) to Sudanese close to Bashir to force him out as Bashir’s reputation will not bring any good to the country. Next, I think Obama should send a high-powered delegation to China to ensure that the country pulls out her business interests for now, from Sudan until a legitimate and credible leader is elected, and peace and justice return to Sudan. Following this, Obama should find a way of talking to African and Arab leaders – on the expectations of a 21st century leader and polity – one that builds and not one that destroys; one that protects, and not one that destroys her people. Obama should also try to squeeze Bashir’s balls by floating the idea of a build-up of a US military base somewhere near Sudan – a gentle signal that should see the US signing military pact with one or two of Sudan’s not too friendly neighbors. Above all, Obama should find a way of calling a meeting of super players (US, Britain, Russia, China, and France) to give Bashir a one-month ultimatum to relinquish power or else face stringent economic sanctions, including blockade. However, this last option depends solely on the agreement of the others.
No one should expect Obama to fix the world problems, but he sure has abundant goodwill to mobilize common people-force against tyranny and oppression. An international court has already identified one â€“ Bashir, within a particular geo-polity â€“ Sudan.
As stated in my earlier comment at your post â€œUncharted Waters”, the African Union’s latest initiative to try halt ICC’s proceedings against Bashir will give a chance for peace in Sudan. The African Union was formed to provide African solutions to African problems and deserves to be respected and supported. UN Security Council members UK, France and the US must be persuaded to give a chance for peace in Sudan. The future of Sudan and the lives and livelihoods of millions of Sudanese and Chadian people are at stake. If any person reading this is a British, French or US citizen please find a way to make your voice heard and request that ICC proceedings against Sudan’s President Al-Bashir are halted for the time being. War begets war. Peace begets peace. Think of all the young children growing up right now in Sudan and Chad. Their futures depend on what happens over the coming weeks and months. Peace and love. God bless the children of Sudan.
I love Ingrid’s posting, and I wish I could share the optimism that “The African Union [AU] was formed to provide African solutions to African problems”. AU has failed to do anything concrete over the years…the Union failed in Liberia, Sierra Leone, Zimbabwe, Congo, Rwanda, Chad, and Cote D’Ivoire to mention a few. Truth is, African problems are bigger and far more complex than AU’s capabilities. Besides, most leaders within the AU do not have the sincerity and legitimacy to stand for anything worthy. Many of them are only interested in protecting their turf, to fend off outside intervention in the way they run those countries aground! AU left the pogrom in Sierra Leone and in Liberia for Nigeria alone to bear. Most AU countries are too engrossed in their own domestic problems. One terrible African problem is respecting the rule of law. An international court of law has now spoken. This is a test case for the world to teach African leaders Rule of Law 101. The oppressed in the Sudan may have seen the worst already. It is now our [civilized world] turn NOT to turn a blind eye to a legally binding decision. Bashir is NOT Sudan, and removing him should not be seen as the end of Sudan. A replacement within his cabinet is an option worth considering. If I am permitted to rephrase a â€œriderâ€ that has been wrongly or rightly attributed to Burkeâ€™s Triumph of Evil quote, it will be: â€˜All thatâ€™s necessary for the forces of evil to win in the [Sudan] world is for enough good [people] men to [celebrate a criminal] do nothing.â€™
What Sunny Bravo seems to forget is outside interference in Africa by mainly the former colonial powers and the US. Without US support Kagame for instance would still be living in Uganda and mayby 5 million people would still be alive. So sure, the AU didn’t stop the genocide in Rwanda and Congo. Why? It could’t and it wouldn’t because it was forbidden to do so.
You wrote : (The future of Sudan and the lives and livelihoods of millions of Sudanese and Chadian people are at stake.) As a Sudanese who lived under the dictatorship of the NCP I just wanted to correct that sentence to suit what was/is going on in this country for the last 20 years. The past, present and future of Sudan and the lives and livelihoods of millions were and are at stake since 1989.The ICC decision was celebrated by silent millions inside Sudan. It marked a new era in which the NCP (may) try to satisfy the lay people to secure their support for the wanted president.
It is a pity that the current fudamentalism is focused soley on western imperialism. This has become a common language proffered by African leaders whenever it pleases them to cover up their atrocities and corruption. If we receive modern technology, car, internet and industralization without misgivings, we should not reject human rights either. Human Rights abuses and violations knows no race or ethnicity, death and torture has thesame impact and meaning on the lifes of a common man. No body, head of state or individual should be exempted from justice in the name of peace nor should we Africans follow the baseless arguments that allow for our subjugation by people who should protect us. It is also eronous to say the African union cannot effect change in Africa, the problem is lack of political will, the principle of unclean hands which is predominantly a virus no body has fought hard to eliminate. Africans should rise up, reject a society of ills and proudly live for peace through accountability. Dont wait for US to arrest or place sanctions on Sudan, rather let the African states take a self-respecting stand and African civil societies should embark on a vigorous campaign for such. Sudanese unfortunately have suffered in the past and continues to suffer, lack of justice will make their suffering worse not better. Justice delayed is justice denied.
Think of all the young children growing up right now in Sudan and Chad. Their futures depend on what happens over the coming weeks and months.