Senator Kerry: Ask Useful Questions of General Gration
The Save Darfur Coalition, in one of its circular emails, has again given us an opportunity–in this case to urge U.S. senators to ask questions of Special Envoy Scott Gration. The draft letter is entitled “Ask tough questions of General Gration.” As Save Darfur helpfully gives us the opportunity to edit the letter, I have done so.
As it happens, my senator in Massachusetts is John Kerry, chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, who played a leading role in defusing the humanitarian access crisis in Darfur.
Dear Senator Kerry,
Ask useful questions of General Gration.
I urge you to use Thursday’s Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing on Sudan as an opportunity to urge Special Envoy Gen. Gration to ensure that the administration’s plan for peace in Sudan is designed for the best results in Sudan, not the best soundbites in Washington DC.
Let me use this occasion also to congratulate you on your role in helping to ease the humanitarian access crisis in Darfur over recent months.
Trying to facilitate peace in Sudan is a huge challenge. The odds against success are considerable. A high chance of failure is one of the risks that Gen. Gration accepted when he took on the job. But it would be a true tragedy if the reason for his failure were not to be the fiendish difficulties of Sudan, but the domestic politics of advocacy groups in America.
Let me propose some useful questions for Special Envoy Gration.
* First, does Gen. Gration recognize that the Sudanese conflicts are Sudanese affairs which will be resolved by the Sudanese? And that any attempt at a solution imposed from outside is doomed to fail?
* Second, is the U.S. Darfur policy based on evidence or dogma? Noting that the level of violence in Darfur is now far, far down on the atrocities of 2003-04, and resembles a low-intensity conflict rather than any genocidal onslaught, and that the humanitarian situation remains under control, how does he propose to maintain and build upon this progress? How does he intend to use the opportunities presented by the reduction in the crisis to encourage the parties to reach a political settlement that can allow the grievous wrongs of the recent past to be righted as much as possible?
* Third, what is the U.S. position with regard to the process of exercising the right of self-determination for southern Sudan? Observing that self-determination is enshrined in the CPA, and that a majority of the southern electorate support secession, but that the conditions are not currently in place for an orderly and consensual partition of Sudan, what steps should the U.S. take to help make the run-up to the exercise in self-determination, the vote itself, and the implementation of the result, as consensual, participatory and inclusive as possible?
Finally, you might remind Gen. Gration of Abrahim Lincoln’s words in 1862 after he was widely criticized by Congress for military setbacks. “If I were to try to read, much less answer, all the attacks made on me, this shop might as well be closed for any other business. I do the very best I know how–the very best I can; and I mean to keep going until the end. If the end brings me out all right, what is said against me won’t amount to anything. If the end brings me out wrong, ten angels swearing I was right will make no difference.”
Alex de Waal
hi Alex, wondering what you think about the round-and-round the State spokesman gave during his 31 July briefing about Gration’s remarks on the Hill…
transcript is available on the State website here:
Two responses to this Q-and-A with the State Dept. spokesman. First, it’s unfortunate that there is still no clear policy on Sudan. That’s unhelpful. Second, there is a problem over tenses. The difference between the statement “there was a genocide” and “there is a genocide” is important. But until there is a means of diagnosing when a genocide (or episode of mass atrocity) “ends” and the meaning of that “ending”, policies are going to get stuck. One of the recurring themes on this blog is that things have changed, and there is a thread “how genocides end” that I hope will be useful to policymakers as well as scholars.