Monday, August 08, 2005

Fierce Words, Hapless Action

The Philadelphia Inquirer describes "A catalyst for action on Darfur crisis" John Prendergast, a former director of African affairs at the National Security Council during the Clinton administration, finds The US' role in resolving the Crisis wanting. In spite of the political gamesmanship at play here, Mr. Prendergast makes some valid points:
The United States is foremost among those who need to make their actions more robust. President Bush has used the term genocide to describe the atrocity crimes in Darfur. Invoking the Genocide Convention obliges a signatory state to do all it can to prevent and punish the crime. Instead, the United States is shirking its responsibility to protect civilian life.

The Bush administration, facing major commitments globally, has indeed fostered an international consensus around a rescue plan for Darfur, but that plan is deeply flawed. In spite of this evident inadequacy, Washington argues that its response is sufficient to ameliorate what it claims is an already improving situation.

Nothing could be further from the reality on the ground in Darfur:

The crisis in Darfur is deepening, not abating. New numbers from the United Nations reveal that 3.5 million Darfurians are in need of emergency aid, a sharp increase over what the misguided optimists expected. Mass rapes continue; lifesaving humanitarian aid is frequently blocked; and impunity for those responsible remains intact. Strike One.

The United States is cooperating with the Sudanese regime, when that regime is a major obstacle to success.Khartoum has opposed a stronger mandate for the African Union troops already deployed in Darfur, opposed the deployment of non-African troops, and demanded that the government retain primary responsibility for protecting the very people it had burned out of their homes. In deference to Sudanese sovereignty, the African Union acquiesced to these stunning conditions, as did the United States. Strike Two.

There are simply not enough troops, either now or promised.The African Union has said it will increase its troop levels to 7,700 by the fall. The United States enthusiastically endorsed this plan. Estimates by the International Crisis Group indicate that 12,000 to 15,000 troops are needed. Gen. Romeo Dallaire, the U.N. force commander during the Rwanda genocide, puts the figure at at least 40,000. Either way, the current plan is inadequate. Strike Three.

Khartoum officials realize, for now, that despite the tough talk from U.S. officials, including Bush's reaffirmation that genocide is taking place, international actions will not make a real difference. Meanwhile, the situation is slowly leading to violent anarchy, which is precisely the regime's intent.
Granted, the US had negotiated hard with Khartoum for an end to the civil war in Sudan. However, the Administration should be ashamed of themselves for allowing Sudan to blackmail the US regarding her response to Darfur. The US concession to this outrage has contributed massively to the death toll in Darfur. Why? US leadership could have mobilized a stronger response to the genocide. Europe may have had a harder time staying on the sidelines if the Presiden used his bully pulpit to pound the issue. US voters would support the President at least invoking the Geneva Convention in regards to the Genocide occuring in Darfur. That would either force the UN's hand or reveal it's hypocracy and corruption, which have so paralyzed this once promising International institution.

People continue to die in growing numbers. Nature and the long-term consequences of the violence see to that. This is unacceptable. The US has the influence to encourage stronger action. Where is the will to do so?

Darfur is becoming President Bush's Rawanda. How shameful!