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Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Can one man make a difference?

Posted by: Jambo / 3:14 PM

Maybe, if he has a big enough soapbox. For those of you not getting the NYT editorial page now that it is subscription only you should know that Nicolas Kristof continues in the Herculean task of trying to get the Bush administration to do something about the genocide in Darfur. If the US ever does anything about the situation no small amount of credit should go to Kristof for keeping the issue alive when everyone else seems happy to ignore the greatest humanitarian crisis of the decade.

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 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.

I was particularly struck by this:
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.
I have no illusions that 3WN can mobilize a vast letter writing campaign. Our audience is in the hundreds, not the thousands, but I would hope that a few of us at least would make the effort to contact a congressman or two. I know from our traffic reports that there are at least a couple regular readers with and domain names. I don't know whose offices you work in but if you are reading this please tell your boss that there are people out there asking them to do what they can about this issue.


Okay, I read the piece, and I sent letters to Dayton, Coleman, and Ramstad. Thanks for pointing me to the right information.

By Anonymous therealrepublican, at 4:39 PM  

Wow, that was quick. Thanks TRR, you made today's blogging actually seem worthwhile. Let's hope a few others follow suit.

By Blogger Jambo, at 4:56 PM  

Thanks, Jambo. I wrote to Rep. Herseth and Sens. Johnson and Thune. Johnson was cosponsor of S.1462, so I guess he's on board, but I wrote anyway.

By Blogger Joseph, at 12:29 AM  

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