The genocide in Darfur has killed at least 255,000 people — the equivalent of nearly two times the number of U.S. forces now in Iraq.
Yesterday, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice made a major speech on the issue to the Africa Society. Rice announced no new commitments or policy proposals to end the violence. Instead, she bragged that Bush officials are “bend[ing] every fiber of our being to ease the suffering of people of Darfur.”
That is flatly false. As Darfur expert John Prendergast has detailed, the administration “has made some noise about Darfur over the last two years,” but has repeatedly failed to act. Some key instances:
No real funding for peacekeepers: The United States, along with the Europeans, “have left the African Union force in Darfur in a state of limbo, not giving it the requisite resources and political support needed to protect the people of Darfur.”
No targeted sanctions on genocide leaders: The United States “crafted a U.N. Security Council resolution that authorized targeted sanctions in early 2005, but has since imposed sanctions on only one regime official, a retired air force commander. This leaves Khartoum with the correct impression that there will be no accountability.”
No special envoy for four months: “After the senior U.S. official who helped negotiate the partial peace took a job on Wall Street, almost his entire team departed.” For four critical months, State Department officials “opposed the naming of a presidential envoy to clean up the mess and make Darfur a genuine priority.”
No intelligence on war criminals: The United States “has not provided information and intelligence to the International Criminal Court as the latter conducts its investigation of the war crimes committed in Darfur. Sharing such material could be a critical part of leverage on Khartoum as it would face the prospect of accelerated indictments of senior officials.”
There are simple effective steps that can be taken immediately to curb the violence in Darfur, like enforcing targeted sanctions and travel bans, and establishing a no-fly zone. Instead, the Bush administration has chosen a familiar strategy: stay the course.
— Caroline Andreson