A Fire Put Out But Another Blazes On

Yesterday’s signing of a peace accord between representatives from the Sudanese government and the country’s rebel forces marked the official end to Africa’s longest-running conflict, a “two-decade civil war” that has left two million dead and twice as many homeless. But the story isn’t exactly getting top-billing on any of the websites of major U.S. news outlets.

In fact, on many sites you have to scroll down past this weekend’s NFL game results and up to the minute coverage of the Brad Pitt and Jennifer Aniston break-up before you even find the Sudan story, tucked somewhere in the “International — Africa” section.

Perhaps our “moral values” compass has gone haywire. Perhaps journalists are pessimistic about whether this latest move will truly bring lasting peace to an often war-torn region. Or perhaps the story is completely overshadowed by the fact that the genocide taking place in western Darfur — a struggle between different rebel groups and thus not addressed in this agreement — still continues.

Almost two years after the violence in Darfur began, this past December Bush finally signed into law a bill authorizing aid to the victims and support of peace talks. Chock full of “whereas” statements, the bill refers to the Sudan situation as “a mockery of human rights as a universal principle” and “an affront to all responsible countries that embrace and promote human rights.” Yet the money provided to Darfur by the U.S. government over the past year is about the amount of money spent each day in Iraq. Outrage that is conveyed more through rhetoric than action is no better than empty posturing.

In its build-up to the war in Iraq and even in the aftermath of all its poor planning, the Bush administration refuted critiques of the nearly unilateral U.S. invasion with remarks more or less like President Bush’s recent statements in Canada: “The objective of the U.N. and other institutions must be collective security, not endless debate. For the sake of peace, when those bodies promise serious consequences, serious consequences must follow.” In theory or applied objectively, such bravado may be admirable. But in the context of the ongoing genocide in Darfur, it all just sounds like double talk — something we’ve come to expect but cannot afford to continue.