Wednesday, April 14, 2004

Sudan Follow-Up 

Nicholas Kristof uses his column in today's NY Times to plead for more rhetorical pressure on Sudan's government from the US and UN.
I'm not suggesting an invasion of Sudan. But it's a fallacy to think that just because we can't do everything to stop genocide, we shouldn't do anything. One of the lessons of the last week is how little it took — from Washington, the U.N. and the African Union — to nudge Sudan into accepting a cease-fire and pledging access for humanitarian workers.

Now we need more arm-twisting to get Sudan to comply with the cease-fire (it marked the first day, Monday, by bombing the town of Anka). The Sudanese government is testing us, but so far the State Department has shown a commendable willingness to stand up to it.

We can save many tens of thousands of lives in the coming weeks — but only if Mr. Bush and Mr. Annan speak out more boldly, if the U.N. Security Council insists on humanitarian access to Darfur and if the aid community mounts a huge effort before the rainy season makes roads impassible beginning in late May.

In the last 100 years, the United States has reacted to one genocide after another — Armenians, Jews, Cambodians, Bosnians — by making excuses at the time, and then saying, too late, "Oh, if only we had known!" Well, this time we know what is happening in Darfur: 110,000 refugees have escaped into Chad and testify to the atrocities.

How many more parents will be forced to choose whether their children are shot or burned to death before we get serious?
It'll be interesting to see whether more "cheap talk" from the West will convince the Sudanese government to back down. I sincerely hope it does.

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