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Hopeful signs for Darfur

May 17, 2006

It must be February. January’s over, and the molasses is starting to move.

It had almost seemed in recent years that the world had decided the proper speed for stopping a slow motion genocide was somewhere between first gear and park. But first there was the magnificent rally on the National Mall this April 30. Then came word that Khartoum and the largest rebel group had signed a peace deal.

Even so, trust remained low, and not all rebel groups were on board. Peacekeepers were sorely needed, and the African Union troops were overextended and underequipped.

Washington Post reports

U.N. Council Approves Mission to Darfur “The U.N. Security Council unanimously adopted a legally binding resolution Tuesday that instructs the United Nations to replace an underfinanced African Union peacekeeping mission that is struggling to halt the killing of civilians in the Darfur region of western Sudan. The council threatened sanctions against anyone who impedes peace efforts there.
The U.S.-sponsored resolution, which passed 15 to 0, is aimed at speeding the transition from an African force of about 7,000 troops to a much larger U.N. mission of as many as 20,000 international peacekeepers. The council demanded that Khartoum supply visas for U.N. and African Union military planners within a week to travel to Darfur and prepare for the transition…
……senior U.N. officials noted that the resolution was passed under Chapter 7 of the U.N. Charter, which can be enforced through the threat of sanctions or military force.

This action was pushed through on the initiative of the United States. When it comes to genocide, unfortunately, it appears that America remains the indispensable nation. We have one example of a genocide that was stopped without American troops (by Australians in East Timor in 1999), but even that required a US push for authorization at the UN. Otherwise, when America acts, genocide is halted or averted; and when America holds aloof, it continues unimpeded.

It took far too long. But Mom always said, “If you can’t say anything good about somebody, don’t say anything at all.” From now on I am free to declare with a clear conscience that George W. Bush is the worst president ever. Not just by a whisker or a nose, but by a parsec or two. And Mom won’t be offended, because I can also point to the one thing he has eventually done right. In future generations, all around the world, whenever his name comes up, it will be cursed and reviled. But in one western corner of Sudan, a word of blessing may be reserved for him.

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