Monday, August 23, 2004

bush's opportunity in sudan

Eric Reeves op-ed in the WaPost today is a clear and resounding call for US leadership to end the genocide in Sudan. I will leave it to better qualified sources to discuss the realities of this conflict, but it is clear that no reasonable American with even the remotest care for human rights can ignore what is taking place there. Perhaps the most significant insight Reeves offers is:

"But one consequence of the Iraq war (though of course not a justification in itself) is that public discussion of regime change by the United States will resonate much more deeply in Khartoum's despotic thinking. If it is coupled with serious efforts to work with our European allies to squeeze Khartoum by means of comprehensive economic sanctions, as well as sanctions targeted against NIF leaders, we may first be able to secure a permissive environment for humanitarian intervention in Darfur, saving hundreds of thousands of lives. "

That is, George W. Bush led this country into Iraq partly, if not largely, to send a message to the world that America would act, when forced, against regimes it could no longer abide. Whether the threat is based on support for terror (Afghanistan), WMD (Iraq pre-war), or human rights (Iraq post-war), Bush has succeeded in firmly establishing that when he talks about regime change, his threats carry weight. North Korea and Iran balance this threat against their own shadow nuclear programs, largely neutralizing its effectiveness. But Sudan has no counterweight.

The net result is that Bush has an opportunity to turn his famously steely-gaze upon Khartoum, make a meaningful statement about the US commitment to human rights and stopping genocide in the post-9/11 world (one with which the left could hardly argue), and, very possibly, scare a defiant regime into something resembling humane behavior.

- LH


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