Of note this weekend.
Candidates on Darfur from Foreign Policy in Focus.
Focusing on what they call the cacophony of focus-grouped sound bites of the candidates, the current administrations lack of concrete action in mitigating the situation despite strong rhetoric, and the ongoing coddling of the “intelligence apparatus” in Sudan, they suggest a better way.
To the limited extent that they speak to the Darfur issue, the presidential candidates are more interested in pandering to the more vocal sectors of the Save Darfur movement and bolstering their jingoist credentials than in coming up with viable solutions that can mitigate the crisis. Politicians and many Darfur activists alike have consistently ignored these policy options, even though they have existed all along. A package of options would include: funding aid organizations, pushing for an expansion in the size of (and a broadened mandate for) the AU deployment, advocating increased logistical support for the UN-AU deployment, promoting a common rebel negotiating front for talks with Khartoum in order to achieve a political settlement, and demanding that the Bush administration end its intelligence-sharing relationship as part of the supposed “War on Terror” with some of the worst human rights offenders in the Sudanese government.
Such a package of options, which activists should be pushing the presidential candidates to endorse, are of course less conducive to projecting U.S. military might than a no-fly zone or blockading the Port of Sudan. These alternative policies also represent a perfect opportunity for a smart candidate to stake out an innovative position. As Flint observes, “The current emphasis on coercive measures conceals the fact that the U.S. and its friends have no clear plan of political action, no sensible project for peace to go hand in hand with pressure on the Khartoum regime.”
Unfortunately, should the saber-rattling proposals of the candidates come to pass, the next president would fall into the trap of destroying Darfur in order to “save” it.