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For instance, your heroes in the Bush administration. An excerpt from Eric Reeve's article, mentioned above:
How much better has the US been in responding to Kofi Annan's call for a force that is "highly mobile," "with tactical air support and helicopters," "very sophisticated equipment and logistical support," as well as "the ability to respond very quickly"? When Annan says that "[European and North American countries] are the countries with the kind of capabilities we will need, so when the time comes, we will be turning to them," we must wonder whether the US will respond.
In an initial statement, following Annan's remarks of last week, US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said in Monrovia, Liberia on Monday:
"`I think [the AU] is doing a good job, but it is pretty close to the limits of what it can do in its size and configuration. There are issues in how to sustain it,' said Rice. `We favour a UN mission which has the qualities of sustainability that comes from the whole UN peacekeeping system.'" (Reuters, January 16, 2006)
"Sustainability," while of course very important, does not speak to other key issues that will define success or failure for a UN mission in Darfur, nor does it address what is even more important than "sustainability," and that is urgency (any UN mission would take many months to deploy). Nor does Rice address the critical issue of mandate for a UN mission: will it be guided by the robust terms of Chapter VII deployment---a well-armed force with true peacemaking capabilities? Any mission lacking such a mandate will be at a severe disadvantage in responding to the acute threats against civilians and humanitarians.
But the real question is whether the US will use its diplomatic and political leverage within the UN Security Council to support an authorizing resolution, and to address the clear threat of a Russian or Chinese veto.
Annan, of course, very significantly hedged his comments about the need for a robust UN force, speaking only in conditional terms ("if we [the UN] were to be given the mandate")---and specifically declared that Khartoum, the AU, and the UN Security Council would all have to agree to the deployment of such a force. Annan well understands the enormous political difficulty, if not impossibility, that lies behind this "if"; and he may in fact have knowingly set the bar untenably high---this in the course of protecting himself from historical judgment: "Yes, genocide in Africa again occurred on my watch as Secretary-General, as when I headed UN peacekeeping operations during the 1994 Rwandan genocide; but this time I asked publicly for an intervening force and the international community did not respond." Of course we are three years into the genocide, and only now is Annan speaking (and so far only speaking) in appropriately urgent terms.
With this as political context, Rice's bland words in Monrovia are hardly encouraging:
"`I think the Khartoum government should be cooperative,' said Rice. `They have a problem in Darfur. The international community expects them to contribute to solving it and also expects them to allow the international community to contribute to solving.'"
But of course Khartoum has engineered the "problem" in Darfur---they don't simply "have" a problem. And the "problem" has been given a terribly specific name---by the Bush administration, by the Parliament of the European Union (in a 566 to 6 vote, September 2004), by senior officials of the British and German governments, as well as by numerous human rights groups, including Physicians for Human Rights, and international law scholars---the name of "genocide."
To date, the Bush administration, despite its own genocide determination, has been content to praise an AU force that has for many months clearly been unable to halt the ethnically targeted human destruction of African tribal populations in Darfur. Thus in an egregious moment of mendacity, US Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Jendayi Frazer declared in testimony before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee: "The African Union effort in Darfur has demonstrated why deployment of African troops is a viable option" (November 17, 2005). This was not simply transparent dishonesty: it was dishonesty in expedient service of a desire to forestall meaningful discussion of what is truly required for human security in Darfur.
Devising the political means of walking away from such dishonest assessment is one way of conceiving the difficulties facing Secretary Rice in Monrovia. This would account for her saying misleadingly of Darfur, "`the circumstances are beginning to change in a way that suggests that the AU mission may not be sufficient'" (AP, January 16, 2006). For of course "circumstances" have made abundantly clear the inadequacy of the AU for over a year.
But the more likely explanation for a tepid US response, despite political "cover" provided by the strong statement from Annan, is that Bush administration policy entails a deliberate accommodation of Khartoum's ambitions in Darfur. This would comport with a series of other actions and non-actions revealing Washington's continuing willingness to trade out Darfur, and to ignore the growing threats to the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) between Khartoum and the southern Sudan People's Liberation Movement.
And just what does the Bush administration secure from Khartoum by acquiescing before genocide in Darfur and a withering of the CPA? The answer is all too clearly a claimed, though unverified, "cooperation" from the NIF in the US-led "war on terrorism." Here we should look carefully at a recent Associated Press report on UN Security Council Resolution 1591 (March 2005), which targets individuals who "defy peace efforts, violate international and human rights law, or are responsible for military overflights in Darfur":
"The four-member [UN-appointed panel] said it was sending a confidential list of names to the Security Council committee monitoring sanctions against Sudan to consider imposing a travel ban and asset freeze [against the named individuals]." (AP [United Nations], January 11, 2006)
But while the news focus of the AP dispatch was on efforts by Qatar and China to block immediate transmission of the panel's report and list of individuals to the Security Council (according to confidental reporting from a UN diplomat), behind the scenes the US has been working to revise the list of those to be targeted for sanctions. The most significant effort has been to remove the names of senior government ministers and military officials responsible for ongoing genocide and crimes against humanity in Darfur, including Major General Saleh Abdalla Gosh, head of the National Security and Intelligence Service (the Mukhabarat).
This is particularly significant in light of the decision by the US Central Intelligence Agency to fly Gosh to Washington, DC last April on an executive jet---at Gosh's insistence (this trip was cleared at very senior levels within the Bush administration White House). Gosh was Osama bin Laden's "minder" during his time in Sudan (1991-96), the period during which al-Qaeda came to fruition; and the CIA seems convinced that securing terrorist intelligence demands that a key architect of genocide in Darfur be given extraordinary accommodation, not simply in being flown to Washington, but in being spared UN sanctioning for his role in ongoing genocidal destruction in Darfur.
The breathtaking cynicism of these efforts undermines any possible faith in Bush administration efforts to confront Khartoum seriously, and in particular US willingness to exert maximum diplomatic effort to secure deployment of the urgently required peacemaking operation. US officials are authoritatively reported to have been sought deletion of other senior members of the NIF from the sanctions list, including Abdul Rahmin Mohamed Hussein, currently minister for defense and former minister of the interior. Hussein, like Gosh, is certainly among the 51 names referred to the International Criminal Court for its investigation of "crimes against humanity" in Darfur. His role in orchestrating ethnic destruction in Darfur has been authoritatively established by Human Rights Watch ("Entrenching Impunity: Government Responsibility for International Crimes in Darfur," December 2005).
The effect of these US efforts, certainly understood by Khartoum as part of a ghastly quid pro quo, is inevitably to convince the NIF genocidaires that they have nothing to fear from the international community so long as they give the appearance of "cooperating" with the US on terrorism issues (the value of Khartoum's terrorist intelligence has been seriously questioned by many close and informed observers of the regime).
Such US efforts are consistent with a pattern of behavior that has powerfully encouraged Khartoum to continue its genocidal counter-insurgency in Darfur (see my October 27, 2005 article on changing US policy, The New Republic [on-line], http://www.tnr.com/doc.mhtml?i=w051024&s=reeves102705). Tellingly, for example, the Bush administration State Department granted an exemption from US sanctions this past summer to a US firm, C/R International (headed by former State Department official Robert Cabelly), so that it might engage in public relations work for a regime formally designated by the US as guilty of genocide.
Even more disturbing than this exemption was the decision, made by the State Department last summer, to upgrade Sudan's status on the issue of slavery and human trafficking--from Tier 3 (the least favorable rating, assigned to governments that fail to meet international standards in responding to human trafficking) to Tier 2 (a category comprising countries, including Switzerland, that have demonstrated a commitment to addressing their problems). As recently as June 2005, John Miller, the senior adviser on human trafficking in the State Department, highlighted Sudan's well-deserved standing as a Tier 3 country. Shamefully, slaves from the country's south continue to be held in the north, and Darfur continues to see rampant abductions of women and children.
Nonetheless, President Bush certified in September 2005 (Presidential Determination No. 2005-37) that "on the basis of positive actions undertaken by the Government of Sudan since the end of the 2005 reporting period, the Secretary of State has determined that the Government of Sudan does not yet fully comply with the Trafficking Victims Protection Act minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking, but is making significant efforts to bring itself into compliance."
This incomprehensible determination was justified on the basis of Sudan's "making significant efforts"; but the State Department also declared that "Sudan will remain on Tier 2 only as long as it continues to act on these commitments."
What are these commitments? And to what extent have they been honored? Certainly Khartoum has failed to address fully the issue of slavery and the thousands of southern Sudanese who remain enslaved in northern Sudan. "Combating trafficking" seems not to include eliminating the consequences of what was for many years a terrible weapon of war against the people of the south. And in Darfur thousands of women and children, overwhelmingly from the African tribal populations, have and continue to be abducted by the government-supported Janjaweed militia, without any significant action by Khartoum against its key military ally.
The State Department and President Bush also credited a well-coached Khartoum with "the release of an extensive plan of action for eliminating violence against women" (the US itself devised the plan), even as they declared that "we will now look at Government to quickly and effectively implement these measures, and to act to prosecute the perpetrators of sexual violence. We will be monitoring the situation closely, and will reassess the government's performance for the February 2006 report to the Congress."
Four months later, and a month before the State Department has promised to report to Congress, there is no evidence on the ground that those actions promised by Khartoum have been undertaken. On the contrary, all evidence, including from highly authoritative sources, suggests that sexual violence remains completely unchecked by Khartoum, and that the "climate of impunity" repeatedly remarked by human rights officials continues. There have been no meaningful prosecutions of those responsible for tens of thousands of rapes and other violent crimes against women in Darfur. The "close monitoring" promised by the State Department has certainly revealed as much. And yet there has been no public criticism of Khartoum's failures---nor is there any evidence that the State Department is prepared to act on what it knows to be Khartoum's bad faith.
The world's northernmost desert wind.
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