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Update: seemingly not

Update: Oh yeah!

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

This week in broken promises - "no more US elections coverage"!

The three candidates in the US elections have put together a joint statement on Darfur. It is pretty depressing. They could have jointly endorsed Zoellick as a peace negotiator, announced support for the Darfur-Darfur dialogue, pledged to fund UNAMIS or done a dozen other things. Instead, we get a whole load of soggy breakfast cereal, basically all of it targeted at the domestic Christian lobby (as I've mentioned before, the key driving force pushing Darfur to the top of the US political agenda comes from churches who hate Bashir because they had missionaries murdered in the South. This is a good reason to hate someone, and their cause is intrinsically just, but it's worth being aware of the politics here). I parse, below, the substantive bit.

After more than five years of genocide, the Sudanese government and its proxies continue to commit atrocities against civilians in Darfur.

The word "genocide" here is pure political verbiage, just as it was when Colin Powell said it at the UN. The SDC want to hear it because they believe that it has some magic power to conjure up a UN intervention force. The Sudanese government is still committing atrocities, though the Janjawiid less so these days.

This is unacceptable to the American people and to the world community.

My advice is to save words like "unacceptable", "vital" and so on for situations where you actually do intend to do something if the desired set of circumstances don't come about. Using them as generic synonyms for "really bad" tends to gnaw away at your credibility.

We deplore all violence against the people of Darfur.

No reason to doubt this is genuine, but as I' keep noting below, they don't actually seem to do much deploring of any violence that isn't carried out by the government. The rebel groups in Darfur chop hands, fire on aid vehicles and use child soldiers; they're very nasty people.

There can be no doubt that the Sudanese government is chiefly responsible for the violence and is able to end it.

Simply not true. The question of "chiefly responsible" is murky enough, but it's very obvious that by this point, Khartoum isn't able to end the violence. Even if Bashir were to suddenly acquiesce and give Darfur independence, there would still be conflicts between the rebel factions to deal with.

We condemn the Sudanese government’s consistent efforts to undermine peace and security, including its repeated attacks against its own people and the multiple barriers it has put up to the swift and effective deployment of the United Nations-African Union peacekeeping force.

All correct to condemn. Really very strange that there isn't a single word here about the rebel groups, though, who have been behaving nearly as awfully and who have been very bad at allowing UNAMIS to deploy.

We further condemn the Sudanese government’s refusal to adhere to the terms of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) that ended the conflict in southern Sudan.

This obviously has nothing to do with Darfur; they're talking about the fighting around the key oil town of Abyei. It's pretty confused who started this; Wikpedia's best guess is that the current round of hostilities were kicked off by an ethnic militia blocking roads and challenging the SPLA to take them back, which just stinks of Bashir's modus operandi. And it's certainly true that the NCP government have been acting in transparently bad faith over setting the boundaries of Abyei province. But this all has nothing to do with Darfur - it's just emphasising once more that this is all really about South Sudan, which is politically much more important in US politics because it's Christian.

Today, we wish to make clear to the Sudanese government that on this moral issue of tremendous importance, there is no divide between us. We stand united and demand that the genocide and violence in Darfur be brought to an end and that the CPA be fully implemented.

The "magical performative". A form of sentence construction which tries to imply that difficult things can be done by saying so. "Be brought to an end" how?

Even as we campaign for the presidency, we will use our standing as Senators to press for the steps needed to ensure that the United States honors, in practice and in deed, its commitment to the cause of peace and protection of Darfur’s innocent citizenry.

The USA has, of course, made no such commitment, nor could it.

We will continue to keep a close watch on events in Sudan and speak out for its marginalized peoples. It would be a huge mistake for the Khartoum regime to think that it will benefit by running out the clock on the Bush Administration.

This is crazy. Bashir would love to keep Bush in power forever if he could. While he's there, there is zero prospect of any coherent sanctions on him through the UN and the UNAMIS force is almost guaranteed to be underfunded (it still doesn't have those helicopters everyone was promising). Bashir loves Bush, his good friend in the war on Islamic extremism.

If peace and security for the people of Sudan are not in place when one of us is inaugurated as President on January 20, 2009, we pledge that the next Administration will pursue these goals with unstinting resolve.

The USA has in general been a pretty constructive force with respect to Darfur - much less so in the South of Sudan, but in Darfur they have helped the peace process go along. But this sort of "resolve" talk and meaningless sabre rattling achieves next to nothing, while not saying a word about the JEM or SLA further encourages them to believe that they can do what they like, peace treaty or not, with the approval of the USA. If the three candidates were serious about Darfur, or about putting pressure on Bashir, then they'd announce that the USA would sign up to the treaty establishing the International Criminal Court. But of course that's not going to happen ...
1 comments this item posted by the management 6/03/2008 07:12:00 AM

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