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Kristof on Obama and Mamdani

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Kristof on Obama and Mamdani

Posted by John Norris on June 10, 2009

A long and thoughtful piece by Nicholas Kristof in the New York Review of Books is most notable for two things. First, Kristof does an excellent job taking Mamdani apart piece by piece on many of the key arguments that Mamdani has floated to get his fifteen minutes of fame on the Darfur issue. Well worth a read for that reason alone.

Equally notable, Kristof takes a reasonably sharp tone with regard to President Obama and Secretary Clinton’s effort to resolve Sudan’s long suffering:

"Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton were among the leaders in the Senate calling for action on Darfur, yet since they have assumed executive power they have done very little about it. The reason is the same one that has always led American presidents to veer away from taking firm action on genocide—there is no neat, easy solution, major national interests are not at stake, and in the absence of an ideal policy it is always easier on any given day to defer a decision. There are also some signs that the Obama administration—in the form of its Sudan envoy, General Scott Gration, who grew up in East Africa but has no Sudan experience— prefers a softer approach toward Khartoum. As a presidential candidate, Obama sounded as if he were determined to do something about Sudan; since taking office, he has had no visible effect on the situation in Darfur."

Is President Obama losing Kristof?

The other books reviewed in the article get less space than the back and forth on Mamdani, yet it sounds like they are well deserving of a read.