The ideals spelled out in the Obama administration’s new paper on U.S. policy to Sudan are worthy of considerable support. The policy review represents a great deal of work inside the administration to learn lessons from past policy, to correct missteps of the administration over the past seven months, and to find a balanced approach that integrates peace, protection and accountability.
Recent public statements by administration officials have created justifiable concerns among members of Congress, activists, and a range of experts that the policy might rely on providing incentives as the primary means for encouraging behavioral change on the ground in Sudan. Instead, the policy as articulated today demands accountability and verifiable progress on a wide range of issues before incentives would be deployed – although these benchmarks are not spelled out in detail.
As difficult as the process has been to achieve a potentially effective policy on paper, the hard part is now only beginning. Implementing this policy will require clear-headed assessment and courageous action. At key junctures, success will require the direct involvement of President Obama, Vice President Biden, Secretary Clinton, and Ambassador Rice, all of whom have important and valuable history on dealing with the multiple challenges of Sudan policy. The U.S. must lead internationally in developing a coalition of countries that can help the people of Sudan find a just and sustainable peace, and the administration will be rightly evaluated by whether it meets the goals and terms it has set for its own diplomatic efforts.
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Photo: President Obama and Sudan Special Envoy Scott Gration (AP)