Though it has garnered the concern and condemnation of governments worldwide and triggered unprecedented grassroots activism in the United States, the crisis in Darfur continues to intensify. In response to what both the legislative and executive branches of the U.S. government have repeatedly called genocide, the gulf between rhetoric and action on the part of the Bush administration is profound. What is driving U.S. policy and that of the broader international community is a strategy of constructive engagement with the Khartoum regime driven either by considerations of counterterrorism (United States), commercial connections (China, Russia, and some other Asian and European countries), and solidarity (Arab League).
Four years into the Darfur crisis, it is imperative to take a fresh look—at what has led to successful outcomes in past efforts to affect the Khartoum regime, and what is urgently needed today.
A policy of gentle persuasion—interrupted occasionally with public statements and resolutions that suggest but do not lead to increased pressure on Khartoum—has encouraged the Sudanese regime to intensify its divide and destroy policy in Darfur, particularly in the aftermath of the May 2006 signing of the deeply flawed
Darfur Peace Agreement. Regime officials have heard the message loud and clear: crime pays. President Omar Hassan al-Bashir felt so emboldened in early March that,in a letter to Secretary General Ban Ki Moon, he clearly rejected an internationally negotiated plan to deploy a United Nations/African Union hybrid force.
But on the heels of four years of failing to act effectively upon the international responsibility to protect civilians, there are finally signs of a pulse within the global crisis response framework:
- The International Criminal Court is pressing forward with indictments of a senior Sudanese official and a Janjaweed militia leader for crimes against humanity, and is preparing more cases
- The Bush administration is suggesting that it may soon move forward on the implementation of some elements of long-threatened “Plan B” punitive measures
- The Blair government has indicated its intention to raise in the U.N. Security Council the imposition of targeted sanctions against key merchants of violence
- in Darfur, the extension of the arms embargo on the government of Sudan, and perhaps an enforcement mechanism for the ban on offensive military flights by the government of Sudan.
ENOUGH IS ENOUGH
The international community cannot credibly claim to have done enough unless and until all measures have been employed to promote an effective and durable peace agreement, ensure the protection of civilians, and punish the perpetrators for their complicity in one of the worst crimes against humanity in the world today. But if these signs of change mark a new beginning, and if the United States, United Kingdom, ICC, and other significant actors rapidly follow these initial moves with more substantial actions, particularly through the U.N. Security Council, the horrors in Darfur can be brought to a swift conclusion.
Most importantly, President Bush has finally decided that the present course of U.S. policy is inadequate and must be buttressed by more robust measures. Unfortunately, dissent, disagreement, and interagency turf battles within the “Principals Committee” of leading cabinet secretaries mandated to deal with foreign policy continue to stifl e the implementation of multilateral punitive measures that would, if pursued aggressively, alter the political calculations in Khartoum. The Principals have met six times in the past four months to discuss ways to ratchet up U.S. pressure on Khartoum, but most of the proposed policies have been rejected or watered down. Others, such as additional financial sanctions against Sudanese companies, will be irrelevant unless they are multilateral and the agencies tasked to carry them out devote signifi cant resources to monitoring and enforcement, which in most cases would require additional resources for those agencies given competing demands.
The United States has had strong unilateral sanctions in place against Sudan since 1997, and the best way to isolate the perpetrators of mass atrocities in Darfur is intense diplomacy aimed at imposing similar measures multilaterally. It is unfortunate, not only for the United States but moreso for the victim’s of Khartoum’s policies, that the president’s request for a muscular policy response to mass atrocities in Darfur has not yielded the robust set of actions and high-level diplomacy that are so urgently required.
Hope and unrealized intent are insuffi cient to influence the Khartoum regime, and “Plan B,” as currently configured, is too little, too unilateral, and very, very late. In order to break the logjam on more meaningful action, President Bush must act decisively and instruct the Principals Committee to fi nalize a much more robust plan that ratchets up the pressure rapidly in response to continuing obstruction and destruction by Khartoum. Such a plan—which must be implemented multilaterally—would mark an important reversal from an approach that Khartoum has viewed as all bark and no bite. It would also reflect the fact that no single punitive measure in and of itself is likely to have much economic or legal impact, but the political impact of an array of measures that would steadily ratchet up the real pressure on Khartoum and gradually isolate regime officials as international pariahs would force a change in behavior in due course. Such pressures would aim to support a peace and protection initiative that would seek a new or significantly amended peace deal and a U.N./A.U. hybrid force focused on protecting civilian populations.
Ultimately, President Bush will have to decide that the United States must pursue multiple objectives in Sudan with singular intensity. Currently, counterterrorism efforts remain the unspoken elephant in the Situation Room (the room for Principals Committee meetings inside the White House) preventing a more robust U.S. policy. While Washington and its allies must continue to ensure that the Sudanese remain sources of information for the war on terrorism, they must merge this counterterrorism imperative with the equally compelling goals of ending the crisis in Darfur and ensuring the full implementation of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement for southern Sudan. Walking, chewing gum, and whistling at the same time are prerequisites for a successful policy in Sudan.
The stakes could not be higher. Time is running out for huge swaths of Darfur. Insecurity is increasing, and humanitarian access is shrinking rapidly. The State Department recently reported that a staggering 1,500 villages have been damaged or destroyed in Darfur. Mortality rates are set to skyrocket as the crisis metastasizes into Chad and the Central African Republic. Furthermore, the already shaky implementation of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement between the government and the southern Sudan-based Sudan People’s Liberation Movement is increasingly at risk because of profound disagreements over what to do about Darfur between the ruling party and the SPLM. Perhaps most ominously, recent withdrawals of aid personnel—in response to targeted violence—threaten to result in widespread famine and increased epidemics, as well as much more violence as the last external witnesses are removed from the scene.
If there was a Sudan Study Group like that of Iraq, composed of relevant experts on Sudan and broader crisisresponse approaches, such a group would presumably start by examining the historical context of conflict in the country to establish lessons learned from previous efforts at changing the Sudanese regime’s behavior. It would then construct a set of proposals that would build on those historical lessons, taking full advantage of all available tools in the crisis-response toolbox.
Sadly, no such energy or analytical attention is being focused on Sudan. Illustratively, a U.S. diplomat deeply involved in Sudan policy said recently, “The U.S. doesn’t have to understand the dynamics of the Sudan; we just need to help them move forward.” Disinterest in history leads to its repetition, as we are seeing in Darfur, where all the mistakes that were made for years by the international community in the deadly southern Sudanese war are being made again. Willful ignorance results in bad policy, and costs lives.
American and other policy-makers are ignoring Sudan’s own recent history, and thus the bulk of the most potentially effective policy instruments are still on the shelf. This paper outlines three highly relevant historical lessons, and puts forward a comprehensive policy that brings together all of the available tools in a unifi ed framework focused on promoting peace, protecting people, and punishing perpetrators, the “3 P’s” of confronting atrocities.
Ultimately, U.S. policy won’t change suffi ciently without more effective grassroots citizen pressure. Doubtless, the growing citizens’ movement across the United States is the reason Darfur is on the political map in the first place. However, the cacophony of voices, ideas, and opinions about what to do is deafening, and at times the multitudes cancel each other out because of the lack of coordination and clarity around the way forward. The hope is that as Darfur advocates across the United States pursue their individual agendas and projects—all of which are crucial for raising awareness and applying pressure on our elected offi cials—they will also become better informed about what would really make a difference and in turn will increase their advocacy on the specifi c U.S. actions necessary to end the crisis in Darfur.
This strategy paper lays out these required actions, arguing that no single initiative will be suffi cient for success. All six sides of the following policy Rubik’s Cube must align and be pursued simultaneously by the international community, led by U.S. policy-makers in the executive and legislative branches and citizen activists:
1) Support rebel unity
2) Build an effective peace process
3) Secure full-time, high-level U.S. diplomacy
4) Accelerate military planning and action for protection
5) Impose punitive measures now
6) Ramp up global citizen activism
Once the recent policy history is reviewed and the real lessons learned from the 18 deadly years this regime has been in power, the answers become clear and obvious. Only the elusive ingredient called political will remains missing.
Since the ruling National Congress Party (formerly the National Islamic Front) came to power in a 1989 military coup, sound policy choices by the international community have forced the regime to reverse abusive or threatening policies on three separate occasions. The three cases examined here are the regime’s support for international terrorism, its pursuit of a military solution in southern Sudan, and its unleashing of militias that led to the resurgence of slavery. Understanding why regime officials made these U-turns is critical to constructing a successful strategy for Darfur.
1. Support for Terrorism
As soon as it usurped control of the country in 1989, the NCP began to cash in on its alliances with terrorist organizations (including Al Qaeda), inviting them to Khartoum, allowing their leaders and operatives to travel on Sudanese passports, and providing space for them to develop safe havens and training camps. Osama bin Laden himself lived in Sudan from 1991 to 1996. Today, however, the United States considers Sudan to be a valuable partner in the global war against terrorism.
There were two phases in Sudan’s shift from a major state sponsor of terror to a cooperative partner in the global counterterrorism effort. First, during the latter years of the Clinton administration, the regime began to abandon most of its alliances with and support for terrorist groups. The regime kicked bin Laden out of the country, turned over Carlos the Jackal, dismantled much of the Al Qaeda commercial infrastructure, revoked passports of terrorists, and shut down terrorist training camps. Second, during the period after 9/11, regime officials became much more cooperative with U.S. counterterrorism efforts, providing information on suspects around the world based on their extensive links with these individuals and their networks.
The question is why. What mixture of policies led the regime to drastically change tack from supporting terrorist networks to actively sharing intelligence with the U.S. government? Three key tactics were at play:
a) Aggressive Diplomacy
The United States led diplomatic efforts in both phases to press the regime to change. Without such deep and extensive diplomatic engagement, both with regime officials and with other global counterterrorism partners, other pressures would not have born fruit. During the 1990s, the Clinton administration worked assiduously through the U.N. Security Council and with its allies to place multilateral pressure on the Sudanese government to cut its ties to terrorist organizations. During this decade, the Bush administration has worked closely with the Khartoum regime to move beyond simply severing its links with terrorist groups to also providing intelligence on suspects.
There was a dedicated clarity to both efforts. In the former case, Clinton administration offi cials demonstrated that cooperation would result if a unified set of nations pressured the regime in Khartoum to break its links. In the latter case, the Bush administration closely engaged the regime and received some important information in return, according to intelligence officials.
b) Multilateral Sanctions and Condemnation
When the U.N. Security Council imposed a series of very light sanctions on the regime (restricting diplomatic travel of senior officials and international fl ights of Sudaneseowned aircraft) for its ongoing support for terrorism (the last straw being Sudan’s involvement in the assassination attempt of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak in Addis Ababa), Khartoum reacted immediately. NCP officials did not then—and do not now—want scarlet letters placed on their shirts. They do not want the restrictions on their travel and assets spotlighting them as international pariahs. As history has shown, this regime responds to targeted punitive measures.
c) U.S. Military Threats
Though distasteful, especially against the current global backdrop of Iraq et al., it is important to revisit the effect of U.S. military threats on the regime’s calculations. The U.S. bombing of the al-Shifa factory in 1998 was not supported internationally, and further complicated U.S. efforts at supporting a peace deal in southern Sudan. However, it sent the signal to regime hardliners that the United States was willing to use force against Sudan if its interests were threatened. After 9/11 and the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan, memories of the al-Shifa bombing made the few choice comments from senior U.S. offi cials about whether Sudan should be the next target resonate even more strongly with regime officials. The NCP quickly intensifi ed its intelligence cooperation efforts. The implication: coercive military force should not be ruled out as a means to achieve compliance with a rogue state like Sudan.
2. Civil War in Southern Sudan
Five times as many people died in Southern Sudan’s civil war than the highest estimates so far for Darfur. Indeed, the war between successive governments in Khartoum and the Sudan People’s Liberation Army lasted five times as long as the NCP’s scorched-earth counterinsurgency against rebels and civilians in Darfur. Major interests were at stake in the south: most of the country’s oil reserves are there, and the SPLA was much more powerful militarily than the rebels in Darfur. Nevertheless, in January 2005 the regime and the SPLA signed a major peace deal that effectively ended the war—for now.
Again, the question is why. What mixture of policies led the regime to stop prosecuting the bloody war and sign a peace deal?
a) Rebel Unity
Perhaps the most important reason for Khartoum’s reversal was the unification of a badly splintered rebellion. In 1991, Khartoum had helped engineer a deadly split in the SPLA. It took years of southern Sudanese reconciliation efforts and extensive U.S. diplomacy to finally pull the SPLA back together. Once they posed a serious military challenge to the regime that brought about a stalemate on the battlefield that, in turn, made an accord possible. Under the late John Garang’s leadership, the SPLA was developing alliances with Sudanese opposition movements in the north and what was believed to be simply a “north-south civil war” was transforming into a revolution of the periphery against the center. The military threat posed by that unity, when combined with international pressure and high-level engagement, pushed the regime into genuine negotiations with the SPLA.
b) Intense and Sustained International Diplomacy
The peace process that resolved this war was a product of extensive diplomatic efforts led by Washington over two administrations, bringing together the Inter-Governmental Authority on Development, the regional organization for the Horn of Africa, with a tight coalition of international actors, including the U.N. and key governments. There was one process, led by an African envoy, and closely backed by a leverage-wielding quartet of states: the United States, the United Kingdom, Italy, and Norway. Khartoum was not allowed to “forum-shop” for another process in order to divide the internationals, despite the best efforts of Cairo and Tripoli. This model has proven to be effective in Sudan and elsewhere, but four years into the Darfur war it has not been replicated.
c) White House Engagement
President Bush and key cabinet members were personally supportive of the peace process. They made calls, sent letters, and met key combatants at critical junctures. The administration also made an exception to its usual distaste for envoys and named an infl uential former senator, John Danforth, as its special envoy to bring heft to the process. Khartoum got the message.
d) Christians and Congress
Two U.S. groups were instrumental in driving the peace process to its successful conclusion. Conservative Christian groups and a number of highly motivated and invested members of Congress demanded action from the administration. They also provided U.S. diplomats with additional leverage with the Sudanese government by demanding more radical measures to which U.S. officials could point as possible consequences of the Sudanese regime’s intransigence.
One of the early tools that American activist networks employed was a citizens’ campaign—initiated by Smith College Professor Eric Reeves—to demand that state and
university pension fund holders sell their stock in Canadian oil company Talisman, which was a primary investor in Sudan’s oil sector. A concurrent effort in Congress threatened to de-list any company on the various U.S. stock exchanges that was conducting business to the benefit of the Sudanese regime. This form of indirect ressure influenced investment decisions and increased the potential cost to the NCP if it failed to make peace with the SPLA.
3. Slave Raiding
In the 1990s, one of the regime’s principal war tactics was to support ethnic-based Arab militias in attacking the villages and people of non-Arab Dinka descent, a recursor to its current support for the janjaweed militias in Darfur. Khartoum’s proxy militias were “paid” in the form of whatever booty they stole during their attacks. The militias captured Dinka Southerners by the thousands and enslaved them, fostering a modern-day market for human beings. By the end of the 1990s, the raids had stopped and most of the slave trade was shut down. Yet again, the question is why. What mixture of policies led the regime to stop its support for the militias and effectively end the state-supported slave trade? Three factors combined to bring about this change.
a) Global Campaigning Against Slavery
Across the United States and Europe, anti-slavery and human rights organizations relentlessly shone a spotlight on the heinous practice and its facilitators in Khartoum. Through a variety of awareness-raising tools—including protests and arrests in front of the Sudan embassy, buying the freedom of abductees (which was not without significant controversy), and fundraising drives by schoolchildren— the temperature was turned up on the regime for its role in supporting the resurgence of slavery. The global campaigning by civil society organizations and human rights activists around the world embarrassed the regime and forced it to rethink its war strategy.
b) Vigorous Diplomacy
U.S. and European diplomats strongly engaged the Sudanese regime for its role in arming the militias. What often resulted was a good cop-bad cop strategy in which the United States publicly hammered the regime for its practices while the Europeans quietly but firmly pressed Khartoum on the issue. The combination, though it could have benefited from better coordination, allowed for the building of multilateral pressure against one of the regime’s central war strategies.
c) U.S. Military Threats
Near the end of the 1990s, U.S. officials examined possible initiatives to help protect civilians in Northern Bahr al-Ghazal, the region of southern Sudan that experienced the heaviest slave raiding. Though the policy deliberations were confidential, they were leaked to The New York Times and were the subject of discussions between the SPLA and U.S. offi cials visiting southern Sudan. Sudanese government offi cials were unnerved by these consultations, as any efforts to support the SPLA would potentially have given the rebels a tactical advantage, even if the objective was to protect civilian populations. Though the discussions were serious, the threats never materialized into actual decisions to provide assistance. The regime’s support for the offending militias ended, soon followed by the end of the practice of slave raiding.
WHAT DOESN’T WORK
History has shown what works; now for the history lesson about what doesn’t work. After 18 years of empirical evidence regarding the reactions of ruling party officials in Khartoum, the tactics that have failed to change their behavior and calculations are obvious. Yet the international community—and the Bush administration in particular—continues to pursue the following policies and initiatives that repeat the same mistakes over and over again.
- Drive-by diplomacy: As long as the various envoys are part-time and their roles are not clearly delineated in an international division of labor, Khartoum officials will run rings around the putative peacemakers.
- Intermittent peacemaking: As long as there is no clear, transparent, urgent peace initiative that coordinates closely among the relevant international actors—and brings the necessary leverage to the table—there will be no peace in Darfur.
- Constructive engagement: As long as governments pursue policies of gentle persuasion and eschew punitive measures, using only carrots but no sticks, the Khartoum regime will continue to pursue a military solution to Darfur.
- Barking without biting: As long as the Bush administration and the U.N. Security Council continue to threaten punitive measures and then fail to implement them when their edicts are ignored, the Khartoum regime will be emboldened to intensify its divide and destroy policy in Darfur.
- Stove-piped policy: As long as the United States has three separate policy lenses —those for Darfur, southern Sudan, and intelligence sharing—and there is no one comprehensive policy that demands progress on all three fronts simultaneously, regime officials will believe that U.S. fear over loss of intelligence access and the failure of the southern Sudan peace deal will effectively protect them from stronger measures in response to Darfur.
- Cart before the horse: As long as the international community puts much more effort into deploying an A.U./U.N. hybrid peacekeeping mission than it does in taking the tough stands necessary to negotiate a peace deal that would make a peacekeeping force more relevant and effective, then the regime in Khartoum will slow-roll deployment of critical U.N. assets and continue to give the false impression that change is forthcoming.
As long as the international community continues to pursue these failed policy paths, the people of Darfur will continue to suffer. There continues to be a fundamental misreading of the NCP-controlled government. Former U.S. offi cial Roger Winter and others have rightly pointed out that the United States and the international community (and most recently, the new U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki Moon) have been premising policy and strategy on the faulty assumption that Bashir and the NIF want to be a “good government,” and, as Winter says, can be successfully appealed to “do the right thing” for all of its citizens, including those strategically marginalized for centuries by Sudan’s ruling elites. This is one of the baseline reasons why “constructive engagement” and many of the strategies listed immediately above do not and will not work—ever.
A COMPREHENSIVE SUDAN STRATEGY
The Policy Rubik’s Cube
So what are the implications of these historical lessons for resolving the crisis in Darfur today?
We know from the past that there is a Rubik’s Cube of policy responses that—when lined up correctly—can induce change in Khartoum’s behavior. No single policy prescription or activist initiative will work in isolation, as proven by the three case studies above. Especially in Africa, policy-makers and the public tend to look for quick and easy fi xes to complex crises. The aforementioned Iraq Study Group put forward a total of 79 recommendations to address that quagmire. Sudan is no less complicated.
After having traveled, worked, and lived in Sudan for parts of the last 20 years, and having negotiated directly with the regime when I worked in government, my conclusion is that a mixture of appropriate policy and activist initiatives—when pursued simultaneously—could bring about a change in the calculations of the regime and the rebels on Darfur and thus an end to the horrific crisis there. However, the six sides of the policy Rubik’s Cube must align correctly for there to be a chance for success. And they must include a multifaceted combination of multilateral initiatives, unilateral U.S. actions, and citizen activism in the United States and around the world.
The six sides of the policy Rubik’s Cube are as follows:
1. Support Rebel Unity
Without more rebel cohesion, Darfur will continue to burn. The government will have an excuse to negotiate half-heartedly, rebel divisions will stoke local conflicts, a weakened rebellion will embolden Khartoum to attempt to secure a military solution, and peace will remain a distant dream, as a peace process will be much more difficult to broker when so many different rebel factions exist. Illustratively, until southern Sudanese rebels reunited and found a way to work together, there was no chance of a resolution to that war.
Therefore, the United States and European Union should urgently compose a team to work together on this agenda full time in the region—in Chad and in rebel-held areas of Darfur. Thus far, the United States and European Union have shown an alarming lack of coordination on this critical undertaking, and the United States is content to outsource the work to NGOs and academics with no real leverage over the rebels. Moreover, the African Union has been slow to demonstrate a full appreciation of this critical fi rst step, and the United Nations is ill-equipped to pursue such an objective. The United States has the most leverage with the rebels, and the European Union has the most experience in providing support for previous efforts at holding a fi eld conference of the rebels, which has not happened in part because the government has bombed the intended locations on multiple occasions. The United States should work closely with senior SPLM offi cials, who could be very helpful in building cohesion amongst rebels who have similar grievances to those in the south, east, and central part of the country, as well as in healing some of the divisions within Darfur that undermined security and the path to peace.
The United States and European Union must significantly enhance their engagement, both in the number of people working on the issue full-time, as well as the seniority of the offi cials leading the efforts. The United States must particularly work with France to bring pressure to bear on the Chadian government to ensure that the Sudanese rebels supported by President Deby will participate in necessary rebel conferences and subsequent peace talks. Resources and trainers also must be made available for leadership training, negotiation skills enhancement, and capacity-building for the political side of the rebel groups. They may not unite into one rebel movement, but cooperation must be maximized, and a common negotiating position will need to be brokered patiently. Without this fi rst step, any new peace deal will, like the DPA, be dead on arrival, and the regime will continue to successfully conduct its divide and destroy policy in Darfur.
2. Build an Effective Peace Process
As argued earlier, one of the key ingredients to the successful completion of a peace agreement ending the war with southern Sudanese rebels was a singular, clearly identifi ed, multilaterally-supported peace process marked by a close partnership between an African mediator and a set of external countries (United States, United Kingdom, Norway and Italy), which provided fulltime diplomats to support the process backed by senior envoys. Committees on each issue were established and experts from around the world were formed to advise the negotiations. Khartoum was not allowed to “forum shop,” as this was the only game in town.
Darfur needs a similar structure and process. A partial international consensus is developing around a process led by A.U. Envoy Salim Ahmed Salim and U.N. Envoy
Jan Eliasson, but they are not working full-time in the region as they should be. Furthermore, alternative initiatives by Eritrea and Libya are undermining consensus, much to Khartoum’s delight. The African Union and United Nations should urgently convene a small group modeled after the quartet for the SPLA deal or a contact group in support of the Eliasson/Salim mediation. Such a group should be small in composition and only include a few countries that can provide full-time diplomats to help resource the process and that can name senior envoys to bring gravitas and leverage. The United States should be a lead country in that confi guration. The contact group should meet frequently, form a secretariat, work constructively with other would-be mediators like Eritrea and Libya, ensure that regional countries with leverage such as Chad and Egypt are closely consulted,
hire experts to work the issues, and put forth a timetable and strategy for the negotiations.
Sequencing is key. Rebel cohesion is a prerequisite for success, so the buck starts there. As work is urgently being supported to bring about greater rebel unity, the mediators should draft a comprehensive endgame agreement that takes into account rebel as well as Darfurian political and civil society concerns about Janjaweed disarmament, secure return to home villages, power sharing, individual compensation, and other issues. This draft could take the form of significant amendments to the deeply flawed DPA, or it could be constructed as a new deal. The latter approach might be a non-starter for the regime, but would be the ideal.
Whatever approach is taken to the negotiations, the starting point for the mediation should be fi nding terms that will provide a sustainable resolution of the confl ict, and not be limited to producing another weak, compromise document that will appease the lowest common denominator. The government will not willingly cede majority control over government structures in Darfur or at the national level, but such a concession is likely what is needed for a deal to stick. The mediation must be prepared to push ideas based on their assessment of what is required, not only what the parties state that they are willing to accept.
In this scenario, the United States, United Nations, European Union and African Union need to agree on a clear division of labor, develop a good cop-bad cop strategy, and tell the parties in no uncertain terms that this is the path to a resolution of the crisis. They need to engage closely with important regional actors that have influence over the government, such as China over the government or Chad and Eritrea over the rebels.
The United States and its allies must also work together to get China and Russia to be more constructive on an ongoing basis, particularly in ensuring their abstention in the U.N. Security Council when diffi cult measures to press for peace must be taken. At present, the United States and others claim that China and Russia will veto tougher U.N. sanctions. The desire to “go it alone” is disaster in this context. It is time to force China to choose: support efforts to end impunity for crimes against humanity or stand up in front of the world and defend the Khartoum regime’s behavior. In the past, Russia and China have often threatened a veto but not used it when confronted with an unsavory resolution. The United States and other concerned players cannot hide behind such excuses any longer. They need to work for the support of other members of the U.N. Security Council, the A.U. Peace and Security Council, and NATO for any punitive action that might be called for against any party that would undermine the process as it goes forward. Penalties should be swift, as multilateral as possible, and lifted only upon full compliance, as opposed to the current model of endless threats and no action.
3. Secure Full-Time, High-Level U.S. Diplomacy
The country that remains the most infl uential with the most potential leverage in Sudan is the United States, but most of that leverage is unrealized and unutilized. The Bush administration has to put more resources into ending this crisis. The role of the White House Special Envoy is critical, and must be backed by a policy decision to more aggressively confront the government of Sudan and to more effectively work towards the unifi cation of the rebels. Any special envoy with such an agenda should be full-time, with a larger staff based both in the region and in Washington. Sufficient staff is necessary to undertake the following tasks:
- Work with the European Union to secure rebel unification;
- Staff any contact group that would work directly on the Darfur peace process;
- Focus on implementation of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (the southern Sudan peace deal) and upcoming elections that are part of that pact;
- Address the spillover impacts of the confl icts in Chad and the Central African Republic; and
- Press the case in New York, Brussels, Beijing, Moscow, and elsewhere to secure greater international cooperation on one common strategy.
The special envoy and his expanded team need to be supported by frequent diplomatic interventions by the president, secretary of state, and other senior officials. Officials in Khartoum and elsewhere know that when an issue is important to the United States, leading administration figures weigh in. In order to be successful, the White House needs to put forward a clear strategy and exert itself in the interagency process to improve cooperation and coordination between the government agencies with roles to play in implementing it. Intelligence offi cials must be put at the disposal of the peace efforts; Treasury Department officials must be planning and staffi ng for expanding punitive measures; Defense Department officials must be engaged in accelerated contingency military planning with their colleagues in NATO and the United Nations; and the White House should be aggressively tasking various agencies and ensuring that the effort is taken as seriously as that of North Korea, Iran, and other important foreign policy priorities.
4. Accelerate Military Planning and Action for Protection
As demonstrated by the successful case studies above, the credible threat of military action will alter calculations of Khartoum officials. In the case of Darfur, there are a number of fronts in which military planning and action are required.
The deployment of a credible military force to protect civilians is critical to preventing atrocities. The existing A.U. mission in Darfur is a spent force. It is hampered by a weak mandate to observe a non-existent ceasefire and it is not adequately protecting civilians in most locations, resulting in occasional attacks on A.U. personnel by internally displaced persons because of its impotence; it is also increasingly coming under attack by militias who have learned that A.U. forces have been provided and mandated with little to no offensive military capabilities; it is compromised because of its role in pressing the highly
unpopular and deeply flawed DPA; and its troops are poorly provisioned, equipped and paid, and spend most of their time in barracks. There have been many delays in the Light Support Package of U.N. support, and planning for the Heavy Support Package has been done and is awaiting approval that may not come. And of course, President Bashir has rejected the A.U./U.N. hybrid force.
Newsflash: the emperor has no clothes. Until there is recognition of the nakedness of the current international strategy to protect civilians, Darfurians will have no hope of getting that protection. To that end, pressure must be escalated on Khartoum to accept phase three of the U.N./A.U. hybrid plan, the United Nations has to be pressed to prepare for the immediate implementation of phases one and two, and the Bush administration’s budget (and the budgets of other major contributors to U.N. peacekeeping) must include adequate funding to resource the mission at full capacity. The president’s current budget request is insufficient and suggests skepticism on the part of the administration that the mission will ever deploy. Finally, every effort should be made to amend the mandate of the existing and future mission to be one that prioritizes the protection of civilians.
President Paul Kagame of Rwanda, one of the largest troop contributors to the current A.U. force, told me in mid-February that the hybrid force could be effective if sufficient resources were provided with a clear mandate. Regarding civilian protection, he said, “We would take on additional tasks if we had the resources and the mandate.” In frustrating meetings about the impotent response of the broader international community, the Rwandan government has not ruled out withdrawing its troops from an increasingly toothless mission. “If we had more troops, the proper equipment, the right mandate, and a no-fly zone to paralyze the air force,” President Kagame told me, “we could protect the civilian population of Darfur.” With the proper logistics and resources, Kagame would be willing to consider doubling the number of Rwandan troops in Darfur, and concentrate them in areas immediately under threat. He said it was crucial that any military pressure be backed by a strong international policy of pressure and sanctions. “We don’t want to be left hanging,” he warned.
This is why U.N. Security Council fi nancing of an enhanced Darfur deployment is key. With a stronger mandate and more funding for the critical logistical and equipment gaps that exist currently, more African troops would be offered to the A.U. mission, and the force on the ground would be much more effective.
The U.N. Security Council also should accelerate the deployment of protection elements to the border regions of Chad and Central African Republic, with mandates to protect at-risk communities, IDP settlements, and refugee camps. However, there is no military solution to Darfur and its spillover: a peace deal in Darfur is a prerequisite for a peacekeeping force to be effective and genuine political dialogue in Chad and CAR should accompany any deployment of international troops or police to those countries. Further, we must acknowledge that international troops or police in Chad and CAR will have little impact on the situation in Darfur. Only a political resolution in Darfur will help defuse the political tensions in Chad and CAR, not the other way around.
In terms of coercive military measures, there are two for which accelerated planning processes should commence within the NATO framework, with the understanding that any action would at least seek U.N. Security Council approval and only act in its absence if the situation deteriorated dramatically and all other avenues had been explored.
- No-Fly Zone: absent an enhanced ground component this option is questionable and fraught with potential negative side effects. However, it is important to press ahead with planning an enforcement mechanism for a No-Fly Zone as the Sudanese regime continues to use aerial bombing as a central component of its military strategy and its civilian displacement objectives. If the mandate would be strengthened and more troops deployed to protect civilians, neutralizing the Sudanese regime’s one tactical advantage will be essential.
- Non-Consensual Force Deployment: although few nations are likely to volunteer in the present context, if the situation dramatically deteriorates in Darfur (large-scale pullout of aid agencies, increasing attacks on camps or AU forces, etc.), the debate could shift quickly and credible plans need to be in place to move troops into the theater of war quickly with a primary focus on protecting vulnerable civilian populations.
Credible military planning should commence immediately for both options to demonstrate to Khartoum that decisive military action is possible in a short timeframe. It is both a practical necessity, and a means to build and utilize leverage against the regime.
5. Impose Punitive Measures Now
The UN Security Council, the EU, and the Bush administration are expert at threatening to punish those who commit atrocities and obstruct peace-building efforts, but equally skilled at not following through. It’s business as usual in Sudan. For the U.S. in particular, instead of walking softly and carrying a big stick, the Bush administration has been walking loudly and carrying a toothpick.
The latest example was the U.S. threat to move to an unspecified “Plan B” if the Khartoum regime wouldn’t accept an internationally agreed upon UN role in a peacekeeping force. The plan would include UN Blue Helmets in a “hybrid” force with the AU, with UN command-and-control for the operation. Thumbing their noses yet again at the international community, President Bashir and some of the most influential members of the regime reiterated publicly in no uncertain terms that UN troops were not welcome in Darfur, and Bashir drove the nail in the coffin with his letter to the UN Secretary General in early March. There had been no reaction from Washington as its Jan. 1 deadline came and went. This fecklessness at the beginning of 2007 only emboldened Khartoum to press forward with its military objectives and its rejection of international agreements, thus undermining international efforts to secure a peace deal and get an international force on the ground that could help protect Darfurian civilians.
However, as noted above, the administration has decided to begin to move towards its threatened “Plan B” policy of sticks instead of carrots, with unilateral targeted sanctions on a few offi cials and a group of Sudanese companies combined with still-vague proposals to restrict Sudanese oil transactions using U.S. dollars. The devil is in the details on these. Already, U.S. agencies tasked with implementation are either unresponsive or too under-resourced and understaffed to do the job. This tentative consideration of a move towards a more aggressive policy is a baby step in the right direction, but further decisions around more robust actions must be reached quickly and additional staff must be tasked to work full time to ensure swift implementation. Without new staff, none of the measures will be able to be enforced with the existing burdens related to other sanctions regimes. Without making these measures multilateral, the regime in Khartoum can easily shrug them off. And without a clear strategy of rapidly escalating pressure through a variety of economic and legal measures (which aim cumulatively for a political impact in the form of policy change in Khartoum), the deadly status quo will no doubt prevail.
It is crucial that the existing policy of gentle persuasion using all carrots and no sticks be reversed and repudiated with the utmost clarity and haste. Until now, the international community spells out an objective and tells Khartoum (and the rebels) that if there is no compliance there will be “consequences.” It is time to clearly defi ne and impose those “consequences,” and lift them only when there is full compliance with the objective. It is a simple but powerful paradigm shift that will fi nally provide the international community with the leverage it lacks to press forward with the peace and protection agenda. As demonstrated in the fi rst section, multilateral punitive measures have had an empirically demonstrable effect on the calculations of the regime in the past. The regime needed to fear a real cost for its actions before it would change its behavior or policies. This has not changed. To the victims of atrocities in Darfur, it must be incomprehensible that despite the rhetoric from the U.S., UN, and others, not one meaningful multilateral punitive measure had been imposed on a senior regime official until the ICC issued summons for a senior Khartoum official and Janjaweed leader.
The point is not simply to punish for punishment’s sake, although if the Bush administration’s characterization of the atrocities in Darfur as genocide were sincere, it would fulfill the Genocide Convention’s requirement as a signatory state to punish the crime. Punitive measures are essential to building the leverage necessary to gain Khartoum’s compliance for a durable peace deal for Darfur and the deployment of an effective international force to protect civilians and implement the peace. Similar measures should be imposed against leading rebel commanders and political leaders if they are deemed to have committed atrocities or are obstructing real and balanced peace efforts, which so far do not exist.
Any of the measures that the Bush administration is considering will be exponentially more effective if they are done multilaterally. The U.S. government already has strong unilateral sanctions in place against Sudan, barring U.S. companies from doing business with the National Congress Party (though allowing U.S. businesses to work with the Government of South Sudan), freezing assets in the U.S. of the Sudanese government and some Sudanese companies and individuals, and blocking financial transactions of companies registered in Sudan. These measures, enacted by the Clinton Administration in 1997, did affect the calculations of the regime at the time in pursuit of policy objectives at the time, but have since run their course as the Sudanese regime circumvents U.S. institutions in its commercial dealings. Therefore, if these measures were applied multilaterally and expanded they would have a much bigger impact on the pocketbooks of those responsible
for crimes against humanity. Moreover, the Government of Sudan will have a much more diffi cult time scoring propaganda points when the U.S. is not acting alone:
The following additional punitive measures could be implemented immediately without major cost, but it would require a strong diplomatic effort to rally multilateral support and signifi cant increases in staffing and resources to ensure aggressive implementation.
- Impose additional UN Security Council targeted sanctions—including asset freezes and travel bans— against persons responsible for crimes against humanity in Darfur, with a focus on those individuals who set in motion a policy to target civilian populations in Darfur. Such sanctions have been authorized in previous UNSC resolutions, and called for in multiple reports from the UNSC Sanctions Committee Panel of Experts. Currently, the U.S. and UK have developed different lists of persons that should be sanctioned. A single list should be produced, expanded, and presented to the Security Council for a vote, since it is clear the Sanctions Committee itself is incapable of taking action because of paralyzing internal splits.
- Build a coalition of states willing to impose measures that the U.S. has put in place in 1997 and thereafter, enact the additional “Plan B” measures referenced above, and fully implement these measures multilaterally with as wide an international support base as possible. Ideally these measures would be implemented through the UN Security Council when possible, and the UK should consider adding economic sanctions to the draft resolution it is reportedly preparing. With or without UN Security Council approval, which will be challenging (but not impossible) because of China’s and Russia’s opposition, a coalition of states should pursue the following policies, staffing and resourcing them sufficiently to accomplish their objectives:
— As the U.S. already does, freeze assets of the Government of Sudan and related commercial entities of the government—such as the main oil consortium—that
pass through their banking systems. The best option is to pass a Security Council resolution establishing a Panel of Experts to establish which companies are
owned or controlled by senior ruling party officials and, once they are identifi ed, demand that member states use all available means to freeze their assets. The Security Council has approved similar sanctions on a number of occasions, including the former Iraqi regime and the notorious Liberian warlord Charles Taylor. The U.S. government is already considering adding to its own list of companies for asset freezes,but has yet to hone in on those commercial entities with direct links to the pocketbooks of senior ruling party officials and foreign owned companies working in the oil sector. These assets would be returned once compliance is achieved.
– Block all commercial transactions involving the government of Sudan, companies owned or controlled by senior ruling party officials, and companies or banks that conduct business with the ruling party or its commercial entities. As noted above, the U.S. already blocks transactions involving many Sudanese companies, but simply blocking dollar transactions unilaterally is insufficient. Multilateral efforts
to block transactions in dollars and other currencies will close loopholes and severely disrupt the ruling party’s ability to conduct business.
– Notify international banking institutions that if they choose to continue to do business with the Government of Sudan or companies affiliated with the ruling
party, by a predetermined date, they will be cut off from the fi nancial systems of participating countries. The U.S. recently took similar measures unilaterally
against a bank in Macau it accuses of laundering money for the regime in North Korea, with immediate impact on the calculations in Pyongyang.
• Provide information and declassifi ed intelligence to the International Criminal Court to help accelerate the process of building indictments against senior offi cials in the regime for their role in orchestrating mass atrocities in Darfur. The U.S. has the most such intelligence and should come to agreement with the ICC about how and what information to share. The ICC has taken the first step by developing indictments for a Janjaweed leader and a senior Khartoum official, but efforts must be initiated to develop a strategy for apprehending these two suspects and any others that follow them.
Just as rebel unity is a prerequisite to an end to the crisis, so is the use of punitive measures to demonstrate to those committing atrocities and those undermining peace efforts—whether a part of the government or a rebel group—that there will be a cost, and that cost will increase with each major human rights or diplomatic violation.
6. Ramp Up Global Citizen Activism
Just as the anti-apartheid movement demonstrated in deconstructing the racist South African regime in the early 1990s, so too must a resolution of the Darfur crisis
depend in part on the actions of hundreds of thousands of activists in the U.S. and around the world. Given the absence of creative thinking and political will to do what is necessary in the Bush administration and among EU and UN Security Council governments, citizens around the world need to shape and maintain that political will themselves through global campaigning on Darfur.
The efforts of activists to date have been impressive. The issue of Darfur has been put on the radar screen of policy-makers in Washington, New York, London, and Brussels. Efforts have been successful at raising awareness, led by the Save Darfur Coalition, student-led groups like Students Taking Action Now: Darfur (STAND), the Genocide Intervention Network (GI-Net), and others, as well as citizen activists like Eric Reeves, but not at creating consensus around specifi c actions that must be taken to end the crisis. More focused and more specific campaigning is now needed, spelling out exactly what the U.S. government, the UN Security Council, NATO, and other influential actors must do.
One part of the activist equation is to increase exponentially the number of meetings, rallies, letters, phone calls, demonstrations, and other symbols of citizen concern targeted at their elected offi cials. That is an essential component of policy change in the U.S. and Europe, and there is no substitute for constituent pressure in these democratic systems of government.
Furthermore, specific activist efforts will be crucial in changing international equations that maintain the status quo in Darfur. For example, the following actions will be instrumental in altering calculations that allow the crisis to continue:
- The divestment movement: Activist efforts—led by the student-founded Sudan Divestment Task Force— have unfolded over the last couple years to develop momentum around a divestment strategy aimed at pressuring state pension funds, university endowments, and now giant mutual fund houses like Fidelity to sell any stocks they own from a targeted list of companies whose business dealings in Sudan benefit the Khartoum regime. The Boston Foundation, one of the largest community foundations in the country, has launched a new strategy that not only divests its direct holdings from these companies but also shorts the Foundation’s stocks held indirectly in pooled funds so that no part of their portfolio passively supports Khartoum. Individuals are also taking steps—from Stanford University professors to Senator Sam Brownback and actress Mia Farrow—to make sure their personal portfolios are clean as well, a meaningful action that anyone could take.
- China and the Olympics: Sudan activist Eric Reeves is launching a new initiative that will work to put real pressure on China internationally—for its support of the Khartoum regime and its oil investments in Sudan—in advance of the Beijing Olympics in 2008. The hope is that if enough global pressure is brought to bear on China while it is conducting a major global charm offensive in support of its role in the world that it will effectively press Khartoum to change its behavior in Darfur.
- “Make Them Pay”: As has been argued, until the regime pays a price for the atrocities it is committing and the peace it is obstructing, it will continue to divide and destroy Darfur. The ENOUGH Campaign will work with other groups to foster campaigning on accountability.
- Global Days for Darfur: During the last week of April, the Save Darfur Coalition is sponsoring a series of local activist-driven events in cities around the world.
THE 3 P’S OF CONFRONTING MASS
The ENOUGH Campaign has developed a simple organizing framework for the required international response for every crisis marked by the commission of mass atrocities. The 3 P’s we use are promoting the peace, protecting the people, and punishing the perpetrators. Elements of each of these are part and parcel of very successful response in memory.
Promoting peace encompasses numbers one, two, and three of the Policy Rubik’s Cube above (support rebel unity, build an effective peace process, and secure full time, high level U.S. involvement). Diplomatic efforts are urgently needed to unify the rebels, develop a viable and comprehensive peace process for Darfur, and get the U.S. engaged more directly in brokering a peace deal.
Protecting people involves number four of the Policy Rubik’s Cube above (accelerate military planning and action for protection). The existing AU force must be immediately strengthened, and planning for coercive military measures must be accelerated.
Punishing perpetrators involves number five of the Policy Rubik’s Cube above (impose punitive measures now). The policy sticks must be utilized now and then suspended or lifted once full compliance is achieved, thus giving the international actors who are trying to promote peace and protect people the leverage they need to do so.
Finally, number six of the Policy Rubik’s Cube above, global activist campaigning (people power, if we had a fourth P), helps generate the political will for the other fi ve sides of the Cube and for the 3 P’s. Absent significantly increased citizen action focused on specifi c policy objectives, it is unlikely that the key governments will feel compelled to take the necessary action to make a difference in Darfur.
RECOGNIZING THE OBSTACLES
If it is as simple as implementing the six sides of the Policy Rubik’s Cube or the 3 P’s, they would have been implemented. Since action of this comprehensive nature has not been undertaken—and the situation on the ground in Darfur is deteriorating—we need to examine why sufficient action has not been taken. There are six key obstacles to greater international action in Darfur:
1) For the U.S., though officials routinely deny it, the counter-terrorism cooperation relationship the U.S. has forged with the Khartoum regime has undermined efforts to pursue a more robust policy regarding Darfur. At this point, maintaining the CIA’s close relationship with members of the regime’s security apparatus is apparently more important than punishing those individuals for their role in orchestrating mass atrocities in Darfur. Until these dual policy objectives are rationalized and made equally important, it is unlikely the U.S. will do what is necessary to change the equation in Khartoum.
2) Europeans have pursued a constructive engagement approach to the Sudanese regime because of a strong belief that incentives work better than pressures in these kinds of crises. Some European countries host big companies that are invested in the Sudanese oil sector or otherwise have commercial ties that limit the appetite to take stronger measures against the regime.
3) In general, international actors will oppose the use of non-consensual force in Darfur. The disasters unfolding in Iraq and Afghanistan testify to the inadequacy of military intervention without a more comprehensive political approach. Nonetheless, if the Khartoum regime continues to pursue policies that undermine solutions and accelerate mortality rates in Darfur, the international community must be ready to respond more forcefully. So calling for deployment of such force begs the question: from where will the forces come? Whose planes will patrol Sudanese air space in a No Fly Zone? Where would ground forces come from to protect displaced camps and humanitarian operations? Despite the tough talk of former U.S. Ambassador to the UN John Bolton about not needing Khartoum’s consent for deploying the force authorized by UN Security Council Resolution 1706, there was and remains no political will at present to deploy non-consensually to Darfur.
4) International leadership is non-existent. The UN Secretariat has lacked any sort of political leadership, ceding the role to former Under-Secretary General for
Humanitarian Affairs Jan Egeland. The AU is totally overwhelmed by the deployment of a few thousand troops and lacks the capacity to lead a multi-pronged strategy to end the Sudan crisis. The U.S. and EU have replaced real political leadership with press releases, ad hoc visits by mid-level diplomats, large amounts of humanitarian
aid, and attendance at international conferences that rarely have the follow-up necessary to gather some momentum. Khartoum is not impressed.
5) The peacekeeping cart has bizarrely been put before the peace-making horse. An effective peacekeeping operation in Darfur requires a durable peace deal. Intensive international efforts have gone into the construction of the three-phase hybrid peacekeeping plan, but the missing prerequisite for a force that can effectively protect civilians protecting civilians is a durable peace deal with buy-in from the major rebel movements and other stakeholders in Darfur, or at least a comprehensive cease-fi re agreement that would allow signifi cant international monitoring.
6) Divisions amongst U.S. activists have rendered the impressive advocacy effort less than successful. With each advocacy group supporting its pet recommendation,
no momentum has been built around an appropriately robust and comprehensive objective. For months, millions of dollars of advertisements were placed telling the Bush administration to do what it was already doing: trying to deploy an international force to Darfur. No coordinated action has been launched on what needs to happen to get that force deployed. Until there is a smarter, more coordinated, more comprehensive campaign backed by a wider set of groups in the U.S. and abroad, the critical mass generated by the likes of the anti-apartheid movement 15 years ago will not be forthcoming.
These obstacles are significant, but not insurmountable. The only way they will be overcome or circumvented is through more effective citizen activism, turning up the
heat on the Bush administration and other governments to take the necessary steps to end Darfur’s agony.
WHY THE U.S. STILL MATTERS MOST
Iraq casts a large and ominous shadow over the foreign policy of the United States in hotspots throughout the world. But the U.S. does not need to send in the 82nd
Airborne to solve the world’s problems. Smart U.S. diplomacy, in close coordination with our allies and multilateral organizations, can alter the calculations in Khartoum and end the crisis in Darfur. And while African leaders may publicly criticize U.S. policies in the Middle East, most African countries want to maintain strong relations with the U.S. The leverage exists, and when the U.S. builds coalitions and focuses diplomatic resources on sustained peace-building, good things can happen.
We have seen American infl uence used to positive effect in Sudan. When the negotiations between the government and the Southern People’s Liberation Movement were faltering, the U.S. and its Special Envoy, former Missouri Senator John Danforth, used its influence to push the process forward and help broker the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA). Similarly, when peace negotiations between various Darfur rebel factions and Khartoum were on the brink of failure in the spring of 2006, the U.S. sent then Deputy Secretary of State Robert Zoellick to Abuja to negotiate directly with the parties. In just a few days, Zoellick managed to extract additional concessions from Khartoum and pressure rebel faction leader Minni Minawi to sign the DPA, although the U.S. and others sowed the seeds for the DPA’s demise when they abandoned the process without getting the other rebels on board through further negotiation.
Unfortunately, the DPA is in tatters and the CPA implementation faltering because the U.S. has not followed through with the same high-level attention. The CPA provides for elections in 2009, but prospects for a free and fair vote are dimming with each passing day of official neglect from Washington and other key capitals.
“The X-factor in U.S./Sudan relations—and thus in the solution to Darfur—is the regime’s desire for international legitimacy and closer ties to America,” says Colin Thomas-Jensen of the International Crisis Group and ENOUGH. Despite the bellicose rhetoric of senior Sudanese officials toward the U.S., the National Congress Party, at its core, wants to heal its relationship with the U.S. government. Because of Chinese and other foreign investment, Sudan has a booming economy—albeit one that only benefi ts ruling elites in Khartoum. Yet despite this, the U.S. has non-economic things that Khartoum wants. Regime officials consistently press the U.S. to lift sanctions, remove Sudan from its list of state sponsors of terrorism, and resume full diplomatic relations with Khartoum, actions that would allow U.S. companies to invest in Sudan, increase competition and effi ciency in oil exploitation, and lift the shroud of international pariah status that enrages the NCP.
In the end, relatively little resources are needed to have a drastic impact on Khartoum and the situation on the ground, but the efforts do need to be applied multilaterally and in a targeted, sustained way.
THE NECESSARY SEA CHANGE
Reversing course and pursuing a pressure-based strategy for Darfur is not without obstacles. Both U.S. and European officials have other interests at stake, with Washington focused on Khartoum’s counter-terrorism cooperation and our European allies sticking to their belief in quiet diplomacy, with some eager to maintain access to investments in the Sudanese oil sector. Distracted by the crisis in Iraq and wary of the risks of non-consensual intervention, the international community has offered up neither the leadership nor the persistence needed to craft a solution. While issuing repeated statements of concern and alarm, the international community has failed utterly to act on its responsibility to protect the citizens of Darfur, and has instead chosen to offer rhetorical backing for a non-existent peacekeeping force at a time when there is no peace to keep.
The policy status quo has failed the people of Darfur. Activist efforts have raised awareness but not moved that status quo sufficiently. The current approaches of both policymakers and activists must be rethought and reformed.
The central paradigm shift must be to move away from the current policy of constructive engagement without any leverage (with gentle persuasion being the preferred tool) to a more muscular policy focused on walking softly and carrying—and using— a bigger stick. Unfulfi lled threats and appeals should be replaced quickly with punitive measures backing a robust peace and protection initiative. We may not know the names of the victims in Darfur, but we know the names of the orchestrators of the policy that led to their deaths.
Until that fundamental sea change in the overall approach to the crisis occurs, Darfur’s suffering will continue and intensify. And the longer activists continue to pursue piecemeal and uncoordinated advocacy initiatives, the further away a durable solution will be for the people of Darfur.
There is hope. The growing constituency in the U.S. focused on countering the atrocities in Darfur is expanding by the day. The crescendo of activism has been heard and noted in Washington, and has resulted in the first baby steps by the Bush administration towards a more muscular policy towards a regime it accuses of committing genocide, though President Bush must wade into the paralyzing interagency battles and make clear decisions to implement specifi c punitive measures, and then find the staff and resources to oversee these measures.
The kinds of actions spelled out here in this paper for the most part will not require major resources or huge numbers of personnel. The Horn of Africa is of significant strategic interest to the U.S., and of commercial and humanitarian interest to a number of U.S. allies, so real policy investments can be justifi ed. But most importantly, the moral credibility and leadership capacity of the U.S. is on the line, after throwing down the genocide gauntlet and making Sudan a major priority of the current administration.
Ultimately, the key to the right policy lies in politics and the effectiveness of political activism. Just as during the anti-apartheid movement in the 1980s and early 1990s, the political will necessary to properly confront the atrocities in Darfur is politically malleable, and the backbones of elected offi cials will potentially stiffen if the activist community is successful in making enough noise to render the status quo politically unacceptable, and perhaps some day even politically costly.