Wrong understanding of US Sudan policy
Tuesday 19 August 2008.
By Bill Andress
August 18, 2008 — In Nino Saviano’s article entitled, "Moral clarity beats clarity in U.S. Sudan policy", published in Sudan Tribune on August 14th, he said, "The Bush administration’s Sudan policy is aloof, disengaged, and ambiguous. It ignores the realities on the ground – the peacekeeping efforts in Darfur, the progress toward peace in all of Sudan, and any potential dangerous security ramifications due to failure."
The Bush administration’s policy may seem at times ambiguous to those not following the situation in Sudan on a daily basis, but I do not believe the Bush administration has been aloof or disengaged nor that it ignores the realities on the ground. I am an American who has advocated for a just and lasting peace for all Sudanese for the last nine years and have kept abreast of the US policies, as well as those of the international community, as they affect Sudan. These are my views, substantiated below.
The United States government and most of its citizens, who are well informed, decry the situation in Darfur as genocide. We publically did so in 2004, notably during former Secretary of State Colin Powell’s visit to Darfur. No other nation has had the courage to assert that genocide is and has been taking place. Others have avoided the terminology. The US has used its political and economic might in an effort to stop the genocide. Unfortunately that has not been successful.
The United States government and people provide over 50% of the humanitarian aid for the suffering citizens of Sudan. The US pays to produce and ship food to Sudan while the Sudanese government exports food for profit rather than assisting its own people. Numerous US agencies and NGOs help to reconstruct schools, hospitals, churches and infrastructures while the Government of Sudan reaps the profit of over-priced oil and uses the funds to enrich the privileged few and make life better for a small minority of its people.
The United States government was a strong proponent of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement, signed January 9, 2005, and since then has worked to assist in getting compliance by the parties to the agreement.
On the other hand, the Bush administration has in certain regards followed alternative paths concerning Sudan at the same time. Some examples are:
Despite the Bush administration’s position on genocide, the United States continues to cooperate with the intelligence services of the Government of Sudan. This is driven by our response to terrorists attacks in the US in September 2001. (Embedded image moved to file: pic05938.gif)- Despite US support of the CPA, the Bush administration has not been as strong a force for the implementation of the CPA as it might have been. While not acceptable as an excuse, the reason Afghanistan.
Certainly as it impacts Sudan, the Bush administration’s policy on the ICC is ambiguous. The US does not stand in the way of ICC indictments of Sudanese leaders, but has refrained from any direct involvement with the ICC.
Granted, the United States could do a better job in supporting peace in Sudan. But - it does not sell weapons to be used against the people of Darfur as Russia and China do. It does not participate in scorched earth policies to drive people from the land and benefit from the extraction of oil as do both the GoS and other nations. It does not profit from the Sudanese government’s increasing its military capability which it uses against its own people as do other nations.
Saviano implies that the GoS is a willing and supportive participant in the CPA. He says, "All of the major political parties and players have been setting their sight on free and fair national elections. The SPLM, the main opposition group from south Sudan, as well as al-Bashir’s National Congress Party, have recently been making extraordinary and unprecedented reconciliatory moves supporting the current Government of National Unity and the CPA."
Has he forgotten the impediments that the GoS placed in the way of those who sought to establish a valid census? Has he forgotten that the GoS (President al-Bashir) rejected the results of the Abyei Boundary Commission in violation of the CPA? Has he forgotten that the GoS recently drove about 80,000 citizens from their homes in Abyei? Saviano closes by saying, "The United States must find common ground with China, Russia, the AU and others with interest in the region in order to avoid another humanitarian catastrophe for the people of Darfur, Sudan and the region." While the United States policy is not totally clear - after all it is driven by national interests as well - perhaps China, Russia, the AU and others should find common ground with the people of Sudan, as the United States seeks to do, rather than the US seeking to provide common ground with those who facilitate the destruction of Sudan’s people and homeland.,
The United States is not without fault, but no other nation has done as much for the people of Sudan. We have done so willingly and generously precisely because we are not aloof or disengaged, and we are painfully aware of the realities in all of Sudan and not only in Darfur.
Bill Andress is a USA Presbyterian Church elder, he is also the Co-Moderator, Sudan Advocacy Action Forum (SAAF), Lexington, SC, USA
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