Sunday, October 16, 2005

Time for Action: Sudan must be forced to cooperate

Sunday, October 16, 2005

The U.S. ambassador to the U.N., John Bolton, caused quite a little dust-up the other day by expressing disinterest in hearing a parade of reports on the deteriorating situation in Darfur. His point, he said, was not that the U.S. doesn't care, but that it cares enough to insist that it's time for action, not just talk.

Recent events in Darfur show how terribly right he is.

In the past week, both sides – the Sudanese government and its Arab militia proxies on one hand, black rebel groups on the other – launched deadly attacks on villages and even refugee camps. Several African Union peacekeepers were killed trying to shield civilians. Dozens of peacekeepers were kidnapped and held hostage.

Peace talks designed to find a stable political solution are hamstrung by the refusal of some rebel splinter groups even to come to the table. Meanwhile, Sudan is effectively thumbing its nose at the African Union.

The Khartoum government has refused to let 70 of the 105 armored personnel carriers needed by African Union troops into the country. On Tuesday, a government statement derided the organization's reports of spiraling violence in Darfur, saying the African Union is "not in a position to give moral lessons to a founding member of the African Union."

"The AU's mission of forging an 'African solution to an African crisis' has not achieved the intended outcome," concluded the World Markets Research Centre, a spinoff of Global Insight, a company that tracks international developments for major corporations. "Unless the international community bolsters the presence and capabilities of the AU mission and considers an expanded international input in Darfur, it will be all the more difficult to reverse the recent renewed violence and lawlessness."

Mr. Bolton suggests that the U.N. crack down even further on the flow of arms into Sudan. That sounds like a good idea. Other nations emphasize forcing Sudan to cooperate with investigations by the International Criminal Court. Despite U.S. reservations about the court, our government should not short-circuit any action designed to bring the perpetrators of these atrocities to heel.

"Action," that's the key. An action is worth a million words.


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