Thursday, December 31, 2009

How to solve a problem like Darfur

PALO ALTO — In Darfur, disease, rape, carnage and death have been regular features of life since February, 2003. Now President Obama says he wants to talk to the Sudanese government. All I can say is, that has been tried before.

In October 2004, Tony Blair, then British prime minster, came to Khartoum and climbed the steps of the presidential palace to see Omar Bashir, Sudan’s dictator. On those same steps, in 1885, an Islamic rebel leader beheaded Gen. Charles Gordon, the British administrator of Sudan. This time, Blair reached the second floor without incident, sat with Bashir in his lair and came away with a promise.

Sudan would withdraw its forces from Darfur and reach a peace agreement with the Darfur rebels by the end of that year. At that time, the United Nations estimated that 50,000 people had been killed and at least 1 million others driven from their homes.

After Blair’s visit, a succession of world leaders climbed those steps, sat with Bashir and came away to brag before the microphones about the concessions he had offered. All of it came to naught. Read more >>>>>>>>

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