The Spitfire's Grill
Regular Rants from a Pragmatic Liberal
Sunday, April 17, 2005
Kristof on Darfur
He's written about it dozens of times, but this is worth repeating. He starts out by listing some atrocities in the past that the U.S. Government has conviently ignored either because the situtation was too complex or too expensive:

When Turkey was massacring Armenians in 1915, the administration of Woodrow Wilson determinedly looked the other way... A generation later, American officials said they were too busy fighting a war to worry about Nazi death camps... In the 1970's, the U.S. didn't try to stop the Cambodian genocide...Much the same happened in Bosnia and Rwanda.

All good points. All situations were different with one exception. The common tie was that in none of those instances was there a significant public outcry. So far, this unifying theme is also playing out in Darfur. So Kristof drops the bomb:

Now President Bush is writing a new chapter in that history.

Sudan's army and janjaweed militias have spent the last couple of years rampaging in the Darfur region, killing boys and men, gang-raping and then mutilating women, throwing bodies in wells to poison the water and heaving children onto bonfires. Just over a week ago, 350 assailants launched what the U.N. called a "savage" attack on the village of Khor Abeche, "killing, burning and destroying everything in their paths." Once again, there's no good solution. So we've looked away as 300,000 people have been killed in Darfur, with another 10,000 dying every month.

The Administration claims to be doing things, but we all know they can do more. The U.S., more than any other country, has a bully pulpit from which to speak. If Bush simply concentrated on the issue, spoke about it in harsh words, critisized the Sudanese government in the language he uses towards Syria, then the world would have to respond.

The people of the world surely don't like the President of the United States, but they just as surely don't ignore him. Bush gets as much press in Europe and parts of Asia as he does in his own country.

We've thrown a trivial amount of money at the problem (under $2 Billion, most of which hasn't been spent yet). But that's just enough to claim we've actually done something. Look at the amount of attention this country is paying to the Social Security debate versus Darfur. Really quite Shameful.

I can forgive this president for having a different opinion on Social Security, judges, and other domestic issues. I can understand his foreign policy decisions on Iraq, Iran, and Syria. I cannot understand--nor will I tolerate--his unwillingness to force Americans and the world to think about what is going on in Darfur.

Use that bully pulpit, Mr. President.

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