In the Sunday February 12 version of the New York Times, Nicholas Kristof writes another poignant op-ed about the situation in Darfur. I think the most interesting part is when he gives suggestions for what the President can do to help the situation. Many people that I have conversations with about this topic often question how much the President can really contribute to positive change without sending U.S. troops and the following excerpt from the article responds to such questions:
President Bush is doing more about Darfur than most other leaders, but that's not saying much. The French are being particularly unhelpful, while other Europeans (including, alas, Tony Blair) seem to wonder whether it's really worth the expense to save people from genocide. Muslim countries are silent about the slaughter of Darfur's Muslims, while China disgraces itself by protecting Sudan in the United Nations and underwriting the genocide with trade. Still, even Mr. Bush is taking only baby steps.
Here are some grown-up steps Mr. Bush could take: He could enforce a no-fly zone to stop air attacks on civilians in Darfur, lobby Arab leaders to become involved, call President Hu Jintao and ask China to stop protecting Sudan, invite Darfur refugees to a photo op at the White House, attend a coming donor conference for Darfur, visit Darfur or the refugee camps next door in Chad, push France and other allies for a NATO bridging force to provide protection until United Nations troops arrive, offer to support the United Nations force with American military airlift and logistical support (though not ground troops, which would help Sudan's hard-liners by allowing them to claim that the United States was starting a new invasion of the Arab world), make a major speech about Darfur, and arrange for Colin Powell to be appointed a United Nations special envoy to seek peace among Darfur's tribal sheiks.
With Mr. Bush saying little about Darfur, presidential leadership on Darfur is coming from ... Slovenia. The Slovenian president, Janez Drnovsek, has emerged as one of the few leaders who are actually organizing an international effort to stop the genocide.
"You ask, Why Slovenia?" he told me. "I can ask, Why not Slovenia?"
Mr. Drnovsek came to the United States recently to talk about Darfur with Kofi Annan, Bill Clinton and Chinese officials. But he says that President Bush declined to see him; if Mr. Bush were more serious about Darfur, he would be hailing Slovenia's leadership indeed, emulating it.
Click here to read the full op-ed.
For past posts on Darfur, click here.