The Obama Strategy on Sudan: How to Downplay the ICC
Looking at the long-awaited new Obama Sudan Strategy, there is much to admire. It is sensible, forward-looking, and realistic. It also appears to be pretty much the same policy President Bush pursued, which then Obama campaign adviser Susan Rice (and current UN Ambassador) trashed back in 2008. For instance, it emphasizes ending the violence and war through a peace agreement, and barely mentions the elephant in the room. How do you make a peace deal with a government headed by an individual wanted for war crimes and crimes against humanity?
It is too much to simply jettison past tough rhetoric, but the document admirably downplays the importance of international efforts to achieve justice. In bullet point four under the strategic objective one of ending the violence and genocide, the document reads:
Support Accountability. In addition to supporting international efforts to bring those responsible for genocide and war crimes in Darfur to justice, the United States will work with Darfuri civil society to support locally-owned accountability and reconciliation mechanisms that can make peace more sustainable.
This is it on “accountability”. No further discussion. No ringing rhetoric about the importance of international justice and the end to impunity. I think this leaves plenty of wiggle room for a deal down the road to get the ICC warrants withdrawn. Note that domestic efforts are emphasized, despite an existing judgment by the international community that international justice is necessary. The ICC (not directly mentioned) will be “supported”. One assumes that NSC staffer Samantha Power did not draft this language and that Angelina Jolie does not quite approve.