NYT’s Kristof: Obama’s Sudan Policy is a Failure

by Julian Ku

I don’t want to get into a pointless back and forth with Kevin on the significance of Bashir’s visit to Kenya. I don’t think the details of his visit change my views much. It still seems much more like a slap in the face than a sign of the ICC’s power. But I think we can agree to disagree on this one (UPDATE: See Kenya’s Defense of the Visit as Necessary to Regional Peace).  After all, there are more important issues afoot.  For instance, yesterday’s NYT contained a (to me) stunning column by columnist Nicholas Kristof calling Obama’s Sudan policy a “failure” that could lead to a horrific bloodbath as soon as next year.  Here’s a line to remember:

For all his faults, President Bush inherited a war in Sudan and managed to turn it into peace. Mr. Obama inherited a peace that could turn into the world’s bloodiest war next year.

I have never claimed to be a Sudan expert, but folks like Kristof (who style themselves as Sudan experts of some sort) are beginning to raise the alarm.  The question though is, what exactly is the flaw in the Obama policy?  Is it not being tough enough on Sudan? Or is it being too tough? Kristof can’t seem to decide. His complaint seems to be that Obama is unengaged. (This seems to be a common complaint about Obama, and I think it is unfair. I am not an Obama supporter, but he does have a lot on this plate right now).

In any event, I think we can all agree that the goal here is to prevent the outbreak of another civil war, which Kristof seems to think is imminent.  I can’t see how the ICC arrest warrant helps this goal, at least in the short term.  The better strategy (which does seem to be the Obama policy), is to acknowledge the ICC arrest warrant, but to de-emphasize its importance.  I doubt fulfilling the arrest warrant will be a condition or a requirement of any new peace deal or even any new engagement with the U.S.    I agree that this is pretty horrible on a moral level.  But when you have no other options (and military action is not an option for this president), you have to live with horrible if it prevents mass murder and genocide.


One Response

  1. Response…
    I seems a bit bizzare to claim that Bashir, who is covered by an arrest warrant in an effort before the ICC to help prevent future murder and genocide by ending impunity (as recognizably required of all parties to the ICC Statute from its preamble and articles 25 and 27-28), should be allowed to roam free in the interest of ending murder and genocide.
    Functional impunity will not serve peace in the long-term or the need to combat murder and genocide in the short or long term (short, because Bashir is alleged to be responsible for its very continuation).

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