Saturday, April 29, 2006

Osama's Crusade in Darfur

Practical suggestions to end the war in Darfur from Kristof of the New York Times.
 If you have any interest in this issue, please consider finding out where in your city the Save Darfur Rally will be held tomorrow. This will be a nation-wide rally....

Those of us who want a more forceful response to genocide in Darfur should be sobered by Osama bin Laden's latest tape.

In that tape, released on Sunday, Osama rails against the agreement
that ended Sudan's civil war with its Christian and animist south and
accuses the U.S. of plotting to dispatch "Crusader troops" to occupy
Darfur "and steal its oil wealth under the pretext of peacekeeping."
Osama calls on good Muslims to go to Sudan and stockpile land mines and
rocket-propelled grenades in preparation for "a long-term war" against
U.N. peacekeepers and other infidels.

Osama's tape underscores the fact that a tougher approach carries
real risks. It's easy for us in the peanut gallery to call for a U.N.
force, but what happens when jihadis start shooting down the U.N.

So with a major rally planned for Sunday to call for action to stop
the slaughter in Darfur, let's look at what specific actions the U.S.
should take. One reader, William in Scottsdale, Ariz., wrote to me to
say that he had called Senator John McCain's office to demand more
action on Darfur. "The lady on the phone asked me for suggestions," he
said — and William was short on suggestions.

The first step to stop the killing is to dispatch a robust U.N.
peacekeeping force of at least 20,000 well-equipped and mobile troops.

But because of precisely the nationalistic sensitivities that Osama is
trying to stir, it shouldn't have U.S. ground troops. Instead, it
should be made up mostly of Turks, Jordanians, Bangladeshis, Pakistanis
and other Muslims, and smaller numbers of European and Asian troops.
The U.S. can supply airlifts, and NATO can provide a short-term
bridging force if necessary.

Second, the U.S. and France should enforce a no-fly zone from the
French air base in Abéché, Chad.
American military planners say this is
practicable, particularly if it simply involves destroying Sudanese
aircraft on the ground after they have attacked civilians.

Granted, these approaches carry real risks. After we shoot up a
Sudanese military plane, Sudan may orchestrate a "spontaneous" popular
riot that will involve lynching a few U.S. aid workers — or journalists.

But remember that the Sudanese government is hanging on by its
fingernails. It is deeply unpopular, and when it tried to organize
demonstrations against the Danish cartoons, they were a flop.

The coming issue of Foreign Policy magazine publishes a Failed
States Index in which Sudan is ranked the single most unstable country
in the entire world. If we apply enough pressure, Sudan's leaders will
back down in Darfur — just as they did when they signed a peace deal to
end the war with southern Sudan.

A no-fly zone and a U.N. force are among the ways we can apply
pressure, but another essential element is public diplomacy. We should
respond to Osama by shining a spotlight on the Muslim victims of Darfur
(many Arabs have instinctively sided with Sudan's rulers and have no
idea that nearly all of the victims of the genocide are Muslim).

The White House can invite survivors for a photo-op so they
themselves can recount, in Arabic, how their children were beheaded and
their mosques destroyed. We can release atrocity photos, like one I
have from an African Union archive of the body of a 2-year-old boy
whose face was beaten into mush. President Bush can make a major speech
about Darfur, while sending Condi Rice and a planeload of television
journalists to a refugee camp in Chad to meet orphans.

Madeleine Albright helped end the horrors of Sierra Leone simply by
going there and being photographed with maimed children. Those searing
photos put Sierra Leone on the global agenda, and policy makers
hammered out solutions. Granted, it's the fault of the "CBS Evening
News" that it gave Darfur's genocide only 2 minutes of coverage in all
of last year (compared with the 36 minutes that it gave the Michael
Jackson trial), but the administration can help when we in the media
world drop the ball.

The U.S. could organize a summit meeting in Europe or the Arab world
to call attention to Darfur, we could appoint a presidential envoy like
Colin Powell, and we could make the issue much more prominent in our
relations with countries like Egypt, Qatar, Jordan and China.

Americans often ask what they can do about Darfur. These are the
kinds of ideas they can urge on the White House and their members of
Congress — or on embassies like Egypt's. Many other ideas are at and at

When Darfur first came to public attention, there were 70,000 dead.
Now there are perhaps 300,000, maybe 400,000. Soon there may be 1
million. If we don't act now, when will we?

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