Tuesday, June 07, 2005


Kristof has another column on the ungodly nightmare that is Sudan, and President Bush's manly, resolute inaction in the face of it. I'm going to shy away from the money quotes about mutilating and killing children - check it out for yourself if you want to be appalled.

Last fall President Bush declared the slaughter here in Darfur to be genocide, and then looked away. One reason for his paralysis is apparently the fear that Darfur may be another black hole of murder and mutilation, a hopeless quagmire to suck in well-meaning Americans - another Somalia or Iraq.

I think Kristof is giving Bush too much credit here - I think Bush just doesn't give a damn because Sudan has no terrorist strawmen, oil, or any other lucrative war profiteering opportunities.

If Mr. Bush led a determined effort to save Darfur, there would be real hope for peace here - plus, the international image of the U.S. would improve. And a new Zogby poll commissioned by the International Crisis Group found that Americans by margins of six to one favor bolder action in Darfur, such as a no-fly zone.

But Mr. Bush is covering his eyes. Last year administration figures like Colin Powell and John Danforth led the response to Darfur, but now neither Condoleezza Rice nor the White House seems much interested.

Darfur will never be a Somalia or Iraq, because nobody is talking about sending in American combat troops. But simply an ounce of top-level attention to Darfur would go a long way to save lives.

In 1999, Madeleine Albright traveled to Sierra Leone and met child amputees there, wrenching the hearts of American television viewers and making that crisis a priority in a way that eventually helped resolve it. Ms. Rice could do the same for Darfur if she would only bother to go.

Mr. Bush values a frozen embryo. But he hasn't mustered much compassion for an entire population of terrorized widows and orphans. And he is cementing in place the very hopelessness he dreads, by continuing to avert his eyes from the first genocide of the 21st century.

Shouldn't the evangelists be pressuring Bush to do something about this? Aren't they supposed to care deeply about this sort of thing, and the Culture Of Life and stuff?

In any case, I don't want to hear another word about how Compassionate Liberator Bush had to invade Iraq to save its people from Saddam's brutality.


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