If I were an arrogant sort, I'd claim that my piece on Darfur yesterday made an impact, but I'm not, so I won't. :0) I am happy, though, to see BushCo finally demanding that the Sudanese government take action to stop the genocide and oppression in Darfur.
KHARTOUM, Sudan - Secretary of State Colin Powell arrived in Sudan Tuesday demanding the government crack down on Arab militias whose actions he said approached genocide against African villagers in western Darfur.
"I hope to give them a very direct message about how the United States and the international community see the horrific situation," Powell told reporters on his plane from Turkey.
"We need to see action promptly," he added.
A senior U.S. official said earlier Tuesday that up to one million displaced Sudanese could die this year in Darfur region because of a humanitarian crisis blamed on Khartoum.
One million Darfuris have fled their homes in the past 18 months because of the conflict in the arid region between the militias known as the Janjaweed, the government and two rebel groups who say they are acting the protect the villagers.
U.N. officials and human rights groups have said the Janajweed are carrying out ethnic cleansing. Some organizations have likened it to the genocide in Rwanda in the 1990s.
Of course, Powell gave no specifics (unless vague diplo-speak counts as such) about how the US government plans to ensure that their expectations for reform are met. My fear is that Powell will leave, taking the media spotlight with him, and then business will return to usual in Darfur.
The US has a great deal at stake here. One of Bill Clinton's regret was not reacting the the Rwandan genocide more forcefully. The Bush Administration now has a clear opportunity to ensure that the same mistake is not made in Darfur. It would be nice to be able to claim a degree of optimism, but after seeing what BushCo did in Iraq, confidence in their abilities to manage a foreign policy crisis in difficult to come by.
Memo to Colin Powell: how about we see some action to back up those words?