Michael Gerson noted this last week "That while a new administration is just getting started, history doesn't stop." He expressed deep concerns about the problems in Sudan and Darfur. There is a very good reason for this concern. President Obama's Africa policy team is already working on these issues and what they will find should open everyone's eyes if the truth on the ground is brought into the light. Everyone familiar with this part of Africa knows that it is a terrible situation that needs a careful and involved contribution from the United States.
The International Criminal Court (ICC), of the United Nations, issued an arrest warrant for President Omar Hassan al-Bashir of the Sudan last week. He is charged with war crimes. Thus the new administration faces a very tough question: "Can a hunted war criminal also be a partner in the Sudan peace process?"
Gerson wrote last week that when he was in the White House he generally felt that ICC war crimes charges pushed a dictator into a corner and then made him more dangerous, not less. But in the case of al-Bashir he believes the traditional forms of diplomacy have plainly failed and he must be brought to justice, not bargained with in a peace process. America has sat out the ICC in the past and Gerson thinks it will continue to do so under Obama. But he now believes the ICC warrant should really mean something in this case. Sudan has broken so many pledges and so many people have died that it is time to take a different approach. A verified cease-fire is called for in Sudan. The international community needs to be involved and America needs to lead. A comprehensive peace plan between the north and south of Sudan is a must. Bashir is an international pariah and we should treat him as such if we are serious.
Concludes Gerson, "Change in Darfur will not arrive with the delivery of an arrest warrant. It will require the construction of a broad coalition to isolate and marginalize Bashir. And if he is offered a negotiated way out, it must be costly and comprehensive." I agree. I pray that the Obama administration will show both courage and moral conviction. We should be watching and praying and letting them know if we believe that they have failed. Too many have already died and more will die if we do nothing. Watch the news over the coming months and let your voice be heard. The man who ran on changing America's role in the world needs to step up and take action in Darfur and Sudan. Darfur is a great place to find out if he will actually address a really tough argument that does not get the attention that the Middle East garners.