Thursday, January 21, 2010

It's Been A Year, Obama - What About The People of Darfur?

As we mark a year of President Obama's administration, it is time to consider the promises made by Obama the Candidate, and the actions of Obama, the president.

One area in which Obama seems to be falling short is on his promises regarding Darfur, according to the organization, Save Darfur Coalition. Recently, they sent a message to their members asking them to:
Tell Obama to match his campaign promises with decisive leadership.

One year ago today Barack Obama was sworn in as the 44th President of the United States. As he took office, he promised high-level leadership to bring peace to Darfur and all of Sudan.

Unfortunately, President Obama's strong words in the campaign have yet to be accompanied by the kind of decisive leadership we expected from the new President.

Millions of people in Darfur still live in camps with the ever-present threat of violence. All of the people of Sudan continue to live without even the most basic human rights. Now, indicted war criminal Omar al-Bashir is preparing to steal the country's first election in 24 years.

We must not let this happen.

Tell President Obama we need his personal leadership to make sure the United States and the world do not to legitimize Omar al-Bashir's corrupt, genocidal regime.

Secretary of State Clinton took a small step forward when she recently called on Sudan "to suspend elements of the national security and public order laws that are incompatible with free and fair elections." But her words still lack the support of the President himself, who has remained silent instead of calling out Khartoum for its lack of progress.

Sudanese security forces continue to harass and intimidate their political opponents. Violence and insecurity in Darfur will make voting difficult—if not impossible. The regime in Khartoum wants to use the upcoming election to tighten its grip on power and insulate its leadership from the reach of international justice.

We must act now. Send a message directly to President Obama and tell him that the United States must not recognize the results of an illegitimate election.

Thank you for your support and your activism.

Mark Lotwis
Save Darfur Coalition
Donate to Help Save Darfur

Let's take a step back. Just what did Obama promise to do about Darfur? Here he is speaking about Darfur, and other areas, including the toll it takes on one's soul to not act in this Save Darfur Coalition video:

And yet, despite the "stain" on one's soul, and the continued genocide, the United States is falling far short in stepping in. Make no mistake, this is a dangerous, dangerous area, especially for women and children. Secretary Clinton spoke about this very issue in terms of rape being used as a tool in Sudan and Darfur:

It is impossible to not be moved by Secretary Clinton's description of these acts of brutality against women and children in Darfur, and other areas in the world. It is haunting, it is tragic, and it is unacceptable.

Secretary Clinton also spoke about the goals for the region of Darfur in October, 2009:

Worthy goals, to be sure. But words are not enough to save lives there, nor unfulfilled commitments. Action is what is warranted, what is needed, what is demanded, to end the genocide in Darfur. According to a former top UN investigator:
accused the Obama administration of failing to enforce a five-year-old arms embargo in Darfur, Sudan, and said weapons continue to flow into the region.

I cannot even fathom why this Administration would fail in such a task. The former inspector continued:
Enrico Carisch, a Swiss national who until October led a U.N. panel investigating violations of the arms embargo, contrasted the administration's efforts with those of President George W. Bush, noting the previous administration's strong advocacy of sanctions against Sudan.

"In contrast to that leadership of 2004 and 2005, the United States appears to have now joined the group of influential states who sit by quietly and do nothing to ensure that sanctions work to protect Darfurians (emphasis mine)," Carisch said in written testimony for an appearance before the House Foreign Affairs subcommittee on Africa.

A damning indictment indeed. For a candidate who spoke such powerful words, who spoke of a "stain" on the human soul to not step in when crimes are being perpetrated against the Darfurians, to now just sit on the sidelines is unthinkable.

And not for nothing, but the very administration Obama is constantly blaming, Bush's, did better than Obama is. Wow.

Carisch was not done:
Carisch said key architects of the U.N. arms embargo -- the United States, France and Britain -- have lessened their commitment to enforcing sanctions as U.S.-led efforts to revive peace talks in Sudan have gained traction. "Increasingly it looks like poorly understood and under-enforced U.N. sanctions are being sold out in favor of mediation whose success is far from ensured," he said.

Now you know the Obama Administration had something to say about this:
Obama administration officials challenged Carisch's characterization, saying that Susan E. Rice, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, has been a passionate proponent of tough sanctions and recently implored the world body to provide a more candid account of the Sudanese government's misbehavior in Darfur.

"The Obama Administration is actively engaged in ensuring enforcement of all UN sanctions regimes. Given the priority that this Administration attaches to Sudan -- and Ambassador Rice's well-known hard-line views on the issue, it is not credible to say that U.S. efforts have been anything less than vigorous," Rice's spokesman, Mark Kornblau, said in an e-mail. "The United States is the most active member of the Security Council in pushing for better enforcement of sanctions and action to protect civilians in Darfur even in the face of a divided Security Council."

Ah, yes - Susan Rice, the ambassador to whom Obama gave equal footing with Secretary of State Clinton. Evidently, she is not doing her job very well, despite the protestations of the Obama Administration:
Carisch alleged that large amounts of foreign ammunition and weapons, principally from China and Chad, have illegally made their way into Darfur in recent years, fueling a conflict that has left more than 300,000 dead and driven more than 2.7 million from their homes.

There is no way in hell to put a positive spin on THAT, though the Administration might try. Those numbers are staggering.

As Candidate Obama said, "the United States has a moral obligation anytime you see humanitarian catastrophes. We are the most powerful nation on earth. We have the most stake in creating an order in the world that is stable and in which people have hope and opportunity. And when you see a genocide, whether it's in Rwanda or Bosnia or in Darfur, that's it's a stain on all of us, that's a stain on our souls. We've got to to have a protective force on the ground..."

Certainly, Obama, like any US president, has a lot on his plate (some he could have waited to do, like Health care so it was done right the first time). But when people are literally dying, when women and girls are being raped routinely, and when people are being displaced from their homes in massive numbers, it would seem action should come SOONER than later. It should come as promised, it should be stepped up, not stepped down from previous levels, and it should happen now before more lives are lost, whether through genocide, or sexual violence, or displacement. Now, Now is the time.


Mary Ellen said...

I cannot even fathom why this Administration would fail in such a task.

Maybe it's above his paygrade.

Everything Obama said on the campaign trail was "just words". Now, all of a sudden epiphany (election in Mass.) he's all about "listening to the people". Something tells me there will be a lot of pretty words (just words) coming out of the State of the Union Address.

Hillary cannot possibly do her job when saddled with Susan Rice and a President who really doesn't give a rats ass about anyone who won't line his campaign coffers with the big bucks.

Rabble Rouser Reverend Amy said...

ROTFLMAO - oh, my - "above his paygrade" - can you believe he ever said that OUT LOUD????

I swear, I think people are getting so ornery now they're embarrassed that they ever voted for him.

You are SO right, Mary Ellen - no way can Hillary do what needs to be done. If she was PRESIDENT, you better believe she would be doing for these people at least as much as Bush did...Holy SMOKES!!!

Yeah, right - these bozo Dems with their, "oh, we had NO idea people were so MAD!" Well, golly gee willikers, WTH did you think those Tea Parties and TOwn Hall meetings were SAYING???? But, no - those elitists were condescending, patronizing, and belittling to the very people they claimed to represent. Just spare me already...

Great comment!

Anonymous said...

Note to self: ALWAYS put coffee cup down and ensure no coffee remains in mouth before reading Mary Ellen's comments. Will leave my comment later. After coffee has been cleaned up from keyboard and monitor.

"Above his paygrade." Brilliant.

Rabble Rouser Reverend Amy said...

SF - smart thinking! Yeah, you gotta be careful when eating or drinking and reading ME's comments. I guess we all learn the hard way!

Hope you got that coffee out of your keyboard!

Anonymous said...

"Increasingly it looks like poorly understood and under-enforced U.N. sanctions are being sold out in favor of mediation whose success is far from ensured," he said.

I think Enrico Carisch nailed it. Obama is all about the words. He likes to be able to say whatever anyone wants to hear at any given time. But with action, he will be held accountable, and with action he has to take a personal stand. I think it’s become apparent that Obama does NOT like to be held accountable. It’s become even more apparent that the only thing he believes in enough to take a stand on is himself.

Poor Barry, got a lot on your plate? Well, yeah, Barry, didn’t you know that being President would involve being able to focus on many different issues at once? Umm, Barry, maybe if you’d spent more than 143 days as a U.S. Senator, you’d have had a better grasp of what being President actually did involve, other than golf and vacations and your own private plane.

Just one more promise he’s not gotten around to facing. Guess the stain is on OUR soul, not his. He’s perfect, after all. Or soul-less.

Mary Ellen said...

Sheesh...what a day today! Watching Obama scrambling around trying to act like a Progressive and a Republican at the same time is making me dizzy. And I have a French troll hanging out at my blog today. Chers Mère de Dieu, le français peut être agaçant! (Dear Mother of God the French can be annoying!) Oui!

Rabble Rouser Reverend Amy said...

SF - glad to see you got your keyboard all cleaned up! Did you see that Mary Ellen came back to make you do it all over again?? :-D

Ahem. And to your comment, YES - that is exactly it!!!! All words, no actions, because with words, he can always claim he was misunderstood, or that the words were nuanced, and we, dumbasses that we are, just misunderstood the big words he was using, or that while the buck stops with him, the people he put in place to do that particular job screwed up but don't blame that on him - how could he have possibly known, and on and on and on it goes.

Absolutely - Obama stole this nomination, with the help of the DNC, woefully unprepared and experienced, but he HAD to have it, and the Dems had to get it for him, never thinking what this job would entail

ONE person in that entire field really knew what the position entailed, ONE. And ONE was actually capable of doing the work of that position. She was treated like an upstart child who couldn't possibly handle that work.

So, here we are.

Blech. Anyone else feel like they need to take a shower now? You know, like the kind in "Silkwood"??

Rabble Rouser Reverend Amy said...

Mary Ellen, mon Dieu!! What is going on at your blog?!?! I do love the French - I love their country, too. But trolls of any stripe are a pain in the butt, aren't they??

I know exactly what you mean, ME - Obama trying to pass himself off as a "Populist" is just laughable. As others have pointed out, you actually have to like the people to do that. Ahem.

My favorite thing is Obama blaming BUSH for MA going Rep!! Now that's a logical leap for you - a leap right out of any logic whatsoever.

Do people actually BUY this crap??? Wow. Oh, wait, I mean, Sacre Bleu!