Darfur: Don't Take No for an Answer

By Elizabeth Palmberg 11-29-2007

The genocidal regime in Khartoum is, unsurprisingly, trying to undermine and block the joint U.N./African Union peacekeeping team that has been authorized to offer desperately needed protection to civilians in Darfur. As a recent article put it,

[U.N. peacekeeping chief] Jean-Marie Guehenno told the Security Council that it may face a hard choice about the 26,000-strong force scheduled to deploy in a month: to send troops that cannot defend themselves and the people of Darfur, or to not send troops at all.

Here's a better choice: the U.S. and its allies must build on the strategy of concerted economic and political pressure that has worked on Khartoum multiple times in the past. But to make this work, the U.S. can't go it alone - we must demand that the Bush administration set aside its allergy to working closely with allies.

Incredibly, the U.N. is still looking for 24 helicopters for the peacekeeping force, according to the article. Unbelievably, the U.S. diplomatic staff in Sudan is meager, when putting a few extra diplomats on shuttle diplomacy in the Darfur region could help to counteract the increasing infighting among splinter rebel groups (which is partly a result of Khartoum's divide-and-conquer strategy) and to give credence to civilian leaders who have been ignored for too long.

We cannot and must not take no for an answer, from the Khartoum regime or from our own governments.

Elizabeth Palmberg is an assistant editor at Sojourners.

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