God's Politics

God's Politics

Adam Taylor: For God’s Sake, Save Darfur! End the Politics of Delay

A recent survey showed that 59 percent of all Americans know “a lot” or “some” about the conflict in Darfur, compared to levels reported in 2004, when only 14 percent said they were familiar with the conflict. This shift has been caused in large part due to a growing movement of public education, vigils, paid media ads, lobbying, and rallies all across the country. We now face the challenge of increasing this momentum and translating this growing awareness into intensified public pressure.

After four years of protracted bloodshed and unbearable suffering, a degree of cynicism is justified in reaction to the recent promise by the Khartoum government to allow 3,000 U.N. military personnel to enter Darfur. This critical action would complete phase two of a desperately needed – and long overdue – three-phase process toward deploying a more robust, hybrid United Nations and African Union peacekeeping force to prevent further killing and restore security to the beleaguered region. This concession repeats an all too familiar cycle, in which President Bashir plays a manipulative game of deterrence with the international community, making new promises as soon as the world’s patience starts running out or the United States and other nations reach the brink of taking punitive action. There will be no quick fixes or easy solutions. But where the politics of delay have failed, the power of our movement calling for bold leadership will succeed.

On Wednesday, with the Holocaust museum as his backdrop, President Bush gave what was arguably his strongest speech to date about the moral imperative to end the genocide in Darfur, saying:

Just this week, Sudan’s government reached an agreement with the United Nations to allow 3,000 U.N. troops and their equipment into the country to support the A.U. force. The world has heard these promises from Sudan before. President Bashir’s record has been to promise cooperation while finding new ways to subvert and obstruct the U.N.’s efforts to bring peace to his country. The time for promises is over – President Bashir must act.

In deference to recently appointed United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon’s diplomatic effort to secure an agreement from Khartoum, President Bush agreed to hold off on imposing a series of stringent economic sanctions on Sudanese companies and individuals, and postponed pursuing a new Security Council resolution against Sudan. These sanctions have been under discussion for months as a part of the so-far-empty threat of engaging in a set of coercive actions under what has been termed “Plan B.” After meetings with State Department officials and with the special envoy to Darfur, Andrew Natsios, I’m convinced that there are many people with the administration that are working diligently to end this genocide. However, they have faced competing foreign policy priorities, a reticence to take costly action, and bureaucratic inertia.

History shows that moving the Sudanese government requires both real carrots and real sticks. So far the U.S. approach has been unable to muster enough of either. We have been engaged in a protracted chess game with a regime that has brutalized the Darfuri region. In a recent strategy paper, John Prendergast argues that:

[T]he central paradigm must be to move away from the current policy of constructive engagement without any leverage … to a more muscular policy focused on walking softly and carrying – and using – a bigger stick.

A robust U.N./A.U. force is necessary to stop the killing and create an enabling environment for renewing a peace process that can addresses the underlying causes of this crisis.

As Christians called to be peacemakers, we should support aggressive diplomacy, choosing military action through a no-fly zone, blockade, etc., only as a last resort. In the case of Sudan we haven’t used all of the economic and political tools at our disposal. Broader economic sanctions will send a strong signal to government in Khartoum that we are unwilling to play politics with the lives of our brothers and sisters in Darfur. We must also continue to pressure European countries, China, Russia, and the Arab League to follow our lead in imposing stricter sanctions. Bush’s promise of sanctions with greater teeth on companies and individuals, as well as his promise to initiate a new Security Council resolution, should be applauded. The devil lies in the details of Bush’s promise to act within a short timeframe. After four horrific years of this genocide we cannot bear much patience for the word “short.” Short timeframes have too often resulted in empty threats, broken promises, and empty rhetoric. We are far beyond a short timeframe.

We must remember Dr. Martin Luther King’s words from a speech at Riverside church, exactly 40 years ago to the month, when he said:

We are now faced with the fact that tomorrow is today. We are confronted with the fierce urgency of now. In this unfolding conundrum of life and history there is such a thing as being too late. Procrastination is the thief of time … Over the bleached bones and jumbled residue of numerous civilizations are written the pathetic words: “Too late.”

Sojourners/Call to Renewal is partnering with the Save Darfur Coalition during the 3rd Annual “Global Days for Darfur,” April 23 to April 30, 2007. This week of rallies, marches, and vigils will call attention to the escalating violence and the continued failure of the international community to adequately respond to this crisis. Our unified message is that “time is running out” for the people of Darfur. “Global Days for Darfur” currently consists of 273 events in 175 cities and 42 states (and D.C.) across the country, as well as events in 20 countries, and the number is growing daily. I pray that you will join us in proclaiming the message that it is not too late for Darfur. For God’s sake, save Darfur!

Adam Taylor is Director of Campaigns and Organizing for Sojourners/Call to Renewal.

+ Click here to learn more about the “For God’s Sake, Save Darfur!” campaign

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posted April 20, 2007 at 9:21 pm

I will continue to pray that the UN peace keeping forces will be successful at this time in Darfur. The ‘Blue Helmets’ do not have a good track record, (Rwanda) but this is a good start and I pray God will intervine so that many souls might be saved. Blessings – .

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posted April 21, 2007 at 6:51 am

Doesn’t this go to show how Americans still really don’t care about what happens in Africa, particularly to Black and Muslim or animist people? We watch movies like Blood Diamond, or Hotel Rwanda, and feel bad, but we don’t really do much about it. There is one comment on this topic, compared to 83 on the VAtech shooting and 20+ on abortion. Even as Christians, we really just don’t care. I don’t know what can be done. How to get churches involved in something that isn’t just feel good, but is awful hard work, and requires confronting the colonial and missionary history many churches have with Africa? I can imagine that if the mega-churches got involved (being mostly upper-middle class and mostly Republican), real change could occurr. But will they become involved? How does this actually impact their lives?

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posted April 21, 2007 at 4:51 pm

Good post, Adam. I am hopeful that this is one of issues that can bridge the political divide between the religious right and the religious left. If it doesn’t it would be a real shame. Peace.

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posted April 22, 2007 at 2:59 am

I don’t think America can do anything in Darfur right now because the military is bogged down in Iraq.I hate to be so partisan, but it seems to me that the way Clinton used the military was much more in keeping with Biblical and Christian ethics than the way Bush uses them. Clinton used our military as diplomatic peace keepers and agents of justice. That’s exactly what’s needed in Darfur right now. Bush uses the military as his own personal militia to fight anyone he has a personal vendetta against.

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posted April 22, 2007 at 7:39 pm

Barb | 04.21.07 – 12:56 am | #Blood Diamond, or Hotel Rwanda Let us not forget ‘Sometime in April’. I believe that reason that so many post on the other topic and not this one is that there is so little that we seem to be able to do about this one. Diplomacy will only take us so far and some of us have been down this road before.Later – .

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kevin s.

posted April 23, 2007 at 12:33 am

“Bush uses the military as his own personal militia to fight anyone he has a personal vendetta against.” Against whom does he have a personal vendetta, and how is he using the military to fight them at present?

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Joy Kauffman

posted April 23, 2007 at 4:19 am

TO SOJO team- Why don’t we challenge ourselves, the church, to do something instead of always trying to get the government to give a rats ass about poor and oppressed people when we spend most of our time criticizing everything that the government does anyway. We’ve been pleading with the government for four years now on Darfur and nothing has happened except a few letters and speeches. If the religious left is going to have any credibility at all we have to quit complaining and whining and pleading and start doing something radical. In 2006, in response to a student asking about how Christians respond to the horror of genocide in Darfur, Stanley Haurwas said this: “I’m ready to send you as a missionary. I affirm that your question denotes a moral agony about Darfur, and rightly so. We need, as a matter of fact, to have Christian Peacemaker Teams all over Darfur. I’m absolutely serious about that. The problem is that we think as Christians today that the way we do something about Darfur is to have the State Department act on our behalf because we can’t get Christians to do what Christians need to do about Darfur. Now that is exactly what has gone wrong in the fact that if Christians are serious about who we are we don’t want the government to become the way we’re supposed to act. So I’m really serious about that.” That sounds crazy. Crazy like a crucified messiah. Maybe let’s start where bullets aren’t flying like Zimbabwe! Or what the heck, let’s challenge the church to go to Darfur. Let’s “get in the way” (to use CPT’s term) of the clubs, tear gas and steel toed boots and present our bodies as living sacrifices, holy and acceptable to God with our brothers and sisters in Christ that are suffering in lands where they have no rights instead of going to cute protests and writing nice letters while we hang out, feeling self righteous indignation in the comfort of the “land of the free and the home of the brave”. For ideas about how to really do this go to I’d love to hear your thoughts, Joy Kauffman, (formerly of DC for 11 years now from Tiskilwa, Illnois)

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posted April 23, 2007 at 6:36 pm

I agree Adam.

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posted April 24, 2007 at 3:37 pm

Once Muslims and islam stops killing people for Islam, then places like Darfur won’t exist. This is all about Christians being slaughtered for Islmaic totalitarianism. Once the Sojouners style “Christians” wake up and start seeing the truth AND talking about it, then maybe something can get accomplished to save lives.

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posted April 24, 2007 at 3:47 pm

By the way, what “renewal” is Sojouners calling Christians to? Since you are obviously taking people in a different direction from that of Christ Jesus and the Apostles? What are you actually “re” newing?

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posted April 24, 2007 at 9:04 pm

moderatelad, I know you have very strong feeling about Darfur, so I thought about you and saved a piece of Email for an occasion such as this. I don’t know if you had heard of this organization or not, but I thought you might be interested in it. Peace!

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posted April 25, 2007 at 2:16 am

Once the Sojouners style “Christians” wake up and start seeing the truth AND talking about it, then maybe something can get accomplished to save lives. DonnyHey Donny, you’re a troll that should not be fed. Hence, no response to your outrageous statement will be offered. Peace.

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posted April 25, 2007 at 2:26 pm

neuro_nurse | 04.24.07 – 3:09 pm | #Thanks – I will check it out tonight after I kiss my daughter good night. Great to hear from you again Blessings Later – .

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