My ears perked up this morning when I heard on NPR that the president would be discussing the situation in Darfur today with Rebecca Garang, widow of the southern Sudanese leader John Garang, and a government official in her own right.So far as I can tell, the meeting produced no news or public statements. The White House web page showed a photo of Bush and Garang’s meeting, but provided nothing else. And in yesterday’s White House press briefing, there was this depressing exchange:
Q: On another subject, Kofi Annan says that he wants to ask the President next week for troops and equipment for Darfur. Has the administration’s views on that changed at all? Are you more willing to consider that?MR. McCLELLAN: Let me check and see if there’s an additional update on that. Obviously, Sudan and the Darfur region is a high priority for this administration. It’s something that we have led the way on and pushed the international community to address. And Secretary General Annan is someone who is committed to addressing it, as well. That’s why we supported helping get the African Union forces in there, and I think we’ve continued to work with the international community on how best to address the situation moving forward. And I’ll just see if there’s any additional update. I don’t have it at this point.
“I don’t have it at this point” is a nice summary of the Bush administration’s entire approach to Darfur for the last three years.If you’re interested in Darfur but don’t know much about the background, you can check out my review of Gerard Prunier’s book on the subject, which came out yesterday in Blueprint magazine. Prunier’s pessimistic predictions about Western attitudes towards Darfur have so far been sadly spot on.