This may be premature, but today’s news suggesting that the president is placing the U.S. behind a move to expand the international peacekeeping presence in Darfur is very welcome, and perhaps the first thing the man has done in, oh, a couple of years that I personally feel I can say something positive about.The proposal, according to Jim VandeHei and Colum Lynch of the Washington Post, is to match the current African Union force of 7,000 with 7,000 more troops under United Nations command, with NATO supplying logistical support for both. This kind of force can hardly stop the killing or starvation in Darfur, but it would save many lives, help provide international aid agencies with the security they need to stay involved, and perhaps ratchet up international pressure on the criminal government in Khartoum.Is this a flip-flop by Bush on Darfur? Here’s what the Posties says:
Bush brushed aside the resistance of some senior policymakers and sided with White House adviser Michael J. Gerson and others who have been lobbying for more assistance to Darfur. Bush this week also proposed $500 million for Darfur as part of a larger special budget request to Congress.There is some bipartisan support for intervening in the troubled region. Sens. Sam Brownback (R-Kan.) and Joseph R. Biden Jr. (D-Del.) plan to introduce a resolution in Congress calling for NATO troops to help the African Union “stop the genocide” in the Darfur region.
In his remarkable book on Darfur, which I reviewed in the latest issue of Blueprint magazine, Gerard Prunier notes with some contempt that the Bush administration’s early interest in Darfur seemed to abruptly end once the 2004 elections ended. Maybe this is another election-year phenomenon, fed by Christian conservative interest in the subject. But if it leads to tangible help for the crucified people of Darfur, then I’m grateful for it.