Let There Be Peace in Darfur, and Let It Begin with Me

by Ron Sider

NEW YORK TIMES columnist Nicholas Kristof wrote a rousing piece in the November 29th issue of the TIMES entitled "What's to Be Done About Darfur? Plenty" (http://coalitionfordarfur.blogspot.com/2005/11/whats-to-be-done-about-darfur-plenty.html). In it he challenges President Bush to stop "the first genocide of the 21st century."

Kristof says that what is keeping Mr. Bush from acting is the absence of both a great public outcry and any neat solutions, and that we are already seemingly hopelessly bogged down in other international and domestic matters.

"But Darfur is not hopeless," he writes, and goes on to list six recommendations for addressing the genocide:

1. Reinstate the $50 million budget for the African Union security force.

2. Push for an expanded, bilaterally supported security force in Darfur, making it a U.N. peacekeeping force built around the African Union core.

3. Impose a no-fly zone, threatening to destroy any airplanes involved in the killing of civilians.

4. The House should pass the Darfur Peace and Accountability Act, legislation that passed the Senate unanimously but now faces an uphill battle in the House, which would apply targeted sanctions and pressure Sudan to stop the killing.

5. The president should talk ceaselessly about the situation in Darfur (Kristof even suggests the erection of a SAVE DARFUR lawn sign for the White House), invite Arab and African leaders to the White House and to visit Darfur, and urge China to stop underwriting the genocide.

6. Bush and Kofi Annan "should jointly appoint a special envoy to negotiate with tribal sheiks." Colin Powell and James Baker III are good candidates, says Kristof. "The envoy would choose a Sudanese chief of staff like Dr. Mudawi Ibrahim Adam, a leading Sudanese human rights activist who has been pushing just such a plan with the help of Human Rights First."

Kristof urges people, we the American people, people like you and me, to urge our leaders to find the political will to stop the genocide. He reminds us of what Senator Paul Simon said shortly before his death: "that if only 100 people in each Congressional district had demanded a stop to the Rwandan genocide, that effort would have generated a determination to stop it. But Americans didn't write such letters to their members of Congress then, and they're not writing them now."

Recognizing the good in those humanitarian efforts made on behalf of Darfur so far by the Bush administration, Kristof says that much more must be done. He calls on Americans of all stripes, regardless of how they feel about President Bush, to speak out.

How about you, ePistle reader, ESA member, ordinary person? What impact would we have if each of us wrote a letter to our Senators, Congressperson, and President Bush, urging them to take action?

For information on how to reach your legislators, click here (http://www.senate.gov/general/contact_information/senators_cfm.cfm) for Senators, here (http://www.house.gov/writerep) for Congressperson, and here (http://www.whitehouse.gov/contact) for the president.


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