President Obama is preparding a new strategy toward ending the genocide in Darfur: offering incentives to the Sudanese government to do more to end it themselves. There will be some human-rights advocates and defense jays* who will accuse Obama of being weak on war criminals, insensitive to the needs of genocide victims, etc., etc. But these incentives are to be paired with the threat of further sanctions. Skeptical as I am about the power of sanctions, this strategy might be crazy enough to work.
* Did you know that, from an ornithological perspective, a hawk is less militaristic and better at conserving its power than a blue jay? And all this time we’ve been going by a hawk-dove dichotomy. Henceforth, I will be switching to the term “defense jay” for the fighters and “defense hawk” for the aggressive diplomats.
The above link does not indicate exactly what those incentives will be, but I expect that they could have something to do with Sudan’s oil fields. As of January 2008, there were five billion barrels of oil in the country, enough to place Sudan 24th on the list of oil-producing countries. Sanctions have prevented U.S. and European companies from drilling there, although Middle Eastern and Asian companies have given a boost to their economy. And if there’s one thing the world needs less of for the moment, it’s conventional energy. But it could happen.
Then there’s the question of whether the conflict is actually genocide, which Random House defines as “the deliberate and systematic extermination of a national, racial, political, or cultural group.” It started when black Africans in the area took up arms against perceived discrimination in favour of their Arab counterparts. The Arab counterparts make up the Janjaweed, which the Sudanese government under President Omar al-Bashir is accused of funding. It has yet to be found out if a) he’s doing it and b) why, so using the word “genocide” could turn out to be inaccurate. Admitting this ambiguity could go a long way toward normalizing political relations.
(Of course, if it turns out that al-Bashir’s intent really has been genocide, I say we lock the guy up in a hermetically-sealed cell and give him some shriveled carrots to eat and a stick to play with. Or maybe he’d use it to stab himself in the eye.)
No matter what happens between Obama and al-Bashir, this is one situation in which international intervention may be deemed necessary. With proper execution, no black Africans in Darfur would complain.