I saw the NYT op-ed piece about Sudan by Dave Eggers and John Pendergast a few days ago and have been thinking about it ever since. And, you guessed it, I have a bone to pick. The authors criticize the current administration for claiming a lack of leverage to prevent overt war from breaking out again between North and South Sudan (there is a referendum coming up in February 2011 to determine if the South wants to become its own country), claiming the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement was “clear, simple and eminently enforceable” and that:
The peace in Sudan is one the United States “owns.” Developing a more robust package of carrots and sticks — rolled out multilaterally when possible, unilaterally if necessary — would strengthen America’s diplomatic hand, not weaken it.
Let’s unpack this one step at a time, shall we? Firstly, clear, simple and eminently enforceable? Have the authors ever tried to read its 200+ pages? How were they going to enforce borders that were already disputed? How were elections to be held that anyone could actually believe were free and fair? I am so happy that the country got to the point of holding these elections, and that people were so hopeful about them.
Secondly, as for the carrots and their proverbial sticks, isn’t claiming that the US can use the ICC as a carrot and/or stick as the moment requires a smidge bit presumptuous? Not to mention damaging to the ICC’s already weak credibility. I mean, props to the ICC for issuing its first warrant for genocide to Bashir this past week, but I think this is a particularly ironic argument given that the USA did not ratify the Rome Statute and therefore not governed by the ICC.
The part that astounds me is how they can claim that the USA “owns” the peace in Sudan. Did the USA single-handedly end 40 years of war there? No. There were a consortium of countries and yes, the USA played a large role, but I guarantee you that if there was not the presence of more “neutral” countries besides the USA a CPA would never have been signed. The point of the article was clearly meant to raise awareness and to “rally the troops” aka the American public to garner public support for involvement in the region. And apparently the way you do that is to make Americans think that the USA is the most important country to the whole process. But does predicting war help anyone? No. No it does not.
Overall verdict: stick to fiction guys.