The Campaign Spot

So What “Decisive Action” in Darfur Does John Edwards Want?

This evening Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards is expected to call for “decisive U.S. action to end two of Africa’s most urgent humanitarian crises” in Darfur and Uganda.

Not long ago, Joe Biden called for U.S. troops to be deployed to Sudan. Will Edwards follow his lead?
And, if these gentlemen want U.S. military forces deployed to Sudan in order to avert a worsening humanitarian catastrophe, what do they think will happen in Iraq after U.S. forces leave?
I would note that after returning from a trip to China in fall 2006, Edwards did ask his Chinese hosts about Sudan, so he deserves a bit of credit on this issue:

You know, I asked specifically about the genocide in Darfur in Sudan. A lot of people, including me, are concerned that the Chinese are providing some propping up of Sudan and the Sudanese government because they get a lot of oil from Sudan. And I think there’s just some truth to that. Their energy demands are high. They’re focused on developing their economy. They need this oil in order to strengthen and grow their economy. So they’re willing to not put pressure on the Sudanese government, even when a genocide is going on.

But later in the conversation, Edwards seemed to think it was acceptable to send in U.S. troops without the permission of the Sudanese government… but that he thought U.S. troops would do more harm than good.

AMBASSADOR HOLBROOKE: If you were making American policy, and based on the fourteen to nothing Security Council resolution, China abstaining, which authorizes a U.N. force and the Sudanese say they won’t let it in – would you advocate going in anyway, without the Sudanese government’s support, which has only been done once in history, as far as I know – and that was in Kosovo.
AMBASSADOR HOLBROOKE: And secondly, how would you approach this? Would you force our way in? This is a really tough one because the Sudanese are going to stall and stall. They’ll commit a slow version of genocide.
SENATOR EDWARDS: That’s right. Well, first, on our engagement with China on this issue. I mean, the starting place is something that we’re not doing, which is to make it a priority – to make it a priority that the Chinese are propping up these governments and in the case of Sudan, allowing a genocide to continue. I think the first thing is we have to make it a priority in our relationship with China. And the Chinese have to know that it’s a priority. Because we have effectively given them a pass on this up until now – for practical reasons. Because we’re concerned about North Korea. We know how badly we need them on North Korea. We also would love to have their help on Iran. But all these things are connected. They don’t operate independent of one another. I think the second question is a very difficult question because, you know, the question is – first of all, could you put American ground troops in western Sudan? No, I think you’d do more harm than good. But there are things like enforcement of a no fly zone – an option that’s clearly available to us. We need to use every tool — whether it’s economic sanctions, enforcement of the no fly zone, everything that’s available to us — to put pressure on the Sudanese government. And only at the end of that would we have to make a judgment — and we haven’t done those things – about, you know, how and where the troops would come from. We may go in without the permission of the Sudanese government. But I think, honestly, it would do harm than good to put American troops on the ground in western Sudan.

Will Edwards propose a no-fly zone? I guess that might help the situation a bit, but it doesn’t seem like a silver-bullet solution.


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