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Do-It-Yourself Diplomacy
I'm all for it. It's amazing what can be accomplished by regular people, a world away from a disaster.

When I heard Bill Clinton speak at the alternative weekly newspaper association conference this past summer, he talked about how we did more to bridge differences between ourselves and Muslims in the east with the relief we gave after the Tsunami -- i.e., more than with any war (supposedly for democracy) that we might have gotten ourselves into in the Middle East.

And now, ordinary citizens are fighting genocide in Darfur with bake sales and lawn signs, writes Nicholas Kristof in The New York Times:

President George W. Bush and other world leaders have dropped the ball on Darfur. But that vacuum of moral leadership has been filled by university students, churches and temples, celebrities like George Clooney and Mia Farrow, and armies of schoolchildren.

Their arsenal — green armbands, phone calls to the White House, bake sales to raise money — all seem pallid. How can a "Save Darfur" lawn sign in Peoria intimidate government-backed raiders in Sudan or Chad who throw babies into bonfires?

Yet, finally, we see evidence that those armbands and lawn signs can make a difference. Last week, the Save Darfur Coalition — the grass-roots organization that puts out those lawn signs — sponsored a trip by Bill Richardson, the New Mexico governor, to Khartoum to negotiate with President Omar al-Bashir.

Sure, it's a little weird when a private advocacy group undertakes freelance diplomacy. But if Bush, Tony Blair, Jacques Chirac and Hu Jintao twiddle their thumbs, then more power to the freelancers.

Richardson worked out a joint statement in which Sudan agreed to a 60-day cease-fire to allow peace talks to resume, provided the Darfur rebels go along as well. Bashir also agreed that Sudan would prosecute rapes and stop painting its military aircraft to look as if they belong to the United Nations.

...It's clear that the cease-fire was a consequence of all those armbands and lawn signs. Richardson told me that Bashir was motivated by concern at the way the killings have been spotlighted by Darfur activists. Richardson quoted him as saying, "These guys have caused me a lot of damage."

Ken Bacon, who heads Refugees International and accompanied Richardson, said of Bashir: "One thing that was very clear was that the Save Darfur movement has gotten under his skin. The vilification of the Khartoum regime in columns and editorials and ads is making a difference."

Posted by aalkon at January 17, 2007 9:30 AM


Richardson's great and all, but are any of the parties in Darfur really feeling pressure to behave? Do they care about Peoria lawn signs?

Posted by: Crid at January 17, 2007 6:39 AM

This strikes me as weasely wording: "Sudan agreed to a 60-day cease-fire to allow peace talks to resume, provided the Darfur rebels go along as well"

Suggests Richardson brokered a one-sided deal, which is only slightly better than no deal IMO. Still, I give credit to people trying to help, and in choosing a generally savvy guy like Richardson; who knows, these efforts might actually help.

Posted by: justin case at January 17, 2007 8:46 AM

If you don't trust Bush and his failed democracy building, why do you simply trust Clinton's assertions that muslims appreciate our tsunami response.

When our carrier group was on location, islamic Indonesia refused to grant permission to continue pilot training. So US airmen lost their flight status as they need to have carrier landings every couple days.

Its clear as well that substantial monies in rural areas are being used to enfore sharia, something that was not in place previously.

In the end, American interests were not well served by our response. Notwithstanding our self-congratulations.

Even the UN piled on with Kofi of all people suggesting the US was being quite stingy with our giving. Yes, that Kofi, of Oil for Palaces fame, and for sending his purple helmeted child rapists to worn torm countries to trade sex for bread.

Posted by: Jon at January 17, 2007 8:50 AM

If you don't trust Bush and his failed democracy building, why do you simply trust Clinton's assertions that muslims appreciate our tsunami response.

Do you really think it's likely he's lying about this? Also, this was a joint venture of his with George Bush #1. Does it really seem so outlandish that peaceful aid would work a little better than laying waste to a sovereign nation and setting the stage for civil war?

Posted by: Amy Alkon at January 17, 2007 10:30 AM

Frankly I don't trust any current politicians. Not a single one I know of deserves it. I'm sure Clinton thought it sounded good, so he said it.

What is it you hope to accomplish with either peaceful aid or laying waste. I care not one whit whether "they" like us. Our govt should only be concerned with protecting us.
So no, failed nation building is not helping either.

But propping up failing nation states with US taxpayer money is BS for me (back to humanitarian aid to Indonesia, not Iraq). If you want to send money - go ahead, but it is not properly an issue for my government to deal with.

Iraq was a sovereign nation?
So if a dictator does not recognize the rights of his own citizens, we should still recognize his right to rule and brutalize them?
I say no.
Sovereign rights only stem from the rights of the governed.

Posted by: Jon at January 17, 2007 12:25 PM

So why then jon do we do nothing about saudi arabia? or china? or darfur? or somolia? or syria? or iran? or cuba? or any of the dozens of other territories run by war lords?

I will tell you why, becuase they dont have any resorce or infastructure to interest us, and thse that do are too well defended for us to take by force of arms

Posted by: lujlp at January 19, 2007 1:08 AM

Exactly, why would we risk american soldiers if the US has no interests there?

As for Iran, they should have been the primary target 10 years ago, or 30 for that matter. Iraq is a side show and never should have been on the agenda ahead of Iran, the true terror masters.

If the US could be taken at their word, for example after taking out Irans nuke weapons program, all we should need to do is threaten Saudi Arabia to quit exporting their Wahabi fundamentalist creed.

And Syria? If we were credible, we should be able to threaten them to remove Baby Assad or we *might* invade. They would kick him out or face strikes.

But we are not credible. We kowtow to world opinion and the UN's den of theives.

Posted by: Jon at January 19, 2007 9:47 AM

Jon you're a genius, you have just indvertanly exposed america's greatest hypocracy

We only care about other peoples human rights when their violation interferes with our interst

If it doesnt interfer without interest, well they can just go fuck themselves right?

Don't you hate it when you accidentally support the argumnent of the guy your disagreeing with?

Posted by: lujlp at January 20, 2007 1:35 AM

You should relax and consider some fundamentals.

Why do you think that if some tribe is slaughtering some neighboring tribe, some US soldiers are on the hook to die to keep them apart?

I am very well aware of what arguments I support, and that particular hypocricy is hardly America's greatest.

You seem to think it would reflect better on the US if we were to expend lives and treasure where we specifically had no interests.

What would lead you to that conclusion?

Posted by: Jon at January 22, 2007 12:34 PM

Acctully dumbass the point I was trying to make is that we shouldnt be expending lives for business comodities in Iraq.

Why the hell should we be in Iraqs little bloodbath, why should we have liberated them from Saddam when he posed no threat and the Iraqis werent willing to fight for their own freedom?

If you're so jaded that the death and maiming of hundereds of thousands of people doesnt bother you so long as it bolsters the US economy you really are fucked in the head.

Is having cheaper gas than europe really worth that cost?

My conclusion is that human life is too precious to fritter away on wealth, it should only be spent to ensure the safty of your friends, and family and country. Not for oil.

Posted by: lujlp at January 23, 2007 12:47 AM

Ha Ha
You moonbats are all alike. Name calling and the same old slogans.
No blood for Oil waaaa
You forgot Bushitlermonkey.

Posted by: Jon at January 23, 2007 11:52 AM

Given that Saddam posed no threat to america and there was no conrty wide conflict, and YOUR assertion that we fight for resorces other contrys posess to feul or economy and the only resorce Iraq has is oil


Bush admitd there were no WMD, and there were no ties to AL quida, and that Saddam posed no threat, and then the fuckwad went on to say he still would have ordered the invasion evn if america had known all the reason for the war were a lie

you really are an idoit - its people like you that keep me hoping that there is a god, because if there is your calous indefferance to other peoples death and destruction in order to make your life more pleasurable will most certinly make you eligable for an afterlife in hell

Posted by: lujlp at January 23, 2007 12:26 PM

You have a filthy mouth and you can't spell.

What exactly did you read from me that you think I would defend the Iraq invasion?

Posted by: Jon at January 23, 2007 2:28 PM

The fact that you advocated sacrificing soilders only when the area in conflict had a resorce valued by our government.

And quite frankly the opinion of a man who celebrates the death of thousands so long as it makes your life easier is really worthless

Posted by: lujlp at January 23, 2007 10:36 PM

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