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What Should Obama Do In Darfur?


Following years of tyranny, the International Criminal Court on Wednesday issued a warrant for the arrest of Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir. He stands charged with war crimes and crimes against humanity committed during the past several years of violence in the nation's troubled region of Darfur. Today's TNR slideshow brings you reactions from around the world.

Following the court's decision, TNR has convened a panel of experts to debate how the Obama administration should approach it.

In Part 1, TNR managing editor Richard Just opens the discussion by highlighting some of the grim realities on the ground in Darfur. "With millions of Darfuris huddled in camps and having no prospect of returning home, with the killing and destruction no longer proceeding at the pace of 2004 and 2005 but with plenty of death and displacement still taking place...given all of these realities," Just asks, "how should Obama proceed?"

In Part 2, Alex de Wall, co-author of Darfur: A New History of a Long War, brings a single priority to the forefront: "Ensuring that the right of self-determination for Southern Sudan is exercised in a consensual, orderly, and legitimate manner. Everything else should be secondary and supportive to that. Let me underline: everything."

In Part 3, Smith College professor Eric Reeves, who has written extensively on Sudan, argues that the root of the problem is Bashir's ruling party. Describing these men as "ruthless survivalists," Reeves forecasts that "unless we change their calculations about how they will survive, then Darfur's grim genocide by attrition will continue, with huge increases in mortality, and the Comprehensive Peace Agreement will wither as the real test of elections approaches."

In Part 4, TNR contributing editor Alan Wolfe highlights the humanitarian consequences of the court's decision: "In reaction to the ICC decision, Bashir immediately ordered ten major humanitarian aid organizations out of the country, including not only Doctors Without Borders but Oxfam. Bashir has been roundly criticized for his actions and he deserves every bit of it. But if some two million people are harmed by it, can we really say, as Richard does, that 'the decision was clearly the right one from a legal perspective'?"

And in Part 5, our latest posting, New York Times Magazine contributor Elizabeth Rubin underlines the gravity of the situation and the necessity to act swiftly, suggesting that "Obama should take the lead here and support the ICC, sign the treaty, and let the law be a check on the immoral compromises politicians will always make as long as there is impunity."

Click here for the roundtable's homepage, with links to each part of the discussion.

Click here for TNR's slideshow featuring reactions to Bashir's indictment.

--Alexander Wolf

Above: Darfuri protesters burn an effigy of ICC prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo, in support of Sudanese president Omar al-Bashir on the eve of the International Criminal Court's desicion to issue an international warrant for his arrest. (Courtesy of Getty Images)