Inaction on Darfur

Another area where Catholics and evangelicals have shown joint concern is over ending the long-running civil war in southern Sudan, and, more recently, the genocide in Darfur, the western portion of that huge African nation. In the past two years, perhaps two hundred thousand people have died in Darfur, and 2 million more have been displaced by government-sponsored militias. (For a compelling fictional account of the Sudanese civil war that reflects today’s headlines, see Philip Caputo’s Acts of Faith [Random House], an explosive mix of arms running, tribalism, American exceptionalism, and misguided religious idealism.)

While the United States has declared the slaughter in Darfur a genocide, the Bush administration has done little to put its money where its mouth is. This spring, after passage of the bipartisan Darfur Accountability Act, it suddenly withdrew the act’s full funding from an appropriations bill. Despite Sudan’s violence against its people and its previous support for international terrorists, the government has recently aided Washington in the war on terror. Perhaps that fact, coupled with the Bush administration’s understandable desire to firm up the peace accord it helped engineer ending the civil war-now jeopardized by the death of former rebel leader and recently installed Sudanese vice president, John Garang-convinced the White House to soft-pedal its criticism. Nonetheless, during an official visit last month, which included a meeting with Garang, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice got a taste of how Khartoum treats people. Sudanese President Hassan Ahmad al-Bashir’s bodyguards roughed up not only Rice’s staff but also members of the press corps accompanying her. Rice was livid. If only the administration were half as incensed about what is happening in Darfur. Catholics and evangelicals should get on the phone again.

Published in the 2005-08-12 issue: 
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