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A Commitment to Inaction: US Rhetoric and Darfur
Unformatted Document Text:  Andrew Buchwach Powell stressed that the pronouncement of genocide did not carry with it any legal obligation to intervene in Sudan or to pursue any unilateral military action. Instead, Powell stated that the administration would continue to push for the passage of a resolution that eventually led to the creation of the aforementioned Commission of Inquiry. Powell also avowed that the government would lobby for an increase in the provisionary African Union (AU) force that had been deployed some two months prior. Moreover, he iterated his belief that “the Government of Sudan bears the greatest responsibility to face up to this catastrophe, rein in those who are committing these atrocities, and save the lives of its own citizens” (Powell). Powell was correct in asserting that the Sudanese government bears the largest burden of responsibility. However, given that the government was an active participant in perpetrating violence and empowered the Janjaweed to engage in ethnic cleansing and genocide, Powell’s notion of responsibility is misguided. One does not prevent crime by appealing to murderers. Powell merely asserted that “…the government in Khartoum should end the attacks,” without providing a clear justification as to why (Powell). Although to an onlooker, the killing of innocents is obviously reprehensible, the Sudanese government clearly believes that their actions are necessary and justifiable; attempts to appeal to their better nature have and surely will continue to fall on deaf ears. It is not enough to merely request that the Sudanese government cease its criminal activities. Powell seemed to recognize this and stated that “[the] way is to take action” (Powell). Sadly, he was referring to Sudanese government action; the US is under no such obligation to act. 11

Authors: Buchwach, Andrew.
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Andrew Buchwach
Powell stressed that the pronouncement of genocide did not carry with it any legal
obligation to intervene in Sudan or to pursue any unilateral military action. Instead,
Powell stated that the administration would continue to push for the passage of a
resolution that eventually led to the creation of the aforementioned Commission of
Inquiry. Powell also avowed that the government would lobby for an increase in the
provisionary African Union (AU) force that had been deployed some two months prior.
Moreover, he iterated his belief that “the Government of Sudan bears the greatest
responsibility to face up to this catastrophe, rein in those who are committing these
atrocities, and save the lives of its own citizens” (Powell).
Powell was correct in asserting that the Sudanese government bears the largest
burden of responsibility. However, given that the government was an active participant
in perpetrating violence and empowered the Janjaweed to engage in ethnic cleansing and
genocide, Powell’s notion of responsibility is misguided. One does not prevent crime by
appealing to murderers. Powell merely asserted that “…the government in Khartoum
should end the attacks,” without providing a clear justification as to why (Powell).
Although to an onlooker, the killing of innocents is obviously reprehensible, the
Sudanese government clearly believes that their actions are necessary and justifiable;
attempts to appeal to their better nature have and surely will continue to fall on deaf ears.
It is not enough to merely request that the Sudanese government cease its criminal
activities. Powell seemed to recognize this and stated that “[the] way is to take
action” (Powell).
Sadly, he was referring to Sudanese government action; the US is under
no such obligation to act.
11


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