Andrew Natsios, a former U.S. special representative to the Sudan, argues in the latest issue of Foreign Affairs for a more pragmatic approach towards Darfur and peace in Sudan.
In brief: We’ve tried the stick, he says, and it ended in failure. So we need to think about the carrot.
What few successes the international community has helped to create—the signing of the peace agreement between north and south, for instance—were the result of conciliation and diplomacy, not of hard-line actions and words. Coming from Natsios, a former hard-liner, this is powerful stuff.
Natsios also takes a wary and critical view of the “save Darfur” crusaders:
The [ruling party’s] leaders are worried that U.S. policy might change to their disadvantage under the next U.S. President and that they have only until the end of 2008 to improve relations with Washington—a point I have reinforced in all of my conversations with them.
Unfortunately, rapprochement may face substantial resistance in the United States because the erroneous impression that tens of thousands of civilians continue to be slaughtered in Darfur is driving both a confrontational advocacy campaign and aggressive congressional action.
(Timely related article: Matt Damon leads the star-studded protests on Darfur day of action)
What I like best about Natsios’ article is his ability to communicate the complexity of the situation and the nuances of different polies and events, without losing the reader in the innumerable details of ethnic groups, locations, and armed group leaders. I don’t know enough about Darfur to fully endorse his view, but his is one of the best (short) synopses of the situation I have read.
Also worth reading is Alex de Waal’s short book on Darfur.