U.S. ‘diplomatic malpractice’ could yield mass death in Sudan

Message to Secretary Clinton: Please fix the United States’ "incoherent, contradictory and apparently failing" Sudan policy, as the New York Times Nicholas Kristof described it on Aug. 29. In a column on the Obama administration’s "failure in Sudan," Kristof has this frightening warning: "[I]n a place like Sudan, American diplomatic malpractice could lead to hundreds ...

Mark Wilson/Getty Images
Mark Wilson/Getty Images
Mark Wilson/Getty Images

Message to Secretary Clinton: Please fix the United States' "incoherent, contradictory and apparently failing" Sudan policy, as the New York Times Nicholas Kristof described it on Aug. 29.

In a column on the Obama administration's "failure in Sudan," Kristof has this frightening warning:

"[I]n a place like Sudan, American diplomatic malpractice could lead to hundreds of thousands of deaths."

Message to Secretary Clinton: Please fix the United States’ "incoherent, contradictory and apparently failing" Sudan policy, as the New York Times Nicholas Kristof described it on Aug. 29.

In a column on the Obama administration’s "failure in Sudan," Kristof has this frightening warning:

"[I]n a place like Sudan, American diplomatic malpractice could lead to hundreds of thousands of deaths."

The country has a referendum coming up next year in which the oil-rich south will vote on whether to secede. The north doesn’t want to lose all that oil, so if the south votes to secede (which it most likely will), that could spark a huge bloody war with mass killing. (The last north-south war killed 2 million people over 20 years.)

The United States needs an effective Sudan policy in place, one that will prevent mass death. Too bad, then, that there apparently isn’t agreement at the State Department about what that policy should be. The U.S. envoy for Sudan, Maj. Gen. Scott Gration (seen in the photo above), favors a policy of engagement that focuses more on carrots than sticks. As reported on FP‘s The Cable, his plan "deemphasizes the ongoing crisis in Darfur" and "is devoid of any additional pressures on the government in Khartoum." Clinton supports this plan.

On the other hand, Susan Rice (seen in the photo above), the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations and someone with more experience on Sudan, favors a stronger, tougher plan and was "furious" when Gration proposed his policy at a meeting earlier this month.

Kristof says that the United States needs to be more involved on the issue of Sudan and suggests supporting U.N. peacekeepers; coordinating with Britain, Egypt, and China to prevent war; and making Vice President Joe Biden the point person for Sudan for the following six months.

Whatever policy the United States decides to go with, let’s hope Clinton will help steer it away from "diplomatic malpractice" and toward something that prevents another humanitarian tragedy.

Preeti Aroon was copy chief at Foreign Policy from 2009 to 2016 and was an FP assistant editor from 2007 to 2009. Twitter: @pjaroonFP

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