In this morning's LAT, Ken Silverstein repors that the administration and Sudan are now BFF on the counter-terrorism front:
"They've not only told us who the bad guys were, they've gone out and gotten them for us," a U.S. source familiar with Sudan's cooperation said. "Hell, we can't get the French to do that."
Silverstein spends most of his ink detailing the relationship, and simply raises the possibility that U.S. might go soft on Darfur as a kind of thank-you note. But Silverstein is missing something: The U.S. has already softened its stance on Darfur.
As Darfur-junkies know, the U.S. recently retreated from its labeling of Darfur as genocide. The labeling was just symbolic to begin with. But rhetoric can equal pressure. So why the ease up?
Meanwhile, the genocide rowback seems to be a harbinger of a more substantive sellout. The Prospect reports:
An April 25 letter from the White House’s Office of Management and Budget to House Appropriations Chairman Jerry Lewis obtained by the Prospect, the administration signaled its desire to strike the Darfur Accountability Act from the supplemental. Couching its reservations in a suggestion that the act may impede a separate peace accord reached between Khartoum and the rebels in south Sudan, the administration is now leaning on its congressional allies to scuttle the bill. "We are hearing that House Republicans will try to pull it out of conference," a well-placed congressional source told the Prospect.
Here's the Prospect's summary of the Accountability Act, which has already passed the Senate:
Led by Republican Sam Brownback of Kansas and Democrat John Corzine of New Jersey, the act appropriates $90 million in U.S. aid for Darfur and establishes targeted U.S. sanctions against the Sudanese regime, accelerates assistance to expand the size and mandate of the African Union mission in Darfur, expands the United Nations Mission in Sudan to include the protection of civilians in Darfur, establishes a no-fly zone over Darfur, and calls for a presidential envoy to Sudan.
Not all that radical, right? So why is the administration opposing it?
You can argue that this all worth it: Ignoring genocide is just the price you might have to pay for fighting terrorism.* I'd welcome that debate.
*Assuming there really is a cause and effect here. It's possible that the administration is going soft on Darfur for other reasons. Or a mix of them. Who knows.