Expert Calls for U.S. Military Mission in Sudan
MELISSA BLOCK, host:
Susan Rice favors a much more punitive U.S. policy towards Sudan, including military strikes. She was assistant secretary of state for African Affairs in the Clinton administration. She's now a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution. Welcome back to the program.
Dr. SUSAN RICE (Senior Fellow, Brookings Institution): Good to be back.
BLOCK: I'd like to get first your reaction, both to the International Criminal Court today asking for these arrest warrants for these two war crime suspects, and also Sudan's response.
Dr. RICE: Well, the International Criminal Court's action today was very significant, because it put the Sudanese government - the senior-most officials of the government - on notice that the court is going to move ahead and take the action that the government itself has refused to take and hold people in the government and in the Janjaweed responsible for this atrocities, crimes against humanity - what we in the United States have justly called genocide.
It's not going to stop the genocide, however. And additional steps are needed to do that. The Sudanese government's reaction to the naming of these suspects today indicates that they are dug in, that they are not prepared to cooperate with the international community - whether the United Nations in the form of admitting peacekeepers as they've been requested to do, or with the International Criminal Court.
So the real question is, what is the United States, the Bush administration, and the rest of the international community going to do? We're four years into this genocide. An estimated 450,000 people have been killed or died as a consequence of it. And 2.5 million have been displaced or made refugees. And the administration, frankly, seems to be AWOL inexplicably fours years into this genocide.
BLOCK: Is it fair to say, do you think, that diplomacy is the only tool that the U.S. is using right now to pressure Sudan?
Dr. RICE: Yes. It is the only tool, and it's not entirely clear to me that it's even employing diplomacy altogether effectively. But we're dealing with a genocide. It's one thing to try and negotiate a resolution to the underlying civil conflict. That's important, and it needs to be done. But that's not going to - in and of itself - deter the Sudanese government from continuing to perpetrate genocide, nor will it provide effective protection to the civilians at risk.
What's missing from all of this equation is a serious effort on the part of the Bush administration and the rest of the international community to stop the killing. And instead of following through on the very public threats that the president's own special envoy, Andrew Natsios, made last year - he said the deadline of January 1st of 2007 for harsh punitive action by the United States against the government of Sudan - if it didn't stop the killing and allowing a U.N.-African Union force, 58 days have passed since that deadline expired, and the United States has done nothing.
BLOCK: You mentioned the special envoy, Andrew Natsios. He has told Congress earlier this month a negotiated way out of the crisis is the most desirable alternative. You obviously feel otherwise, though. Why?
Dr. RICE: Well, a negotiated solution to the underlying civil conflict is necessary, but it's not sufficient. We have civil conflicts all over the world that ultimately may be resolved through negotiation, but they don't all entail genocide. Genocide requires a specific decision by one of the warring parties to try to wipe out a population in whole or in part.
And the only way to end the genocide is to pressure or cajole the perpetrators to stop - which we have failed to do - or to physically protect those that are being killed, which we have also failed to do. So it's not sufficient to negotiate. We need to protect the people who are dying everyday as we speak.
BLOCK: One last question, and briefly: Do you think that with a new Congress, a new party in control of Congress, that we will see a different policy emerging towards Sudan?
Dr. RICE: Well, I certainly hope that the Congress - which has frankly, for years, in a bipartisan passion, led the way on all matters related to Sudan, including Darfur - will continue to pressure the administration, and in fact, step up the pressure. But the reality is the administration holds the cards. The administration can decide whether or not to implement the punitive financial sanctions that it has threatened but not imposed. The administration has to decide whether or not to use the threat of military pressure or not to end the genocide.
BLOCK: Susan Rice, thanks very much.
Dr. RICE: Thank you.
BLOCK: Susan Rice, senior fellow at the Brookings Institution. She was assistant secretary of state for African Affairs in the Clinton administration.
NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by a contractor for NPR, and accuracy and availability may vary. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Please be aware that the authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio.