Sudanese President Omar Hassan al-Bashir responded to his indictment by the International Criminal Court by expelling foreign aid groups currently providing food, water and medicine in Darfur. Among the groups expelled are CARE International, Doctors Without Borders, and Oxfam. According to press accounts, the groups account for the delivery of as much as 60 percent of the humanitarian aid reaching that impoverished land.
The news is no less crushing for its being expected. No one can be surprised that Bashir has shown himself, yet again, to be a heartless tyrant with no concern for human life and an utter disregard for world opinion. The terms of the indictment are chilling: Bashir systematically committed war crimes and crimes against humanity. For the moment, the Court did not charge Bashir with genocide but indicated it might yet do so.
There are no good answers. The worst thing America could do is respond militarily. As bad as the situation in Darfur is, if you want to make it worse, send in the Marines. Al-Queda would arrive the next day and our on-going struggle with Islamic fundamentalists would be added to the burden already being carried by the people of Sudan. An armed intervention by a coalition of African nations is unlikely as many African leaders have disastrous human rights records of their own and do not welcome anyone from outside meddling.
The situation also illustrates why foreign policy is not for the faint of heart. The Chinese government wields whatever influence can be wielded over Bashir. Those who call for America to protest the human rights abuses in China must be mindful that we are than less likely to gain Chinese support for ending the human rights’ atrocities in Sudan. Those who see international tribunals as the answer must remember the 1970s when the United Nations welcomed a terrorist, Yassir Arafat, to its rostrum while endorsing a resolution that equated Zionism with racism.
No one doubts that Bashir’s conduct warrants the charges leveled against him in the Hague. But, we must all wonder, and pray, whether this indictment will do anything but make life worse for his victims. If there is a Hell on earth, it is Sudan.