Foreign Policy

On Sudan, Kristof and Bolton Switch Sides


Globetrotting peacenik Nicholas "For the Cost of Just 246 Soldiers Posted for One Year, America Could Pay for a Higher Education Plan for all Afghanistan" Kristof seems like an unlikely person to go on the record cheerleading for the idea of blackmailing foreign governments with the threat of U.S. military force—especially when even the bomb-friendliest neocons aren't advocating going that far. But here he is, in yesterday's New York Times, writing that it is time for the U.S. to play the hardest of hardball with one of the world's most reckless human rights abusers. While Kristof had harsh words on U.S. escalation in Afghanistan, he doesn't seem to have a problem with it in the Sudan, where the habitual genocidaires in Khartoum may be prepping for a scorched-earth campaign against separatists in the country's south. His suggestion:

Why shouldn't we privately make it clear to [Sudanese President] Bashir that if he initiates genocide, his oil pipeline will be destroyed and he will not be exporting any oil?

By contrast, former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations John Bolton, a man with much less respect for the U.N. and much more enthusiasm for bombing things than Kristof, recently stopped short of advocating the unilateral use of U.S. military force in the Sudan in a Sunday Washington Times column. Way short.

In theory, the Obama administration is confronting Khartoum with "carrots" and "sticks," promising as carrots aid and legitimacy if Khartoum allows a free and fair referendum and respects the results. The carrot list is long and generous, but the list of sticks is hard to find. Incredibly, Gen. Gration revealed his idea of sticks when he said recently "We have a policy that gives the North a pathway to better bilateral relations [with Washington]. If they don't take it, that's already a stick." In other words, if Khartoum doesn't do what Washington wants, it won't get what it has happily lived without for decades. No wonder Khartoum isn't listening.

Of course, Bolton doesn't explicitly say he's against the idea of U.S. military force in the Sudan. But while neocon-types (including Bolton) are more than happy to talk about bombing Iran, the hardliners' positions on Sudan have been markedly different. They pushed for a NATO response force and continue to discuss "humanitarian intervention" in a generic way. In 2005, Kansas Sen. Sam Brownback (R) and then-Sen. Barack Obama argued for an increased U.S. role in advocating and organizing an international peacekeeping force in the Sudan, without recommending the actual use of U.S. military force. And back when Bolton was U.N. ambassador, he pressed for a U.N. force under the nominal influence of NATO and U.S. military planners. None of them spoke with such Kristof-like specificity about blowing shit up.

This role reversal, with Kristof taking a refreshingly extreme position on U.S. military intervention in the Sudan, is a reflection of Kristof and Bolton's different views on the goals of U.S. policy in the Sudan. Kristof believes we should be motivated by humanitarian and human rights concerns. Bolton is more concerned with the projection of U.S. power. From that perspective, this editorial page Bizarro World becomes much less surprising: After all, we might not need to bomb the Sudan to let them know the U.S. is not to be messed with. But preventing another genocide is a different, tougher goal to achieve.


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    1. Which would probably lead to proxy war w/ China in Afghanistan

      1. Maybe that’s been the plan the whole time — lure them in and leave them fighting Afghanis for the next 500 years.

  1. Why not just ship them arms and some advisers to train them how to fight? The solution is for these people to be able to defend themselves.

    1. USA style is, unfortunately, to send in our own forces and give refugee visas-complete with housing vouchers,cash assistance,and EBT cards- to their fighting age men.That’s what we did in Kosovo.

    2. That plan sounds like one already attempted at some point, perhaps in southeast Asia…

      1. …and it was extremely effective in halting Soviet Imperialism.

  2. And maybe a “Lincoln Brigade” for all those Americans dying to go to Somalia and intervene for truth, justice and the American way.

  3. Find some oil in the Sudan and the neocons will come around.

    1. A ton of oil has already been found. Thus the talk in the post about bombing the oil pipeline.

      Epic FAIL.

    2. Find Obama’s daddy’s assassin in Sudan and the neocons will come around.

    3. Nah, they’re selling it. Humanitarian guy wants us to threaten to disrupt the oil flow. Madness!

    4. If the US gets involved in Sudan then it’ll be accused of only doing it for the oil. Bolton is more of an assertive nationalist (close to the ‘realist’ school of IR) rather than a neocon. A ‘proper’ neocon would be more enthusiastic about humanitarian intervention, as they were during the 1990s. Bolton isn’t that keen because he doesn’t see any major US interests on the line. There’s also nothing surprising about the centre-left supporting humanitarian intervention ? see the 1990s again.

  4. Well.

    That’s the first time I’ve seen Bolton bitched at for being inexplicit, and Kristof effused over for advocating war-of-choice adventurism (which he often does, but it always doesn’t count, somehow).

    Work in a “ratfuck,” and maybe nine more “neocon”s, and shit’s golden, yo.

    1. I hate Michael Bolton.

  5. This post sounds like the intro to a college term paper.

  6. Was it Lincoln who said when advised about getting into a was with ?England? for their support of the South, “One war at a time”
    Modern update
    “two wars at a time”

    O yeah, Iraq is “mission accomplished…for real this time”
    Put me down as skeptical….alright, cynical.

  7. Neal Stephenson’s idea of HEAPs is a lot cheaper and easier to implement.

  8. We didn’t do anything to stop the slaughter of a million Ibo Biafrans in 1960s, the slaughter of millions of Greeks and Armenians at the hands of the Ottoman Turks in 1915, or the smaller-scale massacres in Nigeria and Egypt, so why would we stop the slaughter of hundreds of thousands of Sudanese at the hands of the Janjaweed? It’s only Muslims murdering Christians and Animists, nothing to see here.

  9. I’m not a fan of “war of choice adventurism” either, and I like America being the World’s Police even less, but are we just supposed to say “tough shit” to the many thousands of Sudanese who could easily be slaughtered? We did that in 1994 and 800,000 were killed.

    1. I agree about not wanting America to be the World Police – but can we stand by and be the Un-interested Bystander?

      It’s kind of the bind of all that military capability we’ve invested in over the decades. Belgium and Bolivia can hear the news of hundreds of thousands slaughtered on another continent and say “lo triste, we can’t do anything” but the US CAN do something – though it probably shouldn’t.

      1. Given that it’s not defending the US, it seems like it should be an elective for our soldiers.

      2. The EU could probably do something but it won’t – not least because siding against Muslims in a conflict between Muslims and non-Muslims is an excellent way to move up a few places on the Al Qaeda hit list.

  10. Maybe neocons just aren’t as concerned with the genocide of black people — if they even recognize it as genocide since they seem to think that, unlike Europeans who have a wide variety of ethnicity and culture, Africans are just one big swath of brown.

    1. Maybe You have no argument to make and so fall back on ‘they hat e teh browz’ line.
      Wait a seccy, aren’t neocons racist assholes for ‘bombing the brown people’? So now they’re racist for not bombing brown people? Fuck your hypocrisy and the anti-American horse it rode in on.

  11. Shorter Anti-War Progressives/Light in the Loafers Libertarians: I’m a big pussy, so if I’m ever called to arms — even against Local Girl Scout Division 319 — I will proudly proclaim ‘nay.’ And then probably play some Nintendo DS and catch Leno before I turn in. Unless Mom catches me. In which case, the wankathon is postponed.

    1. What the hell are you talking about?

    2. What the hell is that supposed to mean?

      1. Seems to mean that anyone who questions the wisdom of gratuitously killing niggers and wogs is a great big pussy fag.

        Or something.

  12. Obama has been too soft in his approach with Khartoum government. The hardlines in Khartoum need tough pressures including a unilateral military intervention if they don’t fulfil thier obligation of implementing the CPA in its entirety as it was signed. If these threats are not shown by the US Administration, there would be a full blown out war in an unprecedented manner that African continent had never experienced. The human loss would be horrible and whatever diplomatic assurances that the international community gave for the peacefull conduct of the referendum are going to be useless given the fact that NCP officials are beating the drums of war and mobilising thier Jihadist for a holly war. GOD SAVE SUDAN

  13. “Developed Countries are also a part of Sudanese problems. we are tired of double standard of the United Kingdom, if you want to know why, please read the article below.

    Wanted for genocide… and as a trading partner.

    Government demonstrates new foreign policy ethos by welcoming business delegation from Sudan
    By Daniel Howden, Africa Correspondent
    Friday, 1 October 2010

    Omar al-Bashir, the President of Sudan, stands accused of war crimes
    The Government is courting the regime of the indicted war criminal Omar al-Bashir by declaring that relations with Sudan have entered a “new epoch”. The announcement came as Britain welcomed a trade delegation from the country which has near pariah status, for the first time since warrants for President Bashir’s arrest were issued by the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague, over atrocities in Darfur.
    Khartoum’s high-level delegation met British government officials and business leaders on Wednesday to encourage investment in a country still targeted by US sanctions. It was the clearest example yet of how problematic William Hague’s new foreign policy, in which commercial interests are to trump ethical concerns, will be for the Coalition to implement. The change has already seen complaints that UK diplomatic missions have been reduced to commercial agencies to drum up business.
    The “Opportunities in Sudan” networking event on Wednesday brought a delegation including senior members of Mr Bashir’s NCP party together with British counterparts including the UK ambassador to Sudan, Nicholas Kay. It comes after a visit by Henry Bellingham, the new minister for Africa, to Khartoum in July to boost trade and business ties. He told reporters there that Britain would be a “candid friend” to the regime in Sudan.
    Representatives of major British oil, engineering, agriculture and banking companies who attended this week’s event were told that Sudan was full of “untapped natural resources” and that there was “a lot of money to be made”.
    A brochure for the meeting and “networking reception” said Sudan is “endowed with rich natural resources, including oil, and has been emerging as a major oil producer”. Those listed as attending on a document handed out at the event included mining companies, investment banks and security firms. Their representatives heard Mr Kay hail what he called “a new epoch” in relations between Britain and the regime responsible for massacres in Darfur.
    The pursuit of such friendly ties leaves the Coalition partners open to accusations of hypocrisy. While in opposition the Tory party called Darfur the “world’s worst humanitarian crisis” and senior officials including Mr Hague, the current Foreign Secretary, and Andrew Mitchell, now the International Development Secretary, backed the campaign to get UK companies to disinvest from Sudan.
    In a foreign policy advisory in 2007 Mr Mitchell wrote of the need to “change national and international business behaviour in the face of manifest gross violations of human rights”.
    But last night a Foreign Office spokesman insisted that British companies were “free to pursue legitimate commercial opportunities in Sudan”, adding that “increased trade would benefit” the country’s people. He said that there was “no question of prioritising commercial links over the very real and pressing human rights concerns”.
    The Liberal Democrat MP Tim Farron, co-chairman of the party’s backbench committee on international affairs, admitted that the Government’s stance “was something to be concerned about”. But he defended the argument for trade. “You sometimes build relationships rather than chuck bricks,” he said. “It might not be the most pleasant prospect for people who feel strongly about these issues, but it’s about what you can do ? how you can make a difference. Do we want to be purist and make no difference, or be pragmatic and actually improve human rights?”
    The rapprochement with Mr Bashir comes at a time of mounting international concern over the future of Africa’s largest and possibly most complex country. Barack Obama led a meeting of world leaders at the UN in New York last week to address fears that a vital referendum which could see the South vote to split Sudan in half is threatened by delays. The vote which is due in January was the keystone of a 2005 peace agreement that ended a 20-year civil war between the Muslim-dominated North and the predominantly Christian South that cost 2 million lives. Any collapse in that deal could prompt a return to war.
    Human rights groups are also warning that deeply flawed elections earlier this year that returned Mr Bashir to the presidency have been followed by a fresh bout of political repression.
    These concerns were ignored, according to participants at this week’s meeting organised by the UK Trade and Investment Authority. An accompanying investors’ guide to Sudan devoted only three lines to the myriad security concerns and insisted that the country had enjoyed 20 years of political stability.
    The British Government’s new commercial priorities have outraged human rights groups. The ongoing crisis in Darfur which has killed hundreds of thousands of people and displaced millions more as well as the North-South arms race ahead of a vote on secession are summed up in the investment booklet as small “exceptions” in “peripheral regions”.
    In sharp contrast to the UK approach, the US has a powerful package of economic sanctions that it deploys against the Sudanese regime, which works in concert with an international arms embargo. But that policy has also resulted in China’s emergence over the past decade as the Sudanese government’s main backer to wield outsized influence in Khartoum. China has been heavily criticised at UN Security Council meetings for protecting the same regime that the British Government is now prepared to do business with.
    The devastation in western Sudan prompted the ICC to add the charge of genocide to counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity brought against Mr Bashir in July. The oil industry has provided a lifeline for a regime in Khartoum that became an international pariah for its actions in the western region of Darfur. Oil accounts for half of all Sudan government revenues and more than 90 per cent of export earnings. While this has meant fabulous riches for the political elite, such as Mr Bashir’s NCP party, and development in the capital, the total lack of investment in the regions has been one of the key sources of conflict in Sudan’s bloody history since independence.
    The Chinese energy giant PetroChina and several Swedish firms are currently under criminal investigation over alleged involvement in human rights abuses. “Entering Sudan’s oil business comes with a host of risks attached,” warned Gavin Hayman, from resources watchdog Global Witness. “For the average citizen in Sudan oil has been a source of long and bloody conflict rather than a source of development. Companies have a duty not to just pour money into an opaque government. Oil will either be the key to peace in Sudan or the cause of another war

  14. “Kristof taking a *refreshingly* extreme position on U.S. military intervention in the Sudan”

    Great, another warmonger at Reason. It’s almost a requirement for employment here now.

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