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Monday, July 14, 2008

The karmic bill for Darfur's bloodshed is being delivered to the doorstep of the man most responsible.

Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir is officially wanted for war crimes and genocide.

But is this a good thing?
Some observers question the court's move, saying that while they might agree Bashir should face charges, they were unsure of the strategic value of indicting the Sudanese president at the same time the United Nations is trying to negotiate with him.

Alex de Waal of the Social Science Research Council says there would be no point in having an International Criminal Court if it could not make indictments that attempt to hold leaders like Bashir accountable. But he says the U.N. is still trying to clear the way to send more peacekeepers to Sudan and get the government involved in serious peace talks with rebel groups.

"These aims cannot be successfully pursued," de Waal says, "if there is simultaneously an attempt to arrest the head of state, an approach that criminalizes the entire governmental apparatus."

I don't worry so much about that, to be honest. From my layman's view, I feel that if there's a crime, and you know the identity of the criminal, you call the cops. There's no talking involved. But it appears that the UN doesn't even have faith that their diplomacy will be effective - particularly in light of today's ruling. After a militia attack last week that left seven of their blue berets dead, it only stands to get worse for the UN peacekeepers, who are left hanging in the violent breeze of a Sudan that shows great support for its president amongst its Arab majority. (To say nothing of those who Bashir's Janjaweed murderers have been hunting all along.)

The UN has responded by calling for a withdrawal of all "non-essential" personnel in Sudan's Darfur region beginning tomorrow. Seems fine, in a way - it's not like they've been quick to address the problem. I'm all for the window-dressing coming down so that the world can really see this problem for what it is. But in our country, in which Bashir's arrest warrant barely makes the news...

...who will be looking?


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