"Africa is, indeed, coming into fashion." - Horace Walpole (1774)


carrots & sticks

President Obama has told Sudan that if it allows a politically sensitive referendum to go ahead in January, and abides by the results, the United States will move to take the country off its list of state sponsors of terrorism as early as next July, administration officials said Sunday.
It's pretty hard to come up with a policy proposal that simultaneously:
  1. has serious potential to make al-Bahshir pay attention and possibly even behave himself,
  2. allow the right-wing to paint Obama as "soft on terror," and
  3. makes clear how pointless symbols like Lists of State Sponsors of Terror are completely meaningless in real life.
This could get interesting.


Anonymous Don Stoll said...

Taking Sudan off the state sponsors of terrorism list would loosen restrictions on commerce with the United States--notably in weapons--and also make it eligible for U.S. aid. So by dismissing the list as empty symbolism, I suppose you mean that exiting the list would suggest a sort of passage from dark to light by a regime still implicated in the terrible darkness of Darfur?

Pres. Obama's critics will of course exploit his seeming hypocrisy while downplaying retention of the Darfur-related sanctions. One breaches the thin line between pragmatism and cynicism only by sacrificing a worthy goal actually within reach, however, and I don't see a solution for Darfur up for grabs. The President's critics will see things differently, but what else is new?

Monday, November 08, 2010 1:27:00 AM

Anonymous vanessa wyeth said...

... not to mention:

4. Piss off the Darfur lobby.

Monday, November 08, 2010 9:37:00 AM

Blogger texasinafrica said...

Vanessa, I had something akin to your #4 in the post, then edited it out. Clearly, I should've kept it in.

Don, what we've been doing re: Darfur hasn't worked. Isn't it possible that normalizing relations with the Sudanese might open the door to actually getting something done there?

Monday, November 08, 2010 11:47:00 AM

Blogger Bronwyn said...

Do you think that normalizing relations will work? I mean, it makes sense to me, but I don't know...
Also, in light of the recent elections, can Obama afford negative press?

Monday, November 08, 2010 1:58:00 PM

Blogger texasinafrica said...

Bronwyn, it's probably good for Obama that most Americans have no idea what or where Sudan is.

I don't know if normalizing relations will work, but I do know that treating Sudan like a pariah hasn't worked. It's in our interest to have two stable, safe Sudans that respect human rights and don't go to war with each other. This might make that possible.

Monday, November 08, 2010 2:58:00 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

the problem with a certain segment of America is the idea that we can never talk to our foes. I call it the Conan position "Conan what is best in life? To crush your enemies, to see them driven before you and her the lamentation of thier women" It makes no sense anymore. Why are there no overtures to Cuba like Darfur.

Monday, November 08, 2010 4:31:00 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Took a break from the harsh labor you subject your students to mighty one of Texas and wondered about the article regarding the arrest of academics on genocide denial. Would you be so kind as to give us a primer on what not to write while doing longterm research that involves multiple regime changes in an African country. I'm think ing of DOnald Fagan's song "The Goodbye Look" and how to void it in other words.

Tuesday, November 09, 2010 4:33:00 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

thanks for the post! its interesting to see some new thinking on sudan foreign policy.

i've worried a bit that while there is a lot of concern regarding impacts of possible secession on the south, less attention is paid to what happens to northerners (and not just in darfur) after july 2011, living under the northern govt, which will no longer even be bound by the CPA. i also wonder about how destabilizing the january vote could be for the north, and the broader political implications of that. on that basis, its still important to continue to engage with and support citizens of the north, no? if the current strategy hasn't been effective, might this be a better mechanism to stay involved and have some influence?

Tuesday, November 09, 2010 9:13:00 AM


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