In her first press availability Ambassador Susan Rice had this to say about Darfur.
Well, obviously we remain very deeply concerned about the ongoing genocide in Darfur. The priority at this point has to be effective protection for civilians. And in that regard, our effort and attention will be, and as we discussed this morning with the Secretary-General and colleagues, on effective efforts to support the full and complete deployment of UNAMID so that there is the capacity on the ground to begin to effect that civilian protection.
Obviously, we will continue to look at what is necessary to deal with any obstruction, continued violence or reprisals that may occur anyway or may emanate as a result of a potential indictment. And we want to be supportive of the Special Envoy’s efforts to negotiate a lasting peace and resolve the underlying political differences. [emphasis mine]
The previous administration had a disturbing tendency to make claims like this, but then follow up with a lackluster response. Then-Brookings Institution fellow Susan Rice described that policy as “bluster and retreat.”
I, for one, look forward to a new day in America’s approach to the Darfur crisis. I’m encouraged by the fact that Rice so clearly stated that the genocide was “ongoing” because this implies a sense of urgency on the part of the Obama administration to do something about it. So far, though, it’s hard to see how that urgency has been manifest. Within 48 hours the President appointed Richard Holbrooke as a special envoy to Afghanistan and Pakistan and George Mitchell to the Mid-east. Clearly, these are two top-tier America foreign policy priorities. But if the genocide is really “ongoing” as Ambassador Rice says it is, then it would have been nice to see a similarly high-level international troubleshooter assigned the Sudan portfolio.