Referring to ICC action against the Sudanese president, international law scholar Kevin Jon Heller asks in the comments: “Is this the way to ratchet up the pressure? To be honest, I really don’t know how I feel about the Prosecutor’s decision — I just know it makes me very nervous…” It makes me nervous too. That said, one recurring theme over the past, sad four years of conflict in Darfur is that the international community was never able to muster the requisite pressure to alter the decision making calculus in Khartoum. Powerful countries like the United States and China failed to summon the will (in the American case, to put their money where their mouth is; in the Chinese case to put their mouth where their money is) to take actions that would make obstructing peace in Darfur more painful for the Sudanese government than cooperating with the international community.
The Security Council came close a few times with sanctions packages, but ultimately these sanctions never targeted the real decision makers. To the Council’s great credit, though, it did decide to let loose the ICC prosecutor on Darfur. So now we have an alternative way to press the Sudanese into staking a more cooperative posture on Darfur. For this I am glad: all other diplomatic means have so far failed to do so.