Imminent war in Sudan? Not exactly.
Fear of war in troubled Sudan is intensifying, and observers are calling on President Obama to act urgently and assertively. What Washington really needs to do is take a deep breath and support the ongoing negotiations.
One would think that after two difficult wars, Americans would be hesitant to meddle in Middle Eastern nations with troubled political climates. In the last few weeks, however, astute and knowledgeable observers have been building a case for intervention in Sudan.Skip to next paragraph
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While suggested interventions do fall short of military engagement, many are calling for sanctions, tighter arms embargos, and support for trying the current President of Sudan on charges of genocide. The building, but misguided consensus amongst analysts and activists is that war in Sudan is inevitable unless the United States steps in to prevent it.
A recent op-ed in The New York Times by Dave Eggers and John Prendergast declared that the wars in Darfur and South Sudan could soon “explode.” The situation in Sudan is “President Obama’s Rwanda moment,” the authors concluded. Days later, a column in The New York Times by Nicolas Kristof compared the situation in Sudan to “trains steaming toward each other on the same track.”
The media have been warning of imminent war for some time. A quick Google search for “Sudan on the brink of war” returns dozens of stories over the past few years from The Washington Post, the Guardian, Time magazine, and the BBC, to name a few. Behind closed doors in Washington, discussions have been heated because many want President Obama’s special envoy, retired General Scott Gration, to stop being an impartial leader in the peace process and intervene quickly to stop impending disaster.
In January, the people living in the southern half of Sudan will have the chance to secede, via a referendum, from the North. The outcome of the vote, as many of these worried analysts now contend, is likely to be a disaster. Many activists and politicians are calling for more aggressive policy now and many in Washington are openly angry with Obama’s current policy to stay friendly with both sides of the conflict.
Dangers of "group think"
The calls for intervention are reminiscent of the pre-Iraq-war environment, when seasoned policy leaders and analysts were overcome by fear of mass destruction. “Group think’ permeated and war became inevitable in the minds of many.The determination of the international community to avoid war was ultimately ignored.
While the situation in Iraq is completely different than it is in Sudan, the common theme is that Americans seem to be consumed by fear more quickly than others, causing them to abandon the international community and go it alone.