Mr. WOLF. Mr. Speaker, as of Friday, March 15, the position of Sudan special envoy at the State Department has been vacant.
This vacancy is symptomatic of a president that has all but forsaken the people of Sudan.
Last December a group of prominent Sudan activists and advocates wrote a letter to the administration, which I submit for the RECORD, expressing their "grave concerns that the current U.S. policy is ineffective at stopping mass atrocities in Sudan.'' They urged President Obama, in his second term, to embrace "an urgent shift in the U.S. policy to finally end the humanitarian crises and bring about a just and lasting peace in Sudan.''
The letter cited the president's own words from 2007 when he rightly called the genocide in Darfur a ``stain on our souls'' and said that "as a president of the United States I don't intend to abandon people or turn a blind eye to slaughter.''
And yet, I can't help but wonder if the people of Darfur, who have been displaced from their homes and brutalized by violence for ten years now, do in fact feel abandoned by this president and this administration.
On March 7, CNN featured a piece by the chairman of the Darfur Union in the United Kingdom, himself a Darfuri. Tellingly, he wrote, "..... Khartoum's attempt to establish a racially pure Islamic state involves waging war against its own unarmed civilians, systematically and with impunity. In Darfur this has lasted a decade. The U.N. estimates that 300,000 Darfuris have died since 2003, but it hasn't bothered to estimate casualty numbers since 2008. With fighting continuing to this day, the number is likely to be far higher. The world assumes `Darfur is over.' It isn't.''
Not only is Darfur's nightmare ongoing, but Khartoum's brutality has only spread, consistent with its decades' long effort to systematically and ruthlessly consolidate power resulting in the death and displacement of untold thousands. More recently the Nuban people have been driven from their homes, targeted for killing and terrorized because of the color of their skin. Khartoum has indiscriminately bombed civilian populations--disrupting an entire way of life for this largely farming population. Starvation, death and despair have followed. I have visited the refugee camps and talked with the people personally. I have heard their pleas for help and I have conveyed their message to this administration--a message which fell on largely deaf ears.
On March 19, USA Today featured a joint op-ed by actor and co-founder of the anti-genocide organization Not On Our Watch, Don Cheadle, and John Prendergast the co-founder of the Enough Project, in the op-ed wrote, ``By excluding all but a narrow clique of Sudanese from access to the power and wealth of the country, marginalized groups from the west (Darfur), south (Blue Nile and the Nuba Mountains) and east have all taken up arms against that regime. ..... Any peace effort should deal comprehensively with all the rebel movements, the unarmed opposition, and civil society, in search of a solution for the whole of Sudan. Until the abusive governing system in Sudan is radically reformed, there will be blood.''
Indeed, much blood has been shed, and yet inexplicably this administration has embraced a policy of engagement marked by conciliatory outreach to Khartoum, including the prospect of debt relief for a genocidal government, and a perverse sense of moral equivalence in dealing with South Sudan and Sudan.
While there has been criticism of two successive special envoys, ultimately they were merely the implementers of a policy that is inherently flawed and ultimately ineffective. In fact, I am grateful for the dedication and efforts of both Ambassadors Scott Gration and Princeton Lyman both of whom have poured much time and energy into a daunting task. We owe them a debt of gratitude.
In a February 12 letter to Secretary of State Kerry I wrote, ``Our approach to Sudan and South Sudan needs reinvigorating. It demands a renewed sense of moral clarity about who we are dealing with in Khartoum--namely genocidaires. It necessitates someone who can speak candidly with our friends in South Sudan about their own internal challenges, including corruption, and shortcomings as a new nation. While an envoy alone does not a policy make, a high-profile special envoy, from outside the department, with the knowledge and mandate to aggressively pursue peace, security and justice for the people of Sudan and South Sudan, is an important step in the right direction.''
Specifically, I recommended someone like former Senator Russ Feingold.
Now there are whispers that the administration is considering former U.S. ambassador to Sudan, Tim Carney. Many in the Sudan advocacy community are deeply dismayed at this prospect and took the unusual step of asking Secretary Kerry not to move forward with this nomination.
In a March 19 letter, Act for Sudan wrote, "It has come to our attention that former U.S. Ambassador to Sudan, Timothy Carney, is being considered for the position of Special Envoy. ..... While Ambassador Carney has experience in Sudan, we are concerned that his publicly stated advice and guidance with regard to U.S. policy on Sudan will prolong the suffering of the Sudanese people and will undermine U.S. objectives to support a just peace and stable democracies in Sudan and South Sudan, which ultimately are in the best interest of the U.S. and the international community.''
The letter references a February 2009 Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing that Kerry chaired where Carney proposed offering a series of carrots to Khartoum, including deferring the International Criminal Court (ICC) arrest warrant for Sudanese President Omar Bashir, sending an ambassador to Khartoum and removing Sudan from the State Department's list of state sponsors of terrorism.
If the past is any indication, this would be precisely the wrong direction for U.S. policy. Khartoum has met this administration's overtures with continued atrocities and intransigence. Khartoum has rightly concluded that they incur no more blame than the leadership in Juba for what has occurred since the independence vote of January 2011.
Meanwhile, this administration sought to block efforts in Congress, which I initiated, to isolate Bashir. Last year I offered an amendment to the State and Foreign Operations appropriations bill which would have cut non-humanitarian foreign assistance to any nation that allowed him into their country without arresting him. The amendment was adopted with bipartisan support by voice vote despite the department's opposition.
This approach of using our increasingly scarce aid dollars to effectuate change and further our foreign policy objectives is a tried and true method. When Malawi allowed Bashir to enter the country to attend a regional trade summit I pressed the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) to end Malawi's compact. The MCC was initially opposed to this course of action but ultimately, in the face of a deteriorating human rights situation internally, reversed course and suspended Malawi's compact, citing Bashir's visit as one of the reasons.
Fortunately Malawi's new president, Joyce Banda, hoping to reinvigorate her country's relationship with donor countries, last year took a firm stand in refusing to allow Bashir to visit her country for the African Union (AU) summit. President Banda went so far as to decline to host the summit lest her country and her government be placed in the position of being forced to host a war criminal. Given her principled stand I made clear to the MCC Board that I supported Malawi's compact being reinstated which it ultimately was.
However, other countries, including large recipients of U.S. foreign assistance, have not followed suit and the administration has failed to embrace this approach to spur such action.
The amendment I proposed would isolate Bashir and make him an international pariah as is befitting a man with blood on his hands. It is noteworthy that the amendment garnered the support of 70 prominent Holocaust and genocide scholars. Dr. Rafael Medoff, director of the Wyman Institute, which initiated a letter of support to the administration from these scholars, said: ``Halting aid to those who host Bashir would be the first concrete step the U.S. has taken to isolate the Butcher of Darfur and pave the way for his arrest. If the Obama administration is serious about punishing perpetrators of genocide, it should support the Wolf Amendment.''
Sadly that support never materialized.
Candidate Obama purported to be deeply concerned by the crisis in Sudan and committed to bold actions.
Have we seen a fraction of that concern or anything close to bold action since he became president?
Candidate Obama was sharp in his criticism of President Bush's handling of Sudan.
Have we seen President Obama take even fleeting interest, beyond the occasional talking point, in the deteriorating situation in Sudan marked in part by a growing humanitarian crisis in the Nuba Mountains?
In a piece in the August 4, 2011 Christian Science Monitor, noted Sudan researcher and activist Eric Reeves, wrote, ``If the world refuses to see what is occurring in South Kordofan, and refuses to respond to evidence that the destruction of the Nuba people, as such, is a primary goal of present military and security actions by Sudan, then this moment will represent definitive failure of the `responsibility to protect.' ''
Meanwhile in an April 23, 2012 speech at the U.S. Holocaust Museum President Obama lauded his commitment in the realm of genocide and mass-atrocities prevention, saying, without a hint of irony, ``We're making sure that the United States government has the structures, the mechanisms to better prevent and respond to mass atrocities. So I created the first-ever White House position dedicated to this task. It's why I created a new Atrocities Prevention Board, to bring together senior officials from across our government to focus on this critical mission. This is not an afterthought.''
He continued, "..... we need to be doing everything we can to prevent and respond to these kinds of atrocities--because national sovereignty is never a license to slaughter your people.''
I couldn't agree more. And yet, I think most in the Sudan watchers would hardly be able to claim that this administration has done everything it can to prevent and respond to Khartoum's assault on its own people.
With tensions between Sudan and South Sudan on the rise and nearing a tipping point, thousands starving in the Nuba Mountains, refugees fleeing aerial bombardment and pouring over the border into South Sudan, violence persisting in Darfur and an internationally indicted war criminal at the helm in Khartoum who travels the globe with virtual impunity, it is time for a fresh policy and a renewed commitment to peace and justice in Sudan.
To date, this president has offered nothing more than an abdication of leadership and a failure of vision, which has culminated in human suffering and misery.
December 11, 2012,
Hon. Barack Obama,
President of the United States,
DEAR MR. PRESIDENT, We, the undersigned human rights organizations, have grave concerns that the current U.S. policy is ineffective at stopping mass atrocities in Sudan. We write in the hope that the transition to your second term in office will bring an urgent shift in the U.S. policy to finally end the humanitarian crises and bring about a just and lasting peace in Sudan.
As you know, genocide continues in Sudan. The National Congress Party (NCP) regime in Sudan, led by a president indicted by the International Criminal Court for genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes, is causing the death, starvation, displacement, and destruction of livelihood of Sudanese civilians in Darfur, Nuba Mountains/South Kordofan and the Blue Nile state.
When speaking about Sudan in 2007 you called the genocide in Darfur a ``stain on our souls'' and said that ``as a president of the United States I don't intend to abandon people or turn a blind eye to slaughter.'' Vice President Biden, the same year, called for military force in Darfur. Yet five years later, the same genocidal regime, whose grave human rights abuses have been left unchecked by the international community, is emboldened to continue to perpetrate atrocities, not only in Darfur but now in Sudan's border regions.
In your first term, your administration pursued a policy of engagement, marked by conciliatory diplomacy. Under the oversight of two Special Envoys, this policy has failed to stop the government of Sudan from committing ongoing mass atrocities.
We now ask that you revamp your Sudan policy to address the root cause of Sudan's multiple conflicts, the repressive and genocidal Sudan regime.
Specifically, we ask that your administration:
(1) Deliver humanitarian aid to the starving Sudanese civilians in the Nuba Mountains/South Kordofan and Blue Nile State, with or without agreement from the government of Sudan or the U.N. Security Council, with multilateral partners or unilaterally, and with the urgency required to save starving people.
(2) Instruct the National Security Council to accelerate decisions and related actions regarding protection of Nuba, Blue Nile, and Darfuri populations from air attacks and to seriously consider the destruction of Sudan's offensive aerial assets and/or the imposition of a no-fly zone pursuant to the responsibility to protect doctrine.
(3) Support an end to the NCP regime's control of the government of Sudan and support the movement within Sudan for democratic transformation.
(4) Oppose debt relief and cash transfers to the government of Sudan, thereby increasing pressure on that government and strengthening the effects of U.S. sanctions.
(5) Demonstrate strong leadership to end the government-sponsored violence in Sudan, protect civilians in Sudan and South Sudan, ensure unhindered humanitarian access for those in need, and bring the perpetrators of genocide and mass atrocities to justice at the International Criminal Court.
The government of Sudan's blatant and longstanding abuse of its citizens and disregard for the international community clearly defines the nature of that government. Sudan's repeated failure to abide by the outcome of negotiations is a well-established pattern. After 23 years of mass atrocities committed by President Bashir and his government, it is long past time for the United States and the international community to confront Bashir and the NCP and bring an end to their mass atrocities.