Over the last few weeks I have been interviewing experts for the documentary The Devil Came on Horseback, which is about the genocide in Darfur. Across the political spectrum, from Ken Roth at Human Rights Watch and Nicholas Kristof at the New York Times to Senator Sam Brownback (R-KS), the consensus seems to be that this crisis will only end with the intervention of UN forces (and NATO too, perhaps) to replace or assist the African Union troops already in Sudan.
Last week brought only bad news for the people of Darfur. Two key players in the Administration's policy on Darfur resigned: Under Secretary of State Robert Zoellick and White House staffer Michael Gerson. The news from the ground in Darfur is not promising. The Government of Sudan has been trying to curtail UN activities in western Darfur, rather than smoothing the way for a full-scale UN force in the region. Reports from neighboring Chad confirm that there are massacres taking place there too.
So what can be done? The Save Darfur Coalition announced today that they have reached their goal of gathering one million postcards demanding that President Bush take stronger action on behalf of the people of Darfur. In a ceremony at the U.S. Capitol this morning, Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-TN) and Senator Hillary Clinton (D-NY) became the 999,999 and the one millionth signers. This is a stunning feat. With typical modesty, David Rubinstein, the Executive Director of the Coalition, told me last week, "Well, yes, this is an achievement, but what about the 279 million Americans who haven't sent a postcard yet?" He has a point. We all need to address this issue with our elected officials and within our communities.
The fascinating truth is that an issue as grave as genocide makes for some strange bedfellows, and so becomes a meeting ground for thinkers of otherwise divergent religious and political beliefs. All elected officials should have a position on this and all voters should get them to stake out that position.
The Devil of this genocide needs to be avenged and we all have our part to play.