Tags: un | darfur | bernard | kerik

No More Lip Service on Darfur

By Bernard Kerik   |   Tuesday, 10 Mar 2009 11:37 AM

Two weeks ago, Oscar award-winning actor George Clooney was granted a private meeting with President Barack Obama to discuss the crisis in the Darfur region of Sudan.

Clooney, a U.N. messenger of peace, asked the president to help end a long and bloody conflict that has killed or displaced millions of innocent refugees.

The actor recently toured the African nation of Chad and said: "We want him [Obama] to appoint a high-level, full-time diplomat to negotiate and work hard every day for a peace treaty," noting that the situation in Darfur has not improved since he first visited the region in 2006.

As admirable as Clooney's intent and demand for action may be, is it equally if not more naive and unrealistic?

A few years back, Clooney told an audience at the National Press Club that it is the first genocide of the 21st century, and what the people in Darfur need now is the American people and the world's population to help them. However, the reality is, that wasnt exactly true.

Long before the international community focused on Darfur, in another part of the world there were atrocities were being committed against millions of people who were killed or displaced by a sick and demented dictator, much like the Janjaweed leadership in Darfur. The United States, the U.N. Security Counsel, and the international community thought diplomacy was the solution, but Saddam Hussein laughed in their faces.

In the aftermath of 9/11, we finally did what should have been done years before, yet have been criticized for ever since. Intelligence failures and our failure to find weapons of mass destruction have overshadowed the fact that Saddam Hussein and his murderous regime were removed, and today there is a free and liberated Iraq.

They should have been removed years before and yet the United Nations, the United States, and the international community did nothing — exactly what their doing in Darfur today, and it is wrong.

"What we cannot do is turn our heads and look away and hope that this will somehow disappear," Clooney said, and I agree. However, the United Nations doesn't want to step on the toes of the African Union; our political leadership here in the United States doesn't have the courage to do what has to be done; and Americans for the most part, don't understand the problem, cant afford the cost, and definitely don't have the patience to fight this battle.

Clooney's trips to Darfur, lip service by politicians, and protests at the United Nations are not helping the people in the Sudan.

President Obama appointing a full-time diplomat to negotiate and work hard every day for a peace treaty will not work. A peace treaty with terrorists like the Janjaweed who continually attack ethnic black Africans, raping women, pillaging villages, and committing widespread atrocities with the support of the government? That's like saying we want a peace treaty with Osama bin Laden or al-Qaida. Its a joke.

Terrorist groups and governments that sponsor them must be stopped and stopped by force if necessary. Until we as a world leader are willing to do what it takes to hold them accountable without worrying about world opinion or being politically correct, the people in the Sudan will continue to suffer.

If George Clooney wants the genocide and atrocities in Darfur to end, then he has to say it and mean it. He has to understand it will come at a cost; it will take time, and it will not be easy. He must understand that although the international community voices their condemnation for what is happening there, they themselves don't have the courage and perhaps the money to do the dirty work. Is Mr. Clooney, his friends in Hollywood, and the political leaders standing on the Darfur soapbox, prepared for that? Do they really want to do what it takes to stop the atrocities and genocide?

I feel we must. I strongly believe that as a world power we are obligated to save an entire generation of people from extinction, which is exactly what will happen without our intervention. Unfortunately, it will probably lie solely on the shoulders of the United States, the leader of the free world.

Is Mr. Clooney and Hollywood prepared for that, and would they support it to the end? I surely hope so.

Bernard B. Kerik was the 40th police commissioner of New York City.

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