There has been much talk on the campaign trail of hope and change, rhetoric which is largely responsible for the victory of President-elect Barack Obama. Across the nation and world, there is unprecedented excitement about the new administration and its potential to change.
As the Obama administration makes its transition to the White House, every constituency has high expectations for change in their specific areas of concern; the people of Darfur and the anti-genocide movement are no exception. As I listen to Omer Ismail, the ENOUGH Project advisor for Sudan, at STAND’s National Student Conference, I sense his frustration and urgency. For the past five years, the people of Darfur have received empty promises of change.
Millions of dollars have been poured into Darfur each year in the form of humanitarian aid since the conflict began; a solution which seems focused not so much on resolving the atrocities in Darfur as on appeasing the conscience of the international community.
It is appalling that after a century of genocide in Armenia, Germany, Cambodia, Iraq, Bosnia, and Rwanda, Washington is stands baffled as a deer in the headlights when confronted with genocide. Humanitarian aid has become an increasingly expensive and ineffective band-aid on almost every humanitarian crisis the United States has dealt with in recent years.
Real change lies in assembling twenty-four helicopters and an effective peacekeeping force. Real change lies in the indictment of Omar Al-Bashir. Real change lies in true diplomacy with China.
If the Obama administration wants to make good on its campaign promises of hope and change, it will have to engage in the creation of a comprehensive plan for confronting genocide, now and in the future. In the coming year, the new administration will need to confront a host of status quos in need of hope and change. There is a need for new direction in Iraq, in Afghanistan, and in the way our economy is run.
It is up to the anti-genocide constituency, on behalf of the victims of genocide in Sudan to remind the new President that Darfur is in need of hope and change as well.