By Comms Blogger Zoya Waliany
Though seemingly robotic and unreachable, Mitt Romney is the first of the Republican candidates to address the issue of conflicts in Sudan. After Act For Sudan, a bipartisan, interfaith alliance of American and Sudanese advocacy organizations, asked the 2012 presidential candidates for a statement about Sudan, only Romney responded, condemning the regime of Omar al-Bashir and its history of genocide. He also highlighted the violence against the non-Arab regions in Sudan, like South Kordofan. Notably, he assured that he is “committed to protecting innocents from war crimes and other atrocities, ensuring that humanitarian aid reaches those desperately in need, holding accountable those leaders who perpetrate atrocities, and achieving a sustainable peace for all who live in Sudan and the Republic of South Sudan.”
Romney’s statement came only after a request from Act For Sudan, and he is alone among the Republican candidates to respond. These candidates are letting foreign policy take a backseat to domestic policy, assuming that the American public only cares about domestic issues, which is simply untrue. Our student-led organization, an increasingly influential force on the American voting populace, has the ability to prove to the Republican candidates the importance of foreign policy and humanitarian efforts, outside of asserting our dominance over China. The new STAND initiative focuses on asking the presidential candidates to take notice of countries with human rights violations and address these issues. If they plan on reducing foreign aid, will areas like South Kordofan, still be eligible? According to Mitt Romney, this region of Sudan will receive aid under a Romney regime, but what assurance do we have, and what about other countries like Burma? What are the candidates’ stances on genocide prevention, responsibility to protect, and the foreign aid budget? From what we’ve seen so far in the numerous debates, these areas are of little concern to the candidates.
If enough STAND members attend town hall meetings with the candidates and rally behind these issues, we can raise awareness and importance of genocide prevention, Sudan and the like. While the candidates may consider questions about genocide prevention and foreign aid “gotcha questions,” they will have no excuse to evade these points any longer.
The opinions expressed in this article are that of the author and not of STAND.