Yesterday, President Bush met for about 40 minutes with Darfur rebel leader Minni Minnawi at the White House. That’s right – one of the worst humanitarian crises of our time and the President carves out 40 minutes for it. I know he’s busy not calling for a ceasefire between Israel and Lebanon, and that he’s occupied by ignoring the huge national deficit, and that it takes a lot of time to continue to do little after Hurricane Katrina (I mean he finally vetoed a bill, right?). But, I would have only assumed that a president who scribbled "NOT ON MY WATCH" on the Clinton-Rwanda report would have rolled up his sleeves, pulled up his cowboy boots and tried to hammer out a way towards lasting peace and ending this century’s first genocide.
But we all know what happens when we assume.
Basically, at this meeting that only took a little longer than an episode of Scrubs, the President asked the rebel leader to stop instigating violence (which has happened in a region facing continually deteriorating security problems) and to try and work with the other rebels (the two groups who did not sign the May peace agreement and cited it as inadequate) to bring about peace.
Uh…if Mr. President would read a newspaper (or my blog) he would realize that the existing groups warring in Darfur, and the African Union troops, are woefully incapable of doing that. And so it appeared, that in typical conservative Christian fashion, Mr. Bush approached the meeting as what he could give to someone else, with little regard for what that someone else actually needed.
Yes, the whole thing is complicated (which you know if you read here regularly). There are certain sensitivities, ancient history, religious undertones, and a whole myriad of other crap that makes every step of this arduous marathon seem like we’re all running uphill into the wind while hot ash and boiling lava spew down from above. But we get nowhere if we don’t even bother to put on our shoes.
What could Mr. Bush have promised Minnawi? That he would go (not Mr. Bolton, who may be slightly more inadequate than the African Union forces) to the floor of the UN, shout about the atrocities being committed in refugee camps (we’re talking about women getting gang-raped and kids’ arms being hacked off by machetes) and demanding a united front politically (and a non-Western front militaristically) to stabilize the region so that the terms of the May deal could be realized. This speech could be written and delivered, say, in no more than 40 minutes?
And, Mr. Bush, if you do happen to stop by this blog from time to time and would like me to write said speech, I’ll do so free of charge. Seriously.