McCain on Darfur

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Last night, John McCain’s response to a student’s question about Darfur drew perhaps the evening’s loudest round of applause (except for the standing ovation he got at the end). He reiterated — as he’s done before — that America must do something: in 2006 he and Bob Dole suggested that U.S. use its intelligence assets to investigate war crimes in the region. He told the crowd that Americans had watched Rwanda, Srebrenica* and the Balkans unfold and, he said, “Americans are tired of hearing, ‘never again.'” He knocked China for blocking UN Security Council action, “because they have oil interests in the Sudan.” But he stopped short of saying the U.S. should send troops, but he said he’d incentivize African countries to send troops to stabilize the region by offering economic aid, though he admitted that African countries’ troops have not done well enough so far.

In Congress, McCain has been a consistent supporter — if not vocal advocate — of Darfur legislation. On the bus today, he spoke a little more specifically about what he believes the course of action should be: The U.S. could offer troops for logistical and transport support, as well as pressure China to stop its delay tactics. Surprisingly, this short list actions echoes proposals suggested by Nicholas Kristof and — now that Sam Brownback is out of the race — goes beyond what the other GOP candidates have said about America’s responsibilities in the region.

Rudy Giuliani has said that the U.S. should hold a summit to call attention to the issue. One wonders if he should pay more attention himself, as he was apparently unaware until last May that he had Sudanese holdings, his campaign said that he would “take appropriate action.” Mitt Romney was discovered to have financial links to Sudan in August, but said that he does not manage his funds himself: “I haven’t managed my funds for four years… I’ve asked the trustees to keep my investments consistent with my values, but that isn’t always possible.” (John Edwards, who has called for more aggressive measures in Darfur — like most Democratic candidates — was caught in the same position and told the press he would immediately divest them.) Ron Paul has said, “These Sudanese don’t need a helping hand, they need an invisible hand.* “Mike Huckabee, asked about Darfur at the lightly-attended Morgan State University debate, said that while “we have some role to play in it, but… we have not even addressed the genocide that’s going on and the infanticide in our own country with the slaughter of millions of unborn children.”

* Yes, s_z, I was taken in by that parody. Ack. Apologies to Paul and his legion of supporters. What’s sort of funny is that I actually found that quote (“quote”) after I found the Huckabee one — which I had at first assumed was also a joke. I meant to include Paul’s actual Darfur policy here, but it’s incredibly hard to find information about it on the web — except for the parody — his website has no listing for it either. But, from what I could find, there is a grain of truth to the joke:

Ron Paul has received an “F” for only co-sponsoring and voting favorably on one or two pieces of Darfur legislation, including the DPAA, which was passed by unanimous consent. This person has the power to protect civilians in Darfur, yet is doing almost nothing.

* Due to some publishing and connectivity problems, an earlier version of this post had several embarrassing typos that were up for much longer than they should have been. Thanks so much to the readers that pointed them out. And, by the way, I’m really encouraged by this lively and interested reaction to the substance of a post about policy.