TNR Editors: Obama's Sudan Envoy Is an Embarrassment. Fire...

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THE PLANK NOVEMBER 5, 2009

TNR Editors: Obama's Sudan Envoy Is an Embarrassment. Fire Him.

In an editorial, TNR calls on Barack Obama to fire his Sudan envoy, Scott Gration:

Scott Gration is an embarrassment. As Barack Obama's special envoy to Sudan, Gration has a dual mission: to help win justice and peace for the nearly three million Darfuris who currently live in camps after being subjected to genocide by Sudan's government; and to prevent that same odious government from initiating another slaughter in southern Sudan, where a 2005 peace agreement is looking more tenuous by the day.

How is he doing? Since taking the job in March, Gration has gone about ingratiating himself to the Sudanese government--an odd choice given that the government is a genocidal one. He seems interested only in offering Khartoum incentives, even though it has provided him basically nothing in return. He has pressed Congress to ease sanctions on Sudan. He has met with an American lobbyist for the Sudanese government. He has endorsed an absurd demand issued by Khartoum concerning an upcoming vote on South Sudanese independence. He has lamented to The Washington Post that many Darfuris distrust the government because of "psychological stuff." Explaining to the Post how he wants to deal with Sudan's rulers, he said: "We've got to think about giving out cookies. Kids, countries--they react to gold stars, smiley faces, handshakes, agreements, talk, engagement." This is both astonishingly offensive (why would one give "cookies" to a government that has recently killed hundreds of thousands of its own people?) and strikingly impractical: Most observers of Sudan agree that Khartoum has historically responded to sticks, while viewing carrots as an invitation to continue orchestrating violence.

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posted in: the plank, politics, khartoum, sudan, person career, barack obama, scott gration, darfur, envoy, sudanese government

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