The independent Republic of South Sudan emerged Saturday from the ravages of half a century of war, deprivation, destruction, and displacement. Its freedom was guaranteed overwhelmingly by a self-determination held last January, and, today, it is impossible to resist the celebratory urges evident in Juba, the new capital. But this birth occurs against an exceedingly grim backdrop that suggests resumed war between Sudan and, now, South Sudan is much closer than diplomats and analysts have allowed themselves to say, or perhaps even think.
Darfur has become all but invisible. With fewer and fewer human rights reports, news dispatches, or even candid accounts from U.N. leaders, events in the region have dropped almost fully out of international view. Facilitating this slip is the fact that global attention has recently shifted away from Darfur to other areas of Sudan: to negotiations with Khartoum, to the south’s independence referendum in January, and, more recently, to the mounting crisis in Abyei, the contested border area between the north and the south. So have things improved in Darfur?
Saviors and Survivors: Darfur, Politics, and the War on Terror By Mahmood Mamdani (Pantheon, 398 pp., $26.95) The Responsibility to Protect: Ending Mass Atrocity Crimes Once and For All By Gareth Evans (Brookings, 349 pp., $24.95) I. IN THE SUMMER OF 2007, Mahmood Mamdani found himself at a meeting of activists and politicians, listening to sentiments that had by then become quite common among a certain class of politically active Americans. The speakers were calling on the United Nations to send peacekeepers to Darfur.