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Monday, January 30, 2006 by Sam Davidson

This isn't getting any play in the press, so I'll reprint it and try to get the word out. This is a question to and answer from President Bush last week as he spoke at Kansas State:
Q: Thank you, Mr. President. One of the things that most of our Senate delegation has worked tirelessly on is the situation in the Sudan. Sudan was, of course, slated to be the chair of the African Union next year, which is -- they have tried, much like the United Nations, to do something. Does the United States have a larger role to play in the Sudan, and the entire sub- Saharan African region?

THE PRESIDENT: Yes, great question. We have played an active -- first of all, I do want to thank both Senators. I'm on treacherous ground here to kind of credit one versus the other, but I guess I will, since one of them is going to want a free meal going back to Washington. (Laughter.) I guess both. Sam, I mean -- Roberts is great on the issue, and Sam is the person I've been interfacing with the most, frankly, in the whole United States Senate, about his deep concern for life in the Sudan. Matter of fact, in the vehicle driving over here, he brought the issue up.

We have got an important role to play and have played it. I don't know if you remember the Danforth commission, where Jack Danforth, the former senator from Missouri, was my envoy to the Sudan to help resolve the north-south conflict. And there was a peace agreement in place. And the peace agreement was set back, unfortunately, because -- well, it's still intact, don't get me wrong, but the implementation was delayed somewhat because of John Garang's untimely death. He was the leader of the south of Sudan. So the important thing there is that we showed through diplomacy that it's possible to resolve differences, and to begin to reduce the abhorrent issue of slavery.

As you now know, the issue in Sudan is -- and by the way, one of the great strengths of this country is our faith-based programs that rose up in indignation about the slavery that was taking place in the Sudan. Much of the first wave of help that went into the Sudan, some of it was government, most of it was the response of the private sector, particularly the religious communities.

The issue now is Darfur. And when Colin was still the Secretary of State, he declared the policy of the U.S. and our deep concern that we are headed toward genocide. I think we're the only nation that has uttered those words thus far in Darfur. The strategy -- and it's a very complex situation. It would take yet another lecture to give you all the kind of ins and outs. But suffice it to say that we are deeply concerned about poor folks who have been run out of their villages into refugee camps, who are still being threatened by a jinjaweed militia and some rebellious groups that are trying to extract political gain through marauding and death and rape and destruction.

We've empowered the AU, and this is what your question really kind of -- part of your question leads to -- to provide forces on the ground, to provide stability. And what he's referring to is that the Sudanese government is going to be the head of the African Union -- that's what AU stands for -- which would then put them the titular head of the troops on the ground. And, obviously, that should be of concern -- concern to us. It is a concern to us, and it should be a concern to the AU nations.

That issue has yet to be resolved as to whether or not Sudan will be the AU. This is an important issue. We will continue to work with Congress to provide aid, food aid and help. We helped fly the AU troops into Sudan. We're watching it very carefully. We are considering different strategies as to how to make sure that there's enough protection at least to get people help and protection, and, at the same time, see if we can't try to broker the same kind of agreement we did north-south, with the Darfur and the government. Thank you for asking the question.
Me: I'm glad he's talking about it. And, I'll vote for Brownback (gasp!) if he mentions Darfur as he campaigns.


In hopes of raising awareness about the reality of genocide in the Darfur region of Sudan, Sam Davidson writes every Monday about a key issue in an attempt to stop the atrocity. Doing so may not bring about a wave of change, but it is a small ripple that represents the tide that needs turning. He is the co-founder and President of CoolPeopleCare.

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