We are in a tragic and signal moment, a catalytic moment, where the world sees the need, has the means, and yet continues to experience a failure of will. Giving the Sudanese government 30 more days--and then asking Kofi Annan for a report to the UN Security Council--assures 30 more days of death and destruction. Given the nature of the genocidal process being carried out in Sudan--engineered, intentional famine and epidemic disease--30 more days translates into months of additonal famine, and hundreds of thousands of additional lives lost.
Now it is the public's turn. It is our turn. The time is now for our action. We must ask our leaders to act now, not in 30 days.
All key elements are in place, except the will to launch the rescue of Darfur in earnest.
1. High level sources in Washington tell us that the US administration and congress have privately agreed that a military force is needed immediately to halt the genocide in Sudan. Key leaders have agreed to approve whatever is required to enable such a force. This commitment has been communicated to Kofi Annan. We believe that similar commitments have been made by other nations.
Military and logistical preparations have been made by the US, UK, France, Australia, and the Netherlands. The US and France have coordination teams on the ground in neighboring Sudan, and are now in position to provide technical assistance to the rescue mission.
2. Key African Union members are signalling that they have reached the same conclusion, led by the powerful president of Nigeria--Africa's largest nation--who is also the current head of the African Union.
An African Union force, supported by military and humanitarian resources from around the world, is what the African Union leaders are trying to put together.
It seems obvious that we ought to help them in their initiative.
The African Union faces its defining moment. The African Union was founded two years ago this month, in July 2002, out of the wreckage of the defunct Organization of African States. The leaders of the African Union have from the beginning worked to form a continental government that can solve important problems. African leaders recognize that Sudan is a crucial test of the organization's ability to lead.
3. The AU has momentum on its side.
The AU already has placed independent observers in the country who have in recent days reported on new attrocities and the further collapse of the conditions of life for Darfur black citizens.
The AU has permission from Sudan to send into the country a small military protective force, which will land in the next few days.
The AU summit, currently meeting in Ghana, yesterday agreed to add an unspecified number of additional troops to the protective force. Nigeria and Rwanda have committed troops to the current force, and are willing and able to provide more.
The AU protective force can be expanded immediately into a peacekeeping force, and begin to seriously help victims across Darfur.
4. We have the power. A top US congressional aid told me three days ago:
"What you people [all those who have brought attention and care to Darfur, not just this site] are doing on the web has been very very valuable. Thank you all. Your work enables us [in government] to say to our colleagues, 'see, the public cares and wants us to act. The public is with us.' Please keep it up."
We can focus public opinion and help leaders gather the personal strength to act. We can help heal the failure of will. But we need to assert our own will. We need to take two or three acts today and every day for the next week, and ask our friends to do the same:
If you know someone with "influence" in government, ask them to help. This is the time to tap people in our networks of friends and acquaintances.
Do what you can to extend the reach of our community of concern. Call 50 friends and invite them to check out this site and other resources, such as Human Rights Watch.
Ask other bloggers to share their thoughts and feelings about Sudan daily for the next week. Repetition helps.
Pass helpful op-eds around, such as today's in The Washington Post.
Call your local television station and ask them to cover the story, and/or to cover the story of your activism.
Call your elected officials and thank them for what they are already doing. The US Congress, after all, has been out ahead on this issue.
Write to your friends and relatives and tell them about what you are doing.
Send us your ideas and notes and resources we should link to, by way of comments for all to see, below, or by email. Even if your idea is only half-formed, share it with others in a spirit of creative brainstorming. Time is of the essence--let's use the public power of the web to move rapidly together.
UPDATE: FRENCH TROOPS have begun to act to enable the relief effort on the Chad border, though they are not entering Sudan itself.
From correspondents in Ndjamena, Chad
August 1, 2004
FRENCH soldiers stationed in Chad began airlifting aid to the border with Sudan's Darfur region today..
French President Jacques Chirac ordered the mobilisation of his forces yesterday to help the 1.2 million people driven from their homes by Sudanese troops and Arab militia known as Janjaweed.
Since then, troops in Chad had begun flying relief supplies to the border town of Abeche and were preparing to send 200 troops to secure Chad's eastern frontier with Darfur, said army colonel Philippe Charles.
However, the French action stopped short of entering Sudanese territory. Sudan's Government has warned it will send its army to repel any foreign military intervention.
Photo courtesy BBC from recent coverage of a refugee camp on the Chad Sudan border.