The Blog

Obama Sudan Envoy Declares End to Genocide

11:37 AM, Jun 18, 2009 • By MICHAEL GOLDFARB
Widget tooltip
Single Page Print Larger Text Smaller Text Alerts

The Washington Post reports that President Obama's envoy to Sudan has declared an end to the genocide:

President Obama's special envoy to Sudan, retired Air Force Maj. Gen. J. Scott Gration, said Wednesday that the Sudanese government is no longer engaging in a "coordinated" campaign of mass murder in Darfur, marking a shift in the U.S. characterization of the violence there as an "ongoing genocide."

"What we see is the remnants of genocide," Gration told reporters at a briefing in Washington. "The level of violence that we're seeing right now is primarily between rebel groups, the Sudanese government and . . . some violence between Chad and Sudan."

Gration's remarks come as the Obama administration is finishing a review of its Sudan policy. The comments appeared to expose an emerging rift between Gration and Susan E. Rice, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, who accused the Sudanese leadership of genocide as recently as two days ago.

Gration was always an odd choice for this job. He was a close Obama adviser but managed to avoid any real media scrutiny during the campaign. He said some crackpot things before the election, but no one much cared, and he grew up in Africa, which may explain how he was able to suddenly, after more than five years, end the genocide in Sudan. Or is it maybe possible that Susan Rice hasn't changed her view in the last two days and still believes that genocide is taking place? And what of Samantha Power? Is she comfortable crossing genocide in Sudan off the list of problems this administration is worried about?

It was only a little over a year ago that Clinton, McCain, and Obama joined together to issue a joint statement on Sudan declaring that they stood "united and demand that the genocide and violence in Darfur be brought to an end." Will McCain and Clinton congratulate Obama on achieving that goal in less than 150 days and without so much as a statement or a Security Council resolution? Or, as Jim Geraghty says, do all Obama's promises come with an expiration date?