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"Wildly Irresponsible"

5:13 PM, Sep 29, 2009 • By MICHAEL GOLDFARB
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Yesterday's Washington Post piece on Scott Gration and his milk and cookies approach to dealing with the indicted war criminals that rule Sudan and have committed genocide in Darfur has prompted push-back from the White House. "This article wildly misrepresents the policy discussions that have occurred in the White House, with quotes that have been cobbled together out of context," White House spokesman Tommy Vietor told ABC News. And then a senior administration official on background:

"The story paints the picture of a wildly irresponsible policy; I feel good that it's not our policy."

"The story seems to suggests our approach is to trust the government of Sudan at its word and provide incentives in hope that by providing incentives they will somehow change their behavior," says the official "That's wildly inaccurate. There is no talk of incentives until there is a change of conditions on the ground -- verifiable changes in conditions on the ground."

So apparently the blame for this misunderstanding rests squarely with the Washington Post, which was wildly irresponsible in quoting the administration's point man for Sudan. "We've got to think about giving out cookies," Gration said, "Kids, countries -- they react to gold stars, smiley faces, handshakes, agreements, talk, engagement." Yeah, the administration's policy is nothing like that and the reporters at the Washington Post should be ashamed of themselves for wildly misrepresenting those policies by removing the context from that quote. Also, this administration is not to "trust the government of Sudan," even though the Post quotes Gration as saying that the regime's "efforts" make him "willing to take a risk that I'll be betrayed...And if that trust is violated, then I believe pressure should come." No, he doesn't trust the Sudanese regime and think incentives should be offered instead of pressure. That would be a wildly off-base interpretation.