Home | News    Saturday 4 October 2008

US vice-presidential candidates want no-fly zone over Darfur


By Daniel Van Oudenaren

October 3, 2008 (WASHINGTON) – The United States vice-presidential candidates from both major political parties expressed support for imposing a no-fly zone over Darfur in a live televised debate Thursday evening.

Democratic vice presidential nominee Senator Joe Biden and Republican vice presidential nominee Alaska Governor Sarah Palin talk after the vice presidential debate at Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri October 2, 2008. (Reuters)

The Democratic candidate, Senator Joe Biden of Delaware, and the Republican candidate, Governor Sarah Palin of Alaska, agreed on the need to stop what the candidates called either "genocide" or "atrocities" in Darfur.

Such a no-fly zone would mean that U.S. Air Force or Navy planes would patrol the airspace over Darfur to prohibit military aircraft flights. Offensive air operations over Darfur by the government of Sudan are already prohibited by a UN Security Council Resolution.

The debate moderator, Gwen Ifill of PBS, referred to Biden as an "interventionist," asking, "you argued for intervention in Bosnia and Kosovo, initially in Iraq and Pakistan and now in Darfur, putting U.S. troops on the ground. Boots on the ground – is this something the American public has the stomach for?"

Biden responded, "I think the American public has the stomach for success." He continued by referencing his record of recommendations on Bosnia, where the American military intervened to stop killings in a war between three ethnic groups – Bosnians, Croats and Serbs.

"They saved tens of thousands of lives," Biden said of his recommendations. "And initially John McCain opposed it along with a lot of other people. But the end result was it worked. Look what we did in Bosnia. We took Serbs, Croats and Bosniaks, being told by everyone – I was told by everyone that this would mean that they had been killing each other for a thousand years, it would never work. There’s a relatively stable government there now, as in Kosovo," said Biden.

"I don’t have the stomach for genocide when it comes to Darfur," he said. "We can now impose a no-fly zone. It’s within our capacity. We can lead NATO if we’re willing to take a hard stand. We can, I’ve been in those camps in Chad. I’ve seen the suffering, thousands and tens of thousands have died and are dying. We should rally the world to act and demonstrate it by our own movement to provide the helicopters to get the 21,000 forces of the African Union in there now to stop this genocide."

The current peacekeeping mission in Darfur is a joint mission by the African Union and the United Nations. Biden’s reference to NATO, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, refers to his belief that a NATO deployment could potentially be more effective than the current peacekeeping effort.

Governor Palin said, "as far as Darfur, we can agree on that also, the support of the no-fly zone, making sure that all options are on the table there also."

"America is in a position to help," said Palin. She cited her role in seeking to divest a $40 billion investment fund of her state, a savings fund called the Alaska Permanent Fund, ensuring that none of the money the state saved in that fund was invested in certain companies doing business in Sudan.

American companies face U.S. legal prohibitions against doing business in Sudan, but activists in the United States have pushed the country to take further economic action against Sudan by not owning any stock of international companies doing business in certain sectors of the Sudanese economy, particularly oil and mineral extraction.

"When I and others in the legislature found out we had some millions of dollars in Sudan, we called for divestment through legislation of those dollars to make sure we weren’t doing anything that would be seen as condoning the activities there in Darfur. That legislation hasn’t passed yet but it needs to because all of us, as individuals, and as humanitarians and as elected officials should do all we can to end those atrocities in that region of the world," said Palin.

The remarks from the vice presidential candidates Thursday night are consistent with the public commitment from both presidential candidates, Senator John McCain and Senator Barack Obama, to impose a no-fly zone over Darfur.

Activist organizations had been lobbying intensely for the debate moderator to ask a question about Darfur, mostly through e-mail and letter-writing campaigns.

The presidential election will take place in November, and the next president will be inaugurated in January 2009.


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  • 4 October 2008 08:56, by Timdor

    Dear US preidential candidates,Joe and Sarah; this is a good move you have in heart for the people of Darfur and Sudan in general though you are using the statements for political purposes.

    I would rather suggest that US should not only think of imposing sanctions but intervening through militarily powers otherwise diplomacy does work with Khartoum Government or Al-Bashit’s regime.

    By Timdor

    repondre message

    • 5 October 2008 21:02, by cpeterka

      Alaska Permanent Fund officials made clear from the outset that they were opposed to any divestiture effort. Executive director Mike Burns told an Anchorage TV station, KTUU, on Dec. 11 that the fund was looking for the "best return" on the investments and never took into account "socially responsible investments . . . whether it’s tobacco or alcohol or hospitals that perform abortions or hospitals that don’t perform abortions."

      Last January, a bill known as HB 287 was introduced into the Alaska House of Representatives to restrict investments in companies that do business with Sudan. During a committee hearing in February, a Palin administration representative, Deputy Revenue Commissioner Brian Andrews, testified against the legislation on the grounds that it would do nothing to help "the afflicted in Sudan" and would add to the fund’s administrative costs.

      While acknowledging that the legislation was "well intended" and that "the desire to make a difference is noble," Andrews warned that "mixing moral and political agendas at the expense of our citizens’ financial security is not a good combination."

      A co-sponsor of the legislation, Anchorage Democrat Les Gara, said that Palin apparently had a change of heart on the divestiture issue in March. During a brief hallway conversation, she expressed sympathy for his bill. By that time, however, the bill had effectively died in committee.

      She’s A Liar, Too !!
      How long can Darfur depend on her?
      Only when it’s convienent for her.

      View online : Palin and Divestment in Sudan

      repondre message

  • 4 October 2008 11:53, by Biden Osire

    Hi this is so funy now even the presidential candidates have started to agree on Darfur issue and Bashir still deny and ask the other African heads of states to help him prevent this indictment how comes? You (El Bashir) ust accept being indicted and face the ICC court to show that you are so clean and innocent and never participated in the war crimes mention against you by Ocampo.Let no flight from Khartoum not go again over Darfur and your mlitary stop discriminating black Darfurians at all cost, but you America that is not even enough to do so but instaed send your strong forces here and let see if he will contnue the some.

    View online : USA-presidential candidates want no fly zone over Darfur

    repondre message

  • 4 October 2008 21:49, by Michel Fleury

    How many forces in Iraq, with the early success that we see?
    How forces in Afghanistan with the early success that we see?
    How many forces were in Somalia?
    How much force will be needed in Darfur and how long?
    The U.S. could intervene in Southern Sudan and they have not done. Why do you think they will do it in Darfur?

    repondre message

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