Home | News    Tuesday 6 January 2009

White House criticizes NYT columnist, orders airlift to Darfur


January 5, 2009 (WASHINGTON) – The US president George Bush issued an executive order today to airlift equipments needed by the African Union – United Nations mission in Darfur (UNAMID).

U.S. National Security Adviser Stephen Hadley (Getty Images)

The order signed by Bush stated that the “airlift of equipment for peacekeeping in Darfur without reimbursement from the United Nations is important to the security interests of the United States”.

Bush’s national security adviser Stephen Hadley said the move provides a waiver from the 15-day congressional notification requirements to allow for the airlift to proceed immediately.

“The airlift will deliver equipment and vehicles that are critical to the UNAMID deployment, and will thus help UNAMID directly protect civilian lives and improve the safe and effective delivery of lifesaving humanitarian aid to areas of west Darfur currently inaccessible due to security concerns” Hadley said in statements published by the White House.

The US has in the past airlifted African Union peacekeepers into Darfur and recently offered to continue the process.

The White House said the airlift had been in the planning stages for months. But some human rights activists expressed puzzlement at the timing of the move, a little more than two weeks before the inauguration of Barack Obama. Obama has vowed more aggressive action in Darfur, including imposition of a no-flight zone, a move Bush has declined to make.

"It is certainly more than passing strange to have the national security adviser come out and say that this step is being taken and congressional notification is being waived because of the urgency of the situation in the last two weeks of the administration, when Darfur has been on fire for five years," said John Norris, executive director of the Enough Project, a group here that campaigns against genocide told the New York Times.

A spokesman for the United States Africa Command, Vince Crawley, said a small number of American troops would provide protection aboard the two C-17 cargo planes the Pentagon is sending and would remain in Darfur only long enough to unload the aircraft.

Crawley said the planes would fly from the United States to Rwanda to pick up 75 tons of large vehicles and heavy equipment, belonging to Rwanda, to take to Darfur in the next two to three weeks. Separately, the State Department is to hire a contractor to transport 240 containers of other supplies, currently stuck at Port Sudan.

Hadley blasted the New York columnist Nicholas Kristof who had accused the Bush administration last month of refusing to take tougher measures against Khartoum in response to the Darfur conflict.

“President George W. Bush and his top aides have been given, and ignored, a menu of options for tough steps to squeeze Sudan even destroy its air force” Kristof wrote.

“Bush himself seemed open to tougher action, officials say, but Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Stephen Hadley always resisted, backed by the Pentagon. Rice and Hadley tarnished their own honor and America’s by advocating, in effect, acquiescence in genocide” he added.

But Hadley argued that military action against Khartoum was reviewed but determined not to be a viable option.

“The decision not to pursue those options was driven by the pleas of the leading church, advocacy, and humanitarian organizations dedicated to Darfur, who argued that United States military action would imperil their ability to deliver the kinds of life saving assistance that continues to keep more than 3.5 million Darfuris alive each year” the national security adviser said today.

Kristof responded in his blog saying that he is "flattered" he was mentioned by name in Hadley’s statement.

"I’m delighted that the White House is, belatedly, organizing this airlift. It sure smells of a desperate effort to burnish the administration’s legacy on Darfur, but better late than never. This particular step is one that the White House and Pentagon have resisted for months, so my hunch is that President Bush finally weighed in after my column in question or that Hadley became concerned about his own reputation on this matter" he said.

Last February US President George W Bush has defended his decision not to send troops to the region despite strong domestic pressure.

“I had to make a seminal decision. And that is whether or not I would commit US troops into Darfur” Bush told the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) in an interview.

But many Darfur activists accused the Bush administration of refusing to take more forceful steps against Khartoum to avoid jeopardizing their intelligence cooperation.

US officials denied the allegations saying that the counterterrorism cooperation has not prevented Washington from taking the lead on the Darfur crisis.

UN experts estimate some 300,000 people have died and 2.5 million driven from their homes. Sudan blames the Western media for exaggerating the conflict and puts the death toll at 10,000.


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Kind regards,

The Sudan Tribune editorial team.
  • 6 January 2009 08:16, by Ruach Jing

    Bashir have no where to scape let a lone belaming reporters.

    • 6 January 2009 14:03, by John Garang Dau

      The US administration has been ignoring the situation for half decade, it is thought of committing crime against humanity for a doctor to see patience in critical condition and field to do nothing, while the clinic has medicines. It is too late for urgently help of both join force and the Darfur citizens.
      The united stated last minute support cost damage to a assortment of world ongoing crisis, such as 1998 death of innocent American citizen over sea, in Somalia, Mombasa, Iraq and other place around the world. That why US government lost War. The Darfur appalling situation will not end by supply of any materials, it seemed like you give man a raw fish, but incapable to edify him how to cough it himself. Therefore Sudan‘s CPA implementation will not draw closer by support of possessions than words. The nation will scream to the best of her ability to anticipation of the president abbreviated, his slaughter will come with the unity of nation, an underprivileged president who generates a digression amongst citizens. Some time he event talk like he owned the world and forget the right of other, but this year he got to go and follow is Cousin Saddam Hussein.

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