Sudan has reappeared briefly in the op-ed pages, first with Dave Eggers and John Prendergast urging US intervention to prevent a return to war following the South’s referendum on seccession. Now Marc Gustafson has responded with a pursuasive argument that once again the Sudan advocacy movement has exaggerated the risks and drawn the wrong conclusions…
If anything has been learned from the past decade of foreign policy, it is that doomsday predictions of inevitable destruction can easily grab headlines and persuade policymakers to make decisions based on fear rather than knowledge. In Sudan, the peace agreement, and by extension, the referendum, are products of many years of negotiation and involvement from local, regional, and international partners.
The best role for the American government is to continue using its financial and human resources to support the process of mediation, but not try to guide it.
I was recently upbraided by a high-profile Sudan campaigner for focusing too much on criticising the advocacy movement. But it does seem to me that the same mistakes are still being made by the activists, as Gustafson points out, and we haven’t learned the lessons of previous interventions.