PASSING THE BUCK...

PASSING THE BUCK ON DARFUR. During this morning's press conference, the president had this to say about the United Nations and Darfur:

The problem is, is that the United Nations hasn't acted. And so, I can understand why those who are concerned about Darfur are frustrated. I am.

I'd like to see more robust United Nations action. What you'll hear is, "Well, the government of Sudan must invite the United Nations in for us to act." Well, there are other alternatives, like passing a resolution saying, "We're coming in with a U.N. force in order to save lives." �So you asked of levels of frustration. There's a particular level of frustration.

First things first: Legally speaking, the Security Council does not need to pass another resolution to deploy peacekeepers to Darfur without Khartoum�s permission. However, the logistics on the ground in Darfur require that Khartoum grant its consent; the 17,000 troops authorized by Resolution 1706 somehow need to get to the remote region, and once there, they would need to be supplied.

To be sure, this is frustrating the U.N. process, but it is not an insurmountable diplomatic obstacle. So far, China and Russia, which have close ties to the government of Sudan, have been unwilling to press the Khartoum into accepting the blue helmets. If President Bush were truly serious about stopping the genocide, he would pick up the phone, call Hu Jintao and Vladamir Putin, and make Darfur a priority of our bilateral relations with China and Russia.

However, it would seem that the president is not willing to make Darfur a priority that is commensurate with his label of genocide. And so instead of leaning on China and Russia to, in turn, apply pressure on Khartoum, the president would rather absolve himself of responsibility by making the United Nations a scapegoat.

--Mark Leon Goldberg

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