On April 14, Deputy Secretary of State Robert Zoellick became the highest ranking U.S. envoy to set foot on Sudanese soil since Secretary of State Colin Powell's September 2004 declaration that the government of Sudan was complicit in an ongoing genocide in the Darfur region. The presence of such a senior U.S. envoy in the country held great promise for progress on Darfur. With enough pressure, the regime in Khartoum may yet decide to reign in its local Janjaweed (the Arab militia in Sudan) allies and stop its fleet of Antonov fighter jets and helicopter gunships from further targeting civilian enclaves in Darfur.
By now, John Bolton's crass assessment of the utility of 10 floors of the UN building in New York is well known. Known, too, is his disdain for the very idea of international law and his dealings with foreign agents. Indeed, in his decades in and out of public service and think tankdom, he has developed a reputation as one of Washington, D.C.'s less diplomatic figures.
To the extent that anyone who is shot in the face can be considered fortunate, Marian Spivey-Estrada can count her lucky stars. On March 21, the 26-year-old United States Agency for International Development (USAID) worker from Henderson, Kentucky, was traveling in a humanitarian convoy en route to a refugee camp in the south Darfur region of Sudan when her vehicle came under attack.
Brian Steidle understands the anatomy of a genocide. As one of three American State Department contractors on the African Union's (AU) monitoring team in Sudan, the 28-year-old former Marine captain witnessed the systematic destruction of villages in south Darfur in late 2004. He's now working with Gretchen Steidle Wallace (his sister), who runs a nongovernmental organization (NGO) called Global Grassroots Network to raise awareness about the government of Sudan's complicity in the Darfur genocide.
As a general rule, 26-year-old National Guard members ought to be some of most physically fit people on the planet. For eight out of the nine years that Randi Airola served as a technician in the Army and Air National Guard, she met that description. Then, in March 1999, in a moment that would the mark beginning of the end of her honorable military service (and the start of a lifelong struggle), Airola received her fourth dose of a compulsory vaccine to prevent service members from contracting anthrax.