During a recent interview with the BBC’s Matt Frei, President Bush talks about his upcoming trip to Africa and his stance on the genocide in Darfur. Even though one might be inclined to applaud Bush for his African AIDS policy (which I do think is admirable, particularly for this administration), his response on the Darfur issue is ridiculous with regards to both content and his unceasing negative characteristic of the left, who are the most ardent supporters of a peaceful end to the violence in Darfur.
Frei: You were very tough in your speech about Darfur. And, yet again, you called what’s happening there genocide?
Mr Bush: Yeah.
Frei: Is enough being done by your administration to stop that?
Mr Bush: I think we are. Yeah. You know, I had to make a seminal decision. And that is whether or not I would commit US troops into Darfur. And I was pretty well backed off of it by – you know, a lot of folks – here in America that care deeply about the issue. And so, once you make that decision, then you have to rely upon an international organisation like the United Nations to provide the oomph – necessary manpower… You know, I read – did call it (SOUND GLITCH) genocide, and I think we’re the only nation that has done so. Secondly, I did remind people that we’re sanctioning leaders. That we have targeted [Sudanese] companies and individuals, including a rebel leader, who have yet to be constructive in the peace process. We [are] beginning to get a sense of these things as they’re affecting behaviour. We’re trying to ask others, by the way, to do the same thing. Some of who are reluctant; some who aren’t. And then, finally, I pledged that we’ll help move troops in. And yeah, and as I also said you might remind your listeners, that I’m frustrated by the pace.
Frei: I’ll get on to that in a minute. But, I mean, genocide is just a loaded – it’s such an important word. And you have committed troops – American troops around the world in other cases throughout… Afghanistan. Why not in this case?
Mr Bush: Well, that’s a good question. I mean, we’re committing equipment, you know? Training, help, movement. I think a lot of the folks who are concerned about America into another Muslim country. Some of the relief groups here just didn’t think the strategy would be as effective as it was. I mean, actually, believe it or not, listen to people’s opinions. And chose to make this decision. It’s a decision that I’m now living with. And it’s a decision that requires us to continue to rally the conscience of the world and get people to focus on the issue. You know, you’re right. I mean, we sent marines into Liberia, for example, to help stabilise the country there. And Liberia’s on my itinerary where I’ll meet with the first woman, you know, elected president in Africa – history. And – but, I just made the decision I made.
Frei: Yesterday, Steven Spielberg – the Hollywood director – pulled out of the Beijing Olympics over Darfur. He said the Chinese aren’t doing enough to stop the killing in Darfur. Do you applaud his move?
Mr Bush: That’s up to him. I’m going to the Olympics. I view the Olympics as a sporting event. On the other hand, I have a little different platform than Steven Spielberg so, I get to talk to President Hu Jintao. And I do remind him that he can do more to relieve the suffering in Darfur. There’s a lot of issues that I suspect people are gonna, you know, opine, about during the Olympics. I mean, you got the Dali Lama crowd. You’ve got global warming folks. You’ve got, you know, Darfur and… I am not gonna you know, go and use the Olympics as an opportunity to express my opinions to the Chinese people in a public way ’cause I do it all the time with the president. I mean. So, people are gonna be able to choose – pick and choose how they view the Olympics.
Personally, I find it difficult to take the President’s position on Darfur seriously. Even though he’s admitted that genocide has taken place in Darfur, his continued lack of pressure on Sudan, and his fairly obvious disinterest in committing military personnel gives his entire position a hollow, political feeling. Not unlike Clinton’s stance and repeated obfuscation on the Rwandan genocide.