"We've got to think about giving out cookies," Gration said. "Kids,
countries--they react to gold stars, smiley faces, handshakes,
agreements, talk, engagement."
Gration has negotiated an agreement between two Sudanese political
parties, but has suggested he's not that interested in dealing with
Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir, who remains wanted internationally
for war crimes.
U.S. groups have alleged that the administration has pursued a policy
of appeasement. Those suspicions continue after the announcement of the
new policy, though it's being viewed as a step in the right direction.
The new policy involves engagement with Khartoum, but also more
pressure on the Sudanese government along with a renewal of sanction.
"If the Government of Sudan acts to improve the situation on the ground
and to advance peace, there will be incentives; if it does not, then
there will be increased pressure imposed by the United States and the
international community," President Obama said in an official statement.
Sudan advocates, generally, want three things: pressure on Sudan,
personal involvement at the highest levels of U.S. government, and
international cooperation in applying that pressure. That means
President Obama, Vice President Biden, and Secretary of State Hillary
Clinton personally working to secure commitments from U.S. allies--and
competitors--in imposing sanctions and pressure.
They've also waited a long time for a comprehensive policy to be announced. An ad campaign
earlier this year voiced some of those frustrations and accused Obama,
Biden, and Clinton of failing to live up to their campaign rhetoric on
Sudan and failing to prioritize Sudan once they took office.
The advocates on the conference call today echoed that sentiment:
Prendergast said the new policy "doesn't go as far as their campaign
statements, but at least it rights the course."
Outlining the key differences in the new policy, Prendergast said it 1)
"moves away from the policy of appeasement we've feared the special
envoy was pursuing," 2) makes clear that accountability for genocide
and atrocities are necessary for reconciliation and peace, and that it
3) "appears to be more honest about the overwhelming likelihood that
southern Sudan will opt for independence, and that the U.S. needs to
figure out how to support a soft and a peacful landing for the new
But until they see the administration commit to implementing this
policy, applying that pressure, and securing international cooperation,
they aren't jumping to congratulate the president and his team.
"I think this is a paper, a good paper, but we've had good statements
and good papers before, so I'm not getting too excited," Sam Bell,
executive director of the Genocide Intervention Network, said on the
call. "For this to become a successful strategy, we need the time and
energy of the principals in the next days, weeks, months. Is the
president raising this with world leaders?"