Outside editorial: Impunity in Sudan

Posted: Thursday, January 24, 2008

It's a bleak day for humanity when one of the architects of the genocide in Darfur gets a promotion. In a gesture of supreme defiance of decency and international law, the Sudanese government announced Monday that it had appointed Musa Hilal, a militia leader who recruited and mobilized the janjaweed militias responsible for the carnage in Darfur, to be a special adviser to the president on ethnic affairs.

It gets worse. Hilal is the third alleged war criminal to be elevated to a government post. He is under United Nations and U.S. State Department sanctions; the other two have been indicted by the International Criminal Court. In an especially cynical move, one of the indicted has been put in charge of humanitarian aid to Darfur. Sudan also has been doing everything possible to obstruct the deployment of U.N. peacekeepers, including shooting at a clearly marked U.N. convoy this month.

Appeasement and negotiation from a position of weakness have not and will not stop the thuggery of the oil-rich Sudanese regime. Only muscle will do. But the "civilized" world has done next to nothing to enforce meaningful economic sanctions, hasn't even moved to arrest the indicted war criminals and, disgracefully, has yet to provide even one of the helicopters that U.N. peacekeepers need. It's time to face facts: Unless the U.N. gets far more political, economic and military support from its posturing but so-far feckless members, it may as well pack up its blue helmets and go home.

Either the world is willing to help the Darfurians, or it isn't. If the latter, it's even more cruel to promise help that will never arrive.

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