Over the last couple of months, President Obama has firmly established his foreign policy as engagement, engagement, engagement. His conciliatory measures towards Russia and the Middle East are now being extended to Sudan—in what some consider quite an alarming move.
Sudan’s president, Omar Hassan al-Bashir, has been convicted on two counts of war crimes and five counts of crimes against humanity including extermination, torture, and rape. He is the only incumbent head of state that is under warrant for arrest by the International Criminal Court. Yet, while Obama is on record stating that al-Bashir has “offended the standards of our common humanity,” his administration is currently pursuing eased relations with the regime.
President Obama’s special envoy, J. Scott Gration, recently returned from Sudan confident that al-Bashir’s government is improving. The official applauded the Sudanese government for permitting the entrance of some foreign aid groups and its willingness to meet with him. He further insisted that the best means of addressing the nation’s crises is to not estrange the men wielding power.
Gration compared his diplomatic dealings with rewarding a naughty child: “We’ve got to think about giving out cookies. Kids, countries—they react to gold stars, smiley faces, handshakes, agreements, talk, engagement.” But many worry that in trusting a nefarious regime, it is the Obama administration that is playing the role of the child.