Actor and activist George Clooney said Sunday that President Obama has kept his campaign promises to end genocide and get tough with the government in Sudan.So how does any of that drivel explain this?
Clooney appeared on ABC's "This Week" to talk about continuing crisis in the African nation as the country faces a heated secession referendum a week from now.
When asked if Obama has kept his vows to tackle issues in the war-torn nation, Clooney said, "Yes, he has."
"It's a tough one to keep, you know?" he said. "There's -- it's a very complicated situation. It is going to get a lot more complicated. We met with the president. The president seems to be very much on top of the issue.
"And we want to make sure -- and our job is to keep the pressure on to make sure that -- that there's no slippage in that at all," Clooney added.
Clooney's partner in Sudan efforts, John Prendergast of the Enough Project in Washington, said it was "President Obama's moment."
"You know, the United States is the biggest actor in Sudan," Prendergast said. "We can have a major influence on whether or not a deal is struck between the North and the South to prevent a war, and we can have a major influence on whether human rights violations continue in Darfur. That's going to take presidential leadership."
About 600 people died in fighting in the Sudan region of Darfur in May, the highest monthly toll since peacekeepers were deployed in 2008, officials say.So violence six months ago was higher than any time in two years, but Obama's in charge of things? Huh?
The joint UN-African Union peacekeeping force said most had died in fighting between Sudan's army and rebels of the Justice and Equality Movement (Jem).
The number of deaths has risen sharply since Jem walked out of peace talks last month.
Meanwhile, the Washington Post is expecting violence to explode on Obama's watch.
"This is the first time I have seen the U.S. government devote so many high-level resources to preventing violence before it happens rather than responding to it after the fact," Samantha Power told me in an interview. Power - whose 2002 book, "A Problem From Hell," chronicled the world's failure to deal with 20th-century genocides and mass slaughters from Armenia and the Holocaust to Rwanda and Bosnia - is now an adviser to Obama.So despite all the efforts of Obama and a guy adept at reading cue cards, violence and genocide are soon expected.
But these efforts and resources may not be enough. Yes, the world is watching: In addition to Washington's diplomatic push, the African Union is trying to broker peace, European nations are sending economic assistance, and 10,000 U.N. peacekeepers are in southern Sudan monitoring the situation. But the sad reality is that even an actively engaged international community may be unable to head off mass violence in the months or years ahead.
A coup in Khartoum, a cattle raid in the south that escalates into tribal violence, a rogue militia commander deciding to start a new conflict in a fragile border region - there is virtually no limit to the plausible scenarios that could lead to renewed fighting in Sudan. Ethnic and economic tensions, the willingness of political leaders to manipulate them and the easy availability of weapons will continue to make the country vulnerable to violence, even genocide.
If the referendum is not held on time or is tampered with by the north, "there is a huge potential for war," former guerrilla soldier Acuil Malith Banggol told me during my recent trip to the south. "Both parties are arming themselves, and there will be more destruction. . . . There is no way southern Sudan is going to accept being humiliated and subject to slavery, racial discrimination and religious discrimination."