US outsources imperialism to UN


Richard Moore


February 18, 2006

Bush Sees Need to Expand Role of NATO in Sudan

ORLANDO, Fla., Feb. 17 - President Bush signaled a new
American commitment on Friday to addressing the crisis in
Darfur, saying he would support an expanded role by NATO to
shore up a failing African peacekeeping mission there.

Mr. Bush also said he favored doubling the number of
peacekeepers operating in Darfur under United Nations
control, as proposed by the Security Council last month. He
discussed Darfur, in western Sudan, as an offshoot of a
question about the fate of children in war-ravaged northern

"I talked to Kofi Annan about this very subject this week,"
Mr. Bush said, referring to a meeting with the United
Nations secretary general. "But it's going to require, I
think, a NATO stewardship, planning, facilitating,
organizing, probably double the number of peacekeepers that
are there now, in order to start bringing some sense of
security. There has to be a consequence for people abusing
their fellow citizens."

Administration officials said Mr. Bush's comments reflected
discussions between the United States and its allies calling
for a broader interim role for NATO in Darfur until a
larger, United Nations peacekeeping operation can be

Fighting between rebel groups and government-backed militias
has destroyed entire villages, killing more than 200,000 and
displacing about 2 million people. Both the United States
and the United Nations have been criticized for responding
too slowly to evidence that the African Union peacekeepers
were having little effect.

Evangelical Christians have been particularly outspoken in
their calls for a more active American role, and Mr. Bush's
remarks, in a question-and-answer session in Tampa, appeared
to focus increased attention on the issue.

NATO has played a small logistical role in Sudan thus far,
primarily airlifting African troops. Until recently,
government officials had said NATO might do more, but all
the discussion has been about providing equipment,
communications and other logistical support.

After President Bush spoke on Friday, a senior State
Department official said the United States proposal
continued to be "to strengthen the A.U." until United
Nations forces arrive late this year.

While Mr. Bush spoke of "a NATO stewardship," the American
officials cautioned that NATO would command only logistical
operations, not the African Union troops.

They reiterated that Washington would send no American
troops. In Congressional testimony this week, Secretary of
State Condoleezza Rice said, "We are prepared to talk with
our NATO counterparts about what more we can do to support"
the African Union forces "until we can get the U.N. forces"
into Darfur.

A Pentagon spokesman, Lt. Col. Joe Carpenter, said in
Washington that no decisions had been made on NATO's role,
but "NATO could potentially be a significant leader" in
United Nations peacekeeping.

Over the last two years, under NATO auspices, the United
States has transported tons of supplies and several thousand
African Union troops to western Sudan. The United States has
also provided $190 million for training and building camps
for the soldiers, the Pentagon said.

Mr. Bush's comments on Friday were much more specific than
his words at the White House earlier this week when he met
with Mr. Annan to discuss Darfur.

An official who described the Oval Office session said Mr.
Annan had noted that any new United Nations force would need
heavier weapons and far better intelligence units than those
provided to the African Union. "That can only come from a
few places," the official said, "NATO or the United States."

Mr. Bush acknowledged that the African Union troops had been
unable to "bring some sense of security to these poor people
that are being herded out of their villages and just
terribly mistreated."

"The effort was noble," he said, "but it didn't achieve the

At a NATO meeting last week in Taormina, Sicily, an alliance
spokesman, James Appathurai, said the United Nation special
representative for Sudan, Jan Pronck, briefed defense
ministers on the Security Council debate on Darfur. No
decisions were made on expanding the NATO role, he said.

"For the moment NATO is doing what it has been asked to do,
and that is to extend our airlift and capacity-building
operation," he said.

Over the last year, about 7,000 African Union peacekeepers
troops have been stationed in Darfur to monitor and enforce
a cease-fire between rebel and government troops. In
January, the Security Council began to plan to send
peacekeepers to Sudan, which envisions a force of as many as
20,000 operating under a broad mandate.

But United Nations officials have acknowledged that winning
commitments from member nations to send that many troops is
likely to prove difficult. The United States has stated
unequivocally that American combat troops would not be sent
there, and other nations have offered similar cautions.

Collecting commitments of troops and deploying them is
expected to take up to a year.

In recent days, some members of Congress and others have
begun saying they hoped NATO forces could work with the
African Union troops until United Nations forces arrive.

"In the interim, let's get NATO involved in this process,
because every day you wait, you're going to have more people
dying," Senator Sam Brownback, the Kansas Republican, said
Thursday in an interview on "The Newshour With Jim Lehrer."

Mr. Bush noted on Friday, as he did last month when asked
about Darfur by a student in Kansas, that his Administration
was the first to use the word genocide to describe what was
happening in Sudan.

"Our country was the first country to call what was taking
place a genocide, which matters," he said in front of the
audience of about 400 people, who appeared overwhelmingly
supportive of Mr. Bush. "Words matter."

Mr. Bush's comments came after he received a briefing on
Iraq at MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa, the headquarters of
the United States Central Command and the Special Operations

Reporters were ushered into the briefing room, which had a
large map of the Middle East projected on the wall, but Mr.
Bush did not comment on Iraq while there, or discuss the
focus of the briefing.

Later in the day, in Orlando, at Disney's Contemporary
Resort, he did speak about Iraq, at a fund-raiser for the
Florida Republican party, raising $3 million. "Isn't it fun
watching a government be formed by some of the same people
who have just been living under the thumb" of Saddam
Hussein? Mr. Bush asked the political contributors.

Joel Brinkley and David S. Cloud contributed reporting from
Washington for this article.

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