America's cruel wars for oil: Open Letter to Obama

Open Letter to Obama Regarding Darfur: End CIA Involvement, Increase Diplomatic Efforts

May 2009

While Peacework questions militarized peacekeeping approaches, we are deeply concerned with how to respond to genocide without military intervention, and appreciate that this Open Letter, written collaboratively by the distinguished signatories listed below, shares ideas along those lines. Peacework welcomes letters and article ideas regarding more thoroughly pacifist approaches.

Open Letter to Obama Regarding Darfur

End CIA Involvement, Increase Diplomatic Efforts

Dear President Obama:

Your election as President of the United States of America has excited considerable hope among many African citizens. This goodwill is founded on the promise of significant changes in US policies towards Africa. Regarding Darfur, you have expressed concern for the atrocities and pledged to pursue peace and security for the people of Sudan with unstinting resolve.

The situation is particularly perilous at present, following the International Criminal Courts issuance of an arrest warrant for the President of Sudan and the Sudanese government's subsequent expulsion of a number of aid groups. The arrest warrant for President Omar al-Bashir, for war crimes and crimes against humanity committed in Darfur, has created both opportunities and dangers. The dangers are heightened because the credibility of the Court is imperiled by the perception that it is pursuing only weak nations lacking powerful friends. We are therefore heartened by reports that your administration is considering joining the ICC. The appointment of a special envoy to Sudan is also a welcome indication of engagement with the issue.

We are concerned, however, that key figures in your administration have staked out positions that could actually undermine efforts to secure peace in Darfur. Most notably, Vice-President Joseph Biden has in the past advocated the use of American force now in Darfur. Your ambassador to the United Nations, Susan Rice, has called for US/NATO airstrikes against Sudan and the imposition of a naval blockade. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has, like you, advocated a NATO no-fly zone.

These proposals may be welcomed by Americans who have shared our frustration with your predecessor. Our frustration should not blind us, however, to the dangers implicit in applying a military approach to Darfur instead of pursuing non-military initiatives of the sort we propose in this letter. As academic specialists, writers, and Darfur advocates, we therefore feel it is vitally important to convey our recommendations and concerns regarding US policy towards the Darfur conflict.

We call on your administration to implement the following proposals to support the people of Darfur:

Devote substantial diplomatic resources to ending the Darfur conflict, rather than trying to impose a military solution. Facilitate the unification of the rebel movements and help negotiate a peace agreement with the active involvement of Darfurian civil society.

  • Provide the full measure of necessary financial and logistical support required by the UNAMID peacekeeping force to maximize its effectiveness.
  • End the CIA's close ties with the notorious Sudanese intelligence agency, which is deeply implicated in the violence in Darfur.
  • Establish a fair and accessible process by which Darfurians can seek asylum in the US
  • Provide the special envoy to Sudan with two senior diplomats, one responsible for Darfur and the other for the Comprehensive Peace Agreement.
  • Support for the Comprehensive Peace Agreement must be revitalized. Darfur does not exist in a vacuum and if the CPA were to fall apart, the repercussions for Darfur and the rest of the nation would be grave indeed.

We believe that fundamental changes in Washington's policies are necessary to make them genuinely attuned to the people of Darfur and indeed all of Africa. An assertive multilateral effort led by your administration to help bring peace and justice to Darfur would both showcase a new stance towards Africa and a willingness to engage constructively with Arabs and Muslims throughout the world.


Siddiq Abdelhadi, Group Against Torture in Sudan-GATS, Pennsylvania

Africa Action

Judy A. Bernstein, coauthor of They Poured Fire On Us From the Sky: True Story of Three Lost Boys of Sudan

Stephen Eric Bronner, Distinguished Professor of Political Science, Rutgers University

Steven Fake and Kevin Funk, co-authors of Scramble for Africa: Darfur -- Intervention and the USA

Magda Ahmed, Sudanese women's rights activist, Massachusetts

Mohamed I. Elgadi, torture survivor and activist from Sudan

Tamador Gibreel, Sudanese theater producer and actress

Mahmood Mamdani, Herbert Lehman Professor of Government, Columbia University, author of Saviors and Survivors: Darfur, Politics and the War on Terror

Nagi Merghani, GATS, Maryland

David Morse, journalist, author of articles on Darfur and South Sudan

United Nations Association Connecticut

Emira Woods, Foreign Policy In Focus and the Institute for Policy Studies

Western MA Darfur Coalition.