Looks like the Bush administration is finally talking tough on Sudan. He is planning to introduce new sanctions on oil transactions carried out in US dollars (a big portion of Sudan's business) and to push for further-reaching UN sanctions. The UN sanctions won't happen, thanks to opposition from China (a friend and major client of Sudan's). And the US already has sanctions against Sudan. But Bush's willingness to buck the UN, which had asked Bush to not talk about Sudan much, is heartening.
Here's a question for you. Why was Bush so keen on ignoring the UN and acting unilaterally in Iraq and yet so hesitant to do so in the case of Sudan? It is clear that the UN was failing to do what it needed to do in Sudan, thanks to its unwillingness to cross Sudan's borders without permission from Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir. Bashir (played by Alexander Siddig) has a history of diplomatic double-talk and of frustrating humanitarian efforts. He even harbored bin Laden for a while.
It is the opinion of this blog (and of a few other people I know) that if Al Gore had won in 2000, we would be at war in Sudan right now instead of in Iraq. Given that the case for unilateral action in Sudan is far stronger than the one for such action in Iraq, I don't think that would necessarily be a bad thing.
A limited military campaign is looking somewhat more likely in Sudan, incidentally. France has suggested opening up a humanitarian corridor from Chad, with French-led European forces launching the operation. I worry that the French are too keen on UN involvement which, as I mentioned earlier, won't happen because of China. But France is more likely to take a lead on humanitarian issues in Africa under Sarkozy, who seems more likely to pursue humanitarian goals over French interests in Africa (or at least less likely to block humanitarian efforts because of his country's interests). Of course, American troops won't be available thanks to Iraq. Maybe the Canadians can get involved.
Also from overseas, Israel's Labor Party has sacked Amir Peretz, chief architect of the Great Lebanon Clusterfuck of 2005. Labor can now choose between former PM Ehud Barak and Ami Ayalon, who promises to (figuratively) nuke the government if elected. This creates something of a catch-22 for Labor. If they vote for Barak and he keeps the Labor-Olmert alliance intact, Labor will lose support for continuing to stick with the radioactive Olmert. If they choose Ayalon and he forces new elections, the right-wing Likud will probably win and keep Labor out of government altogether. Yeah, good luck with that.
(Incidentally, the Likud leader is former PM Benjamin Netanyahu. Ayalon might end up winning a new election for the sole reason that he's the only candidate with any real chance who hasn't already screwed something up.)
And also, we're apparently talking to Iran about Iraq. Opening up channels of communication with Iran is a good thing - we can't expect to change their minds about anything if we don't talk to them. Hell, we kept talking with the Soviets throughout the entire Cold War. It's clear Iran doesn't want us in Iraq, so here's what I propose - Iran stops funding JIMF* and Hezbollah, shuts the hell up about Israel, and helps us out against al-Qaeda and we get out of Iraq and promise not to object too loudly if Iran gets involved. I'll take an Iran-friendly Iraq if Iran quits its terrorism shenanigans. Of course, this may not happen until 2010 when the batshit-crazy A-Train leaves the station, but it'll be good to have established diplomatic contacts with Tehran by the time they reclaim their sanity.
That's all. Carry on.
*I've long ago decided that Hamas, which stands for the Islamic Resistance Movement, is the worst moniker since the Holy Roman Empire. They're not particularly Islamic, they're hardly a coherent movement, and they have never engaged in anything that even resembles an effective resistance. Thus, they are now the Jihadist Incompetent Murderous Farce, or JIMF.