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A retirement home for al-Bashir

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By John Barnhart

    The International Criminal Court charged Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir with crimes against humanity on March 4.

    While some people are applauding this action, all the evidence so far is that this action by this “court” is a farce. Al-Bashir reacted by expelling 13 aid agencies from Darfur. Other African leaders reacted by rallying around him.

    Al-Bashir continues to rule Sudan and live in luxury.

    I mentioned a couple of weeks ago that George Clooney, the actor and Darfur activist, called on President Barack Obama and urged him to do something. He didn’t ask for troops or money and I suggested that was good as President Obama isn’t going to be able to send either.

    But maybe President Obama can do something on the diplomatic side. It won’t be easy and he will need to really focus his attention on developing a plan. One good result from this is that it will keep him so busy that he will leave us alone for several months. He’s already done enough domestic damage to last us for years.

    No, wait! We’d still be out of luck. Nancy Pelosi, Exalted Supreme Ruler of the House of Representatives, wants to stimulate us again. Barack Obama is as bad, when it comes to signing any big spending bill Congress sends him, as George W. Bush was so he would sign Stimulus II if it reached his desk.

    Seriously, President Obama could potentially come up with something. Along with a high domestic approval rating, he still has an aura of international good will surrounding him. He could make use of this while it lasts.

    I don’t know what that plan would be. It would have to have a fair amount of detail and be something that a wide range of countries would buy into. It would have to be acceptable to the leaders of other African countries. The fact that Obama is half Kenyan may even help in that respect.

    President Obama will also have to come up with a plan that he can sell to China. China has been one of al-Bashir’s major enablers. China also has a major interest in ensuring the stability of Sudan’s oil production. Furthermore, China could offer something else that will be necessary — a refuge where al-Bashir could go if he relinquishes power. Al-Bashir certainly wouldn’t turn over power if it means being turned over to some farce of an international court, but there is a possibility that he could be leveraged out if, in the process, he was offered a safe haven. That’s how Ferdinand Marcos was removed from power in the Philippines and “Baby Doc” Duvalier was persuaded to leave Haiti during the Reagan administration.

    China would also be a good country to take al-Bashir because, unlike the United States, its government won’t have to worry about any domestic opposition. And, like the United States, China is big and strong enough that it can ignore some of the holier-than-thou postage stamp sized European countries (I’m thinking of Belgium) if they get all huffy and self righteous about it. Russia could do the same, but winter days when the daytime high doesn’t climb above zero may not appeal to an African. China’s southeast could offer al-Bashir a more comfortable climate in which to spend his retirement years.

    It’s nice to talk about bringing thugs like al-Bashir to justice, but if activists want him out of power, they are going to have to face reality. As we know from recent experience in Iraq, regime change that involves grabbing the dictator by the collar is sure to be an ugly process.