President Obama: Sudan, the world is watching

President Obama’s brilliant Op-Ed in today’s NYT:

NOT every generation is given the chance to turn the page on the past and write a new chapter in history. Yet today — after 50 years of civil wars that have killed two million people and turned millions more into refugees — this is the opportunity before the people of southern Sudan.

snip //

The historic vote is an exercise in self-determination long in the making, and it is a key part of the 2005 peace agreement that ended the civil war in Sudan. Yet just months ago, with preparations behind schedule, it was uncertain whether this referendum would take place at all. It is for this reason that I gathered with leaders from Sudan and around the world in September to make it clear that the international community was united in its belief that this referendum had to take place and that the will of the people of southern Sudan had to be respected, regardless of the outcome.

In an important step forward, leaders from both northern and southern Sudan — backed by more than 40 nations and international organizations — agreed to work together to ensure that the voting would be timely, peaceful, free and credible and would reflect the will of the Sudanese people. The fact that the voting appears to be starting on time is a tribute to those in Sudan who fulfilled their commitments. Most recently, the government of Sudan said that it would be the first to recognize the south if it voted for independence.

Now, the world is watching, united in its determination to make sure that all parties in Sudan live up to their obligations. As the referendum proceeds, voters must be allowed access to polling stations; they must be able to cast their ballots free from intimidation and coercion. All sides should refrain from inflammatory rhetoric or provocative actions that could raise tensions or prevent voters from expressing their will.

snip //

A successful vote will be cause for celebration and an inspiring step forward in Africa’s long journey toward democracy and justice. Still, lasting peace in Sudan will demand far more than a credible referendum.

The 2005 peace agreement must be fully implemented — a goal that will require compromise. Border disputes, and the status of the Abyei region, which straddles north and south, need to be resolved peacefully. The safety and citizenship of all Sudanese, especially minorities — southerners in the north and northerners in the south — have to be protected. Arrangements must be made for the transparent distribution of oil revenues, which can contribute to development. The return of refugees needs to be managed with extraordinary care to prevent another humanitarian catastrophe.

snip //

As I told Sudanese leaders in September, the United States will not abandon the people of Darfur. We will continue our diplomatic efforts to end the crisis there once and for all. Other nations must use their influence to bring all parties to the table and ensure they negotiate in good faith. And we will continue to insist that lasting peace in Darfur include accountability for crimes that have been committed, including genocide.

Along with our international partners, the United States will continue to play a leadership role in helping all the Sudanese people realize the peace and progress they deserve. Today, I am repeating my offer to Sudan’s leaders — if you fulfill your obligations and choose peace, there is a path to normal relations with the United States, including the lifting of economic sanctions and beginning the process, in accordance with United States law, of removing Sudan from the list of states that sponsor terrorism. In contrast, those who flout their international obligations will face more pressure and isolation.

Millions of Sudanese are making their way to the polls to determine their destiny. This is the moment when leaders of courage and vision can guide their people to a better day. Those who make the right choice will be remembered by history — they will also have a steady partner in the United States.

Barack Obama is the president of the United States.



56 thoughts on “President Obama: Sudan, the world is watching

  1. BWD,

    I did watch the video you posted a link to yesterday, about the meeting in September last year (referred to in this Op-Ed).

    Again, this shows with precision the amazing thinking-ahead president the US electorate managed to put into 1600, Pennsylvania Avenue in November 2008.

    Yet, I confess that I thought the Nobel Peace Prize committee overplayed its hand in 2009; but I love that they prove me wrong.

    The world has to be soooo thankful for having this man at the helm …

  2. My prayer is that Sudan will have a fair vote and finally begin to find peace and stability after generations of death and destruction. God bless Sudan! And God bless Barack Obama and the USA!

  3. I will never forget the first time I heard Barack Obama speak at the Democratic Convention. I was listening on a radio, and I went to wake up my young son to listen to the rest of the speech, because I told him that this man would someday be president. At the time, I knew nothing about him, including the color of his skin (although what he said in his speech about his own heritage made it clear during the listening). Well, I would like to say, for the record, that I believe George Clooney will someday be our president. As an actor, myself, he does our community proud.

  4. I remember that also. I could not figure out what this guy was talking about. Blue and red and working together? He seemed to be different than anyone I have ever known in terms of politics.

    My husband entered the room just after PBO spoke, and I said this man I had never heard of was talking about us all working together.
    I said, I have never heard of him, but he is going to be someone special.

    And, of course he is.

  5. HE never ceases to surprise me in his eloquence and brilliance! He is bringing to life the promise the Nobel Peace committee saw in him!

    Thank you Mr.President!!!

  6. I have heard some say that actors,musicians and the like, have no business injecting their visions into the business of others. As if they aren’t allowed to have thoughts and feelings about the affairs of their world. I disagree.George Clooney is the perfect example of all that is right with using his profession to make this world a better place.Many thanks, George, for your tenacity,your hope,and your outspoken passion for a peaceful, stable Sudan. I always loved him, now I love him more.

  7. BWD – Here is a weird thank you. The horrors of the last 24 hours have affected me, as they have all of us. I know you will write about the frustrati’s insightful input about the massacre, (OBAMASUX), but THANK YOU for first giving my brain a chance to redirect onto another intense matter. The other blog picked one topic and got lost into it. Very selfishly here, that MO was unhealthy for ME.

    And everybody here knows I am in no way minimizing yesterday’s tragedy.

    If revgerry is here, I hope you are feeling a bit better.

  8. I have an uplifting story to tell about the President even though it is off-subject here. I was at a wedding yesterday where I spoke with a long-time (35 years) activist regarding gays and lesbians in the military. She was dismissed 35 years ago, the reason given that she was “erroneously enrolled” (meaning she is a lesbian) and she has been fighting this issue ever since. Some time in the last two years she was arrested for chaining herself to the White House Fence. She was amazed at the White House found her and invited her to the DADT repeal signing ceremony, and when she went up to thank the President personally and shake his hand, he said, “How about a hug?” She was thrilled. Her picture was on this site among those of the signing ceremony, by the way. I thought we could all use some joy this morning.

  9. I love my President, too. And – the thing is – even with all of his writers, one can believe that he wrote this himself about Sudan. With that brain. And that heart.

    You know … that one!

  10. My hope is that soon some of those who have been so critical of this president will see the light and realize how much he hs been doing with little of no fanfare to move this country in the correct direction. There is still much to be done and it would certainly progress faster if he didn’t have so many hurdles placed in his way by the opposing political party.

  11. I don’t believe the Sudan situation will open people’s eyes. The haters are unconcerned with countries like that. (you know what I’m referring to) The best chance we have for getting more citizens on our side – the correct side – is with the improving economy.

  12. Tangentally, this is a reason why I think America has to end the embargo on Cuba and normalize relations. How can America lead in efforts to bring peace to long warring nations with deathtolls in the millions when it’s still essentially fighting the cold war with regards to Cuba?

  13. I am a big fan of Mr. Clooney precisely because of his politics, his willingness to put him money and his conscience where his mouth is- he like our President, makes me very proud.

  14. I have never heard of another President who writes op-eds.. maybe thats just my lacking.. but I am so proud of President Obama doing this, he did it during the elections and two years later- he once again speaks to the people – using every avenue available.

    I learned today that the voting in Sudan will take place over the entire week- until Jan. 15th.. and it will take about 3 weeks to have the results (I didn’t know any of this).. found this info via Al Jazeera online.

    thank you so much for posting this op ed BWD, as I would not have known of it otherwise, this is one of those things I like to save, one of the many remarkable things about President Barack Obama.

  15. here is to hoping for the best outcome for the people of southern Sudan today…thank u Mr President, with your tireless effort you make us all proud and thank BWD, your work here is grandly appreciated.

  16. And though many Americans will dismiss him, Fidel Castro gave one of what I think was the most heartfelt and sincere reactions to the shootings in AZ yesterday. In his comment he stated that he agrees with PBO that violence has no place in politics. I wish I had saved it.

  17. What was interesting to me about that article was his repeated refrain of “Watch Fox News”. It reminded me of an addiction. I’m guessing that these people are addicted to Fox News because they have to have their ‘fix’ of affirmation that what they are doing and believing is correct. Is it possible that people who buy into propaganda actually become reliant upon it as a substitute for their own thoughts? Sort of like an alcoholic using alcohol for a substitute for the water in his or her blood cells?

    We often blithely speak about how we have to break our addiction to watching political pundits. I’m thinking that the far right is addicted to an even deadlier drug with Fox News.

  18. Hi sherijr. Yes, the vote will end on Jan. 15, and it will be conducted in eight other countries.

    Check out this link:

    There is a story on here that gives that information.

    Full disclosure, this is a website developed by my husband, myself and another partner. We launched on New Year’s Day.

    The site is still a work in progress. We are hoping to cover issues devoted to Africans and Friends of Africa.

    Next week we are planning on running a story about president Obama’s efforts to be more engaging in Africa in 2011.

    Hope you will check us out sometime and pass the word on.

    The site is called The Diasporavoice:

  19. Here,here! I think George Clooney is leaving a great legacy in this world along with his other colleagues that comprise of celebrities, millionaires and billionaires and other known entities. Take Bill and Melinda Gates, and their billionaires club who are donating huge percentages of their money to social causes. or Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie who are donating money and their time and energy to important causes and people in need. Or Barack Obama, who wrote a book and gave all the money to military children. There are more good people than bad people. They just work quietly and steadily on the tough problems that take a long time to bear fruit, but are ultimately worthwhile.

  20. Hello Africa, so nice to see you.. thank you for the info and link to your website- I will be checking it out, I really want to keep up with all thats going on there.

  21. Thanks, BWD. To see the Sudan vote come to fruition and without any violence will be something to behold.

    We are praying that it all turns well.

  22. I also believe the President deserved the award, specifically for all the work he did on foreign relations, nuclear disarmament and peace BEFORE he became president. Great links and highly recommended reading – even if it means clicking into Huff&Puff. Insightful words – I like this one:

    “Consider this: our president and his family receive over 30 death threats a day (a day!) yet that hasn’t shaken the Obamas’ belief that we live a great country. Those town hall meetings and Tea Party gatherings had nasty conspiracy theories and ugliness from many right wingers, but Obama still believes in bi-partisanship and reaching out. Yes, still, after all of that. Clearly, this is a man of peace – both nationally and internationally. Again, not a pacifist, but a peace advocate. He wants the people of the world to work together, for the people of the United States to work together, and I can’t say I disagree with him on that”.

  23. Fox news to the teabagger is no different than DK and the like is to the fringe left. I know many of us here have commented how much we visited that site daily, and now being off of it how much more relaxed/less stressed we can find ourselves Both sell outrage to keep their viewers amped up and locked in.

  24. I believe the President writes the speeches that move us the most. The ones that are more everyday, run of the mill – he leaves to his speechwriters to fill in the technical details. But the ones that speak of his vision, his hopes for this world, his strategy – he writes the bulk of those speeches himself, and that’s why they are the most moving.

  25. What I don’t get is the violent rhetoric people feel they have to use to get their points across.

    The comment section at DK is often riddled with harsh words for the president, and to those who make any attempt to tell them that they don’t have to get so ugly to get a point across.

    Yet, those same people will castigate the teabaggers. The language some of them use is no different from than that of the teabaggers, but they fail to see their own ways.

    Go figure.

  26. Yes, the Presidential op-eds are always so informative, and I believe the journalists should be embarassed that someone as busy as the President does their job better than they do. The op-ed he wrote before his trip to India was so full of rationale for the trip, and yet, the media still allowed the crazies to talk up the trip as if it was an expensive joyride.

  27. I agree – it’s a “group think” problem, and can become very addictive. I know there are days when I am sorely tempted to click on certain sites to see what’s happening there, what the headline is. And I actually have to step away from the laptop to stop myself from giving in – and I also remind myself that every click equals paying them for their evil vitriol. It took a while for me to avoid watching some of these shows, too – and I often find myself watching them anyway, even though my blood pressure goes up. I can imagine that a lonely person at home, who doesn’t have a life or is immobile, would become completely immersed in the world they find on their tv, which validates the dark thoughts they once believed were limited to only themselves. They find vindication and company. And entertainment. And the media has moved the bar of what is acceptable and to be tolerated further and further out by providing them cover.

  28. I’d be interested in the unemployment numbers regarding fringe news/sites viewers. I don’t know how somebody could work an eight hour+ shift five plus days a week out in the real world and then jump on a fringe hate site or watch hate news.

    Most of Fox’s viewership is 55+ and probably many retired. Being retired or unemployed keeps one cut off by in large. Insulated to a small group of a chosen circle of friends who much more often than not are going to be very like minded. You can choose your friends, you can’t choose you co-workers or your customers.

    Being unemployed or retired, you also have time to burn, and jumping online or turning on the like-minded news station is a geat way to kill the day. A lot of the regulars seemed to be around all day – maybe they work nights, but then they must not sleep too much. Many seemed to see posting as a twisted “Pundit Idol” competition imagining Markos, Jane and Glenn as the three judges and the tips or hides as “America votes”.

  29. And the irony to all of this regarding the retired and/or unemployed who may be home making these kinds of comments, is that the benefits they receive is the direct result of the government programs they love to hate.

    Yet, they want to take their government back. They hate everything that is aided by government, which sometimes may lead to their ugly, ugly comments.

    Those seniors who hate the government so much, you have to wonder how they would fare if their Social Security checks stopped appearing in the mail.

    Then again, our media does nothing to educate or elevate the discouse in this country.

    Oh, well.

  30. No they don’t really care about what really impacts peoples’ lives. All they care about is if the Oresident were to give Republicans the public! Only that would give them some small feeking that he isn’t a sell out.

  31. Thanks for the link. I am woefully uninformed on issues in Africa, so I am thrilled that someone has launched a blog to discuss African politics/issues.

  32. I do, too…It’s just like any goal, dream, challenge/obstacle, et al, if you fail the first time “out of the box”, you “pick yourself up and dust yourself off,” and you try it again….If you want it, enough, you don’t give up, you don’t quit…

    That’s why I understand that’s who our President is, and I get what our President is tryin’ to do and he’s doin’…

    Unfortunately, some don’t yet…But, oh well! 😉

    And, Theo, although there are certain sites we shouldn’t click into…for whatever reason…every blogger, who writes for those sites, aren’t “the enemy.” (For example, eclectablog, OFA’s femlaw)

  33. The Nobel committee awards the Peace Prize prospectively a lot of the time, to encourage efforts to bring peace where it has yet to take occur. That was the case for Obama, for his work on nuclear issues, and as a way of saying we know you will undo the work of your predecessor.

  34. Many were raised to see dependence on charity as a personal weakness, to be reviled. Some seem to see Medicare and Social Security a some kind of government enforced charity they are required to accept. Hence all the weird talk about their “Liberty” being taken away.

  35. Peace for Sudan; A shared hope by all people of goodwill…

    May God continue to bless, protect, guide and defend our amazing President…

  36. This is a BFD.
    The story is all too familiar: artificial country created by colonists and exploited, ethnic hatred, religious extremism (though not as severe as in some), slavery, poverty, disease, and endless war.

    I researched Sudan some years back, as part of two children’s books I wrote, and I had some very supportive contact with a U.N official from Sudan. The tragedy of Sudan was immense then, and grew worse. I sent Malia and Sasha copies of my book; I have no idea if they or their parents ever read it.

    If President Obama can have helped resolve this tragedy, he will have earned a lot of love from the people of the world.

  37. I seem to recall two terms of GWB when one of the many, many criticisms was that nothing was being done about Darfur.

    BHO seems to have achieved something quite substantial in Sudan- partly, of course, by actually involving a huge number of people and working patiently and diplomatically, rather than invading somewhere else, so it didn’t look flashy while it was happening.

    Is he getting credit for this in the USA? I’m watching BBC and it’s getting a lot of coverage here.

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