The palpable sadness of Genocide, it is the ache where humanity fails itself – and struggles to make right even the most obvious wrongs. Later today at 3PM Eastern, on The Media Lizzy Show, I will discuss leadership and its critical impact on America’s policy with regard to Darfur – with National Spokesman M. Allyn Brooks-LaSure of SaveDarfur.
Last week, during the vice presidential debate between Republican nominee Governor Sarah Palin and Democratic nominee Senator Joe Biden, a very interesting – and promising – exchange brough Darfur to the forefront of the 2008 election:
IFILL: Senator, you have quite a record, this is the next question here, of being an interventionist. You argued for intervention in Bosnia and Kosovo, initially in Iraq and Pakistan and now in Darfur, putting U.S. troops on the ground. Boots on the ground. Is this something the American public has the stomach for?
BIDEN: I think the American public has the stomach for success. My recommendations on Bosnia. I admit I was the first one to recommend it. They saved tens of thousands of lives. And initially John McCain opposed it along with a lot of other people. But the end result was it worked. Look what we did in Bosnia. We took Serbs, Croats and Bosniaks, being told by everyone, I was told by everyone that this would mean that they had been killing each other for a thousand years, it would never work.
There’s a relatively stable government there now as in Kosovo. With regard to Iraq, I indicated it would be a mistake to — I gave the president the power. I voted for the power because he said he needed it not to go to war but to keep the United States, the UN in line, to keep sanctions on Iraq and not let them be lifted.
I, along with Dick Lugar, before we went to war, said if we were to go to war without our allies, without the kind of support we need, we’d be there for a decade and it’d cost us tens of billions of dollars. John McCain said, no, it was going to be OK.
I don’t have the stomach for genocide when it comes to Darfur. We can now impose a no-fly zone. It’s within our capacity. We can lead NATO if we’re willing to take a hard stand. We can, I’ve been in those camps in Chad. I’ve seen the suffering, thousands and tens of thousands have died and are dying. We should rally the world to act and demonstrate it by our own movement to provide the helicopters to get the 21,000 forces of the African Union in there now to stop this genocide.
IFILL: Thank you, senator. Governor.
PALIN: Oh, yeah, it’s so obvious I’m a Washington outsider. And someone just not used to the way you guys operate. Because here you voted for the war and now you oppose the war. You’re one who says, as so many politicians do, I was for it before I was against it or vice- versa. Americans are craving that straight talk and just want to know, hey, if you voted for it, tell us why you voted for it and it was a war resolution.
And you had supported John McCain’s military strategies pretty adamantly until this race and you had opposed very adamantly Barack Obama’s military strategy, including cutting off funding for the troops that attempt all through the primary.
And I watched those debates, so I remember what those were all about.
But as for as Darfur, we can agree on that also, the supported of the no-fly zone, making sure that all options are on the table there also.
America is in a position to help. What I’ve done in my position to help, as the governor of a state that’s pretty rich in natural resources, we have a $40 billion investment fund, a savings fund called the Alaska Permanent Fund.
When I and others in the legislature found out we had some millions of dollars in Sudan, we called for divestment through legislation of those dollars to make sure we weren’t doing anything that would be seen as condoning the activities there in Darfur. That legislation hasn’t passed yet but it needs to because all of us, as individuals, and as humanitarians and as elected officials should do all we can to end those atrocities in that region of the world.
IFILL: Is there a line that should be drawn about when we decide to go in?
BIDEN: Absolutely. There is a line that should be drawn.
IFILL: What is it?
BIDEN: The line that should be drawn is whether we A, first of all have the capacity to do anything about it number one. And number two, certain new lines that have to be drawn internationally. When a country engages in genocide, when a country engaging in harboring terrorists and will do nothing about it, at that point that country in my view and Barack’s view forfeits their right to say you have no right to intervene at all.
The truth of the matter is, though, let’s go back to John McCain’s strategy. I never supported John McCain’s strategy on the war. John McCain said exactly what Dick Cheney said, go back and look at Barack Obama’s statements and mine. Go look at joebiden.com, contemporaneously, held hearings in the summer before we went to war, saying if we went to war, we would not be greeted as liberator, we would have a fight between Sunnis and Shias, we would be tied down for a decade and cost us hundreds of billions of dollars.
John McCain was saying the exact opposite. John McCain was lock- step with Dick Cheney at that point how this was going to be easy. So John McCain’s strategy in this war, not just whether or not to go, the actual conduct of the war has been absolutely wrong from the outset.
PALIN: I beg to disagree with you, again, here on whether you supported Barack Obama or John McCain’s strategies. Here again, you can say what you want to say a month out before people are asked to vote on this, but we listened to the debates.
I think tomorrow morning, the pundits are going to start do the who said what at what time and we’ll have proof of some of this, but, again, John McCain who knows how to win a war. Who’s been there and he’s faced challenges and he knows what evil is and knows what it takes to overcome the challenges here with our military.
He knows to learn from the mistakes and blunders we have seen in the war in Iraq, especially. He will know how to implement the strategies, working with our commanders and listening to what they have to say, taking the politics out of these war issues. He’ll know how to win a war.
IFILL: Thank you, governor.