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September 29, 2009

Envoy Hubris
Posted by David Shorr

Via Elizabeth Dickinson of Passport blog, there was unflattering Washington Post coverage of the Obama Administration's special envoy for Sudan, Gen. Scott Gration. To which I can only add a personal anecdote from the efforts a decade ago to deal with another difficult and deadly situation in Africa.

It was 1997, and the Clinton Administration was dispatching a senior official to Kinshasa to tell Laurent Kabila, who had recently seized the capital, to clamp down on the humanitarian abuses by his own Rwandan army-sponsored rebel force. At the time, I was working for Refugees International, which had for months been highlighting these abuses and the ineffectual international efforts to pressure Kabila. [Note parallel with the reaction to Gration by the Enough Project and other Sudan advocacy groups.] The US envoy didn't seem to really heed the warnings about how slippery Kabila had been, apparently confident in his own diplomatic powers. With the result that he ended up being fobbed off with insincere promises just as his predecessors had. My question regarding the current situation: what does Samantha Power make of all this?

And in the spirit of Dan Drezner's idea of brutally honest taglines: "David Shorr didn't have the guts to name the individual in the above anecdote."


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