Rep. Charlie Rangel has an op-ed in today’s New York Daily News explaining, “Why I got arrested in Washington yesterday.”
Last week, Secretary of State Colin Powell returned from a visit to Sudan. He saw evidence of the slaughter that has left tens of thousands dead and more than a million displaced, and in response he threatened the Sudanese government – blamed for being the sponsors of the slaughter – with sanctions and travel restrictions. Yesterday, I made my feelings known about this crisis when I was arrested in a protest outside the Sudanese Embassy in Washington. My act of civil disobedience in blocking the doors of the embassy was to make the point that sanctions and travel restrictions will not alleviate this crisis; we need to get an international peacekeeping force on the ground to save lives immediately.
Umm, you’re a very prominent Member of Congress. You’re on television constantly. You could have written this op-ed–albeit with a different headline and lede paragraph–without blocking doors. That action did nothing to alleviate or draw attention to the horror in Sudan. Indeed, I didn’t even know you’d been arrested until I read your op-ed which, by definition, I was reading anyway.
The international community – led by the U.S. – has a duty to take immediate action. Powell’s visit was an important first step, but we must follow up with action to stop the genocide and get adequate aid to the region. The Bush administration should focus on getting a multinational force to Sudan to protect the innocents.
We’ve spent almost $200 billion on the Iraq war. There’s no reason the international community can’t find the $350 million the UN needs to ship aid to Sudan. Surely, saving a million lives is worth more than the $89 million the U.S. has committed so far. Let’s declare the situation the genocide that it is. We have to avert what threatens to become one of history’s greatest catastrophes. What’s happening is an atrocity, a crime and a sin. There can be no more excuses.
So, you estimate that the bill would be $350 million. Despite the fact that we’re in the middle of a $200 billion war in Iraq, the war in Aghanistan, and the broader war on terrorism, we’ve already ponied up a little over 25% of that. Why isn’t that enough? Why can’t France and Germany pony up some dough–they’re not fighting the war on terror? And what about the UN? Don’t we ship them a boatload of money every year just for stuff like this.
We’re already paying a quarter of the bill. Much more it would amount to a unilateral action on our part. And you know how much you hate that.