Americans: Do something about Darfur

Contrary to Bush administration policy, Americans overwhelmingly support U.S. action to stop the genocide.

By Julia Scott
Published June 1, 2005 6:20PM (EDT)

Since terming the ongoing scorched-earth campaign against civilians in Darfur genocide several years ago, the Bush administration has done everything it can to avoid committing to substantial intervention in the region, even downplaying the number of dead. But a new poll by the International Crisis Group/Zogby International indicates that Americans overwhelmingly support U.S. action in Darfur to stop the genocide.

Over 80 percent of respondents said the U.S. should use its military assets to bolster African Union troops on the ground in Darfur, should impose tough sanctions on the leaders who control the Janjaweed, and establish a no-fly zone over Darfur (air bombings on Darfuri villages continue unabated, according to reports). 80 percent also believed the war against civilians constitutes genocide.

Only 38 percent of respondents supported deployment of U.S. troops in Darfur -- though that's a number the ICG considered surprisingly high given a strained U.S. military and the intractable situation in Iraq. And ninety-one percent of people polled disagreed with the Bush administration's policy of non-cooperation with the International Criminal Court, which works to bring genocidaires to justice.

John Norris, chief of staff of the Crisis Group in Washington, said the survey proved that the Bush administration had underestimated Americans' willingness to support concrete actions to stop the killing.

"This level of support comes at a time when the Bush administration has never used its bully pulpit to issue much of a real call to action on Darfur," said Norris, in a phone conference with reporters on Wednesday. "This is one of those issue areas where [they've] said there's little public support, but when you open [it] up, you see that's not the case."

Julia Scott

San Francisco-based freelance journalist Julia Scott writes about water and energy issues for various publications. She also covers the environment for Bay Area News Group, a chain of newspapers in Northern California.

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