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November 14, 2008

Will Obama Pass the Genocide Test?

The situation in east Africa is already evolving into a major test of the world's resolve to prevent another genocide from developing.

This time, it's eastern DR Congo. This region of the world has proven to be a safe haven for militias of all kinds, including groups responsible in part for the 1994 genocide in Rwanda.

This area of eastern Africa has been the setting for some of the world's worst humanitarian disasters. Think Darfur, genocide in Rwanda, Burundi, the LRA killings in northern Uganda, deadly political reprisals in Kenya.

It has traumatized by HIV, malaria, TB, the list of horrors goes on and on.

Vice President-elect Joe Biden was right: Obama is going to face a major foreign policy test. But the timing is all wrong. The test starts right now, professor Obama. The US and the international community are already looking to Obama for guidance about what to do.

All of Washington is in transition mode. But time marches on. This week, I spoke by phone at length with an very high level foreign policy official under the Bush administration. He is very active in this part of Africa, working for peace implementation.

For global evangelicals, he had some important words, which I will partially quote, where he specifically addressed evangelical advocacy:

The more people who follow what is going on ... the better. The more they’re kicking up dust in the press and with their elected representatives the better. Because my view, Tim, is there are lots of things the United States of America has to deal with, a lot of things at home as this economic meltdown shows, and also a lot of challenges beyond our shores. And the first priority of this President and the President-elect is our national security and protecting vital interests.

One can argue these issues of moral necessity are less compelling. What’s made America great are the values and the faith upon which we were founded. Therefore, those values and that faith have to animate our foreign policy. But they get crowded off the stage by the immediate.

If it’s mischief by Russia in Georgia, if it’s Ahmadinejad in Iran trying to get nuclear weapons, the list goes on ... Our humanity and, frankly, the American ideal compel us to deal with difficult issues especially when it grows to the point where you have massive ethnic cleansing and genocide.

So my view is the more people that are raising Cain the better. And the more they do to try to get members of the House and Senate to raise Cain the better, I think 99 percent of Americans fundamentally want the same thing even if we disagree on the best way to get there.

We just need to keep some of the Americans engaged and recognize that we have a moral obligation to act.

For starters:

White House comment line: 1-202-456-1111

President George W. Bush: president@whitehouse.gov
Vice President Richard Cheney: vice.president@whitehouse.gov

To my knowledge, the Obama transition team does not have a comment line set up as yet.

If you have ideas for advocacy and action, email me or post them below:



You can send comments to the Obama transition by going to http://change.gov/

Remember that a transition is not a shadow government. Obama is building a new government; he does not have one in place yet, and is not in a position to start making decrees to other parts of the world. Indeed, such an action would be unseemly and unwise since he has not had a chance to "review all the facts", as they say in the business.

The headline to this article, "Will Obama Pass the Genocide Test?" is an exercise in overwrought, misleading sensationalism designed to attract readers because it leads the reader - falsely - to believe that Obama has somehow participated in genocide.

Great post! It's very true that we need to "kick up dust" around these issues---given all that is going on in our country, as well as the rest of the world, it's certainly easy for issues to get crowded out. The more we speak up, and make our collective voice one that politicians can't ignore, the greater chance we have of making genocide and mass atrocity a policy priority.

Scott Tonk, Nov 15th. You are absolutely right! It's ashame we have come to this. Where you can't tell the difference between a Christian magazine and a secular magazine. My prayer is that Christian leaders will meet personally with the New President to express their biblical concerns! Not the so called leaders that have been slaming him, but others like Charles Stanley, Franklin Graham, etc. Respectful and nonjudgmental Christian leaders who will speak the heart of God and not out of their own hearts.