A few days ago Tony Blair and George W Bush held their last official meeting as Prime Minister and President. It was a pretty uneventful occasion. George W Bush was more inarticulate than usual. A war-weary President and an outgoing Prime Minister had no new insights into Iraq. A once great partnership was being drained of power before the eyes of the international press. In the few weeks that Blair has left at 10 Downing Street there seemed nothing that they could offer the world. But is there one last great deed that they could perform?
About a month ago George W Bush said that Sudan's regime had one last chance before the international community would finally act to protect Darfur. A powerful editorial in today's Washington Post reminds us what is still going on in this deeply troubled part of Africa:
For ten days after President Bush's 'last chance warning' helicopter gunships attacked defenceless villages;
Government aircraft were painted white so as to be confused with the UN's humanitarian operations;
More people are being added daily to the sad total of more than two million refugees;
Serious efforts to deploy a substantial African Union peacekeeping force remain stalled;
The UN continues to prevaricate.
A stretched US military and a threadbare UK military cannot do all that liberal interventionists would hope but a no-fly zone should be possible. In the last days of the Bush-Blair partnership this last great act should be delivered - ideally with the UN's approval but, if necessary, without. Related link:Will the world act now in Darfur? and The world has failed Darfur for four years
In his article for the New York Post, former Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense in the Bush administration, Peter Brookes argues that diplomacy has categorically failed to stop or even curtail the atrocities in Darfur and that only "highly credible threats" will check Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir.
Last week (Brookes writes), at the same time as the organisation he leads showed the Sudanese regime to be illegally transporting weapons into Darfur UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon was attempting to stop the White House proposing sanctions against Sudan. Ban Ki-Moon argued that Khartoum's decision to allow 3,000 UN troops to augment the 7,000 African Union troops in Darfur meant diplomacy could continue. But since the Security Council passed its first resolution on Darfur in 2005 Bashir has repeatedly broken his promises to stop the humanitarian disaster happening in Darfur. Furthermore, given Bashir will not countenance non-African troops in Darfur, roughly 10,000 men will be attempting to stabalise an area the size of France.