Obama’s Vague Commitment to South Sudan
The past several years have seen allegations and evidence of genocide, the end of almost three decades of civil war and the split of one of the largest countries in the world by landmass into two distinct countries each beset by ongoing conflict and internal strife. South Sudan, the newborn nation to come out of the split suffers from sever economic deficiencies with most of its economic processes still tied up with its older northern half. Severely economically underdeveloped, South Sudan has from its inception, been plagued by political infighting and civil conflict. South Sudan which is slightly smaller than Texas has less than 120 miles of paved roadways. With eye catching headlines coming in from across the region this conflict has been mostly relegated to brief mentions in news roundups or headlines. However, yesterday President Obama addressed the issue in a somewhat underwhelming matter considering the years of hardship the region has faced and the international communities previous spotlight on another issue in Sudan the conflict in Darfur.
Statement by the President on One Year of Violence in South Sudan:
Last December, when a political conflict erupted into violence in South Sudan, the hope and optimism the world felt with the founding of the new nation in 2011 was overtaken by images of bloodshed and grief. Instead of seeing the promise of their struggle for self-determination realized, the people of South Sudan have suffered countless, unimaginable tragedies. The magnitude of this crisis is felt in both the devastation that violence has left in towns and villages, and the scars—visible and invisible—on the South Sudanese people.
Today, I appeal to the leaders of South Sudan to pursue peace as a way to honor those who have died. It is in your hands to end the cycle of violence, to set forth on a course of reform and reconciliation, and to hold to account those responsible for atrocities. Leadership that recalls the promise of South Sudan is what the country now needs to end this senseless conflict.
To the people of South Sudan, who have suffered for far too long, I urge you to renew the spirit of hope, unity, and fortitude that enabled you almost four years ago to come together and vote for a brighter future. For the sake of future generations, I urge you to seek peaceful reconciliation rather than violent retribution. The United States will remain a friend to those who seek peace and progress, and will stand with the people of South Sudan.
While direct involvement in the Sudanese issue is clearly out of lockstep with smart American policy stronger rhetoric and more direct soft support would be welcome by many who do not wish to see South Sudan quickly become a failed state so shortly after gaining its independence. What steps the president might take to assist in the situation should at the very least mirror the efforts taken by China who have inserted their economic turned political influence into the region in the past decade. A smart move on the part of the administration would at the very least add a strong counterbalance to rising Chinese economic influence. At the very least the motivation of helping a fledgling nation attempting to establish itself is a rough and many times unstable neighborhood.