The idea of establishing a no-fly zone over Sudan used to be high on the agenda of Darfur advocates. Major-General Merrill A. McPeak, who co-chaired Barack Obama's presidential campaign, called for it several years ago. So did Joe Biden, when he was a senator, and Susan Rice, before she became the Obama administration's ambassador to the United Nations. Now almost nobody talks about it.
In fact, it seems the cat's even got George Clooney's tongue. During an interview with Chris Wallace on Fox News this weekend, Wallace repeatedly asked him what he thought the Obama administration should do. Clooney bobbed and weaved.
First, Wallace asked if he "would like the U.S. to put pressure on China," which has been propping up the Bashir regime. Clooney said that "throwing guilt their way doesn't really work." Instead of pressure, the U.S. should say to China that we should all "work together to solve the problem."
So Wallace tried again-- "Would you like to see the U.S. get involved in imposing, as part of an international coalition, a no fly zone, or bombing the Sudan air force?" Clooney responded that one has to be "realistic" because "in the real world, we're not going to see NATO in there, we're not going to unilaterally--certainly, we're not going to be acting." Which is what more than a few people said about Libya, just before NATO and the U.S. "went in there."
Give Wallace credit. He tried one more time-- "What do you want [President Obama] to do?" Clooney's answer: more "meetings with the Chinese" and "use all those techniques we've learned going after terrorists to find [Sudan's] money." How about this idea: use all those techniques we've learned going after terrorists to go after Bashir? U.S. commandos have certainly captured terrorists and their ilk around the world before.
"This issue transcends politics," Clooney said emphatically at that 2006 press conference. It's time he proves it--by being as specific, focused, and forceful about the need for action from the Obama administration as he was when it was the Bush administration that was the target of his Sudan protests.