Not Missing the Forest

As news of Sudan’s agreement to let some 3,000 UN troops into Darfur reached world capitols yesterday, officials were quick to caution that the deployment of these troops should not supplant the ulitmate goal of diplomacy toward Sudan. As the head of UN peacekeeping Jean-Marie Guehenno warned, “The heavy support package, as its name indicates, is not the robust force that Darfur needs. It’s a support package to lay the ground for a future robust force. It’s a transition to a hybrid mission. That’s how we see it.” Deputy Secretary of State John Negroponte, who was visiting Chad at the time, agrees. So do officials from the United Kingdom, which holds the Security Council presidency this month. Yesterday, Tony Blair threatened to pursue sanctions should Sudan renege on this most recent agreement, “We must be prepared, as the United Nations Security Council, if they do not agree to the U.N. package, to pass a strong resolution with sanctions in respect to the Sudanese government.”

The story is still developing. Still, officials seem to be saying that this incremental step is useful only to the extent that it helps pave the way for the deployment of the full contingent of UN forces, called for by Security Council 1705.