The declining utility, and enduring legacy, of a Save Darfur movement

My post on the declining utility of a Save Darfur movement has sparked some debate.

John generally agrees with Newcomb and Norris, saying that the movement’s next challenge is, in fact, pushing the Obama administration to take a hard line approach on Sudan.   Similarly, a movement leader writes me,  “can’t we generate noise on this so Hillary and others push back [on the more conciliatory approach favored by Sudan Envoy Scott Gration]?”

Again, I think both sentiments place unrealistic expectations on the movement’s constituency to get into the weeds of an inter-agency policy debate.  The movement has been a singular success in making Darfur a household name and infiltrating the White House with its members.   But as I wrote earlier, it now up to the movement alumni in the White House to see that their policy options are implemented.  Outside activism has brought us to this point–but change is now dependent on the ability of vanguard policy makers to press their case to their colleagues.  

That said, I don’t think the movement should just dissapear. One of the best things to emerge from the Save Darfur movement are new institutions and organizations that nurture an activism beyond Darfur to the problem of genocide and mass atrocity more broadly.  The Genocide Intervention Network and the Enough Project are two sterling examples of organizations that are directing the energy of the Save Darfur movement to places and issues that are not yet household names.  

For example, the Enough Project just announced a video contest to show the connection between minerals used in the manufacture of cell phones and conflict in the Congo. A year ago, I’d bet only a handful of experts would have known this is an issue. By the end of this contest, many thousands will have a passing familiarity with it, and of those thousands, a certain percentage will want to do something about it.   Pretty soon “conflict minerals” from Congo may be as familiar to Americans as “conflict diamonds.”     

Ultimately, I’d argue that the results of these sorts of efforts are a better way to judge the success of the Save Darfur movement than the outcome of the inter-agency debate on Sudan policy.  

pic from flickr user onthedecline