You Can’t Pressure Sudan Without China

According to John McCain, Darfur’s genocide will be over in five years, if only we replace the United Nations with a “League of Democracies,” an international body shorn of pesky non-allies like China and Russia. In a somewhat speculative speech today, McCain laid out the accomplishments that he envisions his administration will have accomplished by 2013.

After efforts to pressure the Government in Sudan over Darfur failed again in the U.N. Security Council, the United States, acting in concert with a newly formed League of Democracies, applied stiff diplomatic and economic pressure that caused the government of Sudan to agree to a multinational peacekeeping force, with NATO countries providing logistical and air support, to stop the genocide that had made a mockery of the world’s repeated declaration that we would “never again” tolerant such inhumanity.

One minor problem here. While the U.S. has not indeed exerted sufficient pressure on Khartoum, it has used up a lot of the economic influence that it brings to the table. U.S. companies have not been able to do business in Sudan since 1998, thanks to sanctions that the Clinton administration placed on the regime for supporting terrorism. Additional targeted sanctions are still possible, and the U.S.-based divestment movement continues with full force, but the main source of funding for Sudan’s genocidal apparatus is, of course, China (though India and Malaysia also have significant investments). Shutting out China, the most relevant player in Sudan, from the world’s premier global institution would effectively close off the best possible avenue through which to pressure Khartoum. Working with China to end the genocide may be difficult and fraught with complications, but trying to do it without Beijing would be well-nigh impossible.