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Last Updated: Sunday, 3 July, 2005, 21:22 GMT 22:22 UK
John Danforth interview transcript
The following is an edited transcript of Fergal Keane's interview with John Danforth, US Ambassador to the United Nations, recorded as part of Panorama's "'Never Again'", first broadcast 3 July 2005 on BBC One.

FERGAL KEANE: Given your think your long experience of dealing with the Sudan, the Sudanese government, what I'd first like to ask you is, the situation in the south, how brutal was that, how nasty was the violence in the south?

JOHN DANFORTH: Oh, it was the longest, I think it was the longest standing civil war in the world at the time. It had lasted over 20 years and it had gone really until the middle of the last century, since the middle of the last century and then there was a hiatus and then it started up again. It accounted for millions of deaths, either in military conflict or through the residual effect of the fighting, it was a long, terrible civil war.

FERGAL KEANE: How important was it to get a settlement? Because you were at the heart of it?

JOHN DANFORTH: Yeah, yeah I think it was very important. I mean it was a great tragedy. It had wrecked that country and so you know, I mean there was an awful lot of suffering, there were a lot of people who had been killed, there were a lot of people who had been displaced, people who were living in refugee camps and it was a very long drawn out affair.

FERGAL KEANE: What was the nature of the government that you were dealing with, the nature of the regime in Khartoum, because they were accused credibly, by the United States among others, of appalling brutality. What kind of people were you dealing with?

JOHN DANFORTH: It was an Arab regime, it was Islamic, this is a country that is on the fault line between Arab Africa and black Africa, therein was the problem. It was a government trying to exercise maximum central control on a country that was very large and very fractured and splintered ethnically, racially, religiously, all kinds of ways.... and tough. And also, I mean it was a country that had a history within it's own government, of conflict within the governments. So you had people who were relative hard liners, a little less hard line, there was Tarabi regime that had been deposed and Tarabi was under house arrest, so I mean there were people there who were even tougher than the government, but my impression was that the government was attempting to manage various splintering within Khartoum itself, meanwhile it had this very ethnically diverse country, spread out country.

FERGAL KEANE: In terms of the way that that government dealt with civilians, what were they like, were they ruthless?

JOHN DANFORTH: Yes, I mean it was a war. It was... it was a very brutal war and it was a war that interrupted that would naturally happen in the country. I mean from people planting crops, harvesting crops, having decent lives, a relative degree of stability in their lives, all of this was interrupted.

FERGAL KEANE: Was their government sophisticated in the way that it dealt with the international community?

JOHN DANFORTH: No.

FERGAL KEANE: How would you characterise them and the way they dealt with you when you tried to press them to get peace?

JOHN DANFORTH: They were intensely... the government of Sudan was intensely interested in the United States and in our government and what the response of our government would be to whatever they did, intensely interested. The one very interesting experience which happened in this building. They sent the man in charge of their embassy in Washington, the chargé, to St Louis. He came here, flew in in the morning, flew out in the afternoon, he had lunch with me and he said to me I'm here because my government has sent me to ask one question. The question is are we damned if we do and damned if we don't? Meaning, does it make any difference with respect to relations with the United States whether we achieve peace with the SPLM or whether we don't achieve peace? Is the United States going to react favourably towards us, positively toward us if we have peace? I mean that was their interest and they viewed me as being President Bush's representative, not part of the State Department but President Bush's personal representative, they wanted to hear this from President Bush. And I asked President Bush exactly that question and in turn relayed the response to the government of Sudan, so they were very, very focused on the US and the response of the US and would it do them any good with respect to relations with the US to achieve peace.

FERGAL KEANE: What was President Bush's response to that question?

JOHN DANFORTH: President Bush's response was that he hoped for normal relations with Sudan. That normal relations depended on three things, one: the achievement of peace, two: humanitarian acts throughout the country and three: total cooperation with the counter terrorism effort.

FERGAL KEANE: The point you just raised there, cooperation on counter terrorism, how important was that to The Whitehouse?

JOHN DANFORTH: Well, it was very important after 9/11 but please bear in mind that the President asked me to do the job of special envoy five days before 9/11, five days before, so it was really... I meant eh counter terrorism effort was very important, but it was different really from what I was involved in. Now the view of our government was that there was pretty good cooperation on counter terrorism, so the major focus was on achieving peace.

FERGAL KEANE: And in terms of the overall priorities for American foreign policy and the State Department, where did Sudan sit? How important was it?

JOHN DANFORTH: It was a very, very high priority, it was a remarkably high priority and this was a point that I repeatedly made to the government of Sudan, including to President Bashir. It is remarkable the attention that your country is getting from the United States and indeed from the rest of the world.

FERGAL KEANE: Why is that, why was it so important?

JOHN DANFORTH: It was highly publicized, Sudan was, it was very much in the news, it was a matter, it was of great interest to Christian conservatives in the United States, a good part of President Bush's base and it was something that was of personal interest to him. I mean President Bush.... my role was that I was his special envoy, the President's special envoy, the President's special envoy, I was speaking for him. Every time I went to Sudan, every single time I went or every time that I went to Nairobi for the peace talks and that was, I don't know, ten, twelve times, something like that. Every time I spoke to the President before I went, every time I conveyed a message from President Bush. So President Bush was, and I'm sure remains, intensely focuses on Sudan, so did his administration. Secretary Powell was very focused on.... Condy Rice, now the Secretary of State, then the national security advisor, very focused on Sudan. There was a lot of attention on Sudan.

FERGAL KEANE: When did you first become aware of what was happening in Darfur?

JOHN DANFORTH: Very well along into my own activities. I can't remember the exact time, but I... we were far along in the peace process, in the so called north-south peace process, before I was really focused on Darfur.

FERGAL KEANE: What was the first thing you heard about it? What were the kind of reports that you got initially?

JOHN DANFORTH: That there was.... ah¿ That the government of Sudan had armed the Janjaweed, the Arab militia and that there was very brutal fighting and beyond military fighting, real terrorising of the civilian population in Darfur by Arab militia that had been armed by the government for the government of putting down an uprising.

FERGAL KEANE: Were you surprised to hear that those kind of tactics were being used in Darfur?

JOHN DANFORTH: I wouldn't say that I was surprised to hear that they were used in Darfur, I can say that I was certainly distressed that they were being used in Darfur. It was a different kind of situation that I was dealing with. In other words the situation.... the situation.... My view of the north-south battle was that it was really ethnic, that it involved race, that it involved to a large extent religion, that it involved Arab relatively upper class and the treating of black Africans as second class citizens, that it involved the difficulty of keeping a country together which was geographically very spread out, no real communication system, no transportation system and the black Africans in the south and Arabs in the north. I mean that was my basic view of that. Then with respect to Darfur, and I am no expert on Darfur, I have never been to Darfur, that was not a project that I was working on, but I became involved in it in the UN... That Darfur started as the government arming the Janjaweed to put down a rebellion, but it involved... it... there was not the religious aspect to it, it was Muslim versus Muslim, it was Arab versus black and it was essentially two people with claims on the same land for their sustenance, one a farming group, that was the black Africans, and the other a herdsman nomadic type operation and that was a little bit different. Now there had been a somewhat similar situation with the use of Arab militia for the purpose of depopulating the oil areas in the south so to that extent it was somewhat similar.

FERGAL KEANE: Many of the tactics that were used and had been used in Darfur, did you find echoes of them... what happened at the ?? use of aircraft to bomb civilian villages. Were you getting, eventually getting reports that suggested at least some similarity in the way operations were carried out?

FERGAL KEANE: At the UN were you briefed on the Security Council by representatives of the United Nations?

JOHN DANFORTH: Yes.

FERGAL KEANE: Just tell me what you remember of those briefings.

JOHN DANFORTH: Well the UN envoy was a man named Pronk, and he spent a lot of time over there and he would come back and tell us the situation.

FERGAL KEANE: And Jan Egeland was...?

JOHN DANFORTH: Egeland did too. Yes.

FERGAL KEANE: Do you remember anything of those, of his briefing because he made a fairly impassioned plea at the Security Council.

JOHN DANFORTH: Right, yes, that's true. Right.

FERGAL KEANE: What did you make of what you were hearing from people like Jan Egeland about the seriousness of the situation?

JOHN DANFORTH: Well there was no doubt in my mind that it was a very serious situation. And there was no doubt in my mind that the Security Council should focus intensely on it, which we did. I mean starting almost as soon as I arrived, it was either the first subject, or one of the very first subjects before the Security Council after I arrived and there were... I can't remember maybe a couple of resolutions that we passed with respect to Darfur.

FERGAL KEANE: What was the sense you got from your fellow Security Council members about the nature of the action that they would be willing to support? Were they, you know, from talking to the Russians and Chinese I'm thinking of particularly, did you sense a willingness to be tough or was it otherwise?

JOHN DANFORTH: There were very different views within the Security Council on what to do with respect to Darfur. The most of the debate had to do with the use of the potential threat of economic sanctions against the government of Sudan and what kind of language could we put in a resolution that indicated the degree of willingness we had to use sanctions. I mean that was most of what the argument was about within the Security Council. At the same time there was a general view in the Security Council that Darfur was a real problem, that Darfur had to be dealt with, that it was important to get a foreign presence, namely the African Union, established in Darfur and supported in Darfur. So while with respect to the tough type language in a resolution, there was a very strong difference of opinion at the same time, it was remarkable the degree of reaching out to one another within the Security Council to try to put together resolutions that at least did something.

FERGAL KEANE: What kind of things were the Chinese saying for example?

JOHN DANFORTH: They opposed, they absolutely opposed any reference to sanctions, so I mean the way we had.. the compromise we had to use measures under article whatever of the UN charter and... which was UN speak for sanctions, but we couldn't use the word sanctions. And it was clear to me that we'd never... I mean that was just that we would consider measures, not that we would impose measures, but there was no doubt in my mind that we were not going to impose sanctions because at least the Chinese would have vetoed the sanctions. I am 100% certain. There was no chance of getting sanctions.

FERGAL KEANE: What would have happened if you'd set sanctions to one side, had there been a push to have a stronger UN mandate on the ground with the ability to protect people, would you have been able to get that through?

JOHN DANFORTH: Yes, I mean I think that... I mean the real question was to me, was to have a foreign presence in Darfur, because it was clear that the people of Darfur were not going to put much confidence in any security that was provided by the government of Sudan itself. So getting a foreign presence in there was important. Now it was clear that it was not going to be in the form of the military invasion, I mean that... the Security Council was not going to invade the country of Sudan, that would have been vetoed, so the issue was getting some sort of peace keeping force, namely basically eyes that would be present within Darfur, monitors, people who could keep track of what was going on and who had the power to protect civilians if they were under attack and that was the job that the African Union was willing to do.

FERGAL KEANE: Is it a job that they were willing to do because nobody else was going to do it?

JOHN DANFORTH: I didn't think that. I felt that it was the most likely source of readily available troops that could be put together and put into Darfur and that the African Union viewed it as an opportunity to show that they could function well.

FERGAL KEANE: It became pretty clear from early on that the African Union didn't have the numbers, didn't have the capacity to do the job.

JOHN DANFORTH: Right.

FERGAL KEANE: What was your feeling there?

JOHN DANFORTH: That we had to do whatever we could to expand the number of people in there. That it was very, very frustrating not getting the African Union in there as quickly and as with as many people as we wanted. It was very, very slow going, unbelievably slow going. Now when you think about it you don't just blow a whistle and suddenly there are thousands of troops that are set up, you have to set up the logistics for them, you have to set up the camps where the troops are going to be, you have to provide for the troops and so forth. So it took time, but it was agonisingly difficult to get them in there.

FERGAL KEANE: Why was it?

JOHN DANFORTH: They didn't have the capacity, they didn't have the logistics, so other countries... I know the US was providing I think two C130's I believe, or... I can't remember the kind of plane, but basically transport planes to ferry them back and forth. Other countries were providing aid for the African Union, logistical support and so on. I think NATO was involved, I'm not sure. But it was difficult to get their act together.

FERGAL KEANE: I am just wondering, given the kind of scale of what was going on and what was being described at the Security Council by Jan Egeland and by Kofi Anan, at one stage people were talking about comparisons to Rwanda and making sure it doesn't happen again. Why was there such a lack of urgency?

JOHN DANFORTH: First of all, I mean I don't think it was a Rwanda type situation, because I don't think it was well... we really have other issues and we are not that interested, there was just a lot of attention being paid to Darfur, to Sudan in general and to Darfur in particular. There were several resolutions that were passed by the Security Council, there was a difference of opinion with respect to the use of sanctions, the African union appeared to be the most likely source of readily available peacekeepers who could be brought in. They were anxious to do the job, but they really weren't able to do it. But once they had volunteered, then it was difficult to kind of muscle them aside and say well you are not doing a very good job, where's everybody else going to come from? So they were there and lots tried to enhance their presence without being so pushy that were driving them away.

FERGAL KEANE: What was your own advice to the State Department and to the Whitehouse about the evolving crisis in Darfur?

JOHN DANFORTH: That we had to get logistics, that we had to... that we had to provide the help and that also we had to get on with intensifying the effort to try to encourage the north-south peace process, because it was... I think the generally held view, or certainly my view that the chance of bringing peace to Darfur would be increased if there was peace in the north-south problem.

FERGAL KEANE: When Colin Powell used the word genocide to describe what was happening in Sudan, what was your reaction?

JOHN DANFORTH: My reaction to that was that it was something that would appeal to the constituency, the sort of... a lot of people in the United States especially who are very interested in Sudan, but that the developing of a label for the situation in Darfur wasn't going to do anything to solve the problem in Darfur. So I thought it was inconsequential to put a label in effect. If it had the legal effect of setting in motion some sort of process.... I didn't think that would do any good, so I thought that it wouldn't have any positive effect.

When they used it, that was their view and therefore it was the view of our government that I represent it, but did I think that calling it genocide was somehow the key to solving the problem? I did not think that.

FERGAL KEANE: Did it in any way make the job harder of resolving it, because when you use a word like genocide it carries enormous, well I don't know about legal weight, but it carries enormous moral weight and the expectation of tough action?

JOHN DANFORTH: I didn't think it had much of an effect one way or another. I just thought that this was something that was said for internal consumption within the United States, I did not think it would have very much effect within Sudan.

FERGAL KEANE: When you say internal consumption, am I correct in assuming that you mean it was the kind of language that would have appealed to the Christian Right?

JOHN DANFORTH: Right.

FERGAL KEANE: Were you consulted at all about the use of the word?

JOHN DANFORTH: No.

FERGAL KEANE: Is that surprising?

JOHN DANFORTH: No.

FERGAL KEANE: You say...

JOHN DANFORTH: I don't think I was. I mean I don't remember any particular conversation I had with respect to that.

FERGAL KEANE: Did it change at all the kind of dynamics on the Security Council or your dealings with the Sudanese? Because it did mean a lot to the Sudanese government.

JOHN DANFORTH: I had... and I've always had the view that Sudan cared very much about what the response of the United States was going to be, to what they were doing, not that it would stop what they were doing, but that they cared about it and that therefore the position of the United States had to be one of carrots and sticks. It had to be one of, you can improve your relations with the United States provided there's peace and humanitarian access and counter terrorism cooperation. But that you can, you are not going to be permanently on a black list with respect to United States, you can improve your situation. We do not want to be the permanent enemy of Sudan, we want to have normal relations. This was the question that was asked by their chargé de main this was the question that President Bush answered and they answered that I in turn relayed to President Bashir. Now that was my view of what their interest was and therefore it was important for the united States to take a position that said, your future is in your hands, you can have a better relationship with the United States or you can not have a better relationship with the United States, what do you want? If you want a better relationship you have got to clean up your act. If you want a better relationship there has got to be the consummation of a peace agreement and it's got to hold. If you want a better relationship, you've got to fix the problem in Darfur. The position that I took on behalf of the President with the government of Darfur was, you are very badly hurting yourself with the United States by what you are doing Darfur, very badly hurting yourself. It's in the papers all the time, in fact I wrote Bashir a letter to this effect at one time. It's in the newspapers, it's on the television all the time, it's very much in the minds of the United States, so if you want to improve relations with the United States, you have to fix the problem of Darfur. I thought that that was the best card that we had to play, was the relative improvement, or worsening if possible, of relations with the government of Sudan. I thought that economic sanctions were not going to happen.

FERGAL KEANE: Because that wasn't the will ...

JOHN DANFORTH: First of all, we unilaterally had imposed sanctions, had them in place, have them in place. I don't imagine... I can't imagine that they would be any... could be any tougher. So you are talking about Security Council sanctions when you are talking about sanctions, economic sanctions imposed by the Security Council of the United Nations. I did not believe that that was going to happen. Why? China would have vetoed it. Possibly Russia would have vetoed it, but surely China would have. No chance of getting that passed. What's the second possibility? A military option. Okay, military invasion. Would the Security Council pass a resolution to invade militarily, the country of Sudan in order to do what? And the answer to that question was no. Why not? Because again at least China would veto, maybe you couldn't even get the votes anyhow, but such a resolution was not going to be passed. Did the world want to invade a Muslim country? Did the United States? Again, we have done that recently once, what kind of support would we have gotten within the United States, from any other country in the world for such an invasion? If we had such an invasion, where would it stop and on whose behalf would we be acting? Because while the government of Sudan and while the Janjaweed were bad actors, so were at least some of the rebels. One of the rebel groups in Darfur was associated with Tarabi, the very hard line former President of Sudan, very Islamic. Were we going to weigh in militarily on his behalf? Is there going to be an alliance with him? So it was not going to happen, wasn't going to happen, shouldn't have happened and wasn't going to happen. So what was our card? And our card was the world is watching, we are intensely interested in the future of Sudan, you can have a good future as a country, or you can continue to have a terrible future. You can have help from the rest of the world, or you can eschew help from the rest of the world, those are your choices.

FERGAL KEANE: The one option that hasn't been described there is the possibility of a much stronger UN landing and putting in troops from other countries under the command of the African Union that are really beefed up proper forces. Why hasn't that happened?

JOHN DANFORTH: Now Darfur is a very large place, what kind of peace keeping presence would be necessary. African Union now has about 2000 people there, not huge, something, but not big. Why is that inadequate? To what extent is it inadequate? To what extent is the African Union able to supply more people? What sort of logistical help would be necessary? Those are the key questions that seems to me. Also, would the African Union continue to participate in peace keeping if the peace keeping presence was expanded? The Security Council has passed a resolution with respect to Sudan as a whole providing, I think it's 10,000 peace keepers for Sudan. I believe some fraction of that is available for Darfur, but how people that are not part of the African union would be integrated with the African union I don't know because I mean clearly you don't want to chase away the African union presence. But I believe that the key to Darfur, in addition to having both the government of Sudan and John Garang, that is the new government of Sudan in it's totality pushing very hard for both parties to reach peace, I believe to have a maximum presence of peace keepers in Darfur and others, humanitarian workers, outsiders, media... The more eyes that are there, the better off Darfur is going to be.

FERGAL KEANE: The question does beg asking though after two years, why on earth is it taking so long for any meaningful action?

JOHN DANFORTH: I wouldn't say that there hasn't been meaningful action, because the African Union has taken on a peace keeping responsibility, it is there... I don't think it's there in sufficient numbers.

FERGAL KEANE: It's not stopping people dying and being attacked.

JOHN DANFORTH: No, and I'm not sure that that is going to be stopped. This is one of my fears. I mean one of my fears is that at the heart of this is a long standing conflict between black African farmers and Arab nomadic herdsmen, both with claims for the same land and that the government of Sudan armed the Arab herdsmen, the militia and that genie is out of the bottle and I am concerned that it's going to be very, very hard to fix this problem.

FERGAL KEANE: Do you think it's too late now?

JOHN DANFORTH: I wouldn't... I'm certainly not prepared to give up on it, but I am just saying I don't think that... I don't think Sudan in general and Darfur in particular are places where you just throw a switch and everything is going to be better. I do not believe that. This is a really tough country and it requires a lot of attention over a very long period of time by a lot of countries and the world is going to have to be focused on Sudan and on Darfur, the whole of the country, for a long time to come.

FERGAL KEANE: Can I just look at something domestically and that is after Iraq and the various difficulties that have been seen, how much of an impact has that had on the willingness to get involved and to militarily on the ground in somewhere like Sudan?

JOHN DANFORTH: Well, I think that one of the lessons of Iraq is that even if you think the military action is justified, it's difficult and it's not something that's completed quickly. Now with respect to Sudan, this is a very large country and if there was to be a military invasion, it's not an invasion just to part of the country, it's a military.... it's essentially a war against a country and that's a very tough situation. I mean you can send troops in and take some territory, but it's a very, very tough situation over the long haul and then what happens? What's left of that country? If there were such an invasion, who would our allies be if there is an invasion? Are we intervening militarily on behalf of former President Tarabi and his very hard line Islamist group? Is that going to be out ally? What's left, what's the future? So I just don't see it at all.

FERGAL KEANE: Do you think there is any merit in what some people are saying in that this is a government of ruthless killers which has conducted a brutal campaign against the people in the south and is now doing it in Darfur and it's been able to do it because the international community is fundamentally too weak to do anything about it?

JOHN DANFORTH: Well, I think it's hard for the international community, no matter how focused it is on Sudan from the outside, to bring about the best possible alternative in another country. The world is focused on Sudan, it's not that the world doesn't care about Sudan, the world does care about Sudan. The problem is that you need a degree of cooperation within the country itself.

FERGAL KEANE: The other day I spoke to a young US marine captain who was a military observer, or an observer with the African Union in Darfur and he described going from village to village and seeing the effects of massacre and then going to one village and being introduced to a group of terrified refugees, and when they heard he was from the United States they stood up and applauded. And the thing was he said that made him feel proud on one level but ashamed on another because those people expected the United States to save them. Do you think they are right to expect the United States to save them?

JOHN DANFORTH: I think they are right to expect the United States to be exceptionally engaged with respect to Sudan and exceptionally engaged with respect to Darfur. The United States has taken the lead with respect to Sudan. It was the United States presidency, the Security Council that took the entire Security Council to Nairobi for the Sudan peace talks. It is the United States that led the world in pledging help for the future of Sudan. It is the united States that led with respect to the Security Council resolutions that had been passed with respect to Sudan. Secretary Powell, when he was Secretary of State, went to Darfur, Secretary Zellick just in his first month or so after becoming Deputy Secretary of State has been to Darfur. There is an intense interest by the united States in Sudan. Now, in addition to that interest, should we go further? I think that is really the question. What does further mean? Further means a military invasion led by the United States without Security Council approval, so at best a coalition of the willing, an invasion of a Muslim country and the long term activation of that country. Do we favour that after Iraq? and then we are also going to try this, is the United States truly going to be the peace keeper of the world, namely launching military invasions of countries that we don't like and are we going to do this repeatedly? I don't think so. Clearly if the United States were to invade Sudan, military invasion, it would be without the approval of the Security Council, clearly. We would be standing alone, pretty close to alone. What other countries would like to join us at this point in time in the invasion of yet another Muslim country?

FERGAL KEANE: If the Sudanese government cared as much as you believe it did about what the United States thought, why then did it continue killing, continue driving people from their homes paying no attention whatsoever to what the United States was saying? Your President was calling it genocide, they were still launching campaigns to drive people out.

JOHN DANFORTH: That's correct and it's... I think that the government of Sudan is very interested in what the world thinks and what the United States thinks in particular. Does that necessarily determine what they do? No. But is it something that they weigh on their scales? It's obvious to me that the answer to that is yes.

FERGAL KEANE: But they weigh that on the scales are they saying to themselves, well they may criticize us for this, they may even call it genocide, but they are not going to do anything?

JOHN DANFORTH: No, I don't know. But I mean I think that they are interested in what our reaction is. I believe we were successful in trying to help the north-south agreement, the US was so intensely involved in both sides of those peace negotiations at the same time, that the participation of the US was critical, but the peace talks went on and on for years and years and years. It was very, very hard to bring about, so it's not just somebody in Washington saying okay, we've decided we want peace, let's have peace, it's how do you weigh in on the scale and how do you try to help move this process forward? I also think again with respect to the problem in Darfur, I wonder whether even if the government of Sudan decided, okay this is enough of this war, whether the genie is out of the bottle with respect to the arming of the Janjaweed. It could be harder to control from this point on than we would hope.

FERGAL KEANE: Do you have any personal regret about Darfur, do you believe that there was more you could have done, more the United States could have done?

JOHN DANFORTH: I think personally that my involvement with respect to the north-south peace agreement was helpful and that the only value of what I did was that I represented President Bush and was viewed as such. And I believe that the involvement of the United States and other countries in the north-south peace agreement was a key to bringing that peace agreement about. I believe that the focus of both the United States and the Security Council and the rest of the world with respect to Darfur has been I think commendable. But it's just a harder problem, it's a very hard problem to solve. I am not one who believes that every problem that exists in a place like Darfur is the fault of somebody else, I don't think that. I don't think that I do not have any feeling at all that if the United States had done something different, Darfur wouldn't have happened, I don't believe that. I don't believe that with respect to any other country either, other than Sudan itself. I think that countries are ultimately responsible for what goes on within their own borders and that it's not realistic to try and blame somebody else for something like this. But I do believe that the attention of the world is important in Sudan and the attention of the world is important with respect to Darfur.

FERGAL KEANE: Do you believe that there is a naivety in the human rights, the human rights argument, in other words that when you see crimes against humanity taking place, where you see genocide taking place, that there should be a moral obligation for counties to act forcefully?

JOHN DANFORTH: I think that there is a moral commitment for the United States to be involved in the rest of the world and to act and act effectively, hopefully with respect to making things better in other parts of the world. I think that the focus of the United States on Sudan has been commendable. I would say the same for the focus of the government of the UK, of Norway, of the EGAD countries, the neighbouring African countries of Kenya on the problem of Sudan, that that has been very, very commendable and very, very important.I think that the United States has a moral obligation to attempt to make the world better and to attempt to help people who are suffering and people who are in real trouble. I think that that moral obligation extends to other countries as well and countries that share our values and it extends to the Security Council and the United Nations. The question is whether engagement in these terrible places in the world necessarily means military invasion, because I mean if it does then you are in for long standing involvement with the countries in question, you are in for creating governments that are different from the ones that are then in place and there is a long list of countries that would be behind Sudan. I mean, people who would say that a military engagement is necessary to provide a better life for people who live in those countries would clearly be supportive of the Iraq war. Then they'd say, okay, well then let's go into Sudan, let's have a military conquest of Sudan and put in place a government there. Then let's move on to the Congo, there's another very troubled part of the world, Cote d'Ivoire various countries in Africa would be next on the list. So do we.. do we, not only the US, but other countries have an obligation, a moral obligation to try to make the world better? I think so, but does that necessarily mean putting together one coalition of the willing after another for the purpose of military conquest, I don't think that that would work very well and I don't think it would get much support.

FERGAL KEANE: Thank you very much.

JOHN DANFORTH: Thank you.

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