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Zogby Poll: Americans Want Action in Darfur

A new Zogby poll, conducted 5/9-16 finds a huge majority of Americans supporting stronger U.S. action to stop genocide in Darfur in western Sudan. Unfortunately, however, as Julia Scott explains in her Salon.com article on the poll's findings:

Since terming the ongoing scorched-earth campaign against civilians in Darfur genocide several years ago, the Bush administration has done everything it can to avoid committing to substantial intervention in the region, even downplaying the number of dead.

Yet, as Scott notes, over 80 percent of respondents want the U.S. to impose a no-fly zone over Darfur to prevent further bombing of civilians. More than four out of five also want the U.S. to "use its military assets to bolster African Union troops on the ground in Darfur" and "impose tough sanctions" on the leaders responsible for the atrocities. Americans are understandibly less enthusiastic about sending ground troops at this point, as Scott explains:

Only 38 percent of respondents supported deployment of U.S. troops in Darfur...a number the ICG considered surprisingly high given a strained U.S. military and the intractable situation in Iraq. And ninety-one percent of people polled disagreed with the Bush administration's policy of non-cooperation with the International Criminal Court, which works to bring genocidaires to justice.

Thus far, however, the Administration seems unphased by the large majorities of Americans wanting U.S. action to relieve the suffering. Scott quotes John Norris, chief of staff of the Darfur Crisis Group on the poll's findings and the Administration's response:

"This level of support comes at a time when the Bush administration has never used its bully pulpit to issue much of a real call to action on Darfur...This is one of those issue areas where [they've] said there's little public support, but when you open [it] up, you see that's not the case."

If ever there was a genuine mandate for measured U.S. military and diplomatic intervention, the time is now and Darfur is the place --- and the crisis cries out for Democratic leadership to make it happen.