In a video clip for the Save Darfur coalition, Barack Obama offered that the genocide is "a stain on our souls." His proposal for removing it? "Ratcheting up sanctions" on the Sudanese government and making "firm commitments in terms of the logistics, and the transport and the equipping" of an international peacekeeping mission for Darfur. No word, however, as to whether Mr. Obama would actually risk the lives of American soldiers to stop the slaughter.
"Saving Darfur" is a somewhat different story, but it also involves applying Western military force to whatever degree is necessary to get Khartoum to come to terms with an independent or autonomous Darfur.
International relations theorists, including prominent Obama adviser Susan Rice, justify these sorts of interventions under the rubric of a "Responsibility to Protect" – a concept that comes oddly close to Kipling's White Man's Burden. So close, in fact, that its inherent paternalism has hitherto inhibited many liberals from endorsing the kinds of interventions toward which they are now tip-toeing, thousands of deaths too late.
This is a partial list. Meantime, here are the accumulating estimates of the conflict's toll on Darfuri lives. September 2004: 50,000, according to the World Health Organization. May 2005: between 63,000 and 146,000 "excess deaths," according to the Center for Research on the Epidemiology of Disasters at Belgium's Catholic University of Louvain. March 2008: 200,000 deaths, according to U.N. officials.
There is the 2007 Sudan Accountability and Divestment Act, which allows (but does not require) U.S. states and municipalities to divest from companies doing business in Sudan. There is Senate Resolution 559, urging the president to enforce a no-fly zone over Darfur. There is the Clinton Amendment, the Reid Amendment, the Menendez Amendment, the Durbin/Leahy Amendment, the Jackson Amendment, the Lieberman Resolution, the Obama/Reid Amendment and the Peace in Darfur Act.