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Another missed opportunity by CNN last night.

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Posted by Generalissimo.

During the CNN/YouTube Democratic presidential debate last night, moderator Anderson Cooper missed a golden opportunity to press one of the big two on a very important foreign policy discrepancy.

About 45 minutes into the debate, there was a video from some relief workers in Darfur, along with several displaced kids, asking what the candidates would do if they became president.

The strongest candidate on the stage on the issue of Darfur, hands down, is Barack Obama. He has a long history of saying the right things when it comes to the genocide that’s happening there. In fact, according to, a website which grades public officials for their voting record on how to deal with the genocide in the troubled region, Obama receives an A plus.

But last week, in an interview given to the Associated Press, Senator Obama made some comments about Iraq that should at best trouble anyone concerned with Sudan, and at worst, completely contradict his previous position.

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In speaking with Philip Elliott in a July 20th 2007 article entitled Obama: Don’t stay in Iraq over genocide, available on Senator Obama’s campaign website, he said the following about Iraq:

There’s no doubt there are risks of increased bloodshed in Iraq without a continuing U.S. presence there.

He also said this:

Well, look, if that’s the criteria by which we are making decisions on the deployment of U.S. forces, then by that argument you would have 300,000 troops in the Congo right now – where millions have been slaughtered as a consequence of ethnic strife – which we haven’t done. We would be deploying unilaterally and occupying the Sudan, which we haven’t done. Those of us who care about Darfur don’t think it would be a good idea.

Now how does this square with his prescribed course of action in Darfur? Well, here, you have to leave candidate Obama and return to Senator Obama, and go to a February 15, 2006 podcast entitled Darfur: Current Policy Not Enough, available on his Senate website. Here’s what he said then.

So, it is absolutely critical that we start focusing on this now. The situation, as bad as it is, could deteriorate further. This is something that is of interest, I think, to all of us, not just for humanitarian reasons, although when you read the accounts of women being raped when they are out collecting firewood, when you read just horrendous accounts of entire villages being decimated and children being murdered, that it just breaks your heart, and humanitarian concerns should be sufficient, but we also have a strong national security interest. If you start seeing more and more failed states, more and more displaced persons, more and more refugees, all of that becomes a breeding ground for terrorist activity, it becomes a breeding ground for disease, and it creates refugees that put pressure on our own borders. In an inner-connected world we can’t insulate ourselves from these tragedies. So, we’re going to, over time, have to develop some strategy as the world’s remaining super-power to address these issues, and Darfur is an important test case. We’ve already failed one test in Rwanda, we shouldn’t fail another.

He also has plans for our military there.

We’re going to have to provide this successor UN force with our own lift and logistic assets. We’re going to have to provide our military hardware, like transport and attack helicopters, and so forth.

So how does Senator Obama call for a military surge into Darfur over a year ago, under the auspices of a U.N. peacekeeping role but clearly with U.S. might and hardware at the core of it, because of, if for no other reason, humanitarian reasons, and then a year later view Iraq, another region filled with what Obama calls ethnic strife, with apparent disregard for the probable increase in violence if we leave?

How can Senator Obama use the potential of increased terrorism as a result of leaving a failed state when advocating for action in Darfur, but completely reverse himself when it becomes politically expedient to do so when he joins the campaign trail talking about Iraq?

How can CNN, and in particular, Anderson Cooper, have aired the Darfur question and not asked Obama to explain why military in Darfur is key, and military retreat in Iraq is now the right way to go?

Who did respond to the Darfur question? Bill Richardson, Joe Biden, Hillary Clinton, and Mike Gravel.

Either CNN is tone deaf when it comes to preparing for these debates, or they made a conscious decision to keep Obama from walking into a trap. In either case, the American people weren’t served, and unfortunately, neither were the poor Darfur refugees and relief workers who asked the question.

UPDATE: Another interesting thing about the questions CNN picked last night.

This snowman that asked about global warming came to us from Minnesota, where under normal non-global warming conditions in the summer, it’s in the 80’s or better and humid. Yet somehow, miraculously, Frosty the Goreman has enough snow to compose himself, and his young’un, and is demanding snow year round.

If there’s snow in Minnesota in the summer, global warming’s not happening. And if there really was snow in Minnesota in the summer, people would be clamoring for the onset of global warming.


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