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Post by Connie & Anika, STAND: Student Anti-Genocide Coalition, University of Delaware

The United Nations estimates that over 2.5 million people have been displaced in Darfur, as a result of the genocide that endures in this region. Internally displaced persons (IDPs) are those forced to leave their homes but reside within their country in shelters known as IDP camps.

Last year, we attended the “Seal the Deal” rally in Washington D.C, in which hundreds urged PreIMG_1857sident Bush to enforce passed legislation in dealing with Darfur. Several mock IDP camps were set up on the National Mall, exposing the realities of life inside of a real IDP camp via accurate representations of food rations and medical supplies, as well as photographs, videos and written information. These camps immediately caught our attention and we, along with many others, spent a great deal of time walking inside each tent to learn more about the lives of the displaced people of Darfur.

After the march, we decided to apply for a Rights, Camera Action mini-grant from AID in order to create a mock IDP camp similar to the ones we saw at the rally in D.C. for our campus’s next genocide awareness event.
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Now that some of the excitement has died down after Barack Obama was elected president last Tuesday, much attention has turned to what he will actually do once he gets into office. Amid all the news about his transition team, and those he is planning to surround himself with, an important piece of news came out this week that is getting the global health community REALLY excited: President-elect Barack Obama is expected to make an executive order to remove the “Global Gag Rule” which essentially prevents any family planning organization abroad to receive US funds if they do anything relating to abortion, which includes even mentioning abortion, providing post-abortion services or counseling, or performing abortions, even in places where they are legal. This policy, also know as the “Mexico City Policy” has come and gone numerous times now. It was created under Reagan, but repealed by Clinton when he took office in 1993, then reinstated when Bush came into the White House in 2000, and hopefully will be removed once and for all this January as soon as President Obama is officially inaugurated.

This is a huge step in the right direction for Barack Obama and brings to mind words like HOPE and CHANGE (pardon their overuse- I think it’s justified in this case) when thinking about all the possibilities in store for the next four years not only in the global health realm, but also in development, aid, and foreign policy realms. Let us hope that with a new administration will also come many new policies to benefit not only Americans and the United States as a country (yes, we do need it), but also the rest of the world.

Check out this article from the Washington Post, which outlines some of the other goodies in store starting January 20th, 2009. Until then, let’s hope Obama continues to make plans for what the next four to eight years will look like.

The American populace is increasingly publicly wondering and debating whether or not Bush and/or members of his administration have intentions of making Iran country #3 that America has invaded during the past two presidential terms. Bush’s, Cheney’s, Rice’s, and, up until his recent resignation, Rumsfeld’s rhetoric towards Iran has run the gamut from threatening military response against members of the Axis of Evil (of which Iran is obviously a member) in the 2002 National Security Strategy to stating that the US will not even talk to Iran about compromising until Iran compromises first (which doesn’t make sense for Iran to adhere to, which is another blog for another day).

Steven Clemons, Director of the American Strategy Program at the New America Foundation, recently posted an op/ed on Salon.com debating this issue and ultimately concluding that Bush will not attack Iran. He delves into great detail describing how the US administration’s threats would lead one to think that Bush is seriously considering an invasion, but that in fact his military and intelligence advisors have warned him of the problems with this plan (not the least of which is America’s quickly deteriorating popularity in the Muslim world), making Cheney and his neoconservatives unsuccessfully try ever harder to convince Bush and the public of the necessity of an invasion. However, Clemons mentions only briefly the possibility of an "accidental" confrontation.

The scenario of a covert attempt to create war deserves much greater thought than Clemons included in his article, despite his mentioning that it is worth worrying about. When considering Cheney’s and Rumsfeld’s past roles in using fake memos from Niger to drum up a war in Iraq, blatantly ignoring the intelligence community’s cries that the sources were questionable, why would they not repeat a similar scandal for war with Iran? This time, however, it is likely that they will not use the public to vet their phoney intel, but will instead quietly put ants in Iranian President Ahmadinejad’s pants until he lashes out, giving the administration something to respond militarily to with the full support of the public, who will think they know the whole story – simply an angry Muslim country attacking the US, yet again.

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