The United States appears to be set to resume full diplomatic relations with Sudan after four years.

The U.S. closed its embassy in Khartoum in 1996 fearing a terrorist assault. Then, in 1998, the U.S. destroyed a pharmaceutical factory in the capital with cruise missiles.

Terrorism wasn’t the only or best reason to break diplomatic relations with Sudan. There was no justification for the illegal bombing of a pharmaceutical plant in Khartoum. And there is every reason not to reopen our embassy in Sudan.

That’s the trouble with Clinton administration foreign policy. It does all the wrong things for all the wrong reasons.

There is one overriding reason not to recognize Sudan’s regime as legitimate: For more than a decade, the government has waged a barbaric war against its own citizens — a war that has resulted in the greatest human rights catastrophe in the world, bar none.

This war on the people has claimed the lives of about 2 million people and created 4 million refugees. The government bears the greatest responsibility for the human toll because it practices the worst forms of religious persecution in the world.

Khartoum attacks civilians, uses famine as a weapon and has revived slavery. Its goal is nothing short of forcing non-Muslims in the south and Nuba Mountains area to abandon their faith and culture.

Even the U.S. State Department, which is about to reopen its embassy, characterizes this war as “forced Islamicization and Arabization.”

“This people have suffered such long agonies at the hands of their would-be national government in Khartoum, that most of the time they feel that the world has turned its back on them; abandoning them to the cruelest and ugliest form of modern slavery and atrocities perpetrated by the state; murder, rape, famine, constant war and a holocaust-type genocide,” explains Bona Malwal, an exiled politician and journalist.

The government bombs churches and hospitals, bulldozes schools, poisons wells, destroys crops and sprays lethal chemicals on populated areas. Refugees are forced to convert to Islam to receive food.

Nothing is beyond the pale for this regime — torture, even crucifixion of Christians, has been widely reported.

Malwal has accurately described this hideous practice. There’s no other name for it. This is genocide.

Yet, that’s a word the U.S. State Department has been reluctant to use. Strange. The Clinton administration threw the word around loosely — very loosely — to achieve its objectives in Kosovo, where there was no evidence of real genocide.

So how can the U.S. countenance the restoration of diplomatic relations with a regime that is carrying out such policies?

Instead of quietly normalizing relations, the U.S. should be speaking out forcefully against the barbarism. It should expose the United Nations’ duplicitous and collaborative role.

While recognizing the government-sponsored famine in the southern part of the country, the U.N. has yielded to pressure from Khartoum not to send relief. This is just another example of why the U.S. needs to pull out of this international body. The U.S. should encourage the organization of private relief efforts. If the people understood the plight of the victims in Sudan, I believe Americans would give generously.

Notice that in spite of the dire conditions I have described, I do not advocate military intervention by the U.S. Nor do I call for U.N. peacekeepers. Nor do I suggest that the U.S. government should organize relief efforts independently. These are all losing ideas. They are not constitutional. They do not work. We have witnessed it time and time again.

The people of Sudan need to work out their own problems. But the light of day needs to be shined on this crisis. That would be a good start. Humanitarian aid, organized by private groups and individuals, should be permitted. But, most of all, the truth needs to be told. The world needs to understand what is happening in Sudan.

The last thing the U.S. should be doing is restoring diplomatic relations without comment or debate.

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