After years of brutal rape, murder, and torture in Darfur, Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir "has finally earned his day of infamy,” said Michael Kevane and Beth Van Schaack in the San Francisco Chronicle. The International Criminal Court indicted him for war crimes and crimes against humanity, in its first case against a sitting head of state. Whether or not he’s arrested—and we think his underlings will “throw him to the ICC”—this is “a moral victory.”
“It is easy to feel some moral satisfaction” in the arrest warrant, said The Washington Post in an editorial, but even proponents of the indictment acknowledge that it might make things worse in Sudan. Bashir has already taken action against foreign aid groups. And what comes next? China will block “any forceful action” by the U.N. and Western forces are “stretched thin” elsewhere.
First, aid workers have to be allowed back in, said Nicholas Kristof in The New York Times. If Bashir refuses, we should destroy his Chinese-trained air force, one plane at a time, until he relents. Bashir is not a “sadistic monster,” but a “calculating pragmatist”—the ICC warrant, if we back it up, is a first step toward showing him and his fellow despots that “systematic brutality” carries a high cost.