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“I believe America must play a leadership role in this process and speak clearly on the ongoing atrocities of the regime in Khartoum and the resulting refugee crisis,” the presumptive Republican presidential nominee said. “I am committed to protecting innocents, ensuring access to humanitarian aid and achieving a just and sustainable peace between South Sudan and Sudan.”

Talk is cheap

Mr. Romney’s adherence to generalities prompted some to suggest that his true posture might not be so different from that embraced by Mr. Obama, who has put as much blame on South Sudan as on the north for the ongoing violence.

Mr. Obama went further than Mr. Romney in criticizing the Bashir government in April by asserting that Khartoum “must stop its military actions, including aerial bombardments.”

The president also said “South Sudan must end its support for armed groups inside Sudan” and “cease its military actions across the border.”

“The Obama administration has not done nearly enough, so they are to be condemned,” said Eric Reeves, a leading Sudan researcher at Smith College and a staunch critic of the Bashir government. “But unless Romney comes up with a specific set of proposals, he’s just mouthing platitudes and generalizations with which nobody could disagree.

“How is Romney creating space between himself and Obama? He is highlighting some of the Obama administration’s failures, particularly around the humanitarian crises, but he could have gone a lot further.

“The U.S. policy should be to say that for every time one of Khartoum’s aircraft attacks civilians, we will respond by destroying one of their aircraft on the ground with a cruise missile,” he said. “That would immediately create a de-facto no-fly zone.

“Would Romney support that?” Mr. Reeves asked. “That would be a great question.”

When that question was posed to Mr. Williamson, he said: “I don’t want to put the governor in a box, and he has not taken a position on surface-to-air defense missiles, something that I pushed for in the Bush administration and Andrew Natsios has written in support of.”

The Muslim Brotherhood

As for what Mr. Romney would do, Mr. Williamson said that “when atrocities are committed, he’ll speak out against those who commit them, whereas the Obama administration has been quiet. Second, we’ll demand humanitarian access, and that’s one of the tragedies. Right now, Khartoum is preventing it.”

Mr. Natsios, meanwhile, suggested that Mr. Obama’s neutral posture toward Gen. Bashir likely stems from a sense that “the Muslim Brotherhood is taking power in the Arab world.”

Mr. Obama has “made a decision that the Muslim Brotherhood is inevitable, so we need to get along with them and cultivate them,” Mr. Natsios said.

Gen. Bashir, who seized power in Sudan via an Islamist-backed coup in 1989, is commonly blamed for carrying out human rights abuses and is accused of unleashing genocide in the nation’s Darfur region. He also is condemned often for carrying on a close relationship with Osama bin Laden before the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

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