The U.S. response to Darfur has been one of immoral neglect.
In September 2004, then-Secretary of State Colin Powell stated that the situation in southern Sudan's Darfur region constituted "genocide." Congress would also later agree and pass a resolution designating the situation as genocide.
Unfortunately, Powell's statement did not trigger a serious response from his White House boss. And to this day, any peace talks between the Bush administration and Lt. Gen. Omar Hassan Ahmed al-Bashir's murderous regime have done little to stop the torture, rape and killing of innocent Sudanese people.
Compare this to the Reagan administration policy toward the apartheid government of South Africa in the 1980s. Even as worldwide and U.S. protests escalated, Reagan's team pursued "constructive engagement." This only allowed the brutal regime to hang on to power for a longer period.
Similarly, the Bush administration's policy toward the Sudanese government has been tepid, at best, and compromised, at worse. That government supports the Janjaweed -- the militia group responsible for the atrocities.
The Janjaweed have killed an estimated 200,000 and 400,000 over the last three years, and displaced millions.
Doctors Without Borders issued a report in March 2005 that documented about 500 rapes that the group had treated in only a four-and-a-half month period -- only a tiny fraction of the total rape incidents. Thousands of rapes continue to occur, along with the massacre of women, men, children and infants.
Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has given lip service to the crisis.
The president has engaged in gesture politics, meeting with Darfur refugees at the White House and putting on his stern face in front of the cameras.
To its credit, the United States has contributed $188 million to the U.N. World Food Program to help feed the people of Darfur, which roughly is the size of France.
But to its shame, the "Bush administration has formed a close intelligence partnership" with the Sudanese government, the Los Angeles Times reported last year. Sudan's intelligence chief, Maj. Gen. Salah Abdallah Gosh, has even come to the United States for secret meetings.
The Bush administration must no longer play footsie with these thugs. Instead, it should pressure the Sudanese government to disarm the Janjaweed, back stronger economic sanctions, increase support for the valiant but inadequate efforts of the African Union and support a serious effort to construct an international peacekeeping force that can get the job done.
Unfortunately, the blowback from the Iraq War has made the international community highly skeptical of any coalition effort put together by this administration.
Current talks in Abuja, Nigeria, may -- or may not -- result in a new cease-fire agreement. But few believe the talks alone will make much progress in ending the crisis or, more importantly, saving the lives that are being lost and ruined every hour of every day.
The movement for justice has grown despite the administration's foot-dragging. As with apartheid-era South Africa, more and more universities, state governments and local municipalities have started to divest funds from companies that do business with Sudan.
Now the White House needs to do its part.
Clarence Lusane is an associate professor in the School of International Service at American University in Washington, D.C. He is the author of several works, including a forthcoming book on Colin Powell and Condoleezza Rice. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.