‘Not On My Watch’: The Bush Administration and US Foreign Policy over Darfur, 2003-2008

Seminar date: 
14 April 2011
15.30 - 17.00u
Pieter de la Courtgebouw / Faculty of Social Sciences, Wassenaarseweg 52, 2333 AK Leiden
Seminar room: 
Room 1A01 (first floor)

The crisis in Darfur saw the emergence of the most powerful grassroots advocacy campaign in recent US history and elicited unprecedented language from US leaders who, for the first time, accused a state of perpetrating an on-going genocide. This should have pushed Washington to take stronger measures to stop the violence and given it far more leverage over Sudan. Yet US diplomacy was remarkably ineffective. The US only marginally moderated the violence, had difficulty coordinating its policy with its allies, and failed to broker an effective peace agreement or force Sudan’s timely acceptance of a more robust peacekeeping force. These failures pose something of a puzzle given Darfur’s extraordinarily high profile in US politics and diplomacy. In examining discourse in the politics of the Darfur crisis, I argue that American diplomacy was characterized by carelessness with the truth and a misrepresentation of US aims and values in pandering to advocacy groups, the media and voters, with detrimental effects on the search for a political solution. This discursive strategy obstructed other communicative processes that were unfolding as Washington argued with its allies and bargained with the Sudanese government and rebel groups. It also undermined the efforts of advocacy groups.


Additional speaker information: 

Dr. Lee J. M. Seymour is an Assistant Professor at the Institute of Political Science. He studied political science at Northwestern University, Sciences Po Paris, Dalhousie University and the University of British Columbia. In 2008-2009, Dr. Seymour was a post-doctoral fellow at the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs at Harvard University, and from 2006-2008, he was a doctoral researcher at the Stiftung Wissenschaft und Politik, in Berlin. His dissertation, Pathways to Secession: The Institutional Effects of Separatist Conflict, compares the outcomes of armed separatist conflicts, with particular attention to conflicts in the Horn of Africa, the Balkans, and the Caucasus. With support from the United States Institute of Peace, he has conducted field work in Southern Sudan, Somaliland, Ethiopia, Kosovo, Russia, Armenia and Nagorno-Karabakh. His broader research interests include the politics of self-determination, the role of legitimacy in world politics, and civil wars and insurgency. In 2009-2010, Dr. Seymour is teaching courses on Insurgency and Political Order, International Security and Intrastate Conflict, and American Foreign Policy.