The Bonds of Freedom

  Today, the U.S. House and Senate are scheduled to negotiate the final form of a critical piece of legislation: the Sudan Peace Act. At issue is whether or not the United States will partner with those who kill, starve, and enslave the black population of Southern Sudan. Both the U.S. Senate and the House of Representatives have passed the Sudan Peace Act. The House version -- which passed 422 to two -- contains the Bachus amendment, which would deny foreign oil companies operating in Sudan access to American capital markets, that is, the New York Stock Exchange and NASDAQ. The Bachus amendment was intended to address a horrific reality: Sudan's Islamic regime uses oilfield profits to finance its war on the Christians of Southern Sudan. Over the past eighteen years, some two million citizens have been killed. Tens of thousands of Sudanese women and children have been sold into slavery. And oil money finances the bombing of schools, hospitals, and relief centers, killing innocent children. The Senate version of the Sudan Peace Act, however, unfortunately stripped out the Bachus amendment. Wall Street leaders oppose the amendment, as do the State and Treasury departments. So, sadly, does President Bush. They argue that such sanctions would create a dangerous precedent, sending us down a "slippery slope" of capital market corruption. But as Sudan expert Eric Reeves writes in the Washington Post, the logic of this argument suggests that "even genocidal destruction can't be allowed to ruffle capital-market feathers." And then Reeves gets to the crux of the issue. What if, he asks, "it had been discovered [in 1944] that a New York Stock Exchange-listed company in a neutral country (perhaps Switzerland) was shipping Zyklon-B [gas] to Nazi Germany" -- the gas used to exterminate millions of Jews? Yes, capital market sanctions against oil companies that finance genocide in Sudan would create a precedent, Reeves concedes. So, too, would sanctions in 1944 have been a precedent. But in extreme cases, humanitarian concerns trump worries about politicizing financial markets. We have such a case in Sudan. There, today, oil is fueling the machinery of death. President Bush deserves great credit for his courage in appointing former Senator John Danforth as his Special Envoy to Sudan. Danforth is an able and distinguished man. President Clinton had refused to make such an appointment. But if the Bachus amendment is lost, Danforth will lose any real leverage he would have over Sudan's government. At America's founding, those who loved liberty voluntarily bond themselves to a set of principles. Among them was the belief that human beings possess certain unalienable rights. These rights are pre- political; they are not conferred by government, and they cannot be denied by government. The Declaration of Independence was based on the belief that God created humans in his image, giving them dignity and rights. And that's why we have the right -- the duty -- to do all we can to stop Sudan's government from violating the human rights of the people of Southern Sudan. There is no time to lose. Those working to gut the Bachus amendment don't want freedom-loving Americans to have time to rally behind it. I urge you to immediately call your congressman and your senators. Ask them to keep the Bachus amendment in the Sudan Peace Act. The descendents of those who fought and died for freedom should not do business with companies complicit in slavery, torture, and genocide. For further reference: Reeves, Eric. "Capital Crime in Sudan." Washington Post, 20 August 2001.


Chuck Colson


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