Chicago Sun-Times
The scoop from Washington

Obama: Africa lessons; look ahead. En route back to U.S.


N'DJAMENA, Chad--Sen. Barack Obama departed this capital city Sunday morning, en route on an Army military aircraft to Frankfort, Germany to catch a commercial flight back to the United States.

He leaves wtih a ``great urgency'' to pressure the U.S. and other players to force Sudan to accept a United Nations peackeeping force in the Darfur region. Obama's last stop was at a refugee camp near the Chad-Sudan border where some 15,333 people who fled Janjaweed violence live. Of those he talked to, they told him almost to a person they want to return-but cannot unless there are UN troops there to guarantee their safety.

After this major Africa swing--he left Washington on Aug. 18--the Illinois Democrat revs up a heavy political schedule in advance of the November elections, stumping in Iowa on Sept. 17, a stop in the early presidential caucus state that fuels speculation about whether the White House is in his future.

Obama launches his national book tour for his second book Oct. 17 in Chicago.

He reflected on his trip at the back of a plane on Saturday, talking above the roar of the engines to the three print reporters who have been covering his trip.

Obama's next big international journey will be in 2007r--he's looking at China, India and Indonesia, ``where ironicall I actually have more of a childhood than I do in Kenya.''

Click for excerpts.


The instability in Sudan is greater than I realized. I think that the lack of a clear mandate for the African Union is more debilitating than I realized and that effectively they are not able to provide any type of security function in these areas.

It appears that there is a possible significant offensive by the Sudan forces against rebel forces once the rainy season (is) over and that is obviously a concern....My overarching sense is the great urgency to get a United Nations protective force on the ground. We can't wait.

...If we wait much longer, i think it is fair to say the people we have seen today and the people in Darfur will be in an even worse situation than they are right now.

Better, but better is not good enough. (A protetctive force) is not going to happen without special effort on our part.

The visit to Kisumu (which included a stop at his fathers' homestead) and actually the response when we took that AIDS test was fairly remarkable. (Obama and wife Michelle took it publically to reduce the stigma of testing)...a small gesture that could actually save some lives.

Coming here and seeing how isolated people are and really getting a sense I think in this region how ungoverned entire segments of the continent are.

...Trying to figure out how we can create structures that provide people with basic security, basic protection...a hugh problem and one that we are going to have to continue to grapple with I think for many years because it has a direct impact on our own security back home.

The fact that both appeared so cheerful, and hopeful indicates there is something about when people serve, somehow it enrichs them in all sorts of ways. They just seemed like happy, fulfilled people, even though they are not particularly wealthy.

Obama met former Anglican Archbishop Desmond Tutu and Kenyan environmentalist Wangari Maathai.

(noted that on last big international swing, was under the wing of Sen. Richard Lugar, the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee)

(On the Africa trip, tis time)
I was responsible, I think, for carrying the message to the countries we visited. But it was a good growth experience for me.


i feel that the sun-times has lost all objectivity in thier coverage of obama's "journey" and is basically campaining for him , as for him wanting u.n. troops in dafar.are not these the same democrats that constantly question why we are in iraq. i guess since the residents in africa are black we should drop everything,and stop thier oppression and genocide. it's not like they are brown on anything. what a hypocrite!

Sorry folks on BOTH sides, this is where both Clinton and Bush have flat-out blown it.....We should have gotten involved with stopping Sudan and the Arab Muslims from its genocide and/or 'chattel slavery of Black Africans. Its a tragedy and disgusting that neither did more. Bush at least got the African Union involved somewhat whereas Clinton did absolutely nothing. Neither did enough, that we know.

Obama is a great visionary leader. Keep it up Obama.we need personalities of your calibre to free Africa politacally and economically.

Wasnt Saddam doing the same thing to his people lets finish the job in Iraq and let France solve this problem. (Or Germany, or Russia ,or China or Spain).

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Lynn Sweet

Lynn Sweet is a columnist and the Washington Bureau Chief for the Chicago Sun-Times.

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About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Lynn Sweet published on September 3, 2006 8:40 AM.

Sweet Column: DARFUR REFUGEES IN CHAD was the previous entry in this blog.

Detainee Treatment: Bush explains, Dems complain. Finally trials for terrorists. Briefing from Sr. Administration official (and what's the good reason for not naming this official?) is the next entry in this blog.

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