Fighting for Darfur spends a lot of time looking at successes and failings of activists. But what about the policymakers they were targeting? The next set of questions tries to get at the intersection of citizen engagement and policy formulation from the perspective of those who are responsible for policy inside the government:
Darfur activists spent years trying to build a domestic political cost into the calculations of U.S. officials responsible for acting on Darfur. In Congress this enabled them to secure significant amounts of funding for Darfur, but inside the administration perverse incentives sometimes came into play. In Fighting for Darfur, U.S. special envoy Andrew Natsios expresses his frustration that the narrative of the conflict presented by activists did not fit with events on the ground but he warns the U.S. Deputy Secretary of State, John Negroponte, that trying to correct these misperceptions would be “politically dangerous.” What do you think of Natsios’ warning? To the extent Natsios was right, and advocates were out of touch with changes on the ground, what responsibility do policymakers have to correct those misperceptions? In a democratic system, how should they weigh that responsibility against any domestic political cost?