U.S. CONGRESS 2016
CONGRESSIONAL DISTRICT 6
“The Future Can Be Ours.”
Newfound freedom is a powerful drink that human beings need to learn how
to handle. Indeed, unaccustomed freedom can be an intoxicant that one must
approach carefully so as not to be overcome by it.
As a parent, a single dad, I remember that the most harrowing year I
experienced with my daughter was the one after she turned 18. Then, as her
father, I could no longer say, legally: “You must be home by midnight.
That is your curfew.” She was on her own.
During that year, I sent countless “3:00 A.M” texts to her–that is to
say, in the middle of the night–worded this way: “Are you okay??” She
would, thank goodness, often respond, one way or the other. At least she
knew that I cared.
South Sudan became independent in 2011. It will celebrate its fourth
anniversary tomorrow, July 9. Yet from that joyous beginning–that moment
of newfound freedom– the country’s leaders–its president and former vice
president–have plunged their people into a civil war that threatens to
destroy their new nation. The world, because of extensive coverage by
media such as the New York Times, watches the humanitarian crisis and
holds its breath. The South Sudanese government is in the throes of
discovering, like a teenager who has just turned 18, that independence
offers not only the freedom to achieve, through education and job
experience, positive growth, but also the freedom to fall into, through
poor choices, a pattern of self-destruction.
What can the United States do to help this fledgling country of South
Sudan stabilize itself so that it can grow and prosper? More than that,
perhaps: Why should we even care about this nation of only 11,000,000
people half way around the world from ours? (“South Sudan’s Fourth
Anniversary Offers Little to Celebrate,” by Marc Santora, New York Times,
July 7, 2015.)
I do not quote the following horrific details of what has been happening
in South Sudan to be sensationalistic, merely to present the facts:
“Gatkuoth Kueah Yak tells me he watched from a distance as South Sudan
government soldiers tied up his 15 children and put them in a grass hut.
And then, he says, he watched as the soldiers torched the hut and burned
his family alive.” (“Tales of Horror Should Galvanize Obama,” by Nicholas
Kristof, New York Times, July 4, 2015.)
Moreover: “’The violence against children in South Sudan has reached a new
level of brutality,’ warned Anthony Lake, executive director of Unicef,
alluding to the army’s assault. ‘Survivors report that boys have been
castrated and left to bleed to death. … Girls as young as 8 have been gang
raped and murdered. … Children have been tied together before their
attackers slit their throats.'” (Same source.)
The above atrocities were committed by the army of South Sudan’s President
Salva Kiir. His opponent in this life-and-death struggle for power is his
former vice president, Riek Machar. Machar’s soldiers, however, have not
been innocent of wrongdoing: “The recent slaughter by government soldiers
may be a response to horrific massacres by Machar’s forces a year ago.”
What’s to be done?
Says Mr. Kristof: “This civil war here in South Sudan will be a top item
on President Obama’s agenda during his visit to Africa this month…”
I agree with Kristof when he says: “Obama,” on his Africa trip, “should
work closely with Kenya, Uganda and Ethiopia to impose targeted sanctions
on the families of recalcitrant leaders in all factions, so they pay a
price until there is peace…” Mr. Kristof goes on to say: “..what is most
needed isn’t money but tough, hands-on diplomacy to pressure all sides.
Ethiopia has been trying to hammer out a peace, and it deserves more
President Kiir was nurtured, Kristof states, by both Presidents George W.
Bush and Obama. We helped him get into power. Mr. Machar, however, Mr.
Kiir’s former vice-president, broke away from the established system of
government in South Sudan and has tried to overthrow the legitimate
government of President Kiir. Obama, when he visits Africa later this
month, should make a special effort to have a conversation with Mr. Machar
to tell him to let the duly elected government of President Kiir do its
job without interference so that the people of South Sudan may recover
economically and live in peace.
Friend, when elected your congressman in November 2016, I will support
policies that recognize the need to assist new democracies when they are
in trouble. If you would like to contribute to my campaign financially,
please visit my website at www.williamsonforuscongress.com, click on “Make
A Donation,” and help my Democratic candidacy be successful. Remember
that the Federal Election Commission requires you to provide your name,
address, name of your employer and your occupation.
The Future Can Be Ours if we take to heart Martin Luther King, Jr.’s
famous words: “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” This
especially applies when crimes are being committed against children. As a
candidate for Congress, I support efforts by President Obama, during his
trip to Africa later this month, as a leader and mentor from a more
experienced country, to facilitate an end to the civil war that threatens
to tear the planet’s newest nation apart. He must insist that both sides
stop their brutal attacks on civilians and children. He should,
furthermore, request the United Nations to send in a peace-keeping force
to stop the violence. Then, if Mr. Machar has grievances against the
established government of Mr. Kiir, he should be given an opportunity to
air them, in a non-violent manner, within the legal system of South
Sudanese society. But armed rebellion will not be acceptable, and will be
held in check by the proposed United Nations peace-keeping force.
I believe our President, with the backing of other established nations,
can bring this about. A United Nations peace-keeping force could keep the
public order so that normalcy may return to South Sudan’s economic and
political life. With the return of that order, Mr. Machar’s grievances may
be addressed through the legal system of the country. They may or may not
be found to be valid. In any case, that is a matter for the judges in the
courts to decide, or for the voters to determine at the ballot box in
legitimate elections. Only then, after the weapons have been put down,
will the wonderful possibilities of South Sudan have a chance to develop
properly so that the people of this newborn nation will be able to lift
their heads high once again and proclaim proudly that yes, it is good to
If you wish to respond to this e-mail, please feel free to do so.
Thank you, and Happy Fourth Birthday, South Sudan!
W. John Williamson