It’s time to hold failed state leaders responsible

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February 27, 2017, the Feb. 23 editorial “Famine in South Sudan” reminded us again of the high costs to American taxpayers of bad leadership in Africa — almost $2 billion in aid to South Sudan alone since 2014. This, in addition to the displacement, misery and mortality these leaders inflict on their own citizens.
After failing to acknowledge that there were few good leaders among South Sudan’s founders — only leaders who appeared more benign than their oppressors in Khartoum, Sudan — the United States’ uncritical South Sudan supporters now have few options left to help salvage the country.

One might be to engage Uganda’s President Yoweri Museveni, mutual friend of the United States and South Sudan’s President Salva Kiir, to exert maximum leverage on Mr. Kiir to reconcile with opposition leader Riek Machar. Another might be to investigate any of Mr. Kiir and Mr. Machar’s offshore bank holdings to reimburse some of America’s $2 billion expended to keep their people alive. While such unconventional measures may not succeed, it’s worth setting a precedent for failed state leaders that there should be personal financial consequences for these self-inflicted crises.

Arthur E. “Gene” Dewey, Washington, The writer was deputy assistant secretary of state, Bureau for Refugee Programs, from 1981 to 1986 and assistant secretary of state, Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration,
from 2002 to 2005.

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