John Norris

Imagine if we had enjoyed the luxury of knowing, two years before it happened, that Yugoslavia would disintegrate in 1991. Or just think if U.S. diplomats had been able to predict years earlier exactly when the Soviet Union was going to collapse. One certainly hopes the United States would have been better positioned to deal with these momentous events. But a current case gives one pause. Sudan might very well split in half in precisely two years, and policymakers have taken far too little notice.

In 2011, Sudan is scheduled to hold a referendum that will allow South Sudan to vote on severing its ties with the North and declaring independence. Almost every observer has concluded that if this referendum happens, the South will vote overwhelmingly for independence, sundering in half the largest country in Africa (that’s why the road ahead could not be clearer). But it’s the actions taken now, by the Barack Obama administration, that may well determine if Sudan’s breakup occurs peacefully or is steeped in blood and a return to full-blown civil war.

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Excerpt reproduced with permission from Foreign Policy, www.foreignpolicy.com. Copyright 2009 Washingtonpost.Newsweek Interactive LLC. Read the full article at  [http://www.foreignpolicy.com/articles/2009/09/01/two_years_to_self_destruct_in_sudan]