Foreign policy in God's name: evangelical influence on US policy towards Sudan
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One in four Americans call themselves evangelicals, and these conservative Protestants have been at in the center of American domestic politics for years. But less well documented is their impact on U.S. foreign policy. Religious conservatives claim they are the reason why President George W. Bush focused increasingly on foreign aid to Africa, religious persecution and human trafficking This study investigates in detail the case of U.S. peace-making in Sudan. Following a brief discussion of the relationship between religion and politics in the U.S., it describes how a major grassroots coalition for Southern Sudan was built by religious conservatives in the late 1990s, and how this coalition persuaded President Bush to get involved in the peace process between North and South Sudan. This involvement was pivotal in securing the peace deal in 2005, which ended Africa's most persistent civil war. Pressure from religious conservatives was the main reason why Bush got involved in Sudan. Religious conservatives shaped the U.S. policy agenda, but not the policy substance once the administration had become involved, the paper concludes. Nevertheless, religious conservatives are a group which needs to be taken into consideration when trying to understand U.S. foreign policy in recent years. Apart from academic literature, this paper is also based on first-hand interviews with leading religious conservative policy-makers in Washington D.C.
For a period of 21 years, Sudan has experienced a bloody civil war between the North and South, a battle fought without much attention being paid by the Western world. In 2001 a fundamental change in U.S. policy towards Sudan suddenly occurred, and the Sudan case was given a higher priority on the U.S. foreign policy agenda. In addition, U.S. pressure was vital to secure a peace deal in 2005. Behind the turn of events was a well-organized grassroots movement which drew together a number of American, religious conservative groups. How did they accomplish their mission? And will they be able to do it again? Ivar A. Iversen has written a fascinating study of the complex political system of the world’s superpower, and of how an important U.S. domestic group can influence war and peace on the other side of the globe.