December 31, 2005
December 30, 2005
In his essay on realism in Darfur, Christopher Hitchens asks us to consider the horrors that result from peace.
It looks as if the realists have won the day in the matter of Darfur. Or, to phrase it in another way, it looks as if the ethnic cleansers of that province have made good use of the “negotiation” and “mediation” period to complete their self-appointed task. As my friend Johann Hari put it recently in the London Independent: “At last, some good news from Darfur: the genocide in western Sudan is nearly over. There’s only one problem—it’s drawing to an end only because there are no black people left to cleanse or kill.”
…Surely the administration did everything that could have been asked of it. Abandoning any sort of “unilateralism,” it pedantically followed the Kofi Annan script of multiparty negotiations and patient diplomacy. It allowed the inspectors more time. It exhausted all avenues short of war and never even threatened the use of force. By the use of sanctions, it kept Sudan “in its box.” And it has got exactly what anyone might have predicted for such a strategy. Perhaps that’s why there is so little protest. After all, we know that “war is not the answer.” And now Sudan has Darfur province in its box. It has taken the land and gotten rid of the people.
Any critique of realism has to begin with a sober assessment of the horrors of peace.
To be sure, this mission has been woefully ineffective from the start. The A.U. force has been deliberately undercut by Khartoum since it was first deployed in summer 2004, with Sudan denying fuel to the African Union for its essential helicopters, blocking A.U. deployments within Darfur, and refusing to allow critical equipment and personnel into the region. For its part, the African Union hasn’t committed enough resources or manpower; and key African countries have either reneged on military commitments (South Africa) or deliberately obscured Darfur’s terrible realities and Khartoum’s responsibility (Nigeria).
But the African Union’s decision to hold its January 2006 summit in Sudan provides the strongest evidence yet that the organization has no intention of actually standing up to Khartoum and halting the genocide. Because tradition dictates that the next chair of the African Union be the head of the most recent summit’s host country, Sudanese president Omar el-Bashir is now poised to lead the very organization that claims to be seeking an end to the genocide he is orchestrating.
Gene says: “and the world looks on.”
Of the world’s ineffective response, Simon Deng, a former Sudanese slave says:
I ask this question as a victim of enslavement in Sudan; I ask it for my fellow Southern Sudanese who are always asking this question. My voice is their voice. We can not stop wondering why no one cares about our fate, why nobody does anything about it. We have been victimized by the Arabs in the name of the ideology of jihad, but no one seems to care. We have endured and are enduring the most systematic destruction of a people since the Nazi Holocaust, but our fate seems largely invisible to the world.
It is very painful to say this, but we Sudanese victims can not avoid uttering the truth, at least among ourselves: we are black, and therefore nobody cares about us. We are the ultimate victims of a global racism that continues even in the new millennium. We also have the great misfortune to be the victims of Arabs who slaughter and enslave us in the name of jihad. And everyone sitting here surely knows that when it comes to the ideology of jihad, open discourse at the Commission for Human Rights is muted. People refuse to speak the truth because no one wishes to be seen as anti-Islamic, especially not at the UN.
We still don’t confront the Islamists who financed the slaughter of our own citizens. Why would the Sudanese expect us to stand up for them?
The UN has been proven ineffective when faced with a genocidal conflict. The world’s institutions have failed so many times before, it’s no surprise that they’re failing again.
If the world is determined to ignore this horror, and if the wealthy Arab League is determined to inflict it, the Sudanese have one option – use their aid money to hire an independent security force that will defend them. Just as the farmers did in Kurosawa’s Seven Samurai, where a 16th century Japanese farm community defends itself against a gang of pillaging robbers by hiring mercenary samurai who are willing to defend the settlement in return for food and lodging.
Yes, it’s just a movie, but the same tactic recently worked for a group of farmers who were tired of having their arms chopped off by “rebels” in Sierra Leone:
Privately, some diplomats and Africa experts believe that one force — a mercenary army — might be able to contain the rebels’ killing sprees in Sierra Leone, because it has done so before. In 1995, rebels drew within 20 miles of Freetown, and the United Nations, the Organization of African Unity and the international conflict resolution experts were all unable to help. In its desperation, the Government of Sierra Leone hired Executive Outcomes, a South African mercenary army founded by apartheid-era South African soldiers but made up mainly of black African soldiers, including Namibians and Angolans.
The company was willing to do what the United Nations cannot: take sides, take casualties, deploy overwhelming force and fire pre-emptively. Executive Outcomes agreed to put down the rebels and restore law and order in return for $15 million and diamond mining concessions. Relying on about 200 soldiers and a helicopter gunship, it nearly succeeded: 300,000 refugees were able to return from squalid camps in neighboring Guinea that were costing the international community $60 million a year. And within a year, the people of Sierra Leone voted in their first presidential election in 28 years.
“Our people have died, lost their limbs, lost their eyes and their properties for these elections,” the Sierra Leonian Defense Minister said to me at the time. “If we employ a service to protect our hard-won democracy, why should it be viewed negatively?”
Much of the Western press called it an African success story. The foreign diplomats and Sierra Leonians I spoke to at the time said the country owed its stability to Executive Outcomes. Nevertheless the international community and particularly the International Monetary Fund thought it unseemly and too costly for the fledgling democracy to be so dependent on mercenaries. Three months after the mercenaries left, the country, defenseless, collapsed into terror. A year ago, the Nigerians, with some technical support from a British-based private military company called Sandline, staged a counter-assault, ousted the rebels and reinstated Mr. Kabbah.
Now we’re back to square one, and some international diplomats are talking about negotiating with the rebels. President Kabbah is understandably skeptical. Executive Outcomes recently disbanded as a corporate entity, but Mr. Kabbah has been consulting with Sandline.
The United States does not want to endorse such a mission publicly, fearing that to do so would send a signal that the West lacks the political will to resolve the problem and that the world’s institutions have failed. Sadly, that is exactly what is happening.
But if the United States, the Western powers and the United Nations are unwilling to fight, should they prevent others from doing so? One obvious problem is that private armies conjure up images of bloodthirsty soldiers of fortune accountable to no nation-state and no international laws, fighting for the highest bidder.
Yet as long as the major powers choose not to act in places like Sierra Leone and as long as Africa has no equivalent of NATO, private armies will continue to be in demand in much the same way that security businesses are in the United States. The Clinton Administration has even contracted out some of its own retired generals through a company called Military Professional Resources Inc. to provide training to the Croatian and now the Bosnian army.
We hire independent military contractors, and they are effective. They were the only effective solution to the misery in Sierra Leone. There is no reason why the Sudanese should not use their aid money, their rich farmland and their oil to save their own lives. Since the world’s institutions have failed so miserably, what other choices do they have?
December 29, 2005
December 29, 2005
Alexandra, of All Things Beautiful, has asked the blogosphere for a year end list of the ‘The Ten Worst Americans’.
It is very interesting how a few names are emerging as a constant. On everyone’s lips is Benedict Arnorld, very closely followed by Jimmy Carter, Joseph McArthy, Richard Nixon, George Soros, Aaron Burr, Julius and Ethel Rosenberg (no particular order). Jane Fonda has appeared on quite a few lists, and so has John Kerry, Lyndon Johnson and Alger Hiss.
When she says ‘worst’ Americans, I’m not really sure if she means plainly evil Americans or Americans who have caused the most misery through incompetence and stupidity.
If we’re talking about incompetence and stupidity, Jimmy Carter and Zbigniew Brzezinski would have to top the list. They came up with the brilliant idea of supporting Islamists as a way of fighting the commies. Because of their policy of tolerance of Islamist governments, a militarily weak fascist movement has been allowed to reach Hitlerian proportions.
Jerry Falwell’s moral majority and the efforts of right wing christians to dissolve the boundaries between church and state would also top the list. Since pacifism is a faith-based ideology, the efforts of pacifists like Jesse Jackson can be seen in the same light. Both efforts have caused tremendous damage.
Rachel Carson and environmentalist fearmongering about DDT has likely caused the deaths of millions in Africa due to preventable, vector-borne disease. Timothy Leary would also have to top a bumbling idiots list.
But these people are more of an example of how hell is paved with good intentions. They didn’t mean to cause massive destruction. They meant well.
If we’re talking about geniunely evil Americans whose deliberate intent was/is to cause great damage, the list is pretty short. There are:
- The Assassins – John Wilkes Booth, Lee Harvey Oswald, James Earl Ray, etc.
- The Traitor/Spies – The Rosenbergs, Benedict Arnold, Lynne Stewart, etc.
- Racist/Supremacists – David Duke, Louis Farrakhan
- Opponents of Liberal Democracy – Noam Chomsky, Ramsey Clark, Walter Duranty, David Duke/Louis Farrakhan (again)
- Cultists – Jim Jones, Charles Manson
Unlike Rachel Carson, the founder of the current “Animal Rights movement”, Peter Singer, with his open hatred of humanity, his advocacy of man/animal sexual relations and his “utilitarian” utopian ideals, which advocate the murder of infants, would also to top the list of the most evil Americans; but we can’t take the blame for this boil on the ass of humanity because he’s Australian.
December 29, 2005
to the brand new Preston Davis Green!
December 28, 2005
On November 12 the Washington Times reported that:
Saudi Arabia has agreed to end all economic boycotts of Israel, allowing the World Trade Organization (WTO) yesterday to admit the oil-rich kingdom as its 149th member, diplomats said.
I figured they were lying because treating Jews, or any non-Wahhabis as equals, or as human beings goes against all Saudi laws and traditions. Lying about this is also required by their laws.
Also, their lips were moving.
December 28, 2005
Via CNN: Canada blames U.S. for gun violence
TORONTO, Ontario (AP) — Canadian officials, seeking to make sense of another fatal shooting in what has been a record year for gun-related deaths, said Tuesday that along with a host of social ills, part of the problem stemmed from what they said was the United States exporting its violence…
..”The U.S. is exporting its problem of violence to the streets of Toronto,” [Toronto Mayor David Miller] said.
Miller said that while almost every other crime in Toronto is down, the supply of guns has increased and half of them come from the United States.
Uh huh. Do they blame us for the upsurge of gang violence in gun-controlled Europe, Britain and Australia?
I’m sure they do – it’s all because of the Iraq war and our refusal to sign the Kyoto treaty. They blame us for their hemorrhoids. This is nothing new.
But, not to worry. The Liberals are planning to apply a “Law and Order” strategy to the problem.
Justice Minister Irwin Cotler, who also attended the Montreal ceremony, said the Liberals’ law-and-order strategy would help deter such shootings. In addition to the handgun ban, they include aiding crime victims, and offering a “hope and opportunity” package with job-creation measures to prevent youths from becoming ensnared in crime.
“Mainly, we want to address not only crimes of violence, we want to address the root causes,” Mr. Cotler told reporters.
Canada has been addressing root causes, applying gun bans and “hope and opportunity” programs for years – and gang violence is getting worse, not better. Their plan is probably to increase spending on these ineffective programs. Here in wicked, wild, capitalist America we call that “throwing good money after bad”
If the results of those liberal programs are the same as the results we saw in liberal New York during the ’70′s and ’80′s, Canada can expect crime to go up exponentially.
December 27, 2005
It is simply false to claim, as some of its critics do, that this bill does not respond to concerns about civil liberties. The four-year extension of the Patriot Act, as passed by the House, would not only reauthorize the expiring provisions – allowing our Joint Terrorism Task Force, National Counterterrorism Center and Terrorist Screening Center to continue their work uninterrupted – it would also make a number of common-sense clarifications and add dozens of additional civil liberties safeguards.
Concerns have been raised about the so-called library records provision; the bill adds safeguards. The same is true for roving wiretaps, “sneak and peek” searches and access to counsel and courts, as well as many others concerns raised by groups like the American Library Association and the American Civil Liberties Union.
Given these improvements, there is simply no compelling argument for going backward in the fight against terrorism. Perhaps a reminder is in order. The bipartisan 9/11 commission described a vivid example of how the old ways hurt us. In the summer of 2001, an F.B.I. agent investigating two individuals we now know were hijackers on Sept. 11 asked to share information with another team of agents. This request was refused because of the wall. The agent’s response was tragically prescient: “Someday, someone will die – and wall or not – the public will not understand why we were not more effective.”
How quickly we forget.
Giuliani’s op-ed was criticized by opponents of the patriot act on the left and the right. It was also fisked by a former candidate for congress, Arizona libertarian Mark Yannone, who also hasn’t forgotten 9/11. He just remembers it differently:
GIULIANI: Yesterday the Senate failed to reauthorize the USA Patriot Act, as a Democratic-led filibuster prevented a vote.
YANNONE: The name of the act is USA PATRIOT Act. The first two words are acronyms.
GIULIANI: I support the extension of the Patriot Act for one simple reason: Americans must use every legal and constitutional tool in their arsenal to fight terrorism and protect their lives and liberties.
YANNONE: Provisions of the act violate the Constitution.
GIULIANI: The attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, made clear that the old rules no longer work.
YANNONE: The attacks of September 11, 2001, made clear that at least three buildings of the World Trade Center could be wired and charged for demolition without anyone noticing.
Yannone is one of several respected contributors to a publication called PHX News. PHX News appears to be the moderate wing of the Moronic Convergence, mixing positive news about Iraq with libertarian politics, opposition to immigration, conspiracy theories and Holocaust denial.
Enemies like this are another reason why Rudy can’t lose.
[cross-posted at Dean's World]
December 25, 2005
and a Happy Chanukah. Also a Happy Birthday to my son, Kyle, who knows the joys and tribulations that come with being born on Christmas…just like Dave Schuler.
A merry chrismahanukwanzakahbirthday to all!
December 22, 2005