Category Archives: Africa

We should all be ashamed for having offended this poor man

Sudan is angered by genocide claims.

The Sudanese government has responded angrily after an international prosecutor accused President Omar al-Bashir of genocide in Darfur.

Well, Western civilization, what do you expect when you go barging in the front door of other nations’ homes haughtily telling them how to run their affairs? How would we like it if a North African nation shoved its nose into our business, picked said nose with its finger of scorn, and pointed at us the booger of blame?

What deeply worries me about the way we go on offending other nations like this is the senseless loss of trust and goodwill from those who never did anything to us. Is bickering and arguing over who committed genocide against who really the way to move forward?

A certain wise man once said, “Judge not that ye be not judged” — a clear call for an end to all punishment, justice, and even the very recognition that any action taken by any other person can ever be wrong. No one embraced his wisdom then and no one embraces it today. This country is brimming with self-righteous snoots who claim to follow the advice of that wise man, but who, were I to plant a garden sickle in their backs as they sleep, burn their houses down and murder their families, would accuse me of all manner of wickedness. If that isn’t hypocrisy then what is?

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Take up the white man’s burden, Britain!

So urges (in less race-oriented terms) a local archbishop living in the economic and human rights disaster that is Zimbabwe. From Yahoo! News:

“I think it is justified for Britain to raid Zimbabwe and remove Mugabe,” the paper quoted him as saying.

“We should do it ourselves but there’s too much fear. I’m ready to lead the people, guns blazing, but the people are not ready.”

Of course it would be justified, but fat chance of it happening. Brits long ago began to regret their role in helping remove the butcher of Baghdad. Forget Mugabe. The next dictator on their list would be President Bush (yes, ahead of Kim Jong-Il!). Priorities, you know.

H/T to Baudrillard’s Bastard

Depressed about Darfur

If four years of following the unchanging situation in Darfur are not enough to make one pessimistic,assessment at Times Online ought to do it.

The reasons for the inertia on the part of those who talk the talk are outlined succinctly. Heads of state of the G8 have unanimously ruled out a military solution — our first mistake. Any multilateral solution would be contingent on the cooperation of parties who have it in their interest to oppose intervention, such as the Chinese who profit from sales of arms to Sudan. And for everyone else, the Bugblatter Approach™ is working all too well, is it not?

I’m on the Save Darfur Coalition mailing list, which regularly alerts members of letters and petitions they can send to local leaders. One of the most recent alerts was a pre-written email addressed to Secretary Rice urging diplomacy between the US, France, and China to end the crisis. When I read this one part I laughed out loud:

It is clear that influential nations such as the U.S., France, and China could accomplish more working together than they have thus far by working separately. It is also clear that it is in each country’s best interest to help end the conflict, build a lasting peace, and help bring stability to Sudan.

In the interest of China? Haha! Very funny, Dr. Jones.

Of course I submitted the letter anyway, as I submit all letters and petitions Save Darfur points me to, in the vain hope that it will do something to make a difference. But at this rate we can expect history to chronicle the event in more or less the same fashion as it did Rwanda.

Is the life of an American (or a Frenchman, or a Brit, etc) worth more than the life of an African? Actually, yes.

To our credit we have not yet abandoned Iraq nor Afghanistan, where humanitarian concerns are coupled with national interests (I dare anybody to tell me they aren’t). But the forces at work home and abroad beating a drum of surrender are strong. Where national interests are absent or unacknowledged, the picture from Somalia 93, in which the deaths of a dozen American soldiers was all it took to make us turn tail and run, is a closer match to reality. I’m not in a position to predict what manpower and resources would be required to put an end to the crisis in Darfur, but it must be safe to assume that the number of American dead when all is done would be considerably fewer than the number of African dead stacked up pretty darn high already (in the hundreds of thousands by credible estimates) and climbing with each day.

How much more is the life of an American worth than the life of an African? A lot more, I guess. After the Holocaust our motto was supposed to be “Never again.” Shouldn’t we change it to “Live and let die” or something?

Keep on speaking, people

Yes, the people have spoken on Iraq. Randy Barnett notes that the people have also spoken on healthcare. In fact, the people have spoken on many things.

The people have spoken on Darfur!

A majority (50 percent) of Americans favor US military intervention in Darfur, so long as it is part of an international peacekeeping force.

Americans are more reluctant to take military action if it is unilateral and potentially dangerous.*

(dangerous to Americans, they mean)

Go people! Tell them Janjaweed we won’t stand for their genocidal (oops, I said the ‘G’-word) antics and that through our focused indignation we can make them stop raping and murdering, in a similar way that by voting for Democrats who will bring our troops home we can make the various tribes, gangs and religious factions in Iraq all stop abusing each other.

Seriously now, the results of the poll, which show an increased desire on the part of Americans to see something done to save Darfur, are not bad news. It’s just not going to save Darfur. As Scott Kirwin and I discussed the other week, you could expect an “international peacekeeping force” to be about as much help in ending genocide as you could expect ExxonMobil to be in ending global warming.

The Bugblatter Approach

I’m gonna have to revise my opinion about the UN. Those folks are brilliant. Geniuses, the whole lot of ’em.

Consider this recent news about Arab leaders not cooperating on the Sudan crisis.

Secretary-General Ban’s attempt this week to marshal international help for Darfur victims suffered serious setbacks as an Arab League summit Riyadh, as well as at the U.N.’s own Human Rights Council, declined to exert any pressure on Khartoum.

Mr. Ban, who visited the Arab League summit in Riyadh yesterday, told Arab heads of state that he expected support for a U.N. plan to send 20,000 troops to Darfur, where according to America, genocide is taking place.

When I read the bolded phrase I had this epiphany.

To the simple American mind, the fact that genocide is going on in Darfur is something we (arrogantly) think we can straightforwardly state. I mean, all the accounts, all the reports, all the pictures are right there for all to behold.

But this only reveals our doltishness and inability to think outside the box compared to those UN highbrows who use a more advanced and clever method when confronted with sticky problems, which I’ll call the Bugblatter Approach.

Recall from The Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy what the Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal is and how one is advised to deal with it:

Daft as a hairbrush, the Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal is arguably the most insanely idiotically dense creature in existence. It believes that if you can’t see it, it can’t see you. Therefore, if you are faced by the horrid (yes, horrid, in spite of its intelligence, or lack of) Beast you should wrap your towel around your head (you do have one, don’t you?!)

The Bugblatter Approach then is to drape a towel over your head such that you cannot see the problem. In the case of Arab members of the UN, that would be a second towel over their heads (sorry, couldn’t resist it).

I’m sure you and I can think of many others who employ this clever and useful technique.

The Bugblatter Approach. Give it a try today!

How To Win In Iraq — And How To Lose

For those following the War in Iraq and for those interested in contemporary warfare and strategy generally, this is one article you simply can’t miss.

Arthur Herman examines the one historical conflict that must be examined if we hope to learn how to defeat an insurgency — the Algerian War of Independence.

…As he had learned from watching the British mount successful counterinsurgencies in Malaya and Greece, neither heavy casualties, nor the loss of weapons and bases, nor even the loss of leaders would stop the rebels. Ultimately, indeed, “military action [was] but a minor factor in the conflict.”

What then? Essentially, Galula grasped that the new form of warfare had reversed the conventional relationship in war between combatant and civilian. No longer bystanders or useful adjuncts to the war effort, as in World War II, civilians were the critical determinants of success or failure. Without the help or at least the passive acquiescence of the local population, the government would be doomed. In a crucial sense, it did not matter how many guerrillas were killed, or how many regular soldiers were on the ground; the center of gravity was the opinion of the local community…

….Galula’s approach boiled down to three stages, each with its own lesson for Iraq today…

Really, you want to read the entire thing. That’s not something I will say often. (Usually when I do, it’ll be in reference to a Jack Handey short)

Make no mistake about it. We the West–I use the word in the broadest sense; Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, you’re with us too!–must master counterinsurgency and counterterrorism sooner better than later. How to fight bastards who with their IEDs hide among civilian populations is something we were going to need to learn eventually. Even if the present Iraq enterprise fails, even if there had never been an Iraq enterprise.

Related reading: TJ explains why more boots on the ground does not necessarily make your war effort go smoother. It’d be nice if I could believe a sudden burst of wisdom to the above was the reason Harry Reid and pals reversed their positions on sending more troops to Iraq so soon after the Bush administration had decided to do exactly this.

(via Austin Bay)

The Life Breath of the Islamist

Douglas Farah writes about the dismal situation in Somalia. For those who may not be aware, Islamist forces prevailed in a civil war that occurred in Somalia last year. The plot thickened in December when Ethiopia entered the fray, and in January the US too became involved from the air. But the conflict is far from resolved.

The point of interest here, however, is not specific to Somalia. Farah observes the secret of radical Islam’s success:

The reason is simple, and has been shown in Afghanistan, northern Nigeria, Iraq, Colombia and elsewhere. The Islamists prosper by offering what others cannot or will not deliver: security and a chance to live normal lives. I witnessed this in Medellin, Colombia, where death squads of the ELN guerrillas were welcomed into neighborhoods because they were willing to execute the drug traffickers and make the streets safe.

It never lasts long, but desperation and the lack of alternatives moves people to accept the unacceptable. The Taliban, ELN and UIC in Somalia all quickly showed their true colors by imposing a rule of law that precluded independent thought and action. The cost of law and order became almost as onerous as the cost of anarchy.

But the sad inability of the government, international community, regional powers et al to help provide the same benefits as the Islamists without the same cost is the life breath of the Islamist (or Marxist or fascist) movements.

It’s not a new strategy by any means. Totalitarianism of every shade and color knows how to play on the desperation of the suffering. The question for the civilized world is how do we counter it?

The main problem in pursuing the obvious course of action–let’s just do what they do but better– is that Islamists have the home court advantage. Citizens in First World nations, aside from being ignorant and/or indifferent to the goings on in these turbulent places, are far removed from them culturally as well as geographically. Is it realistic to believe we can play the game they play as well as they do? And in what light would we be seen if we did? To a large extent we already are playing this game in Iraq.