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Friday, June 03, 2005



Earlier this year, one of my oldest friends came to D.C. with her college's chapter of Amnesty International for a conference on Dafur. Two days of workshops and lectures in the labyrinthine basements of the Holocaust Museum. (Then, when she finally gets an evening off, she drags me to see “Hotel Rowanda.” I'm trying to get her help.) My point of course is that while Dafur is only just beginning to enter the public conciousness, it's been on the agenda of those rare creatures, the liberal foreign policy wonks, for quite some time.

For the best writing on the subject, check out Democracy Arsenal, here. The authors are a collection of liberal FP wonks, mostly from think tanks and beltway firms; several former Clinton appointees, including his foreign policy speechwriter and a deputy ambassador to the UN. The blog has no less than six entries on Dafur in the last week.

Right now, the concensus seems to be that what's needed in the Dafur is NATO involvement.
The Darfur mission is highlighting the AU's weaknesses in terms of capabilities, equipment and funding. The most obvious short-term solution is a hefty NATO backstop to an AU force, likely going beyond the logistics, transport and training they are providing today to include actual troops in country (over the long-term, we ought to be thinking about measures like those outlined here, including a long-term investment in developing capable military leadership for a standing AU force). This is what Derek, Madeleine Albright and others have been urging. A large amount of U.S. energy has been expended over the last decade in sustaining and expanding NATO in preparation for a post-Cold War role. With Europe chaotic but essential secure and peaceful, right now its hard to imagine a better use of the capabilities amassed than Darfur. It's also a chance for the many European countries that are not entangled in Iraq to share some of the burden of keeping the global peace, something they profess willingness to do. Building consensus for a robust NATO mission won't be easy, but the U.S. is obligated to try.
But putting troops on the ground in Dafur—AU, UN, or NATO—is not going to resolve the central issue. Dafur is part of a larger problem. I'm not just talking about the Sudanese Civil War, which has been rolling damn near longer than I've been alive. I'm talking about Rwanda, where Hutu and Tutsi kill each other over what is literally school-yard name calling. I'm talking about hospitals that do not have clean bandages and pencillin, let alone treatment for Ebola Ziere. I'm talking about Robert Mugabe, who is quite possibly the single worst human being alive right now. I am talking about thirty million people—30,000,000 people—who will die from AIDS before the decade is out.

The disease, poverty, and violence throughout Africa is the greatest challenge the world faces right now.

Wednesday, June 01, 2005


The Sudan

What should the US role in Sudan's Darfur situation be?

Whatever our role is, our approach should be cautious. I would honestly like to see us give the honest elements of the Sudan Government a shove in the right direction without sending in the troops we currently don't have to spare. Much as I see potential for this cesspit as the next breeding ground for terrorist attacks on America and her citizens interests, they aren't there, yet. Further their government is at least making attempts to clean up their own nest, unlike Saddam, and the Taliban. If we are forced to go in with military assets, I would like to see the nations we've most recently reformed with the sword contribute troops that we led, and supplied as part of the repayment for our efforts aid them. This would serve multiple purposes: Introduce the new governments and militaries of Iraq and Afghanistan to the world as legitimate and allow us not to lose as many lives.

And where should we stand on outside intervention? With the United Nations, with the African Union, or should we just leave it alone?

The UN's record is so sad that I don't think its the proper group to intervene in a tavern brawl, much less the longest running civil war in Africa. The African Union on the other hand has no real track record. They are historically speaking brand spanking new. Speaking as someone who finds our presence in the UN objectionable, I'd rather side with the AU if there is going to be an outsider at the table. At best we'll find they can handle it without us pushy Americans, at worst we'll know we can't trust them either.

Tuesday, May 31, 2005


What the blank should we do about the Sudan?

The Saints preserve me, I don't know.

I know what I want to do. I want to give every retired farmer with even a modicum of teaching skills who understands the concept and actually practiced crop rotation a rifle company, a dozen small tractors, sufficient seed for a quarter section for three planting seasons and enough logistical support and ancillary equipment to do the job and last that long.
For every four farmers I would send a mortar company. For every eight farmers I would send a company of cannon cockers. For every 32 farmers I would send a tank platoon. For every 128 an engineering battalion. For ever 512 I would send a medical unit sufficient for a division under heavy continuous fire. For every 1024 I would send a wing of A10s. For every 4096 I would send a carrier task force. For every 16,384 I would have to start worrying as all we have left to defend the US is the Coasties and and part of the Air Force.

If we can't do that send in sufficient SF and sniper squads to cap the 100 worst people in the Sudan Simultaneously every month. An hour before they are scheduled to die do a huge leaflet drop announcing their names from a wing of Buffasaurases. repeat every month until a modicum peace falls over the land. Then bring in the food and farm equipment.

I don't lay any hope for diplomatic and philanthropic solutions for Africa. It doesn't last and usually ends up in the hands of the villains.

I wish there were better solutions.

Monday, May 30, 2005


Question of the week

What should the US role in Sudan's Darfur situation be? And where should we stand on outside intervention? With the United Nations, with the African Union, or should we just leave it alone?

Sunday, May 29, 2005


The Moyers Strikes Back

Bill Moyers, journalist, commentator and liberal, has been under fire from the Bush administration, at least according to Mr. Moyers. Make of that what you will, I have no interest in attacking the man's character. He's been doing what he does, and what the CO invited me here to do for as long as I have been alive. You have to respect the man's success and longevity if not his opinion. My interest is in the content of his response to these attacks he's described. Nothing more.

It's my opinion that those who can't look at themselves through the eyes of their opposition are doomed to ultimate failure, regardless of whatever short term success they may achieve. With that in mind I suggest you read Moyers's speech if you haven't. It can also be found here where I first encountered it.

Whatever else one may say about Moyers, he comes across as a reasonable man. If for no other reason, I find his descriptions plausible simply because of that. Nothing is threatening to either party as a well spoken and reasonable seeming opposition. It's hard to demonize or ostracize such a person because they are so damn reasonable. People want to believe such a speaker. Finding consensus with a person like that tends to validate the human need to seem a part of something, to be in some way important and above the masses. Moyers is certainly that.

I alluded to this post as "sympathy for the Opposition" and that is what it's about. Moyers starts off by building the background of his tale, and naturally that background is about him. He captures my attention as the kind of liberal I think the country needs. A man who is standing up not because it's the thing his crowd does, or because he's got a bone to pick. He stands up because his principle demand it of him. And those principle demand he not simply claim to be right, but BE RIGHT. He comes across as a man who questions his course, and the course of his political affiliation. In short, he comes across as a man who would question his own party were it controlling the government.

More over, his description of PBS is exactly what I think it should be. His description of PBS news is the model I want out of so many news organizations and don't get. So I'm sympathetic to what he has to say.

I never watched NOW, so I don't know if he's telling the truth. TV is my enemy. I simply have no respect for television news. I regret that in as much as it prevented me from seeking out NOW and find out for myself if it met the standard I believe the news should aspire to.

Moyers pulls no punches. He doesn't trust the administration, and he believes he has reason not to. I don't expect conservative to come away happy with what he has to say. I certainly didn't.

Yet he summed up my feelings nicely when he said "I've always thought the American eagle needed a left wing and a right wing. The right wing would see to it that economic interests had their legitimate concerns addressed. The left wing would see to it that ordinary people were included in the bargain. Both would keep the great bird on course. But with two right wings or two left wings, it's no longer an eagle and it's going to crash." Perhaps he describes the Left as too people centric, too saintly, but the core idea is there. We need dynamic tension in the country for a number of reasons, and it seems the Neo-Conservative agenda is stomp that out.

---No matter where you go, there you are.

Next Time: “Another Fine Mess”