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January 29, 2007

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The UN will handle this, now that John Bolton is gone, or perhaps the ICU can bring stability.

Pretty classy farewell to Andrew Olmstead, here.

Yes yes we must honor and encourage the soldiers;that will end the war. We must be sure Andy has the courage and confidence to ride point into Sadr City, and so he doesn't hesitate when Riverbend sticks her head out the window.

And lay the flowers on the grave, with the young boy beside us watching and learning: Oh, what a grand thing it is to die for one's country!

Good luck running off the trolls.

And congrats for defacing the Capitol

Seems a bit meta-ish, DaveC, TiO is calling you-oouoo~~

Hmm, that was a cheap shot about spray painting the grafitti at the Capitol, you didn't have anything to do with it, I'm sure.

I wonder, though, how you feel about the "New York Money People" comment that Wesley Clark made. Seems to me that most of the people killed on 9/11 were literally "New York Money People" or Don Rumsfeld's Defense Department employees.

A lot of loose talk is going on these days. I probably should have tio'd it, but since nobody apparently objected to the "Andy" comment, I wanted to call attention to it. Yes the 1st comment was pure snark, but the Andy comment and this one, no not so much.

I know, lj, this is not the appropriate place, bad form and all, and I realize that bobm says some crazy stuff, but the whole "Andy" thing has made me very angry, and I just wonder about the why the obsession with the Charlie guy and let this really offensive comment go unchallenged. I'm done now, and will think about doing at least 1 thing on Tio a week, maybe a better outlet not to get frustrated.

Well, I actually missed the comment, and I suspect others did too and I agree it is a bit off. But if it's not in the thread that it came up, things tend to get very knotted up.

As for the Charlie guy (sounds like a perfume commercial) well, I don't know if obsession is the right word, but that's just my opinion.

DaveC: but since nobody apparently objected to the "Andy" comment, I wanted to call attention to it.

You're right, actually. I didn't link "Andy" in that comment with Andrew at all, but if that was what was intended, yes, that was over the line.

1. If John Bolton was actually doing something at the UN concerning Sudan, I'm sure DaveC will enlighten us as to exactly what. With, you know, links and whatnot.

2. It's untoward of you to refer to Clark's comments about "New York Money People" without linking to what you're talking about, Dave. I know what he said, and what he said is pretty unarguable, but not everyone here is connected to the Republican Wurlitzer, so when you try to vector the outrage du jour, it pays to be a little less circumspect.

3. Here's a list of businesses that had offices in WTC 1 & 2 prior to Sept. 11, 2001. Lots of non-financial businesses in there. Unless DaveC is trying to say that most of the people killed on 9/11 were Jews, which they weren't. If DaveC is not trying to say that, then he's mixing his metaphors, and quite poorly.

4. And just what do Clark's recent comments vis a vis influential Jewish groups and Iran have to do with 9/11 anyway? Is your strategy -- now that Iraq was done so poorly -- to just go around the world blaming 9/11 on different countries that you want to invade? Hey, maybe North Korea did 9/11!

Didn't you know that all those buildings were hit by missiles, not airoplanes? If the demon-rats hadn't been so cheap and defaitist about SDI, all of this wouldn't have happened.
And who but the poison dwarf in Pingpong (they can't even spell their own capital city correctly) could have launched those missiles?
And don't forget that Obama met Saddam in Bejing to make a deal with Kim about undermining the abstinence only program.
[/nonsense (or future talking points?)]

And congrats for defacing the Capitol

exactly who are you addressing ?

i've never even been to the Capitol.

Uh, yeah, bob was definitely over the line, in many, many ways. One of which is that he's somehow gotten the impression that being spit at or on would be high up on a soldier's list of worries.

If that was bob. I'd like to think it wasn't.

I cling to the two genuinely good things I know of that it has accomplished

While your points about Sudan are completely valid, on the topic of Africa I’d submit a couple of other “genuinely good things” that I think even liberals could agree with:

Aid to Africa:
The president has tripled direct humanitarian and development aid to the world's most impoverished continent since taking office and recently vowed to double that increased amount by 2010 -- to nearly $9 billion.

PEPFAR:
The greatest impact in HIV prevention and treatment in Africa is PEPFAR-there's nothing that compares.

Yes, you can argue against ABC or funding faith based initiatives, but I tend to listen to the people dealing with the problem on the ground in Africa. (I know folks can post dozens of links to others slamming PEPFAR, I am aware that many feel it should be handled differently. My point is that it is making a positive difference even with the faults, real or perceived.)

With today’s political atmosphere, it is pretty much impossible to give the President credit for anything good. But those things are there if you put aside the politics for a moment.

If that was bob. I'd like to think it wasn't.

I suppose I should resist contributing to the threadjack, but this stunned me as well. I typed and then deleted several responses and in the end decided there was nothing I could say that would not get me in trouble.

I missed it, so thanks for bringing it to my attention. I have now responded.

Since I didn't deface the capitol, I'll take a pass on that one.

And OCSteve: point taken about aid to Africa. (Though I do think that some of the faith-based stuff is problematic -- not b/c it's faith-based, but because some of it seems not just to talk about abstinence, but to try to take the focus off condoms if not to discourage them. But that's a problem with some parts of the program, not a reason not to think the program as a whole is good.)

OCSteve: having read the article, it occurs to me that what one makes of the abstinence parts of PEPFAR probably depends a lot on which country one is focussing on, and whether that country had a developed HIV program before PEPFAR came along. (I say this because a lot of what I've read has focussed on Uganda, which does.)

In countries with a developed AIDS program, the money from PEPFAR can encourage people to move away from something else towards abstinence programs. In countries without developed programs, the mere existence of money, with or without strings, is probably the most crucial point, since there's not much that PEPFAR's requirements and priorities can distort or divert.

You know, this has been a really fabulous game we've been playing, bashing our opponents over the head with some of the goofballs that happen to share some of their beliefs, but it's getting old for me.

I mean, I didn't need hilzoy to tell me she didn't spray-paint the Capitol steps, just as you don't need me to tell you (hopefully) that I don't snipe at abortion-clinic doctors in my spare time.

This is the sort of exchange that's practically designed to preclude persuasion. I don't know what it's about, but I suspect it has something to do with domination. Whatever it is, it's got no place here, even though it clearly has hung out here quite a lot.

You've all got a backspace key. Before you hit "Post", perhaps it'd be a good idea to consider not saying some of those things you've decided to say.

I don't direct this just at DaveC, because he's not the only one to use such tactics. But, DaveC, please take note, because this latest use was...um...unjustified, to be charitable. I gather you have some regret, so possibly you might think twice about doing repeating regrettable activities.

Slarti: " I don't snipe at abortion-clinic doctors in my spare time."

You don't?

(Pause.)

(Double pause.)

(oops)

My entire world view lies in ruins.

I was going to say something about naked protesting, but I wasn't completely sure about that.

Hilzoy: On the faith-based stuff…

I’m, not particularly religious myself (not at all actually) so I don’t have a vested interest there. Africa seems somewhat uniquely positioned though to make the most out of faith-based initiatives. Given that:

Christianity has existed in Africa for two millennia and is today the most practiced religion on the continent….

Missionary activity during the colonial period, together with modern evangelism from Pentecostal groups have firmly established Christianity as the most practiced religion on the continent...

Islam has been practiced in Africa for over a millennium, and is now the dominant religion in northern parts of the continent...

It varies by country of course, but there are some pretty high percentages of the population who are religious. Given that, faith-based programs may the best solution in this case. I do understand your points though.

Interesting stats, OCS, but something that struck me when looking stuff up about religious sacrifice was the fact that behaviors associated with previous religions often exist sub rosa, even though the majority profess to Christianity. The wikipedia entry on Norse mythology points out that some behaviors extended well into the 20th century. I think it is normal behavior to lean towards syncreticism in religion, and we have tons of examples of people in the west taking Christianity and adducing a number of seemingly non-Christian behaviors from it. This is without any knowledge whatsoever on the state of Christianity in Africa, but I wouldn't be surprised if people made accomodations with particular beliefs and ideas, and this may undermine faith based approaches, especially when they are done from a distance rather than from people with a more complete knowledge of the situation. To my mind, a faith based solution is not bad because it is faith based, but because it ties the hands of the local administrators who presumably know best.

OCSteve: I wrote that too quickly. I don't have a problem with faith-based stuff in that context, at least not if we avoid sending Christian missionaries into heavily Muslim regions or vice versa, and if we have the same performance standards for them as for anyone else. It's the emphasis on abstinence alone that bothers me.

I should also say that I don't have time to check it right now, but I think the figure of 7% of money going to abstinence programs cited in the Globe article may be low, since, as the article also notes, the admin. is legally required to spend 33% of its money on such programs. (Thank you, Republicans in Congress!) Some links here.

The problem might be less where the money is going to but where it is not going to solely because of faith-based strings attached (gag rule).
I am clearly not up to date on that but I believe I remember that a lot of worthwhile programs got gagged that way. And there is a faint reminiscence that the reinstitution of Reagan's gag rule was the very first thing GW Bush did when coming to office.

Yes, you can argue against ABC or funding faith based initiatives, but I tend to listen to the people dealing with the problem on the ground in Africa

Almost all the from-the-ground voices I've heard from people dealing with the issues of AIDS in Africa say that the two most important factors in preventing HIV transmission are provision of condoms, and provision of accurate information. Since PEPFAR refuses to support providing condoms to all, and requires misleading information to be given out by those in receipt of its funding, it follows that regardless of what salaried employees of PEPFAR say to journalists, PEPFAR can't be helping much to stop HIV transmission in Africa. Which is the root of the problem. Helping those already infected is a good thing: but what's fundamentally necessary is to stop HIV being transmitted. And PEPFAR is explicitly intended to work against that objective.

i slept very poorly last night, so i'm grouchy, but ...

what ever happened to basing policy decisions that affect life and death on Reason and Science?

if, frex, religious leaders must be persuaded to talk about hiv from the pulpit, because they have such strong credibility in the community, that is a reason-based program. if, frex, hiv prevention programs which are incorporated into people's religious beliefs are more successful than those which are not, that is a reason-based program.

but failing to teach about alternatives to abstinence, and having people die from an awful disease, due to the faith of the teachers is a far worse sin than fornication in any religion that i've ever heard professes to be christian. what kind of monstrous god do people worship, who prefers death by ignorance and aids to sex outside marriage?

More on PEPFAR. They are primarily a band-aid organisation, dealing with the after-effects of HIV transmission, with only 20% of their budget directed at prevention, of which one-third of that part is thrown away on pushing morality rather than safety, and the remaining 14% or so in part made less useful because (as a USG-funded project) they wouldn't be allowed to be part of ordinary sexual health services for a country (or would damage them if they were - the global gag rule at work) and because they are required to spread misleading information with provision of condoms.

"Many south Sudanese"? Is there anyone on earth who would say that he or she has seen Sudan becoming a "responsible player in the international community"? Was I off at a meeting when Sudan suddenly transformed itself into some sort of desert Switzerland?"

At the risk of contradicting you hilzoy, I think you're interpreting the administration statement incorrectly.

The idea behind the CPA was that there would be a transformation of Sudan, that it would become a responsible player in the international community. Many south Sudanese would say they have not seen that.

That was indeed the idea behind the CPA, even if it was an ulikely idea. I wouldn't really count the CPA as good done by the Bush administration, since as far as I could tell it was much more about reallocating the location of the war and genocide rather than doing a great job of stopping it. The international community and some foreign bloggers I read (d-squared being the one that leaps to mind) were impressed by the CPA, but I was never sure why. Insofar as you treat it is a success of the Bush Administration, it falling apart at this point doesn't look like a Bush administration failure either. The CPA never looked that good except with the rosiest-colored glasses. It has been breached on low levels almost every month since it began. What is Bush going to do that hasn't already been done? Give a stern talking to?

The US method in Iraq isn't looking great, but the Sudan is what you get via the preferred international community diplomatic method. I guess it is a cheaper way of getting there at least.

"or would damage them if they were - the global gag rule at work"

Methinks if you're getting an abortion, you probably weren't using a very effective method of HIV prevention.

Lj: To my mind, a faith based solution is not bad because it is faith based, but because it ties the hands of the local administrators who presumably know best.

Hil:the admin. is legally required to spend 33% of its money on such programs

Jes: but what's fundamentally necessary is to stop HIV being transmitted.

Understood and agreed. My point is more about existing infrastructure, organization, outreach capability, and (one hopes) less corruption. Given the history of the continent, it just seems to me that religious organizations have a leg up over NGOs or local government agencies. I too would like to see at least as much effort at prevention as at treatment of those infected.

Also – US aid is not the end of the story. Most developed countries are involved to some extent (although apparently few if any are meeting promised levels of aid). I assume that their aid is not constricted in this way. So that should allow for multiple approaches to the problem. Anyway – Democrats are in charge now – so change it. (I also suspect that fewer in the GOP are as eager to cater to the fundies as they used to be.)

OCSteve -- re: religion in Africa...I think it is correct to say that most Africans identify as either Muslim or Christian. It's also true that many missionary groups are active in the region. But, (and here I am speaking from personal experience alone), the religions, as practiced in Africa, seemed very syncretic and took some pretty interesting forms. Most of the (ostensibly Christian or Muslim) people I met in rural Senegal wore gris-gris to protect themselves from hostile magics, including disease. In an area with both Christian missionaries and a large Muslim Arabic community, the contrast between them and their African co-religionists was huge.

"Tens of thousands of children all over northern Uganda trek to cities every night to avoid being abducted."


I am working with various family members to fund a Good Samaritan Children’s Center in Gulu, Northern Uganda. My part of this initiative is to establish a clinic for treating very basic medical needs.

More info is available at the Pathways of Service website. (Please forgive the website, it is still under development and we are currently trying to find a new web developer.)

The US method in Iraq isn't looking great, but the Sudan is what you get via the preferred international community diplomatic method. I guess it is a cheaper way of getting there at least.

Well, good thing the US intervened in Iraq before there would be sectarion bloodshed all over the country.
Are you really this clueless?

DaveC: I missed the comment by Bob, but if it is aimed at Andy it is really going too far.

OCSteve: the tripling of aid has been claimed before and has not ment much. I'd have to see the figures first, see how much of the increase is real and how much of the real increase is used for actual aid.

Seb: diplomacy, like military action, can be done well or badly. We did quite well in negotiating the n/s accord. We have done badly since then.

I wouldn't point to something like the Charge of the Light Brigade and say: well, that's what you get when you try military action! I don't see how thins would differ from what you just said.

"Seb: diplomacy, like military action, can be done well or badly. We did quite well in negotiating the n/s accord. We have done badly since then."

This is in fact where my criticism is very serious. On things like genocide and civil war, the international community is great at 'negotiating' 'accords'. Getting pieces of paper signed is the easy part. It sucks to high heaven at doing anything after that. Accords are at best a starting point, but in practice they are hailed as huge diplomatic successes when signed. If there is a diplomatic success, it comes by signing and implementing such accords in a way that actually ends the conflict.

That is why statements like the one you quoted make me nuts:

But now experts warn that the Khartoum government's unwillingness to abide by the terms of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) could lead to a new outbreak of war. "The CPA is eroding," said Roger Winter, a former State Department official who was involved in the negotiations. "It is not dead by any means, but it is eroding and Khartoum wants it to erode." He said he sees signs that the Sudanese government is no longer interested in the peace deal and has taken steps to prepare for another conflict.

First the CPA didn't end the conflict, so talking about 'another conflict' exhibits vast confusion about what was really going on. At best it provided a framework by which various parties were supposed to take certain actions which were supposed to lead to peace.

Second, "It is not dead by any means, but it is eroding and Khartoum wants it to erode." is passive voice nuttiness. I hope that it is just diplo-speak instead of representing Roger Winter's actual thoughts. Kartoum is underming the CPA now and has been undermining the CPA since day one. Allowing Kartoum to do so all along while also still allowing them to pretend to go along with the CPA is the diplomatic failure. It is a failure that is systematically part of current international diplomacy. Constantly we hear stupid things from diplomats like "shooting rockets at the city threatens the ceasefire".

Third, "no longer interested in the peace deal" misdescribes the situation in a way that is likely to mislead future action. Kartoum has constantly worked to undermine the deal. This suggests that they may not have been interested in the deal--at least not in the sense of actually desiring peace at the end of the process.

The US in the Sudan is following the international community script perfectly, much to our shame. And the result is precisely what you should expect from the current system.

I'm not attacking diplomacy in total. I'm attacking the current methodology which is typical of current diplomatic efforts. Of course there are other efforts which fall under the rubric 'diplomacy' which could be more effective. But the current methods really suck for places like the Sudan.

OCSteve: Given the history of the continent, it just seems to me that religious organizations have a leg up over NGOs or local government agencies.

But no Catholic organization could have a role in preventing HIV transmission: not only does church doctrine forbid condom use even to prevent HIV transmission between husband and wife (or did till recently: I think a Cardinal last year issued a cautious approval of condom use inside marriage if one partner is infected). As for encouraging people in general to use condoms, that's still forbidden by the Catholic Church. And Catholic priests in some parts of Africa were passing on some really vile misinformation about condoms being the means of HIV transmission to their congregations. So, really, religious organizations are likely to be backwards in terms of preventing HIV transmission: though they do great work in caring for people already infected.

Oh they've done some wonderful things in their time, they preserved the might and majesty, even the mystery of the Church of Rome, the sanctity of the sacrament and the indivisible oneness of the Trinity, but if they'd let me wear one of the little rubber things on the end of my John Thomas, we wouldn't be in the mess we are now.

I'm not attacking diplomacy in total. I'm attacking the current methodology which is typical of current diplomatic efforts. Of course there are other efforts which fall under the rubric 'diplomacy' which could be more effective. But the current methods really suck for places like the Sudan.

I always liked Jan Pronk. He was too blunt to succeed in Dutch politics (which is an achievement - we're lousy diplomats) and appearantly to blunt for Sudan too, but he is honest and caring. He - as the expelled UN envoy for Sudan - gives his opinion.

Sebastian: the main body of the UN is the security council. It consists of China, France, Russian Federation, the United Kingdom and the United States — and ten non-permament members. Diplomacy also means getting those parties to agree on policies and measures, and most power lies with the permanent members.

but if they'd let me wear one of the little rubber things on the end of my John Thomas, we wouldn't be in the mess we are now.

Now Slarti, I know I've complained about the lack of accountability, but that doesn't mean you have to take personal responsibility for everything...

I would agree with Jan says in the link you provided:

Moreover, the UN leadership in New York had concluded that I should also not participate in policy meetings outside Sudan. They were afraid to provoke the Government. In my view that was not a wise approach. The Government had unilaterally taken the decision to expel the highest official of the United Nations in Sudan. It thereby had violated agreements with the UN and challenged both the UN Secretary General and the Security Council. The Government had done so because I had, on behalf of the UN, criticized the Government for violations of international agreements and human rights. It seemed that the Government could do this without receiving any reaction from New York. The Security Council, always rather quick in issuing statements or press releases when Members do not yet want to adopt a Resolution, did not officially protest against the Sudanese decision. Yet the Sudanese decision had been clearly aimed at undermining the mandate given by the Security Council to the UN Mission in Sudan. The letter sent by Minister of Foreign Affairs to the Secretary General, in which the Sudanese authorities informed the UN of their decision, has even never been answered. It turned out that there was dispute between UN officials in New York about the tone of such an answer. Several drafts were considered, but finally some officials came to the conclusion that it had become too late to send an answer. They did not inform their superiors and the latter did not ask questions.

It was a bureaucratic, a-political approach. The Government could only come to the conclusion that they can get away with anything. The Security Council does only talk. It does not act. The UN bureaucracy is afraid to risk friendly relations with a member state. This is exemplary for the relation between the Security Council and Sudan from the very beginning. During 2003 and the first half of 2004 the cleansing in Darfur had resulted in mass killings and in the chasing away from their homes of more than a million people. However, the Security Council had refused to put this catastrophe on its agenda, despite early requests from many witnesses not to stay silent but to act. The Council only started to discuss this in July 2004, when it was already too late to revert the situation. The US began to refer to the mass murder as ‘genocide’, only after the raping and killing had reached their height. Thereafter the Government of Sudan has put aside all demands by the Security Council that the Janjaweed would be stopped and disarmed. Indeed, the Government had any reason to believe that they could continue to allow or support the cleansing and killing without being hindered by the international community.

In my view one of the mistakes of the Security Council has been that the Members in fact are only considering one specific instrument: whether or not to send a peacekeeping mission. However, peace keeping can only take place when there is peace. To get peace requires to agree on a sustainable cease fire, to establish institutions that can guarantee such an agreement, to stop attacks on civilians, to stop fuelling or allowing para-military groups carrying out atrocities, to negotiate an agreement addressing the root causes of the conflict and to find a compromise. When parties are reluctant to do all this, vigorous multilateral diplomacy is required in order to push for peace. This diplomacy should go beyond issuing resolutions or statements. The claims and demands in those statements should be politically followed up, rather than shifted aside. This requires a follow up in concrete terms, which implies more than another statement, or a request for another report or another investigation. Everything has already been reported; enough facts have been brought to the attention of the Security Council. The fact that the demands of the Council have not been implemented is no secret, but public knowledge. In such a situation the Council should react with clear measures: diplomatic, political, legal, financial or economic sanctions against those who do not comply. There are many possibilities, but the Council has always shied away from applying any sanction. Instead of creative and vigorous multilateral diplomacy the Council has continued to discuss the modalities of a peacekeeping mission. However, because it was clear from the beginning that the Permanent Members of the Security Council – US, UK, Russia, China and France - would not be able to reach consensus about imposing a Chapter 7 peacekeeping mission, such a mission could only be sent to Sudan under Chapter 6 of the UN Chapter, that is with the agreement of the Sudanese themselves. As is well known, the Government of Sudan has consistently refused to accept or ‘invite’ (terminology of Security Council Resolution 1706) such a mission. So, there was no response to the violations, neither in the form of sanctions nor a mission.

That is well in line with my view that the accords are at best a first step--never followed up on in the Sudan.

I think we all agree about that Sebastian. It's the following steps we might disagree about ;)

The US inviting one of the persons most responsible for the genocide (Gosh) over because he might provide info for the WoT does not send a clear message for instance.
And the initiative for more measures has to come from the bigger countries. Even when we are part of the security council we are still a small country - we will always have to follow. But those bigger countries *can* make a difference with diplomatic tools. Because there are more tools than just the military ones, but they have to be used by all and thus agreed by all.

And instead of a seasoned diplomat who could really achieve something, the US sent Bolton... [insert rolling eyes]

I agree with you that it shouldn't just be the US, but your general invocation of 'the international community' doesn't help in discussions. To paraphrase one of our idealistic slogans; the international community is YOU.

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