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February 24, 2005

Comments

Well, horrible as it is, it sounds more like ethnic cleansing than genocide narrowly defined. That the term used matters when everybody sees how awful the situation is does not speak well for the world.

"Moreover, it is a solution that the United States and Chad can execute alone, if need be."

So why get upset at the UN?

Charles, if it was Colin Powell as US Secretary of State, who said LAST SEPTEMBER that there was genocide going on in Sudan, why are you first blaming the UN for innaction? Doesn't the Bush admininstration have the moral obligation and civic responsibility to bring these facts to light and use its influence bring an end to these killings?

We did not elect Kofi Annan. He is not accountable to us, as Bush is - yet you want to give Bush a free ride on this. If Bush was aware of this genocide, as it appears he was, since last September and has still taken no action it is no doubt because he has no clue as to what the American position should be.

Bush has no vision, his entire administration is composed of right wing bureaucrats that are corrupt and held unaccountable thanks to people like you.

Forget the UN, what would you want to see Bush do about this problem?

...and nobody mentioned the ICC.

Human Rights Watch:

Arbour, who serves as the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights, will present the report of a U.N. Commission of Inquiry for Darfur, which found that grave crimes committed in Darfur “may be no less serious and heinous than genocide.” The commission strongly recommended the Security Council refer the situation in Darfur to the International Criminal Court (ICC) to hold those most responsible to account.
The people of Darfur continue to suffer horrendous abuses fueled by ongoing impunity for crimes against humanity,” said Richard Dicker, director of the International Justice Program at Human Rights Watch. “The Bush administration’s intransigence on the International Criminal Court is only delaying justice for the people of Darfur.”

(they also have a backgrounder on why the the US proposal of a seperate tribunal is not good and why the delay caused by the US means more people are killed.

From a letter HRW wrote three weeks earlier:

"The delay involved in setting up a new tribunal would only lead to the loss of more innocent lives in Darfur," said Richard Dicker, director of the International Justice Program at Human Rights Watch. "The Bush administration seems willing to sacrifice Darfur's victims to its ideological campaign against the court."

Tacitus' good solution seems to involve a lot of violence and not much planning for afterwards IMHO.

Rape by peacekeeper forces *is* a problem. It is hard to blame the UN for that though, because the UN cannot do anything to punish bad behaviour - that is up to the countries who *provide* the troops. And guess what; those are the same African troops you (I assume you agree with the Tacitus solution) want to use to invade. Not to mentions that all the countries you mention as possible allies have some quite serious issues of their own. Chad for instance appearantly sends wellknown torturers on UN missions; why would they do less for the US - who these days is (are? I am never sure) not exactly unblemished itself in that area these days?

And after the 'invasion and liberation': How are you going to keep Dafur free? Without an army and resources of it's own? And in a country that allready is in pretty bad shape and will be more so after additional warfare?

Do you want this post to be about the situation in Dafur or about the UN? We had the thread about the UN before, and we can have it again, but to adress both in one post is confusing I think, and will make this post unbearably long.

Don't mean to jostle your arm while you are hunting the great white whale of Wahhabism, but I recommend this and this which explain why it is not religion but racism.

Also,

Last week Human Rights Watch accused Khartoum of “ethnic cleansing”. Sweden has called what is going on “genocide” and Germany wants the European Union to put pressure on Sudan over the issue.

Britain and the United States, however, have taken a more low-key stand, worried that too vocal a condemnation could upset delicately poised peace talks to end a separate conflict in the south of the Sudan, where rebels have been fighting a 20-year civil war. Success at those talks would open up Sudan’s oil fields to Western companies.

For now, with British backing, the Security Council has agreed only to continue to “monitor” the situation, despite two internal UN reports detailing the atrocities.

From that liberal media bastion. It's dated 13 May 2004, so, given that the article about Powell's pronouncement says
Secretary of State Colin Powell conceded that the State Department designation, determined after interviews with more than 1,000 refugees in Sudan's neighbor, Chad, does not mean new penalties.
if you can point me to any concrete actions by the US, I'd appreciate it.

Everybody (Charles included) please resist the ability to make this a U.N. v. U.S. point scoring contest. It completely undercuts the chances of persuading either the U.S. government or the U.N. to do more. The U.S. government is least likely to listen to the people who did not vote for it and criticize it most often. The U.N. is least likely to listen to those seeking to discredit it and punish it for not doing as the U.S. wished during the Iraq war, or those who have wanted the U.S. to effectively withdraw from the organization for years. Within the U.S., liberals have the best chance of influencing the U.N. and conservatives have the best chance of influencing the Bush administration. If this becomes round 16 of the U.S./U.N. pissing contest, that becomes impossible. Conservatives say the U.N. is doing nothing; liberals respond "yes, but the U.S. isn't either and that's our actual government". Liberals say the U.S. isn't doing enough; conservatives respond "we're doing more than the U.N." It's totally counterproductive, especially since many American liberals and conservatives agree that the West could and should do more.

One of the following two excerpts is from a speech by Sam Brownback, one of the most conservative members of the Senate. The other is from a speech by Richard Durbin, one of the most liberal members of the Senate. Without clicking on the links, can you tell which is which?

A)

While the world debates, people die in Darfur, and that is what is taking place today. I was there about 3 weeks ago and 30,000 had died already. Over 300 villages had been burned out, and about a million people were in refugee camps in western Sudan and Chad. The people were in horrific condition and in a very fragile state. They were willing to return to their villages if security could return to the region, but an armed Arab militia was strong through the region, called the Janjaweed, which are men on horses and camels in some cases, with guns. They go in and burn out villages, shooting and killing the men, raping the women, and driving people into refugee camps.

These are deplorable conditions which, if they are not eased, if the situation does not improve, our own Agency for International Development projects that at a minimum 300,000 will die. We are at 30,000 now. We project 300,000 will die if everything goes well from this point forward, and it could go up from there. That is where we are right now: 30,000 dead,
projecting 300,000 in the next 6 to 9 months, and it could go above that very easily.

We have a chance, we really have a moment, that we can actually get it right before they die. It was just a couple of months 10 years ago that in Rwanda we saw 800,000 people die. We said after that, “never again.” Well, now we have 30,000 and we are headed to 300,000. Are we going to look back on this one and say, “never again,” or are we going to get in on this one now and say, “no, let us stop it”?

It is a fairly simple solution, putting pressure on the international community, putting pressure on the African Union, to bring in troops to stabilize this area. It cannot be done by the Government of Khartoum. They have dirty hands. They have armed the Arab militias that are going into the region. It cannot be done by the Arab militias. They are killing the African villagers in this region. They are doing ethnic cleansing and raping the women.

We interviewed a number of different women who had been raped. All of them said that their rapist said to them: We want to create lighter skinned babies. In that region, the paternity determines the ethnicity of the child.

We cannot let this one keep going when we know it is happening and we have a way to stop it. I plead with my colleagues, just look at this. Let this one move on through, then both the House and the Senate will have spoken and called it genocide. We will put pressure on the international community to act, put pressure on Kofi Annan at the U.N., put pressure on the African Union to address this situation before the numbers keep mounting. We can do this.

B)

“When they come to understand--these African rebels, these killers--that the United States will stand up to them, they back off. African Union troops, 1,400 of them, have not been able to convey that message. Americans believe the world should act, but they do not believe it will, according to the same polls. I hope our actions prove their pessimism wrong.

In Sudan, we have seen violence carried out by the Government, in some cases by antigovernment rebels and by the Janjaweed, the government-sponsored militia whose name translates roughly as ``evil horsemen.'

Now, the Book of Revelations in the Bible reads as follows:

I looked, and there before me was a pale horse. Its rider was named Death, and Hades was following close behind him. They were given power over a fourth of the earth to kill by sword, famine and plague, and by the wild beasts of the earth.

That must be what it feels like to be the people of the Sudan when the Janjaweed ride in.

In the New Yorker this summer, Samantha Power, who has written so forcefully about genocide in the history of the world, and particularly in Rwanda, described a woman named Amina. This 26-year-old mother found the wells of her village stuffed with corpses. One of them might have been the body of her 10-year-old son. She is not sure. She only found his decapitated head. That is one story among 70,000 in Darfur--70,000 stories of men, women, and children who have been killed. And their numbers grow every day.

We have to help stop this. The people of Darfur have borne witness to all four horsemen of the Apocalypse--conquest, war, famine, and death.

The United States needs to forge a long-term strategy toward Sudan that helps that nation build on its north-south peace agreement. It is our responsibility, based on international law, strategic interests, and moral values.

The Convention against genocide spells out our legal obligations. Strategically, Sudan is the largest country in Africa. Its influence extends well beyond its borders. And from a moral perspective, the victims of conflict in that nation demand mechanisms for justice, peace, and reconciliation. We must be our brother's keeper.

Darfur represents a turning point for Sudan, for Africa, and, yes, for the world. If we can collectively respond, however belatedly, we set a new benchmark, not for death and destruction but for conflict resolution and accountability.

Obviously, I could have chosen other excerpts from the speeches that would make it clear which was the liberal Democrat and which was the conservative Republican. But they are much more alike than different. It would really be a shame if our differences over the U.S. relationship with Europe and the U.N. overshadowed our basic agreement about Darfur.

"Within the U.S., liberals have the best chance of influencing the U.N. and conservatives have the best chance of influencing the Bush administration."

For clarity's sake: I meant that liberals have a better chance than U.S. conservatives of influencing Europe and the U.N., and U.S. conservatives have a better chance than U.S. liberals of influencing the U.S. government. I didn't mean that U.S. liberals have a better chance of influencing Europe and the U.N. than they have of influencing the U.S. government. I would suspect the opposite is true.

Charles, if it was Colin Powell as US Secretary of State, who said LAST SEPTEMBER that there was genocide going on in Sudan, why are you first blaming the UN for innaction? Doesn't the Bush admininstration have the moral obligation and civic responsibility to bring these facts to light and use its influence bring an end to these killings?

Damned if you go the multilateral route, damned if you don't, ken. It was the right move to use an international body to try to effect change. Now that it's clear the dithering and inaction has been going on too long, more direct and immediate action is needed. I think you're under the misimpression that I'm defending Bush here.

Forget the UN, what would you want to see Bush do about this problem?

Fingers move, words appear on the screen and you still don't see that I outlined a solution.

I agree that the world is doing a piss-poor job of stopping the slaughter in Dafur. Kristof is doing his damndest (printing photos even yesterday), but the world is still apparently not ready to act.

Having said that, the UN is not the only morally responsible party here (but any opportunity to plug the Democracy Caucus, eh?). As Kristof noted:

What will really stop this genocide is indignation. Senator Paul Simon, who died in 2003, said after the Rwandan genocide, "If every member of the House and Senate had received 100 letters from people back home saying we have to do something about Rwanda, when the crisis was first developing, then I think the response would have been different."

Italics off.

One more time. Italics off.

did that work?

Charles, a couple of brief points:

1. Kofi Annan should resign.

2. Tacitus is eloquent as always except when he uses the terms "relatively easy". He is downright incoherent when he claims this is "an engagement we could afford...." when, in other writings, he rails about the unaffordability of paying his taxes. Raise my taxes and he can lead his well-outfitted expeditionary force. In fact, he doesn't need to pay at all since it's such a hardship. I'll pay his share.

3. I never quite know what to say when you link to something like "Accuracy in Media" to provide us unbiased information regarding MSM reporters on the payroll on the U.N., which is sandwiched between unbiased (I would assume, unless you're cherry-picking)
information regarding the horrific treatment of Gannon/Guckert by nasty unAmerican liberals and ads for the latest from would-be New York Times murderess Ann Coulter.

Your bias filter is so extraordinary that I wish I could hire you to read everything every day and provide me with only the unbiased stuff. It would save me time. ;[

Otherwise, you make some good points here.

dutch,
Going the route of the ICC is a dry hump, not to put too fine a point on it. Those responsible for the genocide aren't going to answer a subpoena to appear before The Hague. The HRW agenda is to consistently bash Bush for not joining the ICC, and Darfur just gives them another excuse. The ICC won't solve Darfur. All it can do is sort out the guilty ones after the interventions have taken place and after the damage is already done.

This is like the Kossovo or Somalia situation -- affected or interested countries are going to have to decide if they want to hit the tar baby to address the wrongdoing. So far, no one (including the US) has wanted to take that step.

The UN, for all its pluses and minuses, is not really set up to address the root cause of this problem -- the oppression by the Khartoum regime of its own peoples. So it doesn't make sense to rail too much about why its not taking a more aggressive stance here.

The UN views this first as a form of civil war (fought as ethnic cleansing and/or genocide -- the exact definition only matters legally regarding the genocide treaties, which seems to be why the UN is quibbling about what to call it). It's always had a horrible time responding to in-state conflicts rather that intra-state conflicts. That's why it can more easily address the wounds that spring from the civil war, rather than the root cause.

It has a conflict of interest -- since the UN is populated with a lot of horrible regimes, it has shied away from interference with wrongdoing within member states.

It also does not have a well-defined protocol to undertake an attack on a member country. Hence, it negotiates to cajole the Khartoum regime into better behavior, and addresses the suffering of the victims.

Since the US also opposes giving the UN (or other forms of international bodies) any teeth (which then, horrors, might be used against what the world sees as bad US behavior), it hardly makes sense to then complain that it is toothless.

it hardly makes sense to then complain that it is toothless.

Sure it does...if your goal is to destroy the UN.

Note, Charles Bird has only obliquely addressed the matter of Powell's September speech and U.S. inaction since then.

Everybody (Charles included) please resist the ability to make this a U.N. v. U.S. point scoring contest.

I'm sad to say, but Darfur only provides the humanitarian wrapping to the central theme of this post which, at its heart, is about ideology.

but I recommend this and this which explain why it is not religion but racism.

Whether the motives are racism or land grabs or to impregnate black women with Arab blood or what have you, the fact still remains that Sudan is governed by sharia law of the Wahhabi persuasion, and that this 7th century form of government is tacitly allowing genocide to happen. As for my list of concrete actions taken by the U.S., I'm not defending Bush here. I'm calling for direct action. But it should be noted that, for the first time in history, it was Colin Powell who invoked the UN Genocide Convention as a means of addressing the problem.

Sure it does...if your goal is to destroy the UN.

You misread me. I want to reform the UN, and one way to do it is to put a Democracy Caucus on equal footing.

I'm sad to say, but Darfur only provides the humanitarian wrapping to the central theme of this post which, at its heart, is about ideology.

What ideology are you talking about? I will plead guilty if charged with trying to spread freedom and democracy.

I will plead guilty if charged with trying to spread freedom and democracy.

I think most Americans would plead guilty if charged with trying to spread freedom and democracy. The fact that we all see different paths to that end is the interesting part.

Much the way that the AARP is currently under attack, however (even though Bush was full of praise when they supported his Medicare Prescription plans), I think organizations like the UN or even the Democracy Caucus are valued by ideology-driven conservatives only so long as they're actively supporting narrowly defined conservative goals.

Once they cease to be totally in sync, however, we hear conservatives begin demanding immediate reforms. (I'm thinking of a certain post asking that money to the Red Cross be withheld until they stopped "supporting terrorists.")

This lazer-sharp focus is impressive on one hand, but its highly confrontational modus operandi is really annoying. This approach leads to a big puddle of bath water out in the yard with a few dozen babies splashing around in it. Agreeing to disagree has its virtue. (And don't extrapolate that the genocide problem, I stated above I agree with the need to act now...I just don't think forming the Democracy Caucus is the fastest route toward helping the nonArabs in Dafur).

I want to reform the UN, and one way to do it is to put a Democracy Caucus on equal footing.

The story you linked to under the words "Democracy Caucus" was about Ruud Lubbers stepping down. It made no mention of a "Democracy Caucus." Confusing to your readers, no?

What ideology are you talking about?

I would say the ideology that has taken control of the modern Republican party. They label themselves "conservative", but they are not conservative as that term has been traditionally defined. I'm sure future historians will find a new term for them.

I will plead guilty if charged with trying to spread freedom and democracy.

There are very few people on this board who aren't interested in that.

"...and nobody mentioned the ICC."

Why would we? Even presuming that we bring those who planned the genocide to justice years or decades after the fact (which is a huge presumption), the ICC isn't going to do a thing about stopping the genocide now. That takes military force--which is exactly what the international community is not willing to employ in the Sudan. The ICC has so little to do with actually stopping genocide that it is sick to talk about it. Another classic case of international paper games masquerading as real action.

As such: "The Bush administration’s intransigence on the International Criminal Court is only delaying justice for the people of Darfur." is just the HRW playing politics with genocide. Nice.

Charles I'm glad you wrote about this, my internet connection was down last night and I couldn't.

I think the US should take action militarily. We should spend a week or two trying to bring Europe on board which will fail, and then start destroying these militias. Europe will complain and the genocide will stop, at least for a time. This will turn into an anti-American hate fest, and we will just have to suck it up. That is the best we can do right now. The UN will not act. The EU is not going to act. The international community doesn't care. As with nuclear proliferation issues, either the US will do it--essentially alone--or it won't be done. We in the US can't rely on the international community for things like this. Katherine and Edward are both completely right to ask conservatives 'what about the US'. We know that the international community is going to let this go. We know that international community doesn't care. The question is: do we care? This is going to end one of two ways. It will either be mostly US action, or the genocide will end when enough people have been murdered that it will have been mostly successful.

We have to suck it up and decide what we want. If we go in, we are definitely going to be whined at for not doing it 'right'. But if we don't do it, it isn't going to get done. I say [email protected]#K the critics and go.

2shoes,
The Democracy Caucus link has been fixed.

I would say the ideology that has taken control of the modern Republican party.

But what ideology is that, why is it "humanitarian wrapping" and what is the underlying Republican agenda there? Are you suggesting that it's all about Sudanese oil? If so, you would be mistaken since France and China already have major stakeholds.

Edward,
Once they cease to be totally in sync, however, we hear conservatives begin demanding immediate reforms.

The mountain of corruption, incompetence and inability to make moral distinctions at the UN isn't some conservative bogeyman. This boils down to leadership, or the lack thereof. It's about time we consistently shine the spotlight on an organization that we give billions of dollars to and get damn little in return.

Let me say something else. I don't care who intervenes on Darfur. I just want to see it done. Criticizing the UN isn't point-scoring. I'm just calling it as I see it. The U.S. is also at fault for not taking a more aggressive stance. It should also be noted that few (if any) other nations have really stepped up to the plate here either.

"The ICC has so little to do with actually stopping genocide that it is sick to talk about it."

Umm, some people might be confused on this point and think that a credible threat of being hauled before a court in the Hague might have an effect on those behind the slaughter.

"This will turn into an anti-American hate fest"

I don't think so. I for one will yell at any of my European friends who take that tack.

It's about time we consistently shine the spotlight on an organization that we give billions of dollars to and get damn little in return.

puh-leaze...let's shine some real light here:

The Democracy Caucus is a total rebuke of the concept behind the United Nations (i.e., that each nation, regardless of its size, government, or ideology, be given a place at the table in order to keep communication lines open and help prevent another world war...which, so far, has worked, one could argue). The DC idea though says that the battle of ideologies is over, we won, and we're not even remotely interested in listening to anyone who doesn't agree. The Democracy Caucus proclaims loud and clear that it's "Our Way or the Highway," which hasn't been tried yet, and may have its upside, but which may just as easily lead to another world war. Moreover, to suggest it represents a reform and not the beginning of total UN irrelevance is not being forthright IMO.

I agree completely with Katherine's 6:29 AM comment. The issue here shouldn't be who is or is not doing what, or arguing about whose fault any of it is. The simple facts that Charles presents, and that others have presented before him, are that terrible things are happening in Darfur, and nobody, neither Annan nor Bush, is trying very hard to stop them.

Instead of action we get a lot of semantic nitpicking, we get the useless Annan, as I recall (and Powell?) laughably talking to the Sudan government about stopping the violence. I'm not a fan of Tacitus, normally, and I have no idea how feasible his suggestions are, but he is correct in his assessment of the world's response to Rwanda, and now to Darfur. Both the UN and the US are disgraced by the failure to act.

"Never again?" My foot.

The Democracy Caucus is a total rebuke of the concept behind the United Nations

I disagree. I don't want a DC in lieu of. A DC will challenge the lack of moral authority at the UN and pressure it to appeal to the better natures of all nations. A little competition can be a good thing. Any irrelevance that may result at the UN will be the fault of the UN, its bureaucracy and the nations who remain unyielding to change. If it is unable to change, then a legitimate international body should emerge and supercede. Sadly, the UN is already making itself irrelevant by its actions and inactions and poor leadership.

It makes no sense to suggest that a DC proclamation sends the message "it's our way or the highway", especially since all proclamations emanating from a DC would truly reflect the wills of the people.

Are you suggesting that it's all about Sudanese oil?

Oil? That would imply action has or is going to take place, and sadly, none has nor probably will. No, the ideology I speak of is at it's heart about how the world is to be governed.

Setting up an exclusive "Democracy Caucus" not only invites others to set their own rival "Caucuses", but has every appearance of being neo-imperialism. An unaccountable few govern the many. Or try to, anyway.

It is better to reform the U.N. ie. keep everyone working within the same institution, and give it real tools and mechanisms to promote democracy and freedom.

It makes no sense to suggest that a DC proclamation sends the message "it's our way or the highway", especially since all proclamations emanating from a DC would truly reflect the wills of the people.

Let's get real though. What about China? How will the Democracy Caucus deal with China. Sanctions?

The DC is premature, IMO. Should China's economic stature lead it to democracy, then, it may be time to try it. Before then, however, it's just as likely to bring about the third world war. Or it will be a joke as it finds a way to include China.

"An unaccountable few govern the many."

Were we talking about the democracy caucus or the UN?

"How will the Democracy Caucus deal with China. Sanctions?"

I don't understand the question. Why does it 'deal with' China at all?

What about China?

When it comes to a point where they're free, they're in. In the meantime, they still have a forum in the UN, as do all other nations.

When it comes to a point where they're free, they're in. In the meantime, they still have a forum in the UN, as do all other nations.

The irrelvant UN? They have a forum in the body the US will barely participate in?

And what if that doesn't sit too well with the emerging economic super power?

They have a forum in the body the US will barely participate in?

Where did I say "barely participate in"?

And what if that doesn't sit too well with the emerging economic super power?

I'm sure there's lots of things that don't sit too well with China. The international "overreaction" to Tianamen Square, suppression in Tibet and countrywide religious persecution, for example. China will manage.

Edward hits the nail on the head. The 'Democracy Caucus' might sound like a nifty idea for countries frustrated from dealing with foot-draggers. Leaving behind the UN, though, is nothing more thna a slide back towards the days when agreements with military allies formed the only international law.

Say we do form a 'Democracy Caucus' for nations we deem acceptably democratic. We move our important global decisionmaking to Democracy Caucus debates, and let the UN take care of that fluffy stuff like fighting disease and sponsoring children in the third world. We've effectively brushed the UN aside, dismissing it as 'kiddie kamp' for the nations we don't want in our clubhouse. What happens when China decides to form its own 'Asian Co-Prosperity Alliance' or something of the sort? When they -- or any other newly emerging powers -- decide to form their own club, we've got the makings of fresh world wars all over again.

"What happens when China decides to form its own 'Asian Co-Prosperity Alliance' or something of the sort? When they -- or any other newly emerging powers -- decide to form their own club, we've got the makings of fresh world wars all over again."

They do that anyway.

What has the UN done to stop wars that wasn't really NATO? Honestly, the idea that the UN stops wars is ridiculous. Perhaps it was supposed to stop wars--but it does not actually do so. Hell, in some cases I suspect that it prolongs wars. Would the Palestinian/Israel conflict still be going on with the UN putting people in camps for generations? I sometimes wonder. The UN is useful for all sorts of things, but its role in useful international diplomacy is fairly small.

Arguing about the DC is all well and good, but what about measures on a time-scale which will help the situation in Sudan?

"Senator Paul Simon, who died in 2003, said after the Rwandan genocide, "If every member of the House and Senate had received 100 letters from people back home saying we have to do something about Rwanda, when the crisis was first developing, then I think the response would have been different."

OK. Who's written? If you haven't, quit arguing here about who's fault it all is, and least send an email.

I wrote something months ago; I'm sure I should do it again. Is there some specific bill or resolution I ought to tell them to support, or just a general "do something!"?

This is a generic letter that one of the websites Kristof links to provides.

What has the UN done to stop wars that wasn't really NATO?

How many world wars have we had recently?

Katherine,

I don't know of any specific resolution or anything. I'm just taking Simon's advice, quoted by Edward, to heart.

But what we're doing here is just trying to use mass crimes to score debating points. Discussing possible changes in international arrangements is fine, but it does avoid the immediate issue.

Just when we think we're out, rilkefan and Bernard dra-a-a-g us back in.*

Again, Kristof suggests nothing will happen until the indignation level rises significantly. We debated this before: the empathy-fatigue with crises in Africa, and came to no good conclusions about why it exists.

I have just emailed my senators and asked them to highlight this issue on their websites.

*I do have to take issue with Sebastian about the UN not preventing wars. The UN was created in response to "world wars," not just local conflicts. There have been no "world wars" since its formation. You can agrue the UN did nothing to prevent one, but given there have been none, it's a bit hard to prove.

You can agrue

It is dark. You are likely to be eaten by agrue.
>

Edward: You can agrue the UN did nothing to prevent one, but given there have been none, it's a bit hard to prove.

I agree. By providing an international forum and a set of agreements that nations must abide by in order to join that international forum, the UN went a long way toward defusing the kinds of crisis that resulted in the World Wars, as well as the wars of the 19th century, many which were almost accidentally triggered through national adventurism or fears of being consumed by alliances of enemies.

Having to face the real possibility that an act of hostility could result in global trade sanctions or the combined military might of the rest of the world was certainly a deterrant to the kinds of unrest that could trigger a global conflict.

That's not to say that the system was not abused (especially by the superpowers) nor that it prevented all wars. But has largely prevented a global war.

Now that it's been declared irrelevant and we're back to the law of the jungle, well, we have Russia supplying nuclear material to Iran and missiles to Syria, and we have the EU providing military support to the PRC, and a French-German-Russian alliance seems probable in the future. And since it seems that acting unilaterally to invade nations is the current fad (if it seems like the right thing to do, of course) it's pretty hard to condemn countries like China if they decide to go after Taiwan, Russia if they gobble up a couple of middle-asian-stans, or India if it decides to restore order in Nepal. Sure, we can all complain about it in the UN, but the resulting international tensions have a very, very familar smell.

Dafur: what needs to happen now, more than anything else, is humanitarian help.
The region has *always* had these kind of fights and normally managed to control them themselves after a while. The economist has a good piece about that. This is a very extensive paper about the situation but you have to have enough basic knowledge to read it, otherwise you get lost in all the abbreviations, groups and tribes.

Yes, the present government does not help at all. Having armed the Janjaweed without actually having means to control them is dumb (it does remind me about the Iraqi militia's, where some people like to arm groups who are willing to fight current insurgents without inquiring their loyalty and command structure btw). But how can you improve the situation longer term?

Going in there fighting will bring the people who live there more hardship and destroy even more of their country. And what are you going to do afterwards? Stay their, occupying their country indefinately? Leave them,knowing that the violence will start again since there will still be farmers, nomads and drouhgts? Keep troops there, like the UN peacekeepers in the Congo; trying to protect cities but not being able to do anything about all the fighting factions? And that will be more groups by than, since the rest of the country will get involved - which will bring more havoc to the south again.

I think a discussion about the UN, its goal and performance and how to improve them could be very usefull. But it should be a seperate discussion from current issues IMHO.

Arguing about the DC is all well and good, but what about measures on a time-scale which will help the situation in Sudan?

Perhaps this is stating the bleedin' obvious and, given today's atmosphere, unrealistic, but this is my take: You need to send in several thousand troops who have a robust mandate (ie. the authority to disarm), from a variety of nations to weaken arguments of imperialism, rebuild/strengthen the humanitarian infrastructure, arrest perpetrators of genocide if possible, then leave a monitoring force of the type the UN has in Cyprus and other places.

Suppose the US takes Tacitus's advice and arms/supports the Fur in carving out their own private Kurdistan. How do you think the people we've armed are going to behave toward innocent civilians who happen to be members of the ethnic groups to which the janjaweed belong? Or, more bluntly, what are the chances that they will do anything other than take a bloody and completely indiscriminate revenge, the guilt of which we will then share?

Hint: consider how our KLA terrorist allies have behaved toward the non-Albanian populations of Kosovo, and consider further that we're likely to be able to exert far *less* control over an empowered Darfur than the NATO forces in Kosovo exert.

These things are never so easy as the "moral clarity" mavens make them out to be.

Having to face the real possibility that an act of hostility could result in global trade sanctions or the combined military might of the rest of the world was certainly a deterrant to the kinds of unrest that could trigger a global conflict.

That's not to say that the system was not abused (especially by the superpowers) nor that it prevented all wars. But has largely prevented a global war.

Now that it's been declared irrelevant and we're back to the law of the jungle, well, we have Russia supplying nuclear material to Iran and missiles to Syria, and we have the EU providing military support to the PRC, and a French-German-Russian alliance seems probable in the future. And since it seems that acting unilaterally to invade nations is the current fad (if it seems like the right thing to do, of course) it's pretty hard to condemn countries like China if they decide to go after Taiwan, Russia if they gobble up a couple of middle-asian-stans, or India if it decides to restore order in Nepal.

Good freaking God! Are you out of your mind? You think the UN has ANYTHING to do with China not invading Taiwan? Give me a break. China doesn't invade Taiwan because of the United States. Full Stop. No UN involved.

Have you heard of Tibet? Hello! Anyone in there? At least try to have a good faith argument. This idea that countries weren't getting invaded because of the existance of the UN is crap. You've heard of the USSR invading Afghanistan in the 1980s right? Right?????

"Now that it's been declared irrelevant and we're back to the law of the jungle, well, we have Russia supplying nuclear material to Iran"

Now?

Now??????

Argh! I honestly don't know why I even try.

Why is it that so conservatives pop a blood vessel whenever anyone has the audacity to suggest that an international global organization might not be completely irrelevant? Has it become demonized to such a level that the suggestion is tantamount to heresy or something?

Yes, it's had failures. It's also had its successes, and I think that reducing worldwide tensions and thereby preventing a world war is one of them. Sorry, I guess that we disagree.

Argh! I honestly don't know why I even try.

Then don't.

What happens when China decides to form its own 'Asian Co-Prosperity Alliance' or something of the sort?

No problem. Put China with North Korea and a few other unfree Asian nations and their moral authority would be hardly worse than the UN's.

How many world wars have we had recently?

We finished one in the early 1990s and were in one right now.

"Why is it that so conservatives pop a blood vessel whenever anyone has the audacity to suggest that an international global organization might not be completely irrelevant?"

That wasn't your argument, nor was it mine. If you are backtracking from your argument that as a result of the US failing to respect the UN enough for you, NOW China will feel empowered to go into Taiwan despite the fact that it was happy to go into Tibet, fine. If you are going to back down from your assertion that Russia will NOW (because the US isn't paying sufficient attention to the UN)feel empowered to invade countries nearby which only makes sense in context if you don't know of the 1980s, fine. But I was responding to those ridiculous assertions, not the idea that the UN might have some marginal and/or small effect on other things. You don't get to pretend that I was attacking the small assertion, I was attacking the crazy ones.

We finished one in the early 1990s and were in one right now.

Really? Care to offer your definition of a "world war"?

Is it any war America engages in with some form of "coalition"? If that's the case, then we've more or less been fighting world wars continuously for the past 100 years.

I was attacking the crazy ones.

Then maybe I need to be either less crazy, or more clear. The UN is currently failing, in my view, because the most powerful and rich member nation has decided that it is irrelevant. If the last remaining superpower will not take it seriously, its value has collapsed, and other nations will look elsewhere for the sense of security it provided. As the current US administration has indicated that it will not accept any global restrictions on its foreign policies or military supremacy or actions, we're currently seeing a move toward alliances AROUND the US in response. In my opinion, this is a danger to world security, as nations will tend to act in their own self-interest unencumbered by any sense of international legality more than they have in the last fifty years or so.

You can and have pointed out that China did not invade Taiwan because of threat of US retaliation (although this begs the question why the same fear didn't stop the Soviets from intervening in Afghanistan). You're right, of course, but there have undoubtably been many instances where actions were not taken because of the UN action (yes, primarily the US, I know) in Korea. Because action DIDN'T happen in other circumstances, I can't point to them and say "See, the UN prevented China from invading India." We do have examples, however, of UN failures, which you have conveniently pointed out.

All I can say is that international tensions have been reduced enough over the last fifty years that we can blog about from the earth's surface and not from a sealed caves while we await radiation levels above to come down to a tolerable level.

I trust you will point out any further ridiculous assertions that I've made above. I'd also like to point to this column in Time Magazine that describes the new international conditions and increasing irrelevancy of the US as a global leader.

Or arguably WWI wasn't a world war at all?

The mountain of corruption, incompetence and inability to make moral distinctions at the UN isn't some conservative bogeyman.

While I believe there is some truth to this sentiment.

The mountain of corruption, incompetence and inability to make moral distinctions at the Bush White House isn't some liberal bogeyman.

Seems even more self evident. How about trying to figure out how to get the beam out of your eye before working on the mote in your brother's?

Suppose the US takes Tacitus's advice and arms/supports the Fur in carving out their own private Kurdistan. How do you think the people we've armed are going to behave toward innocent civilians who happen to be members of the ethnic groups to which the janjaweed belong? Or, more bluntly, what are the chances that they will do anything other than take a bloody and completely indiscriminate revenge, the guilt of which we will then share?

Hint: consider how our KLA terrorist allies have behaved toward the non-Albanian populations of Kosovo, and consider further that we're likely to be able to exert far *less* control over an empowered Darfur than the NATO forces in Kosovo exert.

These things are never so easy as the "moral clarity" mavens make them out to be.

No, they're not easy. But that doesn't mean we get to throw up our hands and watch what's happening. What do you suggest, Nicholas? And, short of letting a people be completely annihilated, how do you ever prevent them from taking revenge? Doesn't defending them early and vigorously, and bringing the murderers to justice, help with that?

Good freaking God! Are you out of your mind? You think the UN has ANYTHING to do with China not invading Taiwan? Give me a break. China doesn't invade Taiwan because of the United States. Full Stop. No UN involved.

Just because you think it, it aint necissarily so. More often than not wars start because the agressor miscalculated, having communications lines open, as at the UN prevents some wars.

You are also ignoring the fact that the taiwanesse have a good enough defence force that China would have a tough time of it, even if the U.S. didn't come to taiwan's aid.

"If the last remaining superpower will not take it seriously, its value has collapsed, and other nations will look elsewhere for the sense of security it provided."

What sense of security? The UN has never provided much security. If anything it provided a false sense of security which has been proven false again and again and again. South Korea was only protected by the 'UN' because the UN wasn't functioning as designed because the Soviets had walked out of it. What did it do for Afghanistan in the 1980s? Absolutely nothing. And if you can't figure out the 'scared of the US' distinction between Taiwan and Afghanistan I'm not sure you have a broad enough understanding of world politics or military affairs for this to be a fruitful discussion. Which explains in my mind why you seem to believe that the UN has ever been a significant guarantor of world peace. It isn't. It has never been. And the fact that the US is acknowledging that publically is a good thing.

Which explains in my mind why you seem to believe that the UN has ever been a significant guarantor of world peace.

I didn't say that. There have numerous regional conflicts since the formation of the UN, and there have been many exploitation of loopholes. What I said was that the UN has been effective enough at lowering international tensions that we haven't seen global conflicts. If the UN has been so ineffective to provide no security, then why have nations like Soviet Union and the United States jumped through hoops in order to not appear as an aggressor before the UN (e.g Gulf of Tonkin Incident by the US and the Soviet Unions's tapdance about being invited in)? Surely if the security was false the great powers could have just stamped Vietnam and Afghanistan flat? They certainly had the military power to do so, and that's the way it would have been done in the first half of the century.

And if you can't figure out the 'scared of the US' distinction between Taiwan and Afghanistan I'm not sure you have a broad enough understanding of world politics or military affairs for this to be a fruitful discussion.

And you seem to not be interested in civil discourse today, which is unlike you. I'll drop the subject.

And the fact that the US is acknowledging that publically is a good thing.

Perhaps. The fact that it is causing it, however, is not.

What I said was that the UN has been effective enough at lowering international tensions that we haven't seen global conflicts. If the UN has been so ineffective to provide no security, then why have nations like Soviet Union and the United States jumped through hoops in order to not appear as an aggressor before the UN (e.g Gulf of Tonkin Incident by the US and the Soviet Unions's tapdance about being invited in)? Surely if the security was false the great powers could have just stamped Vietnam and Afghanistan flat? They certainly had the military power to do so, and that's the way it would have been done in the first half of the century.

Pre-UN diplomacy had the same type of public-justification games as the ones you point out. The history of diplomacy world-wide is full of things like that. The Athenians played such games more than 2000 years ago. The UN is the modern forum for those games. The existance of those games doesn't suggest that the they would not continue but-for the UN's existance. The existance of those games does not suggest that the UN is effective at contributing to world peace. I would be completely shocked if the existance of the UN contributed one-tenth as much to world peace as the threat of nuclear war did.

As for why the US didn't stamp Vietnam flat? We were afraid of China and the USSR getting more directly involved (see nuclear war above). The UN had zero to do with that. As for why the USSR didn't stamp Afghanistan flat? Well, they pretty much did. And the challenge they had doing so had more to do with the US supplying weapons to those resisting the USSR than anything the UN did.

You keep mentioning things that the UN has nothing, or almost nothing to do with. It is like talking religion.

Reuters says, "Damascus was ready to work with the United Nations to implement a Security Council resolution demanding its 14,000 troops leave Lebanon, Deputy Foreign Minister Waleed al-Mualem said, in apparent response to international pressure."

It would be nice for the conservatives who are once again burying the axe, not in the ground, but in the UN, to practice a little law.

Treaties are law of the US. The US is a member of the UN by treaty. To change our obligation toward the UN, we need to amend our treaty, not walk away nor fail to pay our bills. That disrespects the rule of law. And while i read recently (much to my horror) that the current admin wants to be able to file legal ARGUMENT under seal, on the gounds of nat'l security, i truly hope that the largely rational conservatives on this blog recognize that the rule of law IS REALLY IMPORTANT.

i note that CB never talks about the Bush admin committing to the hard work of amending the UN Treaty. but if we want to have international legitimacy in changing what the UN is, that's the path to take. otherwise, the US is just another two-bit oath-breaker.

Kofi annan does the will of his masters. I note, for example, that the great oil-for-food scandal that was going to result in the end of kofi once and for all has kinda petered out. It appears, from the press reports of the volker report [which i haven't read], that kofi did his job and reported what he knew up the chain of command. the fault, it appears, lies with the member states whose corporations were making too much money to allow the boat to be rocked.

Grand liberal visions of the UN as the world army and policemen have probably always been foolish. Since the UN operates largely on consensus, the US is always going to have a tough time getting the UN to be the world's army. Policeman, however, is a different story.

NATO, on the other hand, served as cover for the US operations in the Balkans. Yes, it was inefficient and awkward. But given how little the Balkans occupation is in the news these days, it seems to be working.

I'm not sure what the Democracy Caucus is supposed to offer that isn't in NATO, or rather, what NATO is becoming.

Does anyone have any info. on Bush admin. attempts to get NATO to take action in Sudan? Since the US has the only heavy-lift capability to put adequate numbers of troops and supplies on the ground, the responsibility for stopping this genocide lies solely on our shoulders.

yes, the europeans dither. and yes, the europeans have used the existence of the US's heavy lift capabilities to fail to develop their own. that's what my relatives are good at. (moreover, the temptation to free-ride must be overwhelming. see, for example, Flit blog for the collapse of Canadian armed forces.) but when Clinton publicly shamed them into becoming active in the Balkans, that worked.

the fault, dear brutus, lies in ourselves.

Francis

...see, for example, Flit blog for the collapse of Canadian armed forces.

Today a massive increase in spending was announced for the Canadian Armed forces, the biggest increase in 20 years.

"Having seen what I've seen in life, I don't get excited by very much. But today I'm actually a little bit excited," said Hillier, a veteran soldier whose latest assignment was in Afghanistan.

"We've got an investment and a commitment from our government to rebuild the Canadian Forces.

"It will give us even better tools to be able to go on the international stage and ... give the world even more of Canada."

Coming on top of previous commitments for new ships, maritime helicopters, armoured vehicles, the armed forces, often criticized as understaffed and underfunded, are poised for a renaissance.

In the short term, the new funding — $500 million this year and $600 million next year — will help ease the pressures on the "stressed-out" forces, Hillier said.

By 2010, funding for the military will almost have doubled. As I opinioned higher up, we're moving into a period of history where military investment is probably good investment. Wish it wasn't so.

It is interesting to read Steve Clemons's post today in light of this discussion. He basically says that by bogging ourselves down in Iraq we have made ourselves look ineffectual rather than strong, and, that while we deal with that situation, the rest of the world is busily making treaties and deals and connections without us, leaving us to increasing economic isolation. Meanwhile the whole planet knows we aren't in the position to do anything militarily so Bush and Condi sound like blusterers.
Unnecessary wars might meet short term domestic political needs but they aren't good for a nation as a whole in the long run.
I'm sorry for the people of Sudan, but, given the current commitments and priorites of the Bush Admin., I'd be surprised if we do anything.

Really? Care to offer your definition of a "world war"?

Are you suggesting that the Cold War and the War on Terror were or are not played out on multiple continents? Both wars are on a global scale.

Bernard: I suggest "we" do nothing. Individuals should, of course, be free to go fight for or otherwise support the Fur if they want, but the US military ought not intervene. Our armed forces are not the Justice League; they have neither the responsibility nor the right to be the policemen of the world.

I don't share the leftist-altruistic premise that nations have a positive obligation to intervene abroad for humanitarian reasons. They do have an obligation to stay out of the affairs of other countries that do not threaten them, and Sudan certainly does not threaten the US.

No doubt this cynical view is anathema to the pious Wilsonian grandstanders on left and right. So be it. Someone needs to make the case for prudent humility.

The UN is currently failing, in my view, because the most powerful and rich member nation has decided that it is irrelevant.

It doesn't take a decision by the U.S. to render the UN relevant or irrelevant, d-p-u. The UN's own actions and inactions speak to its relevance and moral legitimacy. The fact that we're acknowledging their loss in stature rather letting it pass is good reality-based diplomacy. You can't fix a problem until you acknowledge that one exists in the first place.

i note that CB never talks about the Bush admin committing to the hard work of amending the UN Treaty.

That's because I don't think the treaty should be changed, fdl. Putting a DC on near or equal footing with the UN doesn't preclude our participation or involvement. Far as I know, there's nothing in the UN Treaty that says we have to fund 22% of the UN's budget.

BD: there is a link to the UN Charter ON YOUR OWN BLOG!

I recommend Chapter 4, Articles 17 and 18:

Article 17

The General Assembly shall consider and approve the budget of the Organization.

The expenses of the Organization shall be borne by the Members as apportioned by the General Assembly.

. . .

VOTING

Article 18

Each member of the General Assembly shall have one vote.

Decisions of the General Assembly on important questions shall be made by a two-thirds majority of the members present and voting. These questions shall include: . . . budgetary questions.

As to US law, please see 22 U.S.C. 287e

"There is hereby authorized to be appropriated annually to the Department of State, out of any money in the Treasury not otherwise appropriated, such sums as may be necessary for the payment by the United States of its share of the expenses of the United Nations as apportioned by the General Assembly in accordance with article 17 of the Charter."

I note that you claim you don't want to change the UN treaty yet you also believe "this once highly-principled organization has become a pathetic joke".

besides scratching some strange masochistic itch, why do conservatives NOT want to change the UN treaty and charter? is having a whipping boy so important?

is having a whipping boy so important?

If you're whipping you can't be whipped. Or some such.

What happens when China decides to form its own 'Asian Co-Prosperity Alliance' or something of the sort?

No problem. Put China with North Korea and a few other unfree Asian nations and their moral authority would be hardly worse than the UN's.

"Moral Authority" in matters of international statesmanship is an exercise in perspective. Your explaination ultimately reduces to "They still won't be in our club." The question I asked was simple -- once we form our club, and they form their club, and the UN is discarded, and no one bothers paying attention to 'international law' since the whole setup is just a bunch of little clubs shouting at each other... You really, honestly think that things are safer?

Let's say that three rich men live in a town with ninety-seven poor men. It's a democracy, so everyone votes on what crimes should be punished and so on. The rich men, of course, are the ones who pay to keep the town's police department open. Clearly, potential criminals in town only fear the law because the rich men give it teeth, via their funding of the police force. That doesn't mean, however, that the rich men have the moral authority to abandon the existing set of laws they had previous agreed upon, set up their own Productive People Club, and start drafting their own rules.

Referring to the UN as 'irrelevant' because the US provided the majority of the military might behind its missions is true only to the extent that you believe the town's laws were 'irrelevant' because the rich men paid the police force. The rule of law is an important principle, and moving from local poltics to international poltics doesn't make the law of the jungle any better.

besides scratching some strange masochistic itch, why do conservatives NOT want to change the UN treaty and charter? is having a whipping boy so important?

To those who really, truly dislike it, the UN is more useful as a rhetorical foil than as a functioning entity. If you're philosophically opposed to the very concept of the UN, writing the whole thing off and calling it a failure is more appealing than fixing its problems.

fdl,
We can change U.S. law in regards to payment without changing the treaty. Participating in a forum with 160 or so other nations remains important, which is why bringing their horrendous mismanagement to light is also important. It's not a little baffling why liberals are so stuck in the rut of defending this flawed body in its present form. Calling for new leadership and significant changes in how it does business should be bi-partisan. Also not a little baffling is the resistance by liberals to a Democracy Caucus, and why they feel so threatened by it.

Let's get something else straight. I'd rather not whip the UN boy, but if I see a major problem and if that major problem is working against both U.S. and world interests, I see nothing wrong with the bringing those uncomfortable truths to light. Like I've said, I don't want it go away, I want it reformed.

The question I asked was simple -- once we form our club, and they form their club, and the UN is discarded...

Stop right there. That's the premise I don't agree with, because I don't believe the UN should be discarded. If it does fall apart, at least there's another international organization in the form of a Democracy Caucus to pick up the pieces.

From Yglesias
This site

UN Dispatch is a blog intended to promote thoughtful discussion about the UN, and to provide an outlet for important news and views on the UN. It is administered by Peter Daou, author of the Daou Report, and will feature frequent posts from knowledgeable guest contributors. UN Dispatch is sponsored by the United Nations Foundation, though the views expressed herein do not represent the official views of the United Nations Foundation, or the UN. Links from UN Dispatch to other blogs and websites should not be construed as an endorsement of the content on those sites.

And this excellent post by nadezhda. I wish I felt more comfortable about commenting on Scoop, but it just doesn't click with me.

Good freaking God! Are you out of your mind? You think the UN has ANYTHING to do with China not invading Taiwan? Give me a break. China doesn't invade Taiwan because of the United States. Full Stop. No UN involved.

My opinion on this, Sebastian, is: if PRC wants to invade Taiwan, there's not much we or Taiwan can do about it, aside from killing a lot of Red Chinese. They've got soldiers in more than enough abundance, and along with it have not much regard for spending lives in order to meet a desired goal. In fact, as I've pointed out elsewhere, it may be in the best interest of the PRC to enter a war, somewhere, against an enemy who's willing to get bloody (but perhaps unwilling to use the nuclear option). The reason for this is the growing population imbalance between marriagable males and females over there. Right now there are hundreds of thousands more men of marrying age than there are prospective spouses. This trend can only lead to growing unrest in a sector of population that's most threatening. This is sheer speculation, of course, and probably deeply flawed, but I encourage you to check things out for yourself and see.

Short version: if PRC wants Taiwan badly enough to get into a scuffle to get it, PRC will obtain Taiwan. They'll take serious losses from both whatever support we can lend and Taiwan's fairly formidable military (built to a large part with our help), but we just don't have the resources to fight a war on that scale. No, I think the only thing that could possibly keep PRC out of Taiwan is fear of a trade embargo. Cessation of export trade would do serious damage to the PRC economy and further increase unrest, which is just what the PRC can't afford. If they do commit, you can rest assured that they've convinced themselves that they can't lose, and that they can overcome multilateral trade sanctions. Taiwan does have some key industries, so it's possible that if PRC does invade and gets the Taiwanese industrial machine moving, embargo will be broken. China is far too large for the US to cover all her borders.

The above could probably be liberally (heh) sprinkled with the bullpoop operator without much disagreement on my part.

Slarti, can you explain how the Chinese are supposed to land an army on Taiwan? Without control of the air surely that's impossible?

This is sheer speculation, of course, and probably deeply flawed, but I encourage you to check things out for yourself and see.

Sorry, someone's already ahead of you in line

n a new book, Bare Branches: Security Implications of Asia's Surplus Male Population (MIT Press), Valerie M. Hudson and Andrea M. den Boer warn that the spread of sex selection is giving rise to a generation of restless young men who will not find mates. History, biology, and sociology all suggest that these "surplus males" will generate high levels of crime and social disorder, the authors say. Even worse, they continue, is the possibility that the governments of India and China will build up huge armies in order to provide a safety valve for the young men's aggressive energies.

"In 2020 it may seem to China that it would be worth it to have a very bloody battle in which a lot of their young men could die in some glorious cause," says Ms. Hudson, a professor of political science at Brigham Young University.

However, I don't think that PRC will invade Taiwan because it would kill the golden goose. The tech factories and middle class population is what China needs, and a street to street battle to take Taiwan would kill both of them off. Of course, this is me hoping for the best and it is possible that China could get them running rather quickly. But the time lag would allow other locales to take up the slack, and China would find itself on the short end of the stick. The fact that Taiwan was able to get the memory chip factories on line so quickly after the earthquake suggests that the human capital there is as valuable as the physical plant, and both of them would not survive a resisted invasion. At any rate, here's to hoping.

and yes, the europeans have used the existence of the US's heavy lift capabilities to fail to develop their own.

We have to build that, since we are a number of very different countries with different armies, different material, different structure, different policies and different language - for starters. I have been a supporter of an European Defense force for years and years, but it aint easy...

From The Guardian (Dec. 2003):

The US is worried about plans brokered by Britain to create a 30-strong EU "planning cell" attached to military staff in Brussels, and for an EU "mutual defence guarantee".

Britain, negotiating with France and Germany on defence issues in the new union constitution, is adamant that the facility would be used only if Nato or national headquarters were not involved in a crisis.

But Mr Rumsfeld, who has been sharply critical of the EU defence initiative, tried to play down any rift. Questioned by reporters, he said: "You're egging me on... you're trying to get me in trouble."

And later in the same article:

Mr Rumsfeld's uncharacteristic restraint was a striking contrast to what happened in October, when the US ambassador to Nato slammed more far-reaching Franco-German plans for an EU military HQ as "the greatest threat to Nato".

Other alliance officials have warned privately that the EU plan may become a "Trojan horse" which will be exploited by France, always an ambivalent member of Nato.

I actually found This paper (large pdf file, called Transatlantic Transformations) on the Nato's future very interesting, since it discusses a lot of the differences between US en European capabilities, strength, and ways to cooperate.

This volume examines the implications of U.S. defense transformation for NATO, particularly how America and its allies can close the "transatlantic transformation gap" — a looming breach in strategic orientation, spending priorities, conceptual and operational planning and training. It examines European approaches to defense transformation. It profiles the progress made by the Alliance from Kosovo to Kabul — and shows how far it still has to go. The authors in this volume approach the issue of NATO transformation from different perspectives. They offer different — and sometimes conflicting — prescriptions. As a whole, however, their argument is straightforward. If Alliance transformation is to be successful it must include but also go beyond the purely military dimension. NATO must transform its scope and strategic rationale, its capabilities, its partnerships, its very ways of doing business. They offer a range of policy prescriptions for the NATO Summit in Istanbul and beyond.

Well, just for example, they've got enough of just one type of troop transport ship to land 4500 troops simultaneously, along with 180 tanks. That's right now, and it's just one of their kinds of troop transports.

They don't really have any aircraft carriers, though, which imposes some difficulty. And their supply of bombers is...not good. What they'd have to do is successfully, preemptively strike Taiwanese airbases from their missile frigates and mainland missile sites. Air superiority is, I agree, a major problem.

Actually, LJ, a whole lot of people were way ahead of the book you're citing. It's not a new idea, and it wasn't my intention to take credit for it. The population imbalance problem in China has been around for a while, and if the contents of my bookshelves weren't wedged under my bed (taking up a rectangular prism approximately 6'x6'x1') I'd cite you some books that are several years old that discuss this very thing.

Again, I haven't done the serious research, but it's a topic of some interest to me because of who my daughters are.

We can change U.S. law in regards to payment without changing the treaty.

Um, no we can't. Well, we can if you can't read. But I know you can, so we can't.

The relevant quoted portion of U.S. law only authorizes the Treasury to release the money to pay our apportioned share of the UN budget. Even without that, we're still bound as signatories to the UN treaty to pay the portion that the General Assembly decides on. You want to change the way the portions are decided on, you have to change the treaty. Unless you honestly think we can pass a law stating that we'll only pay a fraction of what the General Assembly decides on. If that's what you do think, I suggest you speak with one of the many ObWi attorneys on hand,

Again, I haven't done the serious research, but it's a topic of some interest to me because of who my daughters are.

slart: Wonderfull daughters they are! We actually went to the (obligatory) adoption course in the Netherlands in our years of struggle, because we wanted to adopt too if the IVF wouldn't take and it is a 4 year trajectory in the Netherlands. Many of our friend did adopt, and the story sounds quite familiar with what I hear from them.

You want to change the way the portions are decided on, you have to change the treaty. Unless you honestly think we can pass a law stating that we'll only pay a fraction of what the General Assembly decides on. If that's what you do think, I suggest you speak with one of the many ObWi attorneys on hand,

1999:

The United Nations Foundation will spend $12 million over the next two years in an effort to persuade the United States to pay its UN dues. The foundation, established to distribute CNN founder Ted Turner's $1 billion gift to United Nations causes, is joining with a coalition of "payment-advocacy groups" in an effort to persuade the US Congress to pay the $1.3 billion debt.

Well, color me corrected. Although there's "can" in the sense of "legally permissible," and "can" in the sense of "who's going to stop me?"

Thanks, dutchmarbel. Four YEARS? One of the many reasons we avoided domestic adoption was the long wait for babies here.

The thread has drifted quite a bit (and maybe died), so I'll jump in with my own tangent. Why bring up just Afghanistan as an example of when the UN failed to stop an invasion? Why not, oh, say, East Timor, when Indonesia invaded with American help. Or Panama (with death on a smaller scale than Afghanistan or East Timor). Or , ahem, Iraq? And then there's the American support given to internal genocide in Guatemala during the 80's, which the UN didn't stop. The UN has been notably unsuccessful in preventing the US from slaughtering people, and I don't think a Democracy Caucus will do any better.

Four YEARS? One of the many reasons we avoided domestic adoption was the long wait for babies here.

Low rate of unwanted pregnancies here... so we only have about 30 children up for adoption domestically and almost all are from foreigners (asylumseekers & immigrants). Intermediating in adoption for profit is inhabited, and so is adopting from countries that have not enough government control over adoption procedures (no babytrade). So most of the intermediating is by volunteers - which means there are only 1100-1200 international adoptions possible per year.

Slarti
If you do dig those references out, I would love to have them. I've seen discussion of gender patterns quite a bit, along with discussion of the effects of the 1 child policy in India and China, but I thought Bare Trees (or at least the reviews of them that I read) put them together in an interesting and novel way.

Also, while we are on the topic of China, this WaPo article might be of interest.

There is tribal conflicting happening for a long period in Darfur. Read some of my blog entries.
Peace

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