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February 21, 2006

Comments

Oh, please, someone start a thread on Hating On Charles Bird.

Red Herring though it is, click the "cashing in" link. It leads to The Weekly Standard, that bastion of fairminded analysis of the UN. And Mr. Bird fails to mention that the award money detailed in the article, as reported by the article, is to be used as seed money for a foundation in Africa. TWS dismisses this as some sort of scam, based on ... its own intuitions.

Well, it's good that someone did a Darfur post, whatever else one might think of the content. On a practical level, what should we as individuals be doing?

Gary Farber has some suggestions. I can't believe I'm beating him to it here...

A thread has opened up for the hatred.

So, the US is condeming the genocide in Darfur - that's good. I agree that more countries should.

However, how many troops is the US committing to the Sudan? I believe none.

One question I've had in all discussions of Rwanda, and Somalia, that someone here might be able to help me with: in civil wars where there are millions of casualties, there are presumably hundreds of thousands of people fighting. While 10,000 UN troops could certainly provide security in some areas, would this number of troops be sufficient to significantly affect the course of the civil war? What kind of casualties would the troops suffer in such circumstances? In Iraq, the US has a lot more troops, and is not in the midst of a full-blown civil war, but still has not brought security to significant portions of Iraq.

"...would this number of troops be sufficient to significantly affect the course of the civil war?"

If you think what's been going on in Darfur is a civil war, you are badly confused.

My apologies; shall we stick with the term genocide then?

On second thoughts - ignore the question; it was ill-posed, and I should be working anyway :).

Part of the problem appears to be that the current administration of the US government thinks that info on terroism is far more important than what is going on in Darfor.

Bush Says He Will Veto Any Bill to Stop UAE Port Deal

*Link: http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,185479,00.html

Romeo Dallaire, Force Commander of UNAMIR, has said in his book Shaking Hands With the Devil that the Rwandan genocide could likely have been largely prevented with about 2,000 UN troops with the proper equipment at the early stages of the conflict, and about 5,000 later once hostilities were truly under way. The mission was eventually increased from around 300 to 5,500, but after much of the murders had been committed.

It leads to The Weekly Standard, that bastion of fairminded analysis of the UN.

Ad hominem, quihana The writer is Claudia Rosett, practically the only journalist doing decent investigative reporting on the UN.

And Mr. Bird fails to mention that the award money detailed in the article, as reported by the article, is to be used as seed money for a foundation in Africa.

I also failed to mention this part of the Rosett's article:

To date, he has provided no information about what this promised foundation might be or who will run it, or what perquisites might go to its founder, or to anyone else associated with it. Asked recently for details, Annan's spokesman replied, "When we have more information, we'll pass it on to you."

Such non-answers have a familiar ring to anyone who has followed the saga of the sporty green Mercedes, shipped into Ghana in 1998 by Annan's son, Kojo Annan, who saved $14,000 in customs duties at the time via inappropriate use of his father's name and U.N. privileges. In that instance, the transaction was obscured behind a humanitarian façade, with the U.N. Development Program office in Ghana setting its U.N. seal on the paperwork. Annan, despite wiring his son $15,000 to help pay for the car, claims he knew nothing about it, and that it had nothing to do with him or the U.N.

Ever forget writing $15,000 checks?

claims he knew nothing about it

Knew nothing about his son's wanting a car or nothing about the "inappropriate" way his son obtained this car? That "it" is suspiciously ambiguous, in my honest opinion. If I were Rosett's editor, I would ask her to clear that sentence up, or better yet, to quote what Annan actually said. The whole article is full of strategic ambiguities and non sequitors, however, which makes me suspicious that her editors liked her writing that way.

Claudia Rosett is a consultant to FOX News.

Romeo Dallaire, Force Commander of UNAMIR, has said in his book Shaking Hands With the Devil that the Rwandan genocide could likely have been largely prevented with about 2,000 UN troops with the proper equipment at the early stages of the conflict, and about 5,000 later once hostilities were truly under way. The mission was eventually increased from around 300 to 5,500, but after much of the murders had been committed.

This is quite likely true, and unfortunately quite meaningless with regards to the genocide in Darfur. The Rwandan genocide could have been suppressed quite easily because all that was really needed was a UN force with guns pointedly aimed in the right direction to force the Rwandan government into action - the machete-wielding mobs weren't terribly brave and a little central authority combined with mean-looking guys in blue helmets carrying guns probably could have saved hundreds of thousands. (Which is why Romeo Dallaire is now perhaps the most self-incriminating person alive. How many people do you know who would personally accept blame for failing to stop a genocide when practically every surviving Rwandan Tutsi alive considers him a saint? It takes a severe knowledge of how badly the West failed those people.)

This isn't the case in Darfur, where the central government is essentially powerless and the massacring assholes are well-armed and well-organized. You can't stop these bastards with just a few thousand guys. You'll need tens of thousands, and that's if you're lucky.

Ad hominem, quihana The writer is Claudia Rosett, practically the only journalist doing decent investigative reporting on the UN.

That's not an ad hominem argument. An ad hominem argument would be something like "Claudia Rosett is a bad person, therefore you should disagree with her."

"An ad hominem argument would be something like "Claudia Rosett is a bad person, therefore you should disagree with her.""

I think you ignore the implied argument in Jesurgislac's statement. It isn't:

Claudia Rosett is a consultant to FOX News a fact I threw out there because I thought it would be fun.

it is:

Claudia Rosett is a consultant to FOX News therefore she ought to be ignored because nothing good can possibly come out of FOX News.

The implied argument is ad hominem because instead of dealing with what Claudia Rosett reports, Jesurgislac attempts to use what she sees as a smear to discredit the messenger of information she dislikes.

Sebastian: I agree that Jes's one-line comment is an ad-hom, but Charles was responding to quihana's comment rather earlier.

Sorry, my bad.

"It leads to The Weekly Standard, that bastion of fairminded analysis of the UN." is probably ad hominem too. But having screwed up the first one, who knows. :)

Now that that is all straightened out, I have to ask, what is behind the name 'quihana'?

And, while I appreciate the strict patrolling against ad hom, I think a little snark in the service of thread comments helps grease the wheels a bit.

There's a bit more to quihana's comment than the ad-hom opener, but still: well done, sir(rah)! ;)

__
Since this comment didn't go through the first time, I get the chance to raise a Point of Order in its new version. Would calling Sebastian "sirrah" in a paranthetical, ironic manner constitute a posting violation? I think it might well do, in a literalist interpretation of the Posting Rules.

"Would calling Sebastian "sirrah" in a paranthetical, ironic manner constitute a posting violation?"

I doubt it. But even if it technically did I suspect there would be an exercise of prosecutorial discretion.

Dear person-with-the-literal-handle "lj", you might run into confusion with "liberal japonicus", who I (and perhaps others) frequently address as "lj". If you hang around I will of course switch to "libj" or whatever - just fyi.

OT - anyone here Great British?

In regards to Bolton's pyromaniacal tendencies, this post from BoltonWatch suggests that Bolton is less motivated to prevent human suffering and more motivated to smear Annan. Unfortunately, the Time Q&A link is mistyped. The correct link is here

This post should also be borne in mind

But before we heap hosannas on the Bush administration for its newfound resolve, let’s wait until the Security Council comes out with a list of names of Sudanese individuals to be placed under sanction for their role in the genocide. For that moment will be the real test of the Bush administration’s determination to prevent the further destruction of Darfur and to hold accountable those guilty of plotting and carrying out the genocide.

I'm not sure if one can ad hominem a publication, but in any event, I'd call it shorthand, another way of saying "Consider the source". The snark just slipped in there, sorry. It's valid enough that I don't know Rosett's work per se, but the piece, as Jackmormon points out, is so filled with innuendo and apparent bias that it didn't strike me as an island of probity in a sea of invective. And even if it were, Annan's purported ethical lapses are of course irrelevant to the crisis of Darfur.

Quihana comes indirectly from Cervantes, via Broadway. (thanks for asking)

Despite running a hate-site, I can't even get a warning? I feel so un-hard-core.

Ok, consider yourself warned.....that you aren't being amusing.

;)

Rosett has always struck me as not so much biased as very driven and very very convinced she's right and wholely pledged to expressing her convictions as forcefully and uncompromisingly as possible. I guess as a result of my training I'm instinctively suspicious of the conclusions of such people, perhaps a subtext in my comments in the recent thread about him-who-must-not-be-mentioned. (Or is it he-who-etc? Defintely not him-whom, sadly.)

Not to change subject but I expected a blog about this topic.

What does eveyone think about the following:

"Brushing aside objections from Republicans and Democrats alike, President Bush endorsed the takeover of shipping operations at six major U.S. seaports by a state-owned business in the United Arab Emirates. He pledged to veto any bill Congress might approve to block the agreement."

What next, TSA will be replaced with a company run from the UAE?

All economics besides... what a dumb idea.

Yay! That asked-for warning will get you one free charitable interpretation from this hater.

It's valid enough that I don't know Rosett's work per se

That's what Charles is here for.

The UN has not been really great at peacekeeping missions, unless the opposing parties are ready for a truce, so they aren't really set up to "unilaterally" go after the janjawid. Something like NATO would be better, but unfortunately there are too many conflicts in Africa for the African Union to be effective. It would be nice if some disinterested nation stepped in, say, Albania or Romania, if they could commit 10 thousand or so troops, but that isn't going to happen. Probably the best alternative is training and adequately arming the people of Darfur, which in the short run would probably intensify the conflict.

Sebastian: The implied argument is ad hominem because instead of dealing with what Claudia Rosett reports, Jesurgislac attempts to use what she sees as a smear to discredit the messenger of information she dislikes.

Well, true. "Claudia Rosett is a consultant for Fox News" is an ad hominem attack if you think of Fox News as a shoddy mouthpiece for the Republican party, a disgrace masquerading as a news organization. (And I won't pretend that I think of Fox News in the same way as I think of the Washington Post - which may at times be a mouthpiece for the Republican party, but is on the whole a respectworthy newspaper.) But it is an ad hom attack on Claudia Rosett, not on anyone here present, just as Charles's title for his article is an ad hom attack on Kofi Annan, not on anyone here.

rilkefan: OT - anyone here Great British?

OT - I wouldn't say great, but I am British. :-)

You're misusing the phrase 'ad hominem'. It should only be used to describe an attack on someone personally instead of on their argument, not to describe an attack on someone personally instead of on the veracity of their statements.

So, for example, here is an ad hominem argument: "Bob Smith has said that the UN should be reformed because, at present, it does not represent the third world, and so lacks moral standing, which means that it cannot act effectively in third world contexts. But we can ignore him because he is a known communist" is an ad hominem response. Bob Smith may well be redder than Leon Trotsky, but his argument deserves to be dealt with on its own terms.

This, however, is not an ad hominem response: "Bob Smith says that the UN is corrupt; but we should remember that he works for Heritage." The fact that Bob works for an organisation with an axe to grind implies that he has a motive to bend the truth, and therefore that statements he makes should be treated with more caution than if he were a disinterested party.

"Well, true. "Claudia Rosett is a consultant for Fox News" is an ad hominem attack if you think of Fox News as a shoddy mouthpiece for the Republican party, a disgrace masquerading as a news organization. "

No it is an ad monimem attack if YOU think of Fox News as disreputable.

And frankly, whatever the technical name of the specific rhetorical game you actually employed, the important fact is noting the rhetorical game. Your comment does not advance the discussion, it merely attacks the messenger of news you don't like. It does so in a particularly annoying way by merely alluding to the reason for the attack rather than specifically stating it--forcing us to guess at the specific nature of the criticism. Of course 'forcing' is a strong word. Technically we could ignore it entirely. But that tends to get nasty complaints from you as well.

It is especially odious in this particular case because whatever your thoughts on Fox News, I have not seen any evidence that Rosett is inaccurate or disreputable in her reporting on the UN. If anything the biggest bombshell she reported many years ago--that Annan's son was directly involved in Oil-for-Food bribery--turned out to be accurate.

Sorry, this may be ad hom, but I thought it was hilarious, which was Pyjama Media's spoof of a Rosett piece. The spoof is here and the real thing is here.

chdb: ...all that was really needed was a UN force with guns pointedly aimed in the right direction to force the Rwandan government into action...

Well, no. The planned UN contingent wasn't designed to force the government into action, as the government was quite likely behind much of the slaughter. The UN force was designed to break Hutu roadblocks and checkpoints, where much of the slaughter occurred, to rescue and give safe conduct to those trapped behind Hutu lines, and to intimidate those committing the slaughter with threat of capture and prosecution.

How many people do you know who would personally accept blame for failing to stop a genocide when practically every surviving Rwandan Tutsi alive considers him a saint?

Again, no. While I think Dallaire is haunted by both survivor guilt and by what he saw and was powerless to prevent, he's been pretty clear on where the blame lies. On both the French and US governments of the time, and on a host of other nations that dragged their feet and in some cases even attempted to profit from what was going on.

For the Annan-bashers in the crowd, Dallaire was fairly complimentary to Annan and his efforts to convince the Security Council members to do the right thing.

And sorry to go off topic, but Iraq appears to be in meltdown today, after the Shrine bombing. I have just read dire, apocalyptic, panicky posts from Zeyad and Cole.

Claudia Rosett is a consultant to FOX News.

So are Juan Williams, Alan Colmes, Bob Beckel and Donna Brazile; therefore, Jes, anything they say is suspect and cannot be trusted, no? Ad homs (yes, that's what they are) are sure fun!

This is quite likely true, and unfortunately quite meaningless with regards to the genocide in Darfur.

The Janjaweeds are armed with guns and they mount their raids on horseback, chdb. They might have a few helicopters. It won't take much personnel or firepower to defeat them.

The Janjaweeds are armed with guns and they mount their raids on horseback, chdb. They might have a few helicopters. It won't take much personnel or firepower to defeat them.

Hope they didn't bother to read _Black Hawk Down_.

Charles said: So are Juan Williams, Alan Colmes, Bob Beckel and Donna Brazile; therefore, Jes, anything they say is suspect and cannot be trusted, no?

*blinks* Sorry, I missed it: were you quoting all these people in your post? If not, what relevance does this have?

I read that Rosett piece on PJMedia about the "great UN internet grab," but unfortunately, she just made a few dark hints ("it is not a good idea to have Zimbabwe’s Robert Mugabe editing your blog and then charging you for it") about the WSIS and then plunged into a long screed about how the UN as a whole is only interested in censorship and profiteering. A serious question - what the hell is she talking about? I skimmed through some of the documents at the WSIS site that she linked to, and they seemed mainly to be vague (and probably unenforceable) pledges to "bridge the digital divide" and get people in underdeveloped communities access to the net.

Is there some plan to tax internet usage in the developed countries and use the money to distribute technology resources to underdeveloped countries (that may have dictators that edit and delete content available to their citizens that is deemed dangerous to "internal security")? I didn't see any description of a plan like that, and even if there was, how is that supposed to happen? Some UN dues surcharge? Last time I checked, I don't get a UN tax bill in the mail. So what's the story?

Seriously, I'm curious. I don't mean to be glib; internet censorship in dictatorships is a real problem, particularly when Western comanies knuckle under to demands for it. I don't want to see the UN give its imprimatur to that kind of censorship, any more than Rosett, CB, or any other UN critic does. But she could not have done a worse job of laying out exactly what threat she perceived.

So are Juan Williams, Alan Colmes, Bob Beckel and Donna Brazile; therefore, Jes, anything they say is suspect and cannot be trusted, no? Ad homs (yes, that's what they are) are sure fun!

ISTR that you've used a similar standard with respect to other media persons in the past, so I don't know how sturdy a position you're in to be complaining about someone else doing it now.

"Not to change subject but I expected a blog about this topic."

There are probably lots, but all you get here is Obsidian Wings.

DaveC: "The UN has not been really great at peacekeeping missions, unless the opposing parties are ready for a truce, so they aren't really set up to 'unilaterally' go after the janjawid."

A) what's needed in Darfur is, of course, not peacekeeping, as there is no peace to keep, but peacemaking. This is not an obscure or controversial fact. No one, anywhere, has called for "peacekeeping" in Darfur.

b) I'm willing to bet that if you don't google first, I can name you fifteen, probably twenty, successful UN peacekeeping missions you've never heard of. They've generally been pretty good at it, in fact, with a few exceptions, and those exceptions are because of the lack of while of the members of the Security Council who tell them what to do, not because of some vague "United Nations" with a mind of its own. When the UN fails, it's as much a failure of its largest power, the United States, as it is of anyone else, although there's also usually plenty of blame to go round the other four members of the Security Council, as well.

As for the U.S., I'll quote (again) what Eric Reeves Eric Reeves wrote in that vile (it's so right-wing! say many on the left; it's so left-wing! say many on the right) The New Republic last week:

Last week, Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Jendayi Frazer signaled a shift in American policy towards Darfur when she refused to say that genocide was currently taking place in the region. Asked twice whether the Darfur genocide was ongoing, she would only say that "a genocide has occurred in Sudan and we continue to be concerned about the security environment in Darfur." In other words, there was a genocide but now it's over. Frazer went on to assert that "there isn't large-scale organized violence taking place today," while describing the current situation as "a series of small attacks and incidents."

This is mendacity. Recent reports from South Darfur, for example, make clear that approximately 70,000 civilians have been violently displaced by Janjaweed raids. They were attacked primarily in camps for displaced persons in the Mershing and Shearia areas; and they were attacked because they were mostly Zaghawa, one of the non-Arab or African tribal groups of Darfur. Moreover, the timing of the massive Janjaweed attack makes it highly likely that the signal for the raids came from Khartoum's military. That's because several days before the onslaught, the Sudan Liberation Army (SLA) assaulted a nearby government military garrison in Golo, killing several of Khartoum's regular troops. The SLA in this part of Darfur draws heavily from the Zaghawa--the targets of the subsequent Janjaweed attacks.

[...]

What will the State Department and its U.N. ambassador, John Bolton, do? (After all, it was Bolton who several months ago prevented the Security Council from hearing a report on Darfur by Juan Méndez, U.N. special advisor on the prevention of genocide, declaring that he was sick of reports and wanted "action.") The answer has come in three parts. First, Frazer pointedly refused to say that genocide was still taking place. Second, Bolton has introduced a "Statement by the President of the Security Council"--not a resolution, which would actually have authorizing force, but a statement that will enable only contingency planning for some sort of U.N. mission while serving largely as a diplomatic placeholder for the United States during the month of February. Finally, behind the scenes at Turtle Bay, there is an effort underway to limit the mission that will actually deploy when the United Nations takes over for the largely ineffectual African Union troops, according to a U.N. military official involved in the planning.

This last move is particularly disturbing. The goal seems to be to make the new force so unthreatening to Khartoum that the regime will accept it as the price of forestalling any further, more robust, international efforts. According to the U.N. military official, several members of the Security Council, including the United States, are seeking to deny the mission much of the sophisticated equipment Kofi Annan spoke of at several points in January ("tactical air support, helicopters, and the ability to respond very quickly"; "very sophisticated equipment, logistical support").

Asked if such a force would include rich countries, like the United States and European nations, Annan said last month that "those are the countries with the kind of capabilities we will need, so when the time comes, we will be turning to them. ... I will be turning to governments with capacity to join in that peacekeeping operation if we were to be given the mandate." But according to the U.N. military official, neither the United States nor European nations will be asked to contribute a significant number of troops to the mission.

Moreover, it remains to be seen whether the United States or the Europeans will push for a Chapter VII mandate (which would give U.N. forces peacemaking authority) or a Chapter VI mandate (which would only give U.N. forces peacekeeping authority). The latter would be wholly inadequate to stop the genocide, since there is presently no peace to keep.

Of equal concern is the size of the U.N. force. The U.N. military official says that Security Council members are seeking to impose a ceiling of 12,000 on the number of troops. Such a force would not be nearly large enough to provide security for Darfuris seeking to return to their land. Absent a peace agreement that is nowhere in sight, the failure to provide enough troops would consign more than 2 million displaced persons and refugees to camps where the only constants of life are insecurity, disease, and desperation.

If this is as much as the United Nations is prepared to offer the victims of genocide, then the international community will have failed Darfur once more, and yet more profoundly. Then again, if it's not really a genocide, the failure will be of lesser moral magnitude--part of the ordinary bumbling and stumbling of the international community. So evidently goes the thinking of the Bush administration.

Of course the Europeans are just as guilty here: Their Parliament declared that realities in Darfur were "tantamount to genocide" in September 2004--the vote was 566 to 6--and they were present in September 2005 when the U.N. World Summit formally proclaimed "a responsibility to protect" civilians when "national authorities are manifestly failing to protect their populations from genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing, and crimes against humanity." Fine words. Unsurprisingly, no European leaders seem inclined to act on those words. They could learn a valuable lesson in realpolitik from the State Department: If you can't stop a genocide, just call it something else.

Rather than kicking the UN, or the U.S., or "Europe," maybe it would be more useful to put positive pressure on all around. And to actually do some reading on the issues, and become familair with the basic facts and basic debate and basic proposals that have been on the table for two years now.

Charles: "The Janjaweeds are armed with guns and they mount their raids on horseback, chdb. They might have a few helicopters."

The Sudanese government does give them some helicopter support at times, yes. A bit of fixed-wing support at times, as well.

"It won't take much personnel or firepower to defeat them."

This isn't very realistically true. Should a serious NATO force go in, it would need to lay down a no-fly zone (which I think is one of the first steps that should be taken; this is not an unusual point, it's one that most followers of the situation have been calling for for about two years now), and the Sudanese government is quite apt to at least verbally call this an act of war, and quite likely to take some sort of retailiatory steps, ranging from possibly renouncing the fragile and unstead peace agreement regarding their actual, unrelated, civil war, and possibly up to fully attacking the foreign forces, and possibly moving into a full-scale war.

Now, on the strictly formal order-of-battle paper analysis, defeating the Sudanese military is not a huge deal, including taking out their jets and airfields. But this is apt to lead to war, and a massive hate-on from the northern populace.

But, of course, on that front, defeating the formal Iraqi military was a larger, more significant not-a-major-issue and one can also look at our dalliance in Somalia for another frame of reference.

I want a variety of steps to be taken in Sudan, but anyone who thinks it's a minor matter of exercising some minor military force has no clue whatever as to what they're talking about. The deeper that military steps are taken there, make no mistake, the deeper those taking and supporting them will be involved, and the more responsibility those taking them will assume, and the more difficult it will be to withdraw.

I advocate a number of actions, but not without full awareness of the dangers of further and deeper involvement, as well as awareness of the moral responsibility of standing by.

There is no simple black and white clarity to the moral issues of Darfur, any more than there were to Iraq (a very different situation indeed, of course; I'm simply saying that there was no moral purity involved in either saying "we must invade right now without question" or "no, we must not invade, and then we shall be morally pure!").

The lack of black and white moral choices, and the complexities of both various types of involvement, and of largely sitting on our hands when we have the power to act, are, dare I say, really important things to know what one is talking about before actually talking about them. In my opinion.

For more of my opinion, read my last few dozen or so of my posts on the subject, which again, you can find linked here, or if you want direct links to my other recommendations and informational posts, a non-complete set of them would be these: here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, and so on.

You can also check, among many other good sites, the Darfur Human Rights Watch page. What You Can Do. Donate To The Save Darfur Coalition here. Send e-postcard to President Bush here. Read about Rally To Stop Genocide -- April 30th -- D.C. here. Darfur Genocide.org here. Check everything out thoroughly for yourself, then see if there's something you might want to do.

I should add that President Bush made his most recent statement on Darfur subseqent to Reeves' piece, as is perfectly clear in my full post from the other day. What this will actually translate into in terms of what Mr. Bolton does at the UN, remains to be seen, and I wouldn't begin to care to guess. Ditto what will happen in the Senate, although you can read some nice words from Senators Brownback and Obama also in that same last post of mine. (And Darfur is an issue where I give credit to Christian evangelical organizations, and their elected Senators, such as Brownback [I make the faint ha-ha there] I otherwise have many harsh disagreements with; I'll take allies on specific issues where I can get them, and I won't be fussy, if some good can come of it.)

It is especially odious in this particular case because whatever your thoughts on Fox News, I have not seen any evidence that Rosett is inaccurate or disreputable in her reporting on the UN.

How I wish more conservatives took this fair and reasoned approach to weighing sources before bleating, 'Liberal bias! Liberal bias!'

I think the out-of-hand dismissal of Fox News is a regrettable practice by liberals, but the rhetoric is more than matched by those on the right who dismiss anything unfavorable coming from The NY Times, NewsWeek, CBS, etc -- basically, anything but Fox and the Washington Times -- as inherently utterly unreliable and probably libelous.

This is not to say, 'It's okay because they do it' -- I'll leave that to conservatives who defend wiretapping with twisted Clinton flashbacks. Just that the knee-jerk-dismissal is an easy habit to get into if one lives outside the relatively principled world of OBW.

That was a most thought-provoking column. You are even smarter and more aware than Mike Salazar, if that could be true.

The thought most-provoked has to be, why does hilzoy hang around with you?

"That was a most thought-provoking column."

My guess is that this is addressed to Charles, although it's impossible to tell for sure, and he doesn't have a "column" here, although maybe he does on the front of his house (I wouldn't know). Or maybe it's a Fifth Column, or something.

"You are even smarter and more aware than Mike Salazar, if that could be true."

Who the heck is Mike Salazar, or, at least, which one are you talking about, and why?

"The thought most-provoked has to be, why does hilzoy hang around with you?"

It's not clear to me that Charles and Hilzoy have even ever met, though I could be wrong.

Otherwise, the point of ObWi is to have bloggers from different political perspectives. Further queries might perhaps be pursued here.

I think the out-of-hand dismissal of Fox News is a regrettable practice by liberals...

That might be true in the abstract but I've logged several hundred hours of watching FOX News -- long story -- and I see no reason to disparage the practice.

No, THIS is ad hominem:

never mind, I was going to just uncork a lot of unsavory terms. I'm nominating this thread for a 'baggie.

I'm flabbergasted - here's an interesting post about a very dire subject, Darfur. Lots of ground for discussion. Then.. First, a besides about Kofi Annan is added to the post, something which seems like wrong judgement because Charles Bird should have the experience to know by now that adding it will serve as red meat, and following that, the entire comments thread goes off to talk about wether or not someone posted an ad hominem against some reporter. Who. Really. Cares. Farber really has got some point about nothing non-partisan being interesting to anyone in blogland. I would have expected more of Obsidian Wings.

Why on earth Charles made such a point of gratuitously insulting Kofi Annan is discussed on an ObWing metablog.

The original post is not really the problem, it's just bad judgement. It's the commenters that only care about the red meat in the post and start having one of the least valuable discussions ever, while the thread's real topic is so much more interesting.

Frank Quist,

Unfortunately, a series of responses saying "I agree, we should be doing more to prevent genocide" does not an interesting discussion make.

Moreover, stating that including extraneous red meat in a post is bad judgment does not do justice to the frequency such "bad judgment" is present in Charles's posts. My introduction to Charles was when he posted at Tacitus, and none of his commentaries on the 2004 election were complete without a "John Kerry looks French" swipe.

So, Frank, what do you propose be done? It is not altogether clear that the administration is interested in helping in Darfur, given the effort that has gone into undercutting the UN as well as Bolton's other unguarded comments. Bush's statement about NATO intervention was accompanied with Pentagon statements that it is "premature to speculate" on potential increases in U.S. troops as well as Cheney saying "I am satisfied we're doing everything we can do." One could also make the argument that Chas is doing the same, calling for action simply as a way of creating a rhetoric that says 'you are only serious about issues if you cooperate with me'.

I only speak for myself, but I can't imagine that any US foreign policy initiative can be carried out in the current political atmosphere. None, nada, zero, zippo, niets. In fact, I believe that at your blog, this post has this Howard Dean quote:

Now is the time for the world community to act if they are serious about encouraging an enlightened leadership role for the United States. My challenge to the U.N. and Europe is simple: if you don’t like American diplomacy under George Bush, then do something to show those of us in opposition here in the U.S. that you can behave in such a way that unilateralism is not necessary.

I'm not positive what your Dutch comment means, but one aspect of Dean's comment is that there is precious little liberals can do without more opposition to the administration. While Obama can link up with Brownback, if you do not understand the difficulties of people who oppose the administration simply drop everything and embrace the cause of Sudan, you really don't understand where 'blogland' (or Charles) is situated.

...while the thread's real topic is so much more interesting.

I agree in the abstract but there's really only so much one can say to the tune of "Yes, I oppose genocide" and I've pretty much said it already. Yes, I oppose genocide; yes, I want multinational military and economic involvement in Sudan to both stop the genocide and to rebuild the social fabric that's been all but annihilated in Darfur (and probably elsewhere too); yes, I'd be prepared to support a unilateral effort on the part of the US, although I'd really really really rather it were multilateral since I doubt our capacity to run two nation-building exercises simultaneously; no, I don't think any of these are going to happen any time soon; and yes, I think it's a moral blight on those nations which sit idle while hundreds of thousands are slaughtered.

Should anyone else be able to take this conversation in a new direction, I'd be happy to follow along; as it is, every conversation I've had about Darfur seems to be universal agreement on those points above -- with occasionally snippy disagreement about who, exactly, in the international community deserves the blame, and how much -- followed by a resigned sigh, a moment of silence, and a changing of the subject to something less... bleak.

If not, what relevance does this have?

The same relevance as you bringing in FoxNews, Jes.

ISTR you've used a similar standard with respect to other media persons in the past, so I don't know how sturdy a position you're in to be complaining about someone else doing it now.

Show me where, Phil. The one I do recall was when Edward was using a hack like Greg Palast as an authoritative source, and I did go a little ad hom in my Hue post but I admitted it up front.

The thought most-provoked has to be, why does hilzoy hang around with you?

Thanks for your response, Robert. I will give your comments their just due.

For everyone else, Gary made important comments both here and at his website. If a blog surge can put a port deal on the front pages for a week, then surely the same can be done for the sake of stopping genocide.

I appreciate what you say, Anarch, Liberal Japonicus and Dantheman.. I was sort of quick in judgement in my frustration at another ObWi thread like this, and especially this one, and did not consider the point that there were not much points. Still, it seems there's still more to discuss about Darfur than just wether it's bad or not (which you both say). I'm not in the position knowledgefully, but obviously Gary Farber manages to find things to discuss?

Liberal Japonicus,

I have trouble with understanding where 'blogland' is situated. I understand that there's a great lack of common sense and good faith, and that US politics are messed up big time. But I do not share the emotions and frustrations I usually see in this thread and in your post to the full extend, because I'm just not american and cannot get as worked up over Fox news and seaports etc.

I've lurked at Tacitus and then Obsidian Wings since when it was founded and while I'm impressed by how often Charles manages to throw in some remark that seems to overshadow the rest of his post by his snark. You can dwell on that endlessly in comment threads, but I thought there was a seperate blog for that now. I'm usually more impressed by how the commenters always go for the 'troll' remark in the post and (generally) discard the rest, like here. I'm as a dedicated lurker (refusing to comment because I cannot distill points well and get too longwinded, as is obvious) tired by seeing an interesting topic post and then no insightful discussion about it, esp. on blogs I like so much as ObWi. So, I don't know 100% where 'blogland' is, but since I've been seeing these discussions derail into (what I consider to be) useless back-and-forth bickering, maybe this isn't the way to have 'blogland' go from wherever it is right now to a better place. It seems like people just keep being stuck in one place. I've seen these discussions since they took place on Tacitus - with a couple of nuances different perhaps.

It seems to me you're saying that discussing a subject like Darfur is fruitless here in the comment section, but how is that different from what discussing Claudia Rosett is going to do? It seems like fatalism (bit maybe I'm misinterpreting) - what Charles Bird says in his last post regarding the port deal then seems more constructive (even though possibly naive). I am as hard-pressed to state how to fix Darfur. But why not discuss how to move things further, either on Darfur or with the country, instead of focusing on the Weekly Standard and Fox? The blog post at Amygdala and Bird's thread sure provide some ammunition.

I'm not positive what your Dutch comment means, but one aspect of Dean's comment is that there is precious little liberals can do without more opposition to the administration. While Obama can link up with Brownback, if you do not understand the difficulties of people who oppose the administration simply drop everything and embrace the cause of Sudan, you really don't understand where 'blogland' (or Charles) is situated.

The dutch part of my post was on agreeing with Dean - it seems to me it's intellectually dishonest to at one time bash US imperialism from abroad as a group of modern wealthy nations (EU) and at the meantime refuse to put effort into providing an alternative. This especially strikes true with Darfur. I was pleasantly surprised by Dean being somewhat of a hawk on this issue. Can the EU be made into changing habits?

Oh, and regarding 'bad judgement' vs. (I assume) 'bad faith' on Charles' part, if it's bad judgement you don't get anywhere by derailing the thread, if it's bad faith, you give him what he wants. Either way, you're off.

Thanks Frank, I appreciate you taking the time to respond, I can't say where blogland is objectively situated, but for me, it lies in a place where someone could express an opinion and I could ask 'well, why do you think that? What experience supports that assertion? If not experiences, what datapoint(s) that you have found support your take' And the thing is, there are a lot of people with interesting experiences, and a lot of pairs of eyes looking at stuff is much more efficient at turning things up. As an example, I give this post that discusses one person's experiences with the Somali refugee community in Ohio.

The reason why the subject of Sudan is resistant is that, at least in the context of this blog, there are not a lot of people here with experiences to illuminate what is going on and it's not like there are different plans out there that need to be weighed. And speaking for myself, since Gary has weighed in, I am hesitant to mention anything for fear of Gary telling me that he already wrote about it. (in the last story that Gary became this engrossed in was Katrina, and I felt that I could add something because I was from the region and was in touch with people who weren't in this community) And Gary hasn't (as far as I can see), laid out different plans of action. Sign the petitions, send money, write your senator. What else to do?

Turning to Charles, I appreciate him posting, but I'm not sure what information he brings to this that is new, except for his swipe at Annan. In fact, given that he has attempted to undercut the reporting of human rights organizations (most famously Amnesty International, but his opinion about HRW is expressed here as a comment to a post on Sudan) by dismissing their concerns about human rights abuses in Guatanamo and Abu Grahaib and accusing them of bad faith. Whether Charles himself realizes what he is doing or not, zeroing in on the point of Claudia Rosett and problems of the UN is an attempt (or attack, those often end up looking a lot alike in blog conversations) to suggest to him that he should consider why he is posting. You cannot consistently bash and undercut organizations and then turn around and berate people for not jumping in when you feel the subject is important enough. When examined from my perch, it is close enough to bad faith that it makes me not really want to participate because my lack of knowledge leads to an inability to add to the discussion. The paucity of contributions by other regulars here suggests that I'm not alone. This could have been a thread about Charles, and it's a sign of how serious the subject is that it is not a thread about him, because making him realize that oil for food has nothing to do with Darfur in any meaningful sense is more important than taking the energy to verbally spar with him or complain that if the administration really wants to do something, they would send troops unilaterally. It is horrific that a demonstration is required to assume good faith, but that is how far we have fallen with this administration.

Interesting post on targeted sanctions at TAPPED.

"And Gary hasn't (as far as I can see), laid out different plans of action. Sign the petitions, send money, write your senator. What else to do?"

I'll see what I can do to respond to this, but not today, and possibly not until next week. Meanwhile, one can investigate on one's own, and come to one's own suggestions and conclusions, I suggest. Does the Japanese government and media have anything to say about Darfur, by the way? (I know you're not a Japanese citizen, of course; but you do live there, so I expect you'd know more than I do.) It does seem to me that the right-wing Japanese who are eager to see the Constitution revised, and to see Japan's Self-Defense Forces expand their scope, and all, could make a better case with yet another example of Japan taking yet more responsibility by, say, selflessly offering to do more in Darfur by way of making military assets available, or even troops. At the very least, they could add to the diplomatic pressure, for whatever little that's worth (it's worth far more in terms of pushing other governments around the world to allow more to be done than to directly push the Sudanese government, I suspect). Just a thought.

No, there is very little being said about Sudan, or about Africa in Japan, Sudan being 'too risky'. Of course, this is not too surprising, given that there are only 35 Japanese nationals living in Sudan. I don't like assigning personalities to governments of countries, but after the notion that Japan could act as a go-between for the Iranian nuclear problem was slapped down, I have to imagine that Japan is certainly not interested in exploring any possibilities and I'm not sure how the urging of ex-pats living in the Japan could change that.

You cannot consistently bash and undercut organizations and then turn around and berate people for not jumping in when you feel the subject is important enough.

I plead guilty to bashing, LJ, but not undercutting. Same goes with AI. I don't want either organization gone or crippled, just better. I'm especially harsh with Annan because he is directly responsible for making the UN less relevant. So many squandered opportunities.

I hasten to add that this is directed at what you write, but what is the difference between bashing and undercutting, except that one hits you over the head and the other cuts your legs out?

Yikes: More Than 100 Killed in Iraq Following Mosque Attack

BTW: What is going to be done about what is going on in Iraq ????

"BTW: What is going to be done about what is going on in Iraq ????"

I say we deploy more punctuation marks.

We must draw a line in the sand. With as many exclamation marks as possible.

I say we deploy more punctuation marks.

We must draw a line in the sand. With as many exclamation marks as possible.

That's ad hominem against Kaye Grogan and Marie Jon'.

what is the difference between bashing and undercutting

"Undercut" can be used as a synonym for "undermine", see e.g. meaning #4 here -- CB is saying that his criticism may be harsh, but it's meant to be constructive.

kenb,
not to be too snarky, but does this mean that if I'm a Bush-basher, I am merely supplying constructive (albeit harsh) criticism? I know some would argue that, but Charles approvingly quotes the WaPo here.

Worrying about the use of a word may seem like mere semantics, but it is not. Turning a report on prisoner detention into another excuse for Bush-bashing or America-bashing undermines Amnesty's legitimate criticisms of U.S. policies and weakens the force of its investigations of prison systems in closed societies. It also gives the administration another excuse to dismiss valid objections to its policies as "hysterical."

I don't usually cut and paste entire articles, but this one deserved it.

I'm sure there is a line to be drawn between bashing and undermining, (as no two words mean exactly the same thing) but the cheerful way Charles owns up to his tendency to bash, even if he thinks he isn't 'undermining' Annan, the UN, Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, might be part of the problem.

Actually, I was thinking as I wrote that last comment that the UN-bashing discussion seemed to be the mirror image of the usual "America-hater" dynamic. So really, you ought to accept Charles' statement of good faith, just as you would want him to assume that your criticism of American actions is similarly made with good intentions.

I don't want either organization gone or crippled, just better.

Unfortunately, your definition of "better" appears to be "does not criticize the US for crimes against human rights" in Amnesty International's case, and the same, with an added "Does whatever the US tells it to do" in the UN's case. To most people in the world, that would cripple both organizations. Indeed, given the power the US wields at the UN, it's arguable that the US has the UN crippled anyway - and complains because, although crippled and incapable of acting against the US, the UN will still not always act as an obedient tool of the US.

As when, for example, the UN declined to approve the US's aggressive war against Iraq.

So really, you ought to accept Charles' statement of good faith, just as you would want him to assume that your criticism of American actions is similarly made with good intentions.

I would if he would acknowledge the points that are raised every time he makes these assertions. Let me cut and paste what Anarch wrote over at HoCB concerning Annan.

* The scandal's not nearly as big as the right-wing would like to believe. No-one's sure of the exact numbers but we're talking low billions here, not the $21.3 billion that I think Norm Coleman vomited forth. That's not chump change, mind, but it's probably an order of magnitude smaller than often relayed.

[To put this in perspective, the amount of money gone walkabout under the Food-for-Oil scandal over 6 years is probably less than half of the money that's gone walkabout through the CPA in half that time. Four times the goodness there. It's not the UN's scandal, of course... but I somehow refuse to let that console me.]

* You want a larger scandal that more directly concerns the UN? Consider the oil smuggling operations during the sanctions, which every single commmission agrees was significantly greater -- the Senate committee in fact said something like three times greater -- than the OFF kickbacks. Where's the prosecutorial outrage over that?

* "Annan's office" didn't run the oil-for-food in any meaningful sense; it was run by Sevan, who has since resigned (and yes, I think he should be prosecuted too), through the OIP, a subsidiary -- and on these matters, largely independent -- office to the Secretariat.

* The other players, particularly the UNSC members on the 661 committee and the corrupt Western companies that actually profited -- to the tune of millions -- haven't received an iota of the dire outrage Annan has received...

* ...despite the fact that Annan himself has yet to be proven part of the scandal beyond the fevered dreams of Safire & co. His son, yes; Annan himself, not so much.

* Oh, and for all its corruption, OFF actually worked. Which is something conveniently overlooked in most of these recountings.

It's a big scandal all right, and I'd like for those involved to be properly punished... but that includes winding down the outrage machine and stopping the gratuitous calumnies against people who don't deserve them. Annan was weak, I agree, and he should have done more to prevent the scandal; but to tar him as responsible is both wrong and, to my eye, an attempt to shift the blame from those who are culpable to a man who makes a convenient scapegoat -- quite possibly for reasons entirely unrelated to his putative involvement in this scandal.

I could assemble a similar list for Amnesty or for Human Rights Watch.

Now put this on the scale with the genocide that is occuring. Either Charles just doesn't realize that the two things are incommensurable, or he just doesn't care. If it is the former, then I'm not sure what other way this can be said, and if it is the latter, then it is bad faith and assuming he is repeating these things in good faith distorts the discussion.

Once again, I'm just struck by the similarities -- your reaction to CB on the UN & AI is very reminiscent of CB & Sebastian's reaction to Chomsky. At what point is it fair to deduce from someone's consistent over-the-top criticism of X that (s)he is an X-hater rather than simply dissatisfied with X?

LJ, Anarch wrote a lengthy response but for the most part he failed to answer my challenge, which was "which UN financial scandal is bigger than oil-for-food". His best point was the smuggling, but that had to do with UN sanctions violations, a routine thing for Saddam (cite).

Unfortunately, your definition of "better" appears to be "does not criticize the US for crimes against human rights" in Amnesty International's case, and the same, with an added "Does whatever the US tells it to do" in the UN's case.

You're lying again, Jes. Please refrain.

Perhaps at the point when you have to call on the resources and standing of one to stop a genocide.

And I would add that I have criticized Chomsky and acknowledged problematic points about him both here and at HoCB. Yet, when it is pointed out by people who have some familiarity with Chomsky's work that he is not, in fact, for example, communist, we are told that we are Chomsky 'supporters'. It is hard to determine whether an accusation of bad faith or an accusation of lack of thought is worse.

Anarch wrote a lengthy response but for the most part he failed to answer my challenge

Charles, your response to the 5 points that Anarch made was this

The buck stops at Annan because he started the program and it happened on his watch. That's how it works with elected leaders, Anarch. Michael Brown proved to be incompetent, but the utlimate responsibility lies with the man who appointed him. Same standards apply.

Perhaps I'm being narrow minded here, but I don't see this as being in any way responsive, especially when it has been pointed out multiple times that the power of the office of UN Secretary General is far less than POTUS or even perhaps of a weak prime minister. I don't see you engaging Anarch or trying to figure out precisely what points you disagree with, I see you hiding behind a definition of responsibility that applies to Annan, but doesn't apply to you know who. And simply saying that you hold Bush responsible does not immunize you from the charge that you are trying to have it both ways.

You have infinite energy to spar with jes of the truthfulness of comments and craft responses like this

You wrote, "about once a month you post this crap about the UN and the oil for food scandal." If you're interested in the facts, BSR, the last time I wrote a post about the UN was last June, and even that was a side issue to the central topic.

(this wasn't Jes, but BSR jftr)

Again, this is genocide and we are getting into questions of whether someone correctly got the frequency of your posting. Misguided response or bad faith? It doesn't really matter because the net effect is the same.

I am on record asking people to tone it down with you, and try and concentrate on the matter at hand and I know that it may be hard to ignore some snark. But I would like to think that if you spent a little more time responding to comments like Anarch's in a meaningful way and less worrying about how often you post on particular subjects, things would die out for lack of fuel.

Charles, your response to the 5 points that Anarch made was this

No, LJ, it was this.

I see you hiding behind a definition of responsibility that applies to Annan, but doesn't apply to you know who.

If it were just the financial scandals, I would probably not demand Annan's removal. In prior posts, I laid out my case re Annan and the multiple reasons why he is the wrong leader at the wrong time. Anarch picked on one thing, sort of answered my challenge re oil smuggling, then wondered why Bush shouldn't be impeached for Katrina. My personal opinion is that it would be much less damaging--even beneficial--to fire a goddawful UN Secretary General than impeach a mediocre president. Impeachment shouldn't even be an issue because it is so absurdly unrealistic in a Congress that is Republican and will most likely stay that way through the end of his term. Bush would have to commit a doozy of a high crime or misdemeanor, and there is no evidence of that.

Again, this is genocide and we are getting into questions of whether someone correctly got the frequency of your posting.

LJ, perhaps the better place to discuss it is over there, not here.

"If it were just the financial scandals, I would probably not demand Annan's removal."

Charles, Annan leaves office at the end of the year, and the news media has been full of the news about the ongoing discussions as to who the new Secretary-General will be (Asian or not, is one of the big arguments, since China seems to be indicating they'll veto any non-Asian choice).

What the point is of "demand[ing] Annan's removal," when he is being removed escapes me. You might as well also get to work on demanding that President Bush be removed from office in November, 2008 (or January, 2009, if you prefer) -- except that Annan's removal will be two years sooner -- if you enjoy spending your energy and rhetoric on such useful campaigns. There's simply no possible way Annan's successor could be chosen any more quickly than it is now being chosen. So what's your darn point?

Anarch picked on one thing, sort of answered my challenge re oil smuggling, then wondered why Bush shouldn't be impeached for Katrina.

Good god, were we both in that conversation? 'cause the one I was having didn't go anything like that.

For reference: I was disputing the implication -- later made explicit -- tying Annan to the OFF scandal. When pressed for details, I pointed out the shoddiness of that argument (see above for details), including answering your challenge for details of a greater corruption scandal -- which happened to have also been tied to UN dealings with Iraq, and which dwarfed the OFF by at least 50% and likely by at least 300% -- as well as pointing out that corruption under our watch in Iraq dwarfed that of the OFF too; as well as pointing out your rather conspicuous silence on the latter issues relative to your stridence on the former.

As for calling for Bush's impeachment, perhaps you'd care to re-read the statements under consideration?

Anarch: Annan was weak, I agree, and he should have done more to prevent the scandal; but to tar him as responsible is both wrong and, to my eye, an attempt to shift the blame from those who are culpable to a man who makes a convenient scapegoat -- quite possibly for reasons entirely unrelated to his putative involvement in this scandal.
Charles Bird: The buck stops at Annan because he started the program and it happened on his watch. That's how it works with elected leaders, Anarch. Michael Brown proved to be incompetent, but the utlimate responsibility lies with the man who appointed him. Same standards apply.
Anarch: I take it you then support the ouster of President Bush for the failings during Katrina?

Note very carefully that I didn't wonder why Bush shouldn't be impeached for Katrina, I wondered why your logic for wanting Annan's ouster re OFF didn't equally apply to wanting Bush's ouster re the fiasco of the response to Katrina.

And finally:

My personal opinion is that it would be much less damaging--even beneficial--to fire a goddawful UN Secretary General than impeach a mediocre president.

I'd agree, and when you find a mediocre president please let me know. Until then, I'm hoping that this trainwreck of a catastrophe we call the Bush Administration will disappear into the murk as quickly as possible.

LJ, perhaps the better place to discuss it is over there, not here.

Your wish is my command

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