Mandela: communist antisemite

I’m still honest enough to give Nelson Mandela major kudos for electing not to turn South Africa into a racially-charged bloodbath when he became president.  He could easily have chosen another tactic, and it speaks well of him that, for whatever reasons, he elected to go the way of peace rather than the way of war.  But….

While I knew that Archbishop Desmond Tutu was an anti-Semite who attacked Israel, I did not realize that Mandela too, like all good Communists, was the worst kind of anti-Semite.  I find that unforgivable.  That is, I can admire and applaud the good Mandela did, but that doesn’t give him a pass on the evil fomented.  A man who embraces Arafat is a bad man, plain and simple.

Oh, and speaking of embracing Arafat:

Clintons and Arafat

Although, after all these years, one could ask, “What difference, at this point, does it make?”  Well, it makes a big difference, but that’s for another post.

Nelson Mandela, RIP

nelson-mandela

I didn’t like Nelson Mandela’s communism, but in all other ways he was a truly admirable, dignified, and iconic figure, who stared down a tyrannical system, mouldered for decades in prison and, through the strength of his personality, ensured that South Africa transitioned fairly peacefully from an apartheid nation to a nation that, at least in the law books, considered all citizens equal regardless of skin color.

My very limited understanding of events in South Africa today, though, is that the peace he achieved was very tenuous, and that white South Africans are feeling increasingly less secure.  Indeed, from what I’ve read, many are bracing themselves for race riots now that he’s gone.  In other words, it appears that his legacy will not outlast him.

Thoughts about torture and our self-referential president

I finally got around to watching Zero Dark Thirty, the film about the decade-long hunt for bin Laden.  Before it came out, conservatives were concerned because the White House gave the filmmakers unprecedented access to information about the hunt and about the actual hit on bin Laden.  This opened up the possibility that (a) the movie would betray America’s security secrets and (b) the movie would become a pro-Obama piece of political propaganda.

I don’t know whether the first fear was realized, but the second certainly wasn’t.  Those who claim that the movie supports using torture to obtain information are correct.  The movie opens with audio of phone calls from people trapped in the Twin Towers, and then shifts to a torture site somewhere vaguely Middle Eastern looking.  The torturer is a CIA man.  The person being tortured is a money man for al Qaeda.  Having heard that audio, you are not sympathetic to the al Qaeda guy.

Because of the CIA’s torture tactics, the man gives them useful names.  This happens repeatedly, with al Qaeda members getting hung in chains, hit, subject to water torture, deprived of sleep and human dignity, etc., and eventually revealing names and phone numbers.  The movie makes it clear that they are not being tortured for fun.  They are being tortured to get them to yield information about their, and other people’s, role in killing 3,000 Americans.

The film also makes the point that this information is necessary.  Every so often, after showing CIA interrogations aimed at drawing out a little more information about al Qaeda, the film breaks in with news reports about the Khobar Tower bombing, or the London bombing, or the Islamabad Marriott bombing.  The implication is that it’s vitally necessary for the CIA to crack open al Qaeda’s notoriously closed infrastructure.

The CIA operatives in the movie are dismayed when the situation in Washington changes, making “enhanced” interrogation techniques impossible.  As one says when his boss demands that he get information, if they ask someone in Gitmo, he’ll just get lawyered up and the lawyer will pass on the question to al Qaeda, which can then use it to their advantage.  The only “anti-torture” argument in the movie is a 30 second or so snippet of President Obama saying torture is “not who we are.”

That’s not who we are?  What a funny way to frame a rather more fundamental argument:  Are we, as a society, willing to have our public servants use torture for certain limited purposes?  That’s the question, and the movie answers with a definitive “yes.”  If using torture will get information that can save hundreds, thousands or (G*d forbid) millions of lives, torture is not just appropriate, it’s necessary.  We don’t torture for pleasure or “to make a point,” we do it to save lives.

As for Obama’s that’s “not who we are” statement, I was struck then, as I always am, by how self-referential Barack and Michelle are.  They were at it again in Africa.  Michelle, the spoiled darling of a middle-class Chicago family, said that she’s just like the Senegalese (and before that, she was just like youths in Chicago’s worst ghettos).  I know she’s striving for empathy, but it just ends up looking narcissistic.

Obama is worse, though, because he is America’s official spokesman.  While in Senegal, the press asked him about his response to the Supreme Court’s decisions opening the door for national gay marriage.  (By the way, I like Andrew Klavan’s take.)  Obama, of course, approves.  Not only did he say that, he used the question as an opportunity to talk about gay rights as human rights.  This is actually an important thing, because gays are subject to terrible abuse in both Muslim and Christian Africa.  No matter how one feels about gay marriage or homosexuality, the torture, imprisonment, and murder gays experience throughout Africa is a true crime against human rights.

With the gay marriage question, Obama — who is the greatest orator since Lincoln, right? — had the opportunity to make a profound statement about basic principles of human dignity.  Instead, he embarked upon a wandering rumination about his feelings and his thoughts:

The issue of gays and lesbians, and how they’re treated, has come up and has been controversial in many parts of Africa. So I want the African people just to hear what I believe, and that is that every country, every group of people, every religion have different customs, different traditions. And when it comes to people’s personal views and their religious faith, et cetera, I think we have to respect the diversity of views that are there.

But when it comes to how the state treats people, how the law treats people, I believe that everybody has to be treated equally. I don’t believe in discrimination of any sort. That’s my personal view. And I speak as somebody who obviously comes from a country in which there were times when people were not treated equally under the law, and we had to fight long and hard through a civil rights struggle to make sure that happens.

So my basic view is that regardless of race, regardless of religion, regardless of gender, regardless of sexual orientation, when it comes to how the law treats you, how the state treats you — the benefits, the rights and the responsibilities under the law — people should be treated equally. And that’s a principle that I think applies universally, and the good news is it’s an easy principle to remember.

Every world religion has this basic notion that is embodied in the Golden Rule — treat people the way you want to be treated. And I think that applies here as well. (Emphasis added.)

No wonder that the Senegalese president Mackey Sall had no compunction about delivering a smackdown to the American president. And I do mean a smackdown, since he told Obama that he was a hypocrite to say that every culture has its own way of doing things, and Obama totally respects that, it’s just that the American way is better:

These issues are all societal issues basically, and we cannot have a standard model which is applicable to all nations, all countries — you said it, we all have different cultures. We have different religions. We have different traditions. And even in countries where this has been decriminalized and homosexual marriage is allowed, people don’t share the same views.

Obama is a petty mind with a bully pulpit.

A French military victory in Mali — and a dismal American record

The Malians are thrilled, as they should be, and the French should be pretty darn proud themselves:

French troops headed to Mali

Residents of Mali’s northern town of Gao, captured from sharia-observing Islamist rebels by French and Malian troops, danced in the streets to drums and music on Sunday as the French-led offensive also drove the rebels from Timbuktu.

The weekend gains made at Gao and Timbuktu by the French and Malian troops capped a two-week whirlwind intervention by France in its former Sahel colony, which has driven al Qaeda-allied militant fighters northwards into the desert and mountains.

So, let’s see what we have here:

Another hanging in Iran

Another hanging in Iran

On the US side, President Obama, without consent from Congress, brings US forces to Libya to destroy a nominal US ally, creating a power vacuum that al Qaeda fills, with disastrous results for four Americans serving their country in Benghazi.  Also, President Obama uses the full force of diplomatic pressure in Egypt to force out a nominal US ally, creating a power vacuum that the Muslim Brother fills, with disastrous results for the Egyptian people, who are now rioting in the streets, and quite possibly creates an existential threat Israel.  When it comes to Syria, whose tyrannical leader Obama and his political friends had praises, Obama does nothing at all, leading to mass murders throughout the country, and another major Middle Eastern refugee crisis.  Likewise, in Iran, when the people rose to challenge a tyrannical government that had abandoned even the pretense of democratic procedures, Obama stood by silently.

Obama's bitch is Egyptian dictator

Meanwhile, on the French side, in two weeks the French destroyed al Qaeda’s tightening group on a moderate Muslim nation, leading historically moderate Muslims to celebrate and to beg the French to stick around.

Obama, in common with all Progressives, tends to believe that there’s a “right side to history.”  Perhaps he ought to revisit the notion, because he seems to be on the wrong side every time.

The New York Times comes out pro-gun: but only for African elephant protection

Babar's mother getting shot

As far as the New York Times and the rest of American Progressives are concerned, those Americans who insist that they want to exercise their Second Amendment rights for self-protection are delusional and, quite possibly, nascent psychopathic killers.  Guns are bad.  Really, really bad.  The evidence is irrelevant because . . . yes, guns are bad.

Except that guns aren’t always bad.  While your average Progressive understands that they’re obviously a bad idea when people use them to protect themselves, they’re a very good — indeed, an innovative idea — when Africans come together with guns to protect elephants.

I am not delusional (nor am I a nascent psychopathic killer).  The New York Times practically vibrates with excitement as it describes the way Kenyans have armed themselves and come together to protect elephants from poachers:

From Tanzania to Cameroon, tens of thousands of elephants are being poached each year, more than at any time in decades, because of Asia’s soaring demand for ivory. Nothing seems to be stopping it, including deploying national armies, and the bullet-riddled carcasses keep stacking up. Scientists say that at this rate, African elephants could soon go the way of the wild American bison.

But in this stretch of northern Kenya, destitute villagers have seized upon an unconventional solution that, if replicated elsewhere, could be the key to saving thousands of elephants across Africa, conservationists say. In a growing number of communities here, people are so eager, even desperate, to protect their wildlife that civilians with no military experience are banding together, grabbing shotguns and G3 assault rifles and risking their lives to confront heavily armed poaching gangs.

[snip]

Villagers are also turning against poachers because the illegal wildlife trade fuels crime, corruption, instability and intercommunal fighting. Here in northern Kenya, poachers are diversifying into stealing livestock, printing counterfeit money and sometimes holding up tourists. Some are even buying assault rifles used in ethnic conflicts.

The conservation militias are often the only security forces around, so they have become de facto 911 squads, rushing off to all sorts of emergencies in areas too remote for the police to quickly gain access to and often getting into shootouts with poachers and bandits.

“This isn’t just about animals,” said Paul Elkan, a director at the Wildlife Conservation Society, who is trying to set up community ranger squads in South Sudan modeled on the Kenyan template. “It’s about security, conflict reconciliation, even nation building.”

You can read the whole thing here but, if I understand it correctly, the Times isn’t just excited about the elephants (although that’s important).  The Times is also thrilled about is the fact that, when African villagers form armed militias, they can protect themselves from crime, economic destitution, and hostile neighbors — all as a byproduct of protecting elephants.

Hey, I’ve got an idea!

Let’s import a few hundred elephants into various American cities, such as Chicago, Detroit, Washington, D.C., Los Angeles, etc..  Then, when Obama and his team go after American guns, we no longer have to rely on something as outdated as the Second Amendment to protect American gun ownership (it’s just for muskets, for Gawd’s sake!).  Nor do we have to drag out all those tired old statistics showing that, as John Lott trenchantly puts it, “More Guns, Less Crime.”

Instead, when the Obama government shows up on our doorsteps, demanding that we disarm ourselves, we can talk in language the Progressives understand:  “If you take away our guns, hundreds of elephants will die needlessly!  Use a gun; save an elephant.”

#JosephKony, Slacktivism, and the U.S. Marines

Those few of you who have been dwelling under a rock for the past week may not be familiar with the name Joseph Kony.  Thanks to a viral video by a group called Invisible Children, Joseph Kony, crazed Ugandan killer, is a super-de-dooper hot topic, especially amongst high school and middle school children.

The only problem, as astute critics immediately pointed out, is that the video is yesterday’s news.  Kony is an incredibly evil figure, but he’s not an ascendant, or even ascending figure:

It would be great to get rid of Kony.  He and his forces have left a path of abductions and mass murder in their wake for over 20 years.  But let’s get two things straight: 1) Joseph Kony is not in Uganda and hasn’t been for 6 years; 2) the LRA now numbers at most in the hundreds, and while it is still causing immense suffering, it is unclear how millions of well-meaning but misinformed people are going to help deal with the more complicated reality.

First, the facts. Following a successful campaign by the Ugandan military and failed peace talks in 2006, the LRA was pushed out of Uganda and has been operating in extremely remote areas of the DRC, South Sudan, and the Central African Republic — where Kony himself is believed to be now. The Ugandan military has been pursuing the LRA since then but had little success (andseveral big screw-ups). In October last year, President Obama authorized the deployment of 100 U.S. Army advisors to help the Ugandan military track down Kony, with no results disclosed to date.

Additionally, the LRA (thankfully!) does not have 30,000 mindless child soldiers. This grim figure, cited by Invisible Children in the film (and by others) refers to the total number of kids abducted by the LRA over nearly 30 years. Eerily, it is also the same number estimated for the total killed in the more than 20 years of conflict in Northern Uganda.

As I wrote for FP in 2010, the small remaining LRA forces are still wreaking havoc and very hard to catch, but Northern Uganda has had tremendous recovery in the 6 years of peace since the LRA left.

What appears to have happened is that a very well done video has triggered mass slacktivism.  What?!  You haven’t heard that term?  Here’s a handy-dandy definition:

Slacktivism (sometimes slactivism or slackervism) is a term formed out of the words slacker and activism. The word is usually considered a pejorative term that describes “feel-good” measures, in support of an issue or social cause, that have little or no practical effect other than to make the person doing it feel satisfaction. The acts tend to require minimal personal effort from the slacktivist. The underlying assumption being promoted by the term is that these low cost efforts substitute for more substantive actions rather than supplementing them, although this assumption has not been borne out by research.

Here in Marin, kids are going to put posters showing Kony’s face all over the school. That’ll larn that evil Kony fella. This is like Yosemite Sam taking shots at Bugs Bunny. It’s farce.

Of course, in Marin, it’s not farce at all.  We sophisticated, enlightened Marinites understand that putting up posters increases awareness.  This is an important “consciousness raising” exercise.  The kids now have raised consciousnesses.  They will be better people for the experience.

Invisible Children Supporters Doing Something

I am being sarcastic, of course.  Although Marin always manages to reduce common sense to its most illogical extreme, the fact is that one cannot deal with a problem unless one is aware of a problem.  And kids who are completely blinkered, with no awareness whatsoever of the world around them grow up to be useless, ineffectual adults who cannot even recognize that there are problems that need to be solved.

Nevertheless, the lesson for the kids here, given Kony’s fundamental irrelevance, is that posters are good enough.  My suggestion would be that, in addition to watching videos and putting up posters, the kids visit One Last Word, where blogger Dan Hamilton contrasts the huge outpouring of passive (but expensive) support for a video about a minor, albeit incredibly evil, villain with the routine hostility and disdain visited upon our Marines, the men and women who actually do something to take out the bad guys:

United States Marines in Action

I want to assure you of something: while your focus may be momentarily on Joseph Kony, the Marine Corp’s focus is continuously on locating, closing width, and destroying the enemy regardless of social popularity.

If you want us to take down Joseph Kony, call your State Representative and tell him or her that the reason you pay taxes is to feed, clothe, and equip Marines, so they can go stomping through the jungles of Uganda in order to capture and kill war criminals that have enslaved and brutalized hundreds of thousands of children.

Another question, however, persists: where were all the “Social Media Activists” when Marines were getting shot at, and their Humvees were getting turned inside out by IED’s while trying to stop atrocities in the Middle East? Atrocities that are very akin to what is happening in Uganda.

In our darkest hour, we needed you to approve and support our mission, not just the individual solider or Marine. The Marine Corps may be our medium, but the American people are our reason. If you shunned Iraq because the cause was not just only to turn around and pursue another mass murderer, it leaves us wondering why you picked your cause over our cause while we’re the ones dying.

I wish good luck to our kids.  They’re going to need it, since it’s mentally and emotionally disabling to grow up in a culture that marginalizes the people who actually do, in favor of celebrating (and funding) those who do no more than feel.

Somali catch and release implications

** Newsflash***

Heard on the popular “Don and Roma” show on WLS AM890 Radio during this morning’s Chicagoland commute:

In his interview with the radio hosts, Illinois Senator and naval intelligence officer Mark Kirk explained that the U.S. policy toward Somali piracy is apparently to capture them and release them near their home ports, presumably so that they would be spared a long walk home. Bereft of consequences, the number of ships captured and the ransoms  demanded by the pirates have skyrocketed (into the $100 millions per ship). The ransom money is then used to fund massive Al Qaeda training camps in Africa.

And, why should this not be the case? It’s good business and there certainly is no risk from the U.S. or any other Nato warship.

So, here’s my question: why not simply destroy the pirate vessels and leave the surviving pirates to die? Wouldn’t that bring a quick end to piracy?

 

 

 

Life and death — lots of death — in Africa

News out of the Ivory Coast is that death and chaos are rising quickly.  The Obama Administration is, as always, “deeply concerned.”  (Has it occurred to anybody that the administration’s real strength might be writing sentiments for condolence cards?  They’re very good at empathetic, and occasionally bathetic, pabulum.)

Every time I read a story such as this out of Africa — whether about the Ivory Coast, or Rwanda, or Liberia, or the Republic of Congo, or any other African nation riven by violence — I ask the trite and logical question “why?”  What is it about Africa that makes significant segments of that continent prone to violence?

And what violence it is.  There’s a barbarity to the African violence that makes Westerners quail.  Africa seems to lead the world in child soldiers.  Worse (if such a thing can be worse), these soldiers don’t get indoctrinated in their youth and naturally drift into warfare (which is the Islamist way doing things).  Instead, they’re created when other soldiers slaughter the adults in the village and kidnap the children.  The girls are raped and killed, or kept as whores, and the boys, no matter how young, are put on the front lines.

The African killing gangs display unusual imagination and innovation when it comes to devising horrible ways to kill their enemies.  Squeezing tires around them and setting the tires alight, chopping off limbs, savage machete attacks, literally raping women and girls to death — Africa has seen it all.  These dreadful deaths are not confined to one geographic area.  They span the continent from the southern-most tip, to the central areas, to the furthest northeastern or southeastern coasts.

In the African way of warfare, civilians aren’t just fair game, they’re preferred game.  While Western nations discovered that some wars couldn’t be won if the civilian population didn’t feel pain (so that Sherman marched through Georgia, the Allies carpet-bombed Germany, and the Americans dropped the atomic bomb on Japan), the West resorted to those tactics only when all other conventional military tactics failed.  In Africa, however, it’s the women, children and old people who are the first line of attack.  Counter-intuitively, this bass ackwards approach to warfare doesn’t end war before it starts, which one might think would be the case given how efficient it’s proven in the past at ending a conventional war.  Instead, it makes for years or decades of guerrilla warfare, with a constant backdrop of starved, brutalized, and slaughtered civilians.

I’ve heard lots of theories about Africa’s frequent forays into the worst type of savagery.  The number one charge is that Western colonialism destroyed its traditional tribal infrastructure and left it with nothing but chaos.  Certainly in the case of the Republic of Congo, which was the former Belgian Congo, one can draw a straight line from the Belgian habit of punishing recalcitrant blacks by cutting off arms and legs, to the military’s and guerrilla’s current habit of doing precisely the same thing.

Other parts of the world, though — indeed all other parts of the world but for Europe itself — experienced European imperialism without the consistency of societal decay and violence that characterizes Africa.  Sometimes, in fact, colonialism was a good thing.  As Niall Ferguson argues in Empire: The Rise and Demise of the British World Order and the Lessons for Global Power, British colonialism, although morally bad, ended up leaving successful nations in its wake.  That is, it did so everywhere except in Africa.

While the British colonies in Africa may have been somewhat better off than former German or Dutch or French or Belgian colonies, they still weren’t healthy.  What’s even more amazing is that even those colonies that seemed exceptionally stable could so quickly get sucked into the African morass.  The perfect example is Zimbabwe, which was for decades the poster child for a healthy post-colonial nation.  Then, Mugabe got infected with “insane African dictator” syndrome, destroyed the colonial infrastructure and, in about five years, reduced Zimbabwe from a bread basket to a basket case.  Derapage in Africa happens quickly.

Colonialism, then, doesn’t seem as if it’s a complete explanation for the myriad problems in Africa.  Another explanation is “slavery” (always with a finger pointed to the West, and especially against America).  It’s true that both Western and Arab nations have seen Africa as fertile slave territory since at least Roman times.  What people forget, though, is that part of why Africa was such an attractive place for gathering slaves was because of the same problem that plagues Africa today:  Tribalism.

Contrary to popular mythology, whites didn’t normally trek into the interior to kidnap whole villages for the slave trade (too dangerous, not cost effective).  Instead, Tribe A raided its enemy, Tribe B, and brought the captives to the coastal areas, where Tribe A sold Tribe B to the slavers.  African slavery might not have survived if the Africans had risen up en masse against the slave trade.  The problem was that, in order to achieve short term tribal goals, the Africans were complicit in the slave trade, making sure there were always plenty of bodies heading off on the slave ships.  In other words, slavery was a by-product, not a cause, of the perpetual civilian warfare that keeps parts of Africa dysfunctional today.

Another theory I’ve heard advanced is Africa’s natural situation.  None of its native animals can be domesticated, its climate is hostile (huge droughts, followed by devastating deluges), and its diseases are ferocious, demoralizing and devastating.  Certainly that would depress development, but it doesn’t explain the violence, especially in those parts of Africa such as Zimbabwe or Uganda that don’t suffer so badly from Africa’s homegrown plagues and deficiencies.

One of the things that’s definitely plagued northern Africa in modern times is Islam.  In the Sudan, while the world wrung its hands (and Samantha Power kept strangely silent), the white Islamic rulers killed off all the Christians in the usual brutal African fashion.  Then, the Sudanese killed off all the black Muslims.  I assume that, after a few years of gathering its strength, the Sudanese government will turn its attention to surrounding nations.  Somalia is no better.  Nor, judging by the news headlines, is Egypt (which, although considered part of the Middle East, is geographically African).

Keith Richburg, in Out Of America: A Black Man Confronts Africa, places part of the blame for modern African’s myriad failings on enablers in the West.  Although its been several years since I read his wonderful book, I distinctly remember one, maybe two, chapters devoted to the way in which American black leaders (Jesse Jackson, Al Sharpton, etc.) have pandered to and protected the worst dictators in Africa.  Just as bad, whites in America, fearful of being called racist, have kept quiet in the face of this disgusting behavior.

My mother, who has a lot of native common sense, thinks one of Africa’s problems is that it never developed a written history.  This kept culture oral and local.  It prevented a coherent national culture that would have depressed a lot of the worst tribal instincts.  It also prevented an overarching morality from developing, something that bound together the Jews, despite the diaspora, and Europe, despite its frequent nationalist warfare.

I’m not sure there’s a unified theory that will explain Africa’s deep and long-lasting problems.  It’s a huge continent that seems to be a magnet for all bad things, whether disease, colonialism, slavery, Islamist conquest, tribal violence, freak weather, etc.  All I know is that, when I read a story such as today’s about the Ivory Coast, all I can do is think, sadly, “Not again.”

Obama bails on African AIDS

Whenever it comes to mentioning presidential policy, this New York Times article about the collapse of AIDS care in Africa is studiously neutral.  Read between the lines (and make it almost to the end of the article), though, and you’ll see the truth peek out:  Bush, the quintessential “white man,” helped Africa enormously, while Obama, the self-identified “black man” on the census form, is abandoning African AIDS.

‘Nuff said.  The irony meter is clanging loudly.

This is what oppression looks like

Through the Bush years, those in the grips of BDS likened him to Hitler based upon their contention that he was running the most oppressive administration ever in American history.  They made this claim despite the fact that, insofar as I know, no protestor was ever imprisoned merely for having protested.  (This is separate from protesters who might have been charged with vandalism, assault, etc.)

Two stories in today’s paper serve to remind us exactly what it looks like when you have a truly oppressive government.  In Uganda, a movement is afoot to make some homosexuality and homosexual acts a capital crime, with family and friends risking imprisonment if they don’t turn their loved one over to the government:

Proposed legislation would impose the death penalty for some gay Ugandans, and their family and friends could face up to seven years in jail if they fail to report them to authorities. Even landlords could be imprisoned for renting to homosexuals.

[snip]

The Ugandan legislation in its current form would mandate a death sentence for active homosexuals living with HIV or in cases of same-sex rape. “Serial offenders” also could face capital punishment, but the legislation does not define the term. Anyone convicted of a homosexual act faces life imprisonment.

Anyone who “aids, abets, counsels or procures another to engage of acts of homosexuality” faces seven years in prison if convicted. Landlords who rent rooms or homes to homosexuals also could get seven years and anyone with “religious, political, economic or social authority” who fails to report anyone violating the act faces three years.

(Incidentally, if you read the whole AP story, you’ll see that it’s all the fault of American Christians that this legislation is on the table.)

And in Iran, of course, we see exactly what happens in a place that actually has a repressive administration, as opposed to a gentleman-like administration that people can safely attack:

Iran will “show no mercy” toward opposition protesters seen as threatening national security, a judiciary official said on Tuesday, a day after thousands of students staged anti-government rallies.

[snip]

“From now on, we will show no mercy toward anyone who acts against national security. They will be confronted firmly,” said prosecutor Gholamhossein Mohseni-Ejei, according to the official IRNA news agency.

“Confronted firmly.” Translated, I assume that means beatings, electrical shocks to the genitals, starvation, and other forms of torture a bit more extreme than waterboarding, all of which is followed by either a kangaroo trial or just a swift gunshot to the back of the head.  That last, of course, assumes that you’re lucky enough to make it alive off the streets:

If this is the African way….

If this is the African Way, it explains a great deal about modern Africa.

My daughter, in her history class at school, has been spending some weeks on African history.  Not Egyptian history, but African history.  I mention this distinction because my daughter has noted that there’s very little material there.  They’re mostly being taught to memorize proverbs.

I don’t mean comment to be a swipe at Africa, but more of a notation about the fact that writing is truly what distinguishes successful civilizations in the past from unsuccessful ones.  The ones that thrived and that were able to impose themselves on others, and that were able to live in memory long after their people and buildings sank into dust, were the ones with writing.  That’s true for the Jews, certainly, whose book has kept them alive for longer than any other single culture.  It’s true for the Greeks and the Romans, and for the Christian culture, and for the Chinese and Japanese cultures.  No writing, means no history.  All you’ve got then , are proverbs.  And in the case of Africa, incredible, horrific, self-directed brutality.

The facts belie the hyperbole

While Bush haters rant on about conspiracy theories in which people who dared to cross him vanished forever (despite a complete lack of any evidence, direct or inferential), we continue to get real world examples of horrible dictatorships in which daring to criticize the government results in punishment or even death — with the most recent example coming from a British missionary couple that dared to criticize the dictatorial Muslim government in Gambia.

It was never about Africa qua Africa

Burt Prelutsky today, in a longer column about Obama’s political failings, launches into a blistering attack against US aid to Africa:

Speaking of Africa, when are we going to wean the dark continent? Are we ever going to get over this nutty notion that we have an obligation to keep pumping money down that particular sewer? It’s bad enough that George Bush is convinced that billions of American tax dollars — money that could better be spent trying to cure Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s and ALS — should be squandered dealing with AIDS in Africa, but Obama has already endorsed the U.N.-inspired giveaway known as the Global Poverty Act. It’s estimated that filling this particular Christmas stocking would run us $845 billion. Worse yet, most of this largesse would wind up in the pockets or Swiss bank accounts of those various thugs, such as Omar al-Bashir, Teodoro Obiang Mbasogo, Isayas Afeworki and the aforementioned Robert Mugabe, who run Africa the way that Al Capone ran Chicago.

What Prelutsky rather surprisingly forgets is that America’s political and economic involvement in Africa was never really about the Africans.  That is, while a bunch of individuals and NGOs today may be genuinely concerned about the plight of individual citizens in that benighted continent, the West’s support for Africa was simply an outcropping of the Cold War.  Once the old Imperialism vanished, Africa was the place of a thousand proxy battles between the Americans and the Soviets.  Savvy tinpot tyrants in Africa, freed from the benefits and burdens of their former imperial ties, quickly learned that they could increase the flow of money into their coffers by playing the two Superpowers off against each other.

Even South Africa wasn’t about apartheid as far as the Superpowers were concerned.  Instead it was about a West-leaning white government that found itself facing a black opposition that got funding from the Soviets.  And before you start thinking that the Soviets funded the blacks because of a principled stand vis a vis apartheid, abandon that thought immediately.  The Soviets funded the blacks only because the government, at a political level separate from apartheid, allied itself with the West.

Nowadays, with the face-off being one between Islam and the West, Sudan is exactly the modern South Africa.  It’s not the slaughter that’s the problem — sadly, that’s par for the course in Africa — it’s the nature of the hand wielding the machete that’s the problem.  You see, this time around it’s not a Communist hand, it’s an Islamic hand.  Of course, 30 years ago, America would have done something, not out of any Carter-esque human rights mushiness, but because the Sudan had suddenly become a front in a larger ideological war, not between the Sudanese, but between America and her enemies.  Things are different now, when we just stand on the sidelines wringing our hands.

All of which means that our presence in Africa, which looks like a lot of mushy, emotionally driven money, is in fact a Cold War legacy.  And it turns out that our presence their may still be necessary as we fight proxy battles against yet another Communist entity — China.  You see China is doing a fair bit of meddling in Africa now and, given Africa’s vast natural reserves, it’s not in America’s interests to let that continent drift irrevocably away from the West and land in the Chinese orbit:

Close on the heels of the latest sham election in Zimbabwe, the International Criminal Court announced last week that it is seeking the arrest of the president of Sudan on charges of genocide, war crimes, and crimes against humanity. As Africa notches up more failures on the long road out of colonialism, a new pseudo-colonial power–China–is busily engaged in getting exactly what it wants out of the continent. The implications for the kind of political and economic evolution likely to unfold in Africa are significant.

Until about 20 years ago, China’s interest in Africa consisted mainly of encouraging Marxist revolutionary factions. Lately, however, that interest has taken a decidedly economic turn. China is in the market for most of Africa’s products and is selling its own there as well. Once a major oil exporter, China became a net importer of oil in 1993 and is now dependent on imports for half its oil and natural gas. To meet this need, it has diversified its sources, in particular making deals with most of Africa’s oil-producing states.

Just in the past three years, Beijing has signed energy deals with Algeria, Nigeria, Angola, Gabon, and Sudan. Its investment in Sudan’s pipeline and refinery infrastructure, valued at between $3 billion and $5 billion, is mind-boggling in such a poor country, but it is not unusual for the energy industry. China bought a stake in a Nigerian offshore field two years ago for $2.5 billion and promised to invest the same amount in further exploration and development.

China has huge investments in Algeria, with whose government it is also cooperating on the development of nuclear energy, and Angola, which this spring overtook Nigeria as the continent’s largest producer of oil.

Read more about China and Africa here — and keep in mind that, as has always been the case, while ordinary citizens agitate about Africa because it’s pathetic, governments get involved there because it’s important.

Keep the faith

J. R. Dunn has a wonderful antidote to political despair.  I have some optimistic predictions of my own:

I think the current gas crisis, coupled with the holes being punctured into Global Warming, and China’s status as No. 1 C02 polluter, will create a popular ground swell that will force the Demos’ hands (1) on ANWR and offshore drilling, (2) on enabling oil refineries to go forward, and (3) on building nuclear power plants a la the French.  The fact that the Saudis have promised more production is a harbinger of change.

I think that McCain will win.

I think the Democrats will continue to have a majority in Congress, but it won’t be the veto-proof blow-out the more pessimistic predict.

I think the Democratic convention will be an even better spectacle than the 1968 Democratic convention.

I think that England can no longer be saved, but that the rest of Europe is getting panicky and, in keeping with historic traditions, will ultimately react quite violently to the threat it perceives within it (meaning the rise of radical, as opposed to slightly secularized, Islam).  This may actually not be an optimistic prediction, because the backlash could be horrific.

I think that, having converted my own home to a Capitalist economy, I’m going to have a better summer than usual.

I am keeping the faith.

By the way, my negative prediction is that Africa will actually be the next great bloody battlefield (as opposed to an ideological walk-over) in the War between Muslim and Christian.  As Islam drops down from the North, and the rising tide of Christianity rises up from the South, they will meet in the middle with an Armageddon-like clash.  It will be the Sudan played out on a very large scale.

Make love, not war

The title of my post was a fatuous, smarmy expression during its heyday in the 1960s. With the UN “peacekeepers,” though, it’s taken on a whole, horrible new meaning:

Sexual abuse of children as young as six by aid workers and United Nations peacekeepers has continued unchecked despite repeated promises to stamp it out, according to a 12-month investigation.

More than half of the children interviewed in three countries, Ivory Coast, South Sudan and Haiti, knew of cases of forced sex with aid staff or peacekeepers.

The assaults were often in return for the very food or protection supposed to be provided to the vulnerable in a crisis.

Similar allegations have dogged UN missions since the organisation sent peacekeepers to Cambodia in the 1990s. However, today’s report, from Save The Children, is the first to point the finger at civilian aid staff, including those working for British charities, as well as soldiers.

[snip]

Elizabeth’s case [gang raped by 10 UN workers when she was 12] is not unique among the 341 children interviewed.

A third claimed that they knew of someone in their community who had been sexually attacked by a peacekeeper or an aid worker.

More than half claimed to know of cases where penniless children, some as young as six, were forced into sexual acts in return for money or food.

If you’re interested in more information about where UN dollars get spent, read the rest here.

UPDATE:  I’m glad you came to visit this blog.  The UN is, to my mind, an unsavory organization, and the more we know about it the better.  This is an old post, however, so if you’d like to see my more recent blog posts, which touch upon conservative political and social issues, please check out my home page.  And if you like what you see, come back again.

Another blow for experts

I haven’t quite gathered my thoughts, but I found this an amazing story on so many levels:

Ending Famine, Simply by Ignoring the Experts
By CELIA W. DUGGER
Published: December 2, 2007

LILONGWE, Malawi — Malawi hovered for years at the brink of famine. After a disastrous corn harvest in 2005, almost five million of its 13 million people needed emergency food aid.

But this year, a nation that has perennially extended a begging bowl to the world is instead feeding its hungry neighbors. It is selling more corn to the World Food Program of the United Nations than any other country in southern Africa and is exporting hundreds of thousands of tons of corn to Zimbabwe.

In Malawi itself, the prevalence of acute child hunger has fallen sharply. In October, the United Nations Children’s Fund sent three tons of powdered milk, stockpiled here to treat severely malnourished children, to Uganda instead. “We will not be able to use it!” Juan Ortiz-Iruri, Unicef’s deputy representative in Malawi, said jubilantly.

Farmers explain Malawi’s extraordinary turnaround — one with broad implications for hunger-fighting methods across Africa — with one word: fertilizer.

Over the past 20 years, the World Bank and some rich nations Malawi depends on for aid have periodically pressed this small, landlocked country to adhere to free market policies and cut back or eliminate fertilizer subsidies, even as the United States and Europe extensively subsidized their own farmers. But after the 2005 harvest, the worst in a decade, Bingu wa Mutharika, Malawi’s newly elected president, decided to follow what the West practiced, not what it preached.

Read the rest here.

If I can, I’ll come back later and be more intelligent about it. If I can’t, I know that your intelligence will fill in the blanks.

What is a “traveling family”?

Despite the fact that we live in a vaccine age, Britain is facing an outbreak of measles, a disease can cause life long damage to its victims:

Parents were urged today to give their children the MMR jab before they returned to school after figures showed measles cases have more than trebled in the last 11 weeks.

There have been 480 confirmed cases in the UK so far this year, compared to 756 cases during the whole of 2006 – the highest year on record.

The Health Protection Agency (HPA) said the number of confirmed cases of children suffering measles was higher than expected for this time of year and urged parents to ensure their children were vaccinated.

Up until June 10 this year, 136 cases of measles, which can be life-threatening, had been confirmed by the HPA.

But as of today, just over 11 weeks later, this had more than trebled to 480.
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Dr Mary Ramsay, a consultant epidemiologist at the HPA, said: “Over the summer holidays we have seen more cases of measles being reported than we would normally expect.

“This means it is crucial that children are fully immunised with two doses of MMR before they return to school.

“Measles is a highly infectious and dangerous illness and, as there is increased close contact in schools, it can spread easily.”

The HPA said while was difficult to confirm reasons why there has been such a jump in recent weeks, a high number of cases has been noted in communities where vaccine uptake is lower, including travelling families. (Emphasis mine.)

My question, stated in my post title is, what is a “traveling family”? Is this a British term that everyone there understands or is it a PC euphemism aimed at obscuring, not clarifying, an important fact related to British public health? As it stands, it has no meaning for me at all. Does it for you?

UPDATE:  By the way, avoiding vaccinations isn’t just a British problem.  I’m a big believer in vaccinations.  There’s no doubt that some carry with them risky side effects, but these side effects pale compared to the risks of an epidemic.  I know some people like to point out that there are no longer epidemics, so they no longer need vaccinations, but these people miss the point that they are benefiting from herd immunity:  that is, if enough kids in the herd have taken the risk of a vaccination, an epidemic cannot take hold, which protects the ones who refuse the shot.  The thing is, if the latter become the largest proportion of the population, herd immunity vanishes.  Mother nature quickly takes advantage of that fact.  The huge resurgence in Nigeria of polio, one of the historic childhood scourges, after a Muslim paranoia attack about the West stopped the vaccination program, is a good example of that fact.

Naming names

All the early reports of the riots at Paris’ Gare de Nord train station — and most of the subsequent ones, as well — have referred to those ubiquitous “youths” as the troublemakers. (And if you’ve ever seen the movie “My Cousin Vinny,” every time you hear the word “youths,” you want to giggle.) This is London, however, is finally naming names or, rather, national origins:

Many of the rioters appeared to be of African or North African origin.

Also, despite reports I’ve read about police brutality being the problem (i.e., that the police were too rough with the original fare dodger), it looks as if, aside from breaking the law by dodging the fare, the original malfeasor, who has a long record, tried a little brutality himself:

The fare dodger, who punched one ticket inspector, has a lengthy criminal record, interior minister Francois Baroin said.

Police, who made 13 arrests, said he was an illegal immigrant from Congo who has challenged efforts to expel him. He was convicted in 2004 for insulting a magistrate.

Note the “illegal immigrant” part of the equation when it comes to describing the man who started it all. I rather wonder about the immigrant status of the rest of the “youths” involved in this by now typical Paris kerfuffle between the police and these African and North African immigrants.

On a related topic, Mr. Bookworm and I are about 2/3 of the way through Leonardo DiCaprio’s movie Blood Diamond. The reviews were a little sour, but I think it’s a good movie for two reasons: First, it has DiCaprio, a man I think is one of the best actors around. I like watching him, and I think he’s matured gracefully from a little boy to an actor of substance. I like watching him so much that I assiduously ignore any stories about him — his lifestyle or politics — so that I won’t be so soured on him that I stop watching his movies. I did catch, though, that he has an Israel girlfriend, which indicates, although it doesn’t prove, that he’s not an anti-Semite.

Second, the movie portrays really well a vital fact we all tend to forget. As Mr. Bookworm inelegantly stated, “Africa is a s**thole.” While there do seem to be pockets of civility, for the most part, Africa is a continent that catapults wildly from one natural or man made disaster to another, without pause, and always with the highest number of brutally abused victims, especially children. Some might think the movie exaggerates the terrors of rebel warfare (this time in Sierra Leone), but I’ve read enough articles and stories over the last several years to believe that, if anything, this blood-drenched movie is weak on portraying real life in the most degraded parts of Africa.

Keith Richburg, an African-American, was only telling the truth (and presciently in many ways) when he wrote his 1998 book Out of America : a Black Man Confronts Africa. Having served as the African bureau chief for a major American newspaper (I can’t remember which one right now), he makes the very un-PC admission that he is incredibly grateful to be a black man in America, rather than Africa. He holds to this belief despite the fact that it was the evils of slavery several hundred years ago that resulted in his ancestors’ being transported from one land to another. In other words, his ancestors suffered so that he could live. Incidentally, the book is also a great indictment of the African-American political leaders who resolutely turn a blind eye to a lot of the worst dictators in Africa so as to score political points at home.

Biological weapons on children’s backs

My blog title is an exaggeration.  The hardline Islamists in Nigeria who are denying children polio vaccinations are not planning on creating a worldwide polio epidemic, or even a pan-African epidemic.  They are just operating on a paranoid, anti-Western intellectual model that doesn’t have a problem with sacrificing children to religion induced paranoia:

Kenya has reported its first polio case in 22 years with the infection of a 3-year-old Somali refugee girl marking a new setback in the global effort to eradicate the crippling disease, officials said Tuesday.

The case brings to 26 the number of countries in Africa, Asia and the Middle East that have been reinfected since a 2003 vaccine boycott by hard-line Nigerian Islamic clerics who claimed that the polio vaccine was part of a U.S.-led plot to render Nigerian Muslims infertile or infect them with AIDS.

You can read the rest of this sad story here.

Beware of peacekeepers bearing gifts

The popular image of the peacekeepers who travel to troubled regions is of a legion of selfless Mother Theresas, putting aside the comforts of their First World lives to aid those most in need.  And that image may well be true for the greater number of them. Unfortunately, one of Africa's many plagues is parasites who, under the guise of being UN peacemakers or representatives of NGOs, come to prey on the most vulnerable:

Young girls in Liberia are still being sexually exploited by aid workers and peacekeepers despite pledges to stamp out such abuse, Save the Children says.

Girls as young as eight are being forced to have sex in exchange for food by workers for local and international agencies, according to its report.

The agency says such abuse is continuing as people displaced by the civil war return to their villages.

The UN in Liberia said it would investigate specific allegations.

The United Nations promised to put safeguards in place after sexual abuse in the refugee camps of West Africa was first revealed four years ago.

But a study by Save the Children, which involved speaking to more than 300 people in camps for people displaced by the war, found that abuse was still widespread.

The report said that all of the respondents clearly stated that more than half of the girls in their locations were affected.

Girls from the age of eight to 18 years were being sold for sex, "commonly referred to as 'man business'," the report noted.

The same article goes on to detail other indignities and abuses aidworkers, teachers and government leaders heap on girls and young women who are entirely dependent on them for survival. 

I'll point out as I always do after passing along this type of information that NOW, and other Western women's groups, are conspicuously silent regarding these acts of misogyny.  Apparently all their energy is currently being used to put forward the economically ludicrous notion of comparable worth. 

Hat tip:  Laer, who is taking a break from Cheat-Seeking Missiles, but who rightly felt it was important that this story be heard. 

Talking to Technorati: , , ,

Can this continent be saved

I don't have any conclusions to draw, or insights to offer.  I'll just offer, in no particular order, a short laundry list of some of the horrors visited upon so much of the African Continent.  

  1. The Ethiopian famines
  2. The slaughters in Sudan
  3. Idi Amin
  4. Robert Mugabe
  5. The Civil War in the Congo
  6. Charles Taylor and Liberia
  7. AIDS
  8. Malaria
  9. Ebola
  10. Rwanda

I'm sure if I thought about it more, I could double, or even triple this list.  My question: Why Africa?  Is this the unending legacy of the slave trade or colonialism?  Is this buried deep within African culture?  Is this a by-product of a continent that is so vulnerable to disease, because of its climate, that life has less meaning for those living there?  I'd be very interested in your take on the subject, because I have only questions, and no answers.