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he argued strenuously against giving antiretroviral drug treatment ... to the 25 million Africans infected with HIV.
September 19, 2006 9:06 PM   Subscribe

Meet our new Special Envoy to Darfur, where genocide is taking place-- Andrew Natsios--he did a heckuva job at the Big Dig in Boston, and in misunderestimating the costs of Iraq, and --while head of USAid--at refusing funding AIDS drugs in Africa because many Africans 'don't know what Western time is.
posted by amberglow (65 comments total)

 
He has extensive experience in disaster relief. Decades.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 9:17 PM on September 19, 2006


and, showing Bush's (lack of) commitment to Darfur: Bush blocks campaign to put pressure on Sudan over Darfur
posted by amberglow at 9:19 PM on September 19, 2006


It's horrible that this is occurring. It's horrible that Bush gets away with this crap at all.

Still, I have to ask, is anybody really that surprised by the appointment?
posted by mystyk at 9:22 PM on September 19, 2006


Chertoff Lite.
posted by facetious at 9:22 PM on September 19, 2006


When Bush gave the middle finger to the UN, I was annoyed. When he gave the middle finger to poor blacks in New Orleans, I was pissed. But giving the middle finger to genocide victims? Well that's just balls. Pure balls. Golf clap.
posted by Saucy Intruder at 9:34 PM on September 19, 2006


Where do they find these blokes?

I mean, sending Bolton to the UN was funny, but the follow up is comedy genius.

Or is this serious?
posted by pompomtom at 9:58 PM on September 19, 2006


Christ, what an asshole. I wonder who this guy has pictures of, that they keep giving him appointments.
posted by mkultra at 10:03 PM on September 19, 2006


Okay, America? Guys, you can cut it out already, it's not funny anymore. No, seriously, guys? This has all been a joke, right? You're not really letting these dudes walk all over you, right? Guys?
posted by nightchrome at 10:19 PM on September 19, 2006


Golf clap indeed. I'm actually laughing. A humorless, incredulous laugh. Maybe the next vote will actually be with blunt instruments, pitchforks, and torches?

Sorry, rest of the world. I'm afraid we haven't been able to come up with an expedited escape plan just yet.
posted by Brak at 10:46 PM on September 19, 2006


When Bush gave the middle finger to the UN, I was annoyed.

How about the finger Sudan is giving to the UN right now? Does that annoy you at all?

But anyway, don't worry, the Jews are to blame again.
posted by Krrrlson at 11:13 PM on September 19, 2006


Why is it not yet plain, to everyone, that Mr. Bush consistently behaves in a manner damaging to the United States? He destorys our economy, our Constitution/liberty, and our international reputation, together with our environment. He is and has been such a total disaster to the country that a responsible legislature would out to impeach at the slightest excuse--Even without plochops in the Oval Office.
posted by Goofyy at 11:20 PM on September 19, 2006


He's also the author of
U.S. Foreign Policy and the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse
.

No, really.
posted by Nahum Tate at 11:25 PM on September 19, 2006


The US could have been more effective on Darfur, true.


But the Chinese government is the real obstacle to the Security Council taking definitive action. If you're going to get pissed off about a government making geopolitical decisions based on a thirst for oil, get pissed off about China.
posted by mr_roboto at 11:33 PM on September 19, 2006


Here's some info about the book, Nahum. I don't know much about this guy, but he did apparently write (the? a?) book on his expertise, so let's not dismiss him out of hand completely:

Review
“Natsios presents an insider's view of the possibilities and pitfalls of humanitarian relief in countries suffering severe political disruption.... The reader learns a great deal about the political infighting and bureaucratic politics surrounding such operations... this book is very timely and should evoke both thought and debate.”–Choice
“"An absorbing study....Natsios is smart, incisive, and not afraid to rattle the china."”–Washington Post
“...Natsio's book is a timely addition to the international literature available on humanitarian.”–Peacekeeping and International Relations

Book Description
This book explores the emerging phenomenon of complex humanitarian emergencies and the evolving policies of the United States in responding to these emergencies.
posted by cell divide at 11:37 PM on September 19, 2006


Suppose you yourself could choose that ambassador. So assume he's absolutely perfect from your point of view.

What, exactly, would you suggest that he do about the situation there? Details, please. Don't describe the ideal goal; we all know that what we'd all like is for the slaughter to end. How to make the slaughter end?

Suppose that President Bush had selected you for that ambassadorship. He calls you into his office and says, "You go over to Africa and spend two weeks looking around and talking to people. Then you come back to Washington and come talk to me, and offer me concrete suggestions for what the US government can do to make the situation better and stop the slaughter. I promise you I'll do whatever you say."

What do you say? What plan do you offer the President to stop the slaughter? What, exactly, is it that you think we should be doing?

Complaining about what we are doing is easy, and it's also useless. Offer an alternative. Tell us what we should be doing instead. And remember: Goals are not plans. A destination is not a route. What is the plan? What is the route?

Ending the slaughter is what we'd all like to accomplish. How do we get there? How do we do it?
posted by Steven C. Den Beste at 11:42 PM on September 19, 2006


And remember: Goals are not plans. A destination is not a route. What is the plan? What is the route?

It would be nice if all of our foreign policy adventures had this same forethought.
posted by ryoshu at 12:09 AM on September 20, 2006


It would be nice if all of our foreign policy adventures had this same forethought.

And complaints are not alternatives.
posted by Steven C. Den Beste at 12:24 AM on September 20, 2006


Over the past two and a half years, I've had the opportunity to talk with Darfur advocates; have a beer with the first reporter to smuggle himself into Western Sudan during the beginning of the genocide; meet directly with Darfuri survivors; talk directly with U.S. policy-makers and foreign policy analysts interested in bringing civilian protection to the region.

If you are reading this, I beg you, I plead with you...take two minutes and contact your public officials about Darfur. This is wholesale slaughter, MeFites, with forced starvation and systematic rape being used as weapons of war.

To address some of the earlier points/requests: The UN Security Council has authorized more than 20,000 blue helmets for Darfur. Resolution 1706 gives this force a Chapter VII mandate, meaning that it is ostensibly allowed to engage with the genocidaires.

The big hang-up with 1706 is that it "invites the consent" of Khartoum: while the U.S. sees such language its own way, most foreign policy experts and human rights analysts agree that 1706 actually requires the consent of El-Bashir and company. The DPKO will not begin any significant planning for force deployment until the UN extracts a yes.

That leaves the U.S. with two strategies, both which, in my view, it needs to execute right away and simultaneously.

First, the Bush administration can work to place heavy diplomatic pressure on Sudan. This means getting China and Russia to lobby its partner-in-oil and partner-in-arms. More importantly, though, diplomatic pressure means immediate sanctions---financial, travel, and diplomatic sanctions against Sudan's high-level leaders. Bush should impose them unilaterally, and he should get the UN and the European Union to follow suit.

So this is a stick strategy. The logic here is that sanctions would somehow force Khartoum to accept UN peacekeepers. The possible (in my view, fairly likely) problem is that sanctions would not have a quick turnaround effect. Khartoum has just launched a new and aggressive military offensive against Darfur's civilians; the int'l community shouldn't wait three to six months for sanctions to have an effect, because three to six months without multinational protection equals a death toll of a million.

The second strategy, then, is to commit seriously to a 'non-consensual multinational intervention.' This would entail Bush saying: "A force is going in, with or without Khartoum's consent." Of course, it's hard to see the UN bucking institutional precedent, and, in any case, the UN can't rapidly deploy troops unless it receives command-and-control help and military equipment from the U.S. and/or Western Europe. NATO, on its part, has said (via Secretary-General statements) that it is not going to begin a mission in Africa. But one interesting thing to note here is that NATO has definite rapid-response capabilities, primarily through a fully operational unit called the NATO response force, which ran a training exercise this summer in Cape Verde. Two Congressional resolutions (both introduced by Dems) actually call for the deployment of a 'NATO bridging force' to Western Sudan.

At the end, the hard question is: How do you get the U.S. and other countries to support non-consensual intervention? The answer must have something to do with political will. One silver lining: we've got to remember here that the 'Darfur policy calculus' has changed gradually for the better, and every time because the NGO/activist/religious community has stepped up. Bush supporting UN peacekeepers with "NATO stewardship" is a relatively new thing: he only adopted this position after some citizen advocacy forced his administration to abandon an "African solutions for African problems" line.

Therefore, we might reasonably say that the answer is in our hands. If we are serious about stopping genocide, then we should be calling, writing letters, visiting Congressional offices, demonstrating. We might have doubts about what effect this might have on a lackluster Executive Branch ("Haven't millions protested against the Iraq War?"), but the truth is, the American citizenry as a whole has been dead on this issue. And politically, both the leadership of the Right (see Amberglow's link to the Sudan divestment article) and the leadership of the Left (in my view, too afraid to make a strong, moral internationalist argument after Iraq) are to blame. (One exception---although he alone can't dicate or strengthen his party's stance---is Barack Obama, who raised the prospect of non-consensual intervention in Darfur during a trip to Africa.)

Some recommended reading: www.sudanreeves.org.
posted by n_s_1 at 1:30 AM on September 20, 2006 [3 favorites]


Right now, the US agenda in Darfur appears to be based
on finding a way to profit from the current chaos, somehow.
Natsios is a demonstrated expert in handling screwed
pooches, and that's why he is going to Darfur.

Unexploited oil resources in Sudan and the connections
between Bechtel and Natsios seem to be more believable
reasons of this administration than halting or slowing a
genocide.
posted by the Real Dan at 1:36 AM on September 20, 2006


Why is it not yet plain, to everyone, that Mr. Bush consistently behaves in a manner damaging to the United States? He destorys our economy, our Constitution/liberty, and our international reputation, together with our environment.

What scares me is who you will get next. A man who only seriously damages everyone else will, after this, surely seem like a godsend.
posted by dreamsign at 1:51 AM on September 20, 2006


Natsi?
posted by leapingsheep at 1:59 AM on September 20, 2006


dreamsign: What scares me is who you will get next.

I didn't understand the second half of that, but the first half is one with which I agree, as sad as that may be. And I don't mean that in a partisan way. I fear some smooth-talking charismatic devil who will charm the unemployed, shell-shocked and gullible in to new heights of despotism and aggression. Using the excuse of pursuing the previous pack of theiving bastards.
posted by Goofyy at 3:07 AM on September 20, 2006


Goofyy: That's the description of the current administration. Of every current administration.
posted by ?! at 3:46 AM on September 20, 2006


How about the finger Sudan is giving to the UN right now?

What does that have to do with the seriousness of our response to that problem? Nothing.
posted by rxrfrx at 4:26 AM on September 20, 2006


For fuck's sake. What does the "Save Darfur" crowd actually want? Do you want a brutal military occupation in the midst of an ongoing civil war, where the occupation takes a side? It doesn't work, and there's a big bloody example right in the headlines every day: we call it Iraq. Do you seriously think that blue helmets and the UN logo instead of the American flag make things all bright and cheery for a change? The whole notion of "humanitarian invasions" is fucked up beyond belief, and the people who tout them are legitimizing from the "left" the real bloody-handed imperialist ventures like Iraq by suggesting that there is a "positive" role for Western military powers invading third-world countries.
posted by graymouser at 4:26 AM on September 20, 2006


Well, Bush has done a great job building this great big handbasket that'll fit all you yanks for a lovely trip to someplace hot.

Clearly it's just that the world has to stop looking at the US for solutions to make the world a better place. That part of the American experiment is evidently over.
posted by clevershark at 4:27 AM on September 20, 2006


Clearly it's just that the world has to stop looking at the US for solutions to make the world a better place.

Hey, three of our guys just came up with a format that allows manufacturers to put HD-DVD and BluRay content on a single disc. We've potentially saved millions of people from the worst effects of a brutal format war. We're a humanitarian giant.
posted by PinkStainlessTail at 4:32 AM on September 20, 2006


Damn, Steven C. Den Beste, at least Bush was willing to give me a two week fact-finding tour before demanding answers. Buy me a round-trip ticket and give me diplomatic credentials, and I'll have something for you by October 4th.
posted by Tullius at 4:45 AM on September 20, 2006


Let's see...

Surely, this... ah, no, wait.

Oh, yeah -- I'm Shocked! Shocked to fi... hell, no I'm not. Never mind.
posted by Devils Rancher at 5:00 AM on September 20, 2006


The NATO commander in Afghanistan has been begging NATO member nations to supply an additional 2500 troops for operations there, and the member nations have told him "no".

There's no way that the NATO member nations are going to come up with 10,000 or 20,000 troops for Darfur.
posted by Steven C. Den Beste at 5:36 AM on September 20, 2006


I'm sorry, folks, I can't echo the party line here. I've always seen Natsios as a fundamentally decent guy who's gotten stepped on a lot by those in command. Let's bring at least a few facts back into the debate.

Natsios voted against the Big Dig twice as a state representative, didn't step up to lead the project until 2000 (long after Kerasiotes had done his damage), and oversaw it for less than a year. During the period he was running the Big Dig, he apparently wasn't able to get much done, positive, negative, or otherwise. He jokingly claimed when stepping down from his post at USAID last year that folks had threatened his life in Boston if he didn't give them contracts, but I'm sure there was more than a glimmer of truth to that joke.

Since stepping down as director of USAID, Natsios has publicly criticized the Bush administration and Paul Bremer's CPA for ignoring the reconstruction plans he recommended and executing a disastrous occupation.

One of the biggest successes of US foreign aid in the past decade -- the generous, effective and immediate outpouring of help in the wake of the Southeast Asia tsunami in 2004 -- also fell under Natsios' leadership.

I have at least a somewhat brighter view of Natsios because I remember that in 2004, he was among the first and loudest voices speaking out against what was happening in Darfur.
posted by grrarrgh00 at 5:39 AM on September 20, 2006


What does the "Save Darfur" crowd actually want? Do you want a brutal military occupation in the midst of an ongoing civil war, where the occupation takes a side? It doesn't work, and there's a big bloody example right in the headlines every day: we call it Iraq.

This comment assumes there's rough equality between the on-the-ground and political environments in Iraq and Western Sudan. And that's just plain wrong.

Would the Sudanese military and the Janjaweed try to push out well-equipped UN or NATO peacekeepers? Perhaps. But here, we're not talking about an insurgency with immediate outside funders. We're not talking about a force that can take advantage of urban warfare. The Janjaweed have AK-47s, camels, horses, and air support from Sudanese bombers---on one level, they are bandits who'd stand no chance against a NATO or well-equipped UN troops-presence.

Same goes with the planes. Khartoum has been able to kill so many using old jerry-built Antonovs and attack helicopters. I doubt that Sudan would challenge any NATO-enforced no-fly zone. (Problem, of course, is that there doesn't seem to be a good air base in Sudan's neighboring countries from which to work.)

I write all this because I want to argue against the immediate warning of a doomsday scenario. If you're going to argue that non-consensual intervention will destablize Sudan, this is completely fair, but tell me how---if you think that the entry of a rapid-response force will mean the automatic toppling of El-Bashir's regime, then I think you're wrong. Such a view forgets, among other things, basic facts of geography, not to mention an understanding that El-Bashir really does appear to have a firm grip over Khartoum, Sudan's political and industrial center.

I'd argue that there is a positive role for "Western countries forcing their way into third-world countries" (in that a NATO intervention in Sudan could be called this). Let's not put on our blinders yet, even when we are confronted with the daily news from Iraq. Make distinctions. Consider the argument that we have almost reached a situation of last resort with Sudan; the ruling government has no rational political incentive to stop its current offensive against civilians; again, a million people may be dead soon if no force intervenes. We can clearly make out just cause: whatever the consequences re another Somalia, the reason for going in is compelling. Hundreds of thousands of lives are literally at stake: right now, 350,000 already starving Darfuris can't get food because of the insecurity.

I'm not accusing any poster here of having this mindset, but I can't help shaking the belief that, if this happened elsewhere, say hypothetically in a highly unstable European country, no one would think twice about advocating a Realist's caution.
posted by n_s_1 at 5:46 AM on September 20, 2006


It doesn't work, and there's a big bloody example right in the headlines every day: we call it Iraq.

Uh, no. We occupied a country and deposed its chief executive. That's not what the UN wants to do in Sudan. Everyone agrees that nothing will happen absent their government's cooperation. But I don't see why this justifies the appointment of a political hack to represent the United States in the region.

(The common thread linking Natsios's tenure at the Big Dig and his work at USAID is his cozy relationship with Bechtel, which profited immensely from both of these agencies. Bechtel is currently implicated, both civilly and criminally, in the collapse of a portion of the ceiling in one of the I-90 tunnels in July which killed a woman. You want the same guys to do for Sudan what they did for Iraq and Boston? Yeah, I thought so. So get off your UN-bashing high horse and look at the sorry state of US foreign policy in countries without oil freedom.)
posted by Saucy Intruder at 5:47 AM on September 20, 2006


Jeez, this is just sad.
Where are they getting all of these guys with bad mustaches?
What a nightmare.
posted by squidfartz at 5:49 AM on September 20, 2006


Suppose you yourself could choose that ambassador. So assume he's absolutely perfect from your point of view.

What, exactly, would you suggest that he do about the situation there? Details, please.


That's asinine. We don't come up with solutions to global-scale problems, because we're a bunch of schmucks on the internet. The idea, crazily enough, is that we don't need to know how to fix Darfur because we have a President and Congress who can appoint very smart experts with appropriate skill-sets and experience to figure out a solution as best they can. The idea is that a President should be able to do better than a collection of schmucks on the internet in almost any endeavor. This President, however, with his unending cavalcade of fuckups, many of which were easily predicted by this or many other collections of schmucks on the internet, doesn't get the benefit of the doubt anymore.

There are two relevant what-ifs, neither of which Steven mentioned. In the first, Bush has appointed you special envoy for Darfur. And rather than giving you two weeks, he sends you back in time thirty years to get advanced degrees and experience in large-scale international crisis management and diplomacy so that when you do actually go to Darfur in 2006, you have more skills than the average schmuck on the internet.

The other relevant what-if is who you would have appointed. Maybe Natsios isn't such a terrible choice, given that he does have experience with international aid. On the other hand, he's also deeply tainted by his association with the disastrous fuckups in Iraq as well as Boston. Is choosing someone whose most recent experience is fucking up an already fucked-up construction project and fucking up the reconstruction of Iraq while loudly lying about it really an auspicious choice to make? I don't think so.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 5:50 AM on September 20, 2006


As a follow-up to my comment, see this video.
posted by Saucy Intruder at 5:51 AM on September 20, 2006


Steven C. Den Beste: From Wiki: "Forces participating in the NRF [NATO Response Force] are drawn from the entire NATO Command and Force Structure. Forces will be assigned to the NRF on a rotational basis with the formal stand-by period lasting six months."

The NRF is different from ISAF. NATO's military leaders don't have to ask member countries for troop contributions first, since the NRF is always at full strength (20,000+) based on prior and agreed-to deployment arrangements and schedules. On the other hand, your point might still stand: I'm sure that individual member states would hold some kind of veto over military planners, should these states learn and be uncomfortable that their troops were about to be sent to Africa as part of an NRF contingent.
posted by n_s_1 at 6:07 AM on September 20, 2006


As badly as he put it, Natsios did have a point: administering AIDS in Africa is really difficult because of the stigma of the disease. (probably not so much the time thing, but then again, Americans have trouble staying on schedule with their meds.)

Great NYT Magazine story on the subject. Of course... that doesn't mean we should give up. Or at least I hope thats what he meant.
posted by fungible at 6:23 AM on September 20, 2006


Invasions are stupid & ineffective. Sure, a blockade would be nice, but don't use force in Sudan.
posted by jeffburdges at 6:37 AM on September 20, 2006


Nothing will happen to "save Darfur" for the same reasons that nothing has happened to save Darfur.

China will block any UN action using the old favorite "impingement of sovereignty" argument but it will really be about their substantial oil investments. The african states won't do anything because they have their own problems and various literal skeletons in their closets. The US won't do anything because it won't want to be seen, again, as oppressing muslims.

Who does that leave? The EU won't do anything because of their own investments in Sudan (particularly France, Great Britain, the Netherlands & Germany). Canada? Setting aside the military absurdity, they have large investments in the country as well.

Without a major geopolitical imperative that mandates intervention even at the cost of economics, nobody will do jack. Everyone who could do something won't because of the money they'd stand to lose.

The US wouldn't lose any money, but due to the whole Iraq debacle it's going to let Darfur slide. Literally.

Everyone can chant "never again" until they're blue in the face, but drop five bucks on the table and it's suddenly "what genocide?" and everyone looks the other way. If you want to do something about Darfur, figure out how to force all international firms out of Sudan. If the EU, for example, really cared they could pull out almost overnight. But the money is more important.

Once their money isn't on the line, you'll find any number of countries willing to suddenly act humanitarian.
posted by aramaic at 6:42 AM on September 20, 2006


n_s_1:

Do you seriously believe that an invasion force would not be entirely counterproductive for your "humanitarian" aims? The peace process, as it is, is fragile and difficult; an invasion would wreck it, and it would be open season for fighting between the militias, which of course would only open up fresh horrors. Could the UN or NATO forces defeat the janjawid and other militas that they don't like? Possibly. But there's no reason to believe that an invasion would not ramp up the crisis severely (remember that this is a civil war), and at least Somalia (not to mention Iraq) shows that the most up-to-date military forces are not necessarily capable of providing security in an underdeveloped country. Given who would be involved, there's no reason to think it would not be a complete clusterfuck of Somalian levels.

As far as the benefits: Sudan's an oil state. There is no question that the US government would prefer a "friendly" government in Khartoum, and there is little doubt that the highly-publicized and well-financed (but not all that popular) "Save Darfur" movement is calculated in a way that would most benefit the United States; China, which has conflicting interests, is of course a road block. But pretending that this time the intervention will be peachy keen is just ridiculous.
posted by graymouser at 7:00 AM on September 20, 2006


The Real Dan: "Unexploited oil resources in Sudan and the connections between Bechtel and Natsios seem to be more believable reasons of this administration than halting or slowing a genocide."

As mentioned previously China profits from lack of intervention, they are the ones with huge oil contracts in Sudan and they are blocking any UN force that does not have Sudan's approval (ie anyforce)...

One sided unreasonable post.
good comments by n_s_1
posted by stratastar at 7:16 AM on September 20, 2006


As Natsios sees it, the problem lies not with his agency but with African AIDS patients themselves, who "don't know what Western time is" and thus cannot take antiretroviral drugs on the proper schedule

This is a lie so big, so big I almost bought it. Plus even if it was true, it is NOT true for all africans. Even if it was true for the majority, the time problem is solved by inserting a gooddamn clock into the packaging or giving them a cheap Aids Clock, made in china, $0.3 a piece , that beeps regularly.
posted by elpapacito at 7:28 AM on September 20, 2006


I didn't understand the second half of that, but the first half is one with which I agree, as sad as that may be. And I don't mean that in a partisan way. I fear some smooth-talking charismatic devil

Forget charisma. It galls that one of Bush's biggest perceived sins is guile. Had he simply said "We're going to invade Iraq because it is in America's interest and we CAN", I don't think he'd be suffering the popularity slump we're seeing now.

America has come to hate him because he is hurting America (Katrina perhaps being the turning point). It's beginning to look like the country will take any devil that doesn't feed on his own -- no matter the price to the rest of the world.
posted by dreamsign at 7:36 AM on September 20, 2006


Okay, I took some time to run down some things on Natsios. He was in charge of the Big Dig for less than a year 2000 to 2001. This means he was probably not around long enough to be responsible for much of its disaster or long enough to solve many of its problems since it was a twenty year disaster/project.
He was vice president of World Vision from 1993 to 1998. This is a Christian oriented relief organization. They believe witnessing for Christ is a fundamental part of their relief work. They require their American staff to sign a statement of faith in Jesus.
In other words, he got his job because of his strong Christian beliefs and because of his strong Christian beliefs Bush may actually listen to him when he describes the problem in Darfur versus listening to someone more competent. Maybe that's the best that can be expected for a Special Envoy from this administration.
posted by dances_with_sneetches at 7:42 AM on September 20, 2006


What does the "Save Darfur" crowd actually want? Do you want a brutal military occupation in the midst of an ongoing civil war, where the occupation takes a side? It doesn't work, and there's a big bloody example right in the headlines every day: we call it Iraq.

This is the Bush "all or nothing" B.S. Either we go in full bore and conquer a country, or we do nothing. There are a lot of sanction alternatives we could employ before we start decapitating the government.

Plus, Sudan isn't exactly Iraq in terms of development, it's more like Afghanistan.

Also there are already peacekeepers from other African countries there, but their terms are expiring in 2007.
posted by delmoi at 7:50 AM on September 20, 2006


The whole notion of "humanitarian invasions" is fucked up beyond belief, and the people who tout them are legitimizing from the "left" the real bloody-handed imperialist ventures like Iraq by suggesting that there is a "positive" role for Western military powers invading third-world countries.

We're invading and intervening now for bad reasons--how about for good reasons for once? How about a large joint NATO/UN/AU presence along with intense and tough diplomatic actions and sanctions--we can separate those who are killing others from those being killed, and starve the killers of funding--as a start? There is a positive role for peacekeepers and referees--no matter where they come from.

Rwanda is a lesson too--one we've already forgotten.
posted by amberglow at 9:01 AM on September 20, 2006


amberglow writes "one we've already forgotten"

Uh not forgotten, it's disregarded. That's really really different.
posted by elpapacito at 9:12 AM on September 20, 2006


you're right elpapa--it's to our shame.
posted by amberglow at 9:18 AM on September 20, 2006


We're invading and intervening now for bad reasons--how about for good reasons for once? How about a large joint NATO/UN/AU presence along with intense and tough diplomatic actions and sanctions--we can separate those who are killing others from those being killed, and starve the killers of funding--as a start? There is a positive role for peacekeepers and referees--no matter where they come from.

The reason you do something doesn't change what it is you are actually doing. What you're advocating in reality is not a tenth the rosy picture that you make it out to be, any more than the horror of Iraq is anything like how the Bush administration said the war there would be. What makes you think that a UN (or NATO) force entering against the government's will would have the capacity to act as "peacekeepers" or "referees" and not as fighters on one side of a war, especially if the government and militias aligned with the government force them into that role?

I can understand the desire to do something about the violence in Darfur, but the idea of a self-styled humanitarian movement pushing for more war, for a new invasion, is bewildering and disgusting. These things are never pretty, and it's rarely the people on the ground who benefit; if you care so much about Darfur, why aren't you pushing for a solidarity movement with the anti-government rebels such as the Justice and Equality Movement who are the actual targets here instead of lobbying for "humanitarian" invasion?
posted by graymouser at 9:48 AM on September 20, 2006


What does the "Save Darfur" crowd actually want? Do you want a brutal military occupation in the midst of an ongoing civil war, where the occupation takes a side? It doesn't work, and there's a big bloody example right in the headlines every day: we call it Iraq.

It worked (I use that term loosely, only in that it would have been much, much worse without intervention) in Kosovo. There was also not active, widespread slaughter happening in Iraq. Situations like Iraq need more debate. Situations like Darfur need less of it.

Years from now, we'll wonder if Former Baseball Executive George Bush has the same political balls as his predecessor.
posted by mkultra at 10:10 AM on September 20, 2006


So we haven't decided if uninvited military force is the answer in Darfur. There are things we can do in the meanwhile, including political pressure as n_s_1 outlined, part of which is pressure to allow intervention. This is not Iraq. Nor is it Somalia.

We waited so long to do anything in Rwanda mainly because Somalia was frightening. Because of Mogadishu. People chose not to even look at Rwanda close enough to acknowledge the genocide, because acknowledgement would necessitate involvement.

"All over the world, there were people like me sitting in offices day after day after day who did not fully appreciate the depth and the speed with which you were being engulfed by this unimaginable terror." (Kigali, 1998)

Never again, everyone vowed, would we turn a blind eye to genocide. Heh. But how effortless to push it out of mind. To treat it like some abstract thought experiment. To click that link and say, meh... maybe later. Yet here we are, what, some 400 thousand lives later? And doing what, waiting for China to show an interest in human rights? Can't we come up with a better excuse? Maybe mom can write a note. "Please excuse my child. She can't write 'Please give a damn about Darfur' to her representatives because she has carpal tunnel for doing her blog."

From what I've read Andrew Natsios is a reasonably acceptable choice for this job, even if he isn't the best. It's impossible to predict how effective he will be, at this point, but I'm not holding my breath. It's likely he was picked as much for having an "acceptable" opinion on the matter as for his credentials. Massive pressure from the Darfur campaigns is part of the reason this appointment was made at all, and that pressure will have to continue to see any real action.
posted by zennie at 11:07 AM on September 20, 2006


Why is no one talking about arming the Darfurians, to help them fight off the Sino-Arabian Genocide for Oil?
posted by evariste at 11:21 AM on September 20, 2006


Why is no one talking about arming the Darfurians?

International arms dealing can be a surprisingly lucrative field, if you want to consider it.

...keep in mind, however, that smuggling weapons hasn't exactly helped Africa much to date. Then again, perhaps a robust supply operation might have helped end the atrocities in the Belgian Congo somewhat earlier.
posted by aramaic at 11:57 AM on September 20, 2006


Am I the only one who thinks that misunderestimating is no longer funny?
posted by Chasuk at 12:20 PM on September 20, 2006


Why is no one talking about arming the Darfurians, to help them fight off the Sino-Arabian Genocide for Oil?

"More weapons" does not have a history of effectiveness.
posted by mkultra at 12:22 PM on September 20, 2006


No history of effectiveness at what? Winning the conflict? More weapons plus NATO training, then. Especially some nice Stingers to bring down the Sudanese aircraft. They're using their monopoly in the skies to make their ground forces uncontestable, and the Darfurians have no effective counter to that, since they don't have air defense systems or air assets of their own.
posted by evariste at 12:51 PM on September 20, 2006 [1 favorite]


Shipping air defense missile systems into an uncontrolled region is just asking for someone to shoot down airliners.

Go with AA guns rather than missiles; you can mount them on trucks so they're fairly mobile, and you won't have to worry so much about proliferation. Or, even better, just attack the planes on the ground -- it's a lot cheaper, and you don't need quite so much training ("toss this bomb in that engine, and then run away").

Look to the Desert Rats for inspiration; they did some amusing things with jeeps and lunatic drivers.
posted by aramaic at 2:17 PM on September 20, 2006


why aren't you pushing for a solidarity movement with the anti-government rebels such as the Justice and Equality Movement who are the actual targets here instead of lobbying for "humanitarian" invasion?

I'll push for both, but the UN and NATO going in is much more likely, given our current world leaders, and our current Security Council.

The point is to stop people from dying. How we do that is not as important as that we do that.
posted by amberglow at 3:12 PM on September 20, 2006


Well, we could ship them some anti-arcraft missles, since you can't really kill ground forces with 'em. I bet a lot of them would end up in Iraqi insurgents hands, though.
posted by delmoi at 4:36 PM on September 20, 2006


What does that have to do with the seriousness of our response to that problem? Nothing.

What does the whining comment I responded to have to do with it? Even less. Go take it up with the poster I was replying to.
posted by Krrrlson at 4:36 PM on September 20, 2006


I wonder if you could put GPS devices in the missles so they only go off in certan regions.
posted by delmoi at 4:46 PM on September 20, 2006


so the africans dont understand what the concept of "time" is, so they cant take their medicine on time? maybe we should start a "time awareness" campaign in the africa region.
posted by obeygiant at 5:20 PM on September 20, 2006


obeygiant is our new resident genius!
posted by interrobang at 8:46 PM on September 20, 2006


From a liberal viewpoint, there are problems with Natsios's appointment. But he is very qualified and the fact that the poster and people in this thread are holding him up as an example of an unqualified appointment is laughable. The post gives the impression that the poster know nothing more about Natsios than a headline or two and a blog entry. Is this the right way to form opinions about politics and policy?
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 12:31 AM on September 21, 2006


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