March 16, 2005 8:01 AM   Subscribe

Congressional Copy Editors Needed To Prevent Future Diplomatic Incidents A minor typo in an unofficial transcript at a Congressional hearing a couple of weeks ago caused Sudan to think the U.S. had conducted a secret nuclear weapons test there in 1962. As one might expect, they didn't take the news well.
It snowballed: within a day, the Chinese news service was reporting that the Sudanese government held the U.S. responsible for "cancer spread in Sudan" caused by "U.S. nuclear experiments in the African country in 1962-1970."
posted by zarq (17 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Given the current administration's attitude towards the rest of the world, this is likely an initiative that'll get shelved until George W. Bush rides off into the sunset...

It just seems unlikely that this current White House would lose much sleep over diplomatic incidents.
posted by clevershark at 8:04 AM on March 16, 2005

(see also: Monkeyfilter discussion of 3/13)
posted by spock at 8:04 AM on March 16, 2005

and if they don't pipe down, we can do another "test" tomorrow!

These are very reactionary times, I guess, when it's a minor diplomatic blunder to switch a U with an E. You would think that the Sudanese would know whether or not someone blew up an atomic bomb in their country, though.
posted by crunchland at 8:11 AM on March 16, 2005

Someone should do a pubic opinion poll about this. The Untied States are unpopular enough as it is.
posted by scratch at 8:15 AM on March 16, 2005

You would think that the Sudanese would know whether or not someone blew up an atomic bomb in their country, though.

The problem for the Sudanese is not whether they blew up an atomic bomb or not. The problem is "Does the U.S. think Sudan is interested in a-bomb capabilities"? I think we can see why they would want to nip that thought in the bud.
posted by spock at 8:26 AM on March 16, 2005

I guess that's worse than being shit with an AK-47.
posted by MrMoonPie at 8:30 AM on March 16, 2005

Reminds me of the flap back in early 2001 when Bush misspoke about defending Taiwan against China.

Frankly, I'm surprised that such a small, little-published piece of congressional literature would garner such attention but having Rush Limbaugh speak of nuking Iraq on Armed Services RAdio (broadcast all over Iraq and the Middle East) has seen such little notice over here or abroad. Diplomatic blunders happen though, remember that time when we were supposed to go after the Middle Eastern country with nukes and went after IraQ instead of IraN.
posted by Arch Stanton at 8:30 AM on March 16, 2005

First commies, then libruls, and now copy editors. Why do they hate our freedoms?
posted by a_day_late at 8:37 AM on March 16, 2005

Yeah. A typo. Nice cover, guys.
posted by graventy at 8:46 AM on March 16, 2005

I guess that's worse than being shit with an AK-47.

Talk about a crappy way to go!
posted by clevershark at 9:05 AM on March 16, 2005

Somewhat off-topic but still a serendipitous find, I just saw The New Statesman has a good 14 March cover story about African-Western relations entitled To Save Africa We Must Listen to It:

Two opposing narratives inform our understanding of Africa. The first tells of a continent undeveloped and underpopulated until Europeans discovered it and opened it up to trade and the benefits of science and civilisation. Until outsiders came, sub-Saharan Africa had no writing and no wheel. Its inhabitants belonged to thousands of ethnic groups which, outside the West African Islamic kingdoms, ruled themselves according to custom. Once colonial rule had been established, Africa's population leapt from 120 million in 1880 to 165 million in 1935. With the benefits of peace, stability, western education and science, it rose to 330 million by the 1960s. The colonialists left Africa's economies in reasonable shape, but after independence they sank back into anarchy and poverty. The cause: tribalism and corruption.

The other narrative goes like this: the continent flourished until Europeans started prowling around its coasts in the 16th century looking for loot. The loot they found was human - slaves - and over the next two and a half centuries, millions of Africans were ripped from their land and shipped across to the Americas to labour in mines and on plantations. That impoverished Africa and made Europe wealthy. The slave-trade wealth was invested in Europe, creating the industrial revolution. This in turn gave Europe a further advantage over Africa and a sense of superiority which Europeans interpreted as racial. That gave the impetus for imperialism and colonialism. Europe carved up Africa so it could more easily exploit Africa's mineral wealth and cheap labour.

posted by jenleigh at 9:07 AM on March 16, 2005 [1 favorite]

It could have been worse, they could have made the typo before they tested the bomb in sedan.
posted by drezdn at 9:27 AM on March 16, 2005

jenleigh, that's an interesting article. Thanks for posting it. :)
posted by zarq at 9:33 AM on March 16, 2005

[this is god]
posted by eatitlive at 9:48 AM on March 16, 2005

You would think that the Sudanese would know whether or not someone blew up an atomic bomb in their country, though.

Better than that, the actual test (done at the Nevada test site, and code named Storax Sedan) was done to demonstrate the use of nuclear weapons for mining. The crater that it created is a quarter of a mile wide and 320 feet deep, and it excavated 12 million tons of rock. You'd think someone would have happened upon that hole in the last fourty years.

More at Wikipedia about the test.
posted by Plutor at 10:09 AM on March 16, 2005 [1 favorite]

Is one allowed to run down the inside of that nice crater? It looks all soft and sandy and steep. It'd be a bitchin' bit of fun.

At least until my skin fell off from the radiation burns.
posted by five fresh fish at 11:04 AM on March 16, 2005

Unless that blast was deep underground, I bet there's some glass or slag at the bottom the crater.

I'll have to send the FPP link to my brother, who was a Marine embassy guard in Khartoum for a little while in the eighties. He'd probably get a gallows-humor chuckle out of the idea of nuclear testing in Sudan.
posted by alumshubby at 2:11 PM on March 16, 2005

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