That kind of thing makes liberal hawks get all starry eyed. But what makes Libya different than most of the other places where tyrannical governments do nasty things to their citizens isn't terribly Wilsonsian:Well, gosh, that's not very useful. because if that's good policy, then invading Iraq made perfect sense - and as we all know, the smart kids have all determined that it made no sense (I'm remaining on the fence myself, but I'm neither smart nor a kid).
* Qaddafi's rule over Libya is, on balance, a net negative for US interests;
* The US doesn't care much for most of his friends either;
* He's sitting on not insignificant fossil fuel deposits;
* He has no real support among the great powers; and
* The UK, US, and France really, really, really don't like the guy.
"THE battle to save some of the world's most endangered species is turning bloody, with wildlife charities deploying guns and military vehicles to protect elephants, rhinos and tigers from a surge in poaching.
At least one British organisation, Care for the Wild International (CWI), is buying military-style field equipment and supporting the deployment of armed guards, while the US-based International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) has bought night-vision supplies, ammunition and light aircraft.
WWF, formerly known as the World Wildlife Fund, has hired former SAS soldiers to train African wildlife wardens, and the Zoological Society of London is funding elephant-mounted patrols to protect rhinos in Nepal. The trend towards militarisation follows an estimated 150 deaths among game wardens in Africa in gunfights with poachers."
This strikes me as a good idea - note the game warden death toll. The military option will fail, absent measures that take local needs into consideration. But there comes a pint where it's clearly necessary, and I'd say we reached it a while ago.
I'd even go a step farther. Special Forces is not about being Rambo, so much as it's about forming productive relationships with locals; deepening institutional familiarity with key terrain, languages, and cultures; training both military and paramilitary forces; and building relationships with local military and paramilitary forces that can really help in a crisis. Anti-poacher work hits every one of these facets. Working with African militaries and game wardens would be both good policy, and excellent training for new Special Forces troops.
As the BBC puts it: "They do not eat pork, they practise male circumcision, they ritually slaughter their animals, some of their men wear skull caps and they put the Star of David on their gravestones." They also have a tribal artefact called the "ngoma lungundu," which seems to be a replica of the Ark of the Covenant.
No replica of a melted Nazi by the Ark, though. Guess Hollywood's influence is limited.
Many Lemba are now Christians or Muslims, but DNA testing has confirmed that the Jewish practices and symbols, and Lemba oral history, are no coincidence. Members of the Lemba's priestly clan (the Buba) even have a genetic element also found among the Jewish priestly clan, the Kohanim.
"I tell you as I saw it," says Fidéle Simugomwa, a former Hutu-extremist militia chief during the Rwandan genocide, as he sits for an interview with French documentary-maker Serge Farnel. "The French soldiers were standing on the hill, and firing down at the Tutsi. . . . We had a sign so the French didn't shoot at us--[we had] leaves on."Read the whole thing (including disclaimers by the French).
One by one, the ex-génocidaires whom Mr. Farnel films tell the same story: Namely, that on May 13, 1994, small teams of white men they describe as "French soldiers," clad in fatigues and riding in jeeps or trucks, gathered at lookout points in the backwoods of western Rwanda. They fired into the Bisesero hills, scaring the Tutsi out of hiding. They then aimed directly at the fleeing men, women, and children. When the shooting stopped, the Hutu killers moved into the hills. Wielding machetes, lances, nail-spiked clubs, and their own guns, they finished off the wounded. A score of survivors recounted the same version of events to me.
Clinton said US Allies in Europe blocked proposals to adjust or remove the embargo [the arms embargo on Muslim Bosnia]. the justified their argument on humanitarian grounds, arguing that more arms would only fuel the bloodshed, but privately, said the president, key allies objected that an independent Bosnia would be "unnatural" as the only Muslim nation in Europe. He said they favored the embargo precisely because it locked in Bosnia's disadvantage. Worse, he added, they parried numerous alternatives as a danger to the some eight thousand European peacekeepers deployed in Bosnia to safeguard emergency shipments of food and medical supplies.-
When I expressed shock at such cynicism, reminiscent of the blind-eye diplomacy regarding the plight of Europe's Jews during World War II, President Clinton only shrugged. He said president Francois Mitterand of France had been especially blunt in saying that Bosnia did not belong, and that British officials also spoke of a painful but realistic restoration of Christian Europe.
pp 9 - 10
Asia Times has an interesting piece titled: "Trouble in China's little Africa." They don't mean Beijing's African allies, where the paper acknowledges that China's approach raises questions of colonialism v2.0 (question for the peanut gallery - is that a bad thing? why or why not?). Instead, they mean the growing set of African businesspeople in China's southern provinces:
"The southern Chinese province of Guangdong, the country's (and much of the world's) manufacturing hub, has seen the largest influx of Africans, with most of them doing business in a single neighborhood in the provincial capital city of Guangzhou. An estimated 20,000 Africans now live in Guangzhou, with thousands more regularly streaming through the city as visitors who buy pirated DVDs and Chinese-made clothes, shoes, electronics and other products for resale back home.
That makes Africans the largest foreign population in the city - and their numbers in Guangzhou more than double those in Beijing and Shanghai combined.
African traffic to and from Guangzhou has grown to the point that, in November of 2008, Kenya Airways began the first non-stop flight from Africa to the Chinese mainland with its Nairobi to Guangzhou express. Indeed, Guangzhou has become such a haven for Africans from a variety of different countries that the Canaan Export Clothes and Trading Center in and around which they thrive is referred to by locals as "Chocolate City".
The less good news is that the Chinese, never thrilled with foreigners, are not exactly welcoming. This is exacerbated by lots of Africans who stay on past their visas, and the Africans' treatment has triggered public demonstrations in China. The Chinese are certainly treated better in Africa (so far), and this is the sort of thing that might build up resentment if the game is seen as all one way.
The larger point is how it feeds into an emerging rivalry that will define the Indian Ocean basin in the early 21st century.
The Chinese have the ability to produce goods that can be sold to Africans at an affordable price point. India has less ability to produce them, but does and could, and has a substantial expatriate base in Africa, just as China does. They are also showing some interesting leaps in redesigning and re-conceiving whole product types like stoves, fridges, etc., and their distribution models, so that even 3rd world poor can afford them.
There will be 2 games going on here. One is a business competition, as Chinese and Indian firms compete to design and produce goods for export to Africa, with its expatriate communities as critical middlemen. The second game is all about natural resources (which will eventually include food production as water shortages in China and India bite), and involves African governments - again, however, with local expat communities as critical players.
The thing is, Africa remains a continent where bribery and payoffs are endemic. Despite some bright spots spurred by courageous local leaders, shifts in W's African aid policies, Paul Wolfowitz's World Bank efforts, that isn't going away. Indeed, full relapse remains a strong bet even in some of the bright spots, and any diaspora cold war will both leverage and exacerbate that fatal flaw.
Which means assets on the ground will matter. The relative economic strengths of China and India's expat communities, which will derive from the business competition, are going to affect the resource competition as well. Africa's governments, which do so much to keep their people poor, will be the wild card in both competitions, paid large sums at multiple levels to influence both.
Which does raise the odds of Africa remaining poor, no matter what anyone in America or Europe might want to do about it. But that isn't really a factor for the larger players here - which don't include America, or Europe.
"One of the disturbing and little noticed events of recent weeks was the crash (or destruction) of a Boeing 727 in the desert of Mali.
The crash is disturbing for many reasons, among them these three: 1) the aircraft was carrying between 2 to 3 tons of cocaine, far more than other, smaller aircraft and boats that have been detected in recent months, indicating an escalation of the trade through the Trans-Sahel region; 2) The region where the aircraft was found, most likely torched by its crew to destroy evidence, in a area of heavy operation of Al Qaeda in the Islamic Magreb (AQIM); and 3) the aircraft departed from Venezuela, now Latin America's primary transshipment hub from Latin America to West Africa, and source of all the major air shipments of cocaine that have been interdicted in West Africa."
Unsurprising. Given the number of Cuban DGI agents in Venezuela, this is that state's future, whether Chavez eats a bullet tomorrow or not. Note, also, the incidental al-Qaeda opportunity to pick up the high value part of the pipeline moving the shipped drugs north to Europe.
"In Somalia's main pirate lair of Haradheere [about 400 km/ 250 miles NE of Mogadishu], the sea gangs have set up a cooperative to fund their hijackings offshore, a sort of stock exchange meets criminal syndicate.... "Four months ago, during the monsoon rains, we decided to set up this stock exchange. We started with 15 'maritime companies' and now we are hosting 72. Ten of them have so far been successful at hijacking," Mohammed said.
"The shares are open to all and everybody can take part, whether personally at sea or on land by providing cash, weapons or useful materials ... we've made piracy a community activity.".... "Piracy-related business has become the main profitable economic activity in our area and as locals we depend on their output," said Mohamed Adam, the town's deputy security officer.
This is just the beginning of the true cost of the dithering and ineffective measures demanded by the UN and its enablers. Large sections of the Indian Ocean, far beyond Somalia, are already becoming dangerous for shipping and trade. And the forces on land will continue to morph toward more sophisticated - and hostile - models, the longer they're left alone. This is far too good a racket not to attract interest from al-Qaeda, which already has reliable proxies in the area - and a long Islamic history of piracy and slavery to use as justification and rallying call.
Last time pirates hijacked the Maersk Alabama, it took a biilion-dollar AEGIS destroyer and a SEAL team to resolve the situation.
Well, the American-flagged Maersk Alabama was out sailing again, and attacked by pirates again. This time, the pirates encountered a hired on-board security team that shot back, and decided that this wasn't their leaf of qat. Apparently, that boat of pirates is currently missing.
The rest of the KDAF-33 article is mostly interesting for the whining coming from Roger Middleton, a piracy expert at London's Chatham House think tank...
Apparently, the international maritime community remains "solidly against" armed guards aboard vessels at sea, but American ships have taken a different approach." He adds:
"Also, there's the idea that it's the responsibility of states and navies to provide security. I would think it's a step backward if we start privatizing security of the shipping trade."
Well, bucko, the flaccidity of that same so-called community is the main reason pirates remain a problem - and the way the brahmins have structured the problem, there isn't an affordable or effective naval response. So American firms (and others) can spend "millions for defense, bit not one cent for tribute," and their counterparts can spend millions for tribute, and not one cent for defense. Competitive advantage and natural selection can take care of the rest.
I give you Massachusetts Maritime Academy professor Capt. Joseph Murphy, who is also the father of a sailor who was on the Maersk Alabama during the first pirate attack in April. He says that about 20% of the ships off East Africa are currently armed, adding:
"Somali pirates understand one thing and only one thing, and that's force... They analyze risk very carefully, and when the risk is too high they are going to step back. They are not going to jeopardize themselves."
When perverse international law and irresponsible governance make defense difficult, it goes private. People will protect themselves. That's happening here, and it's a long term trend to watch, because the utter incompetence of international bodies like the UN, and persistent refusal to adapt to the modern age, are not going away any time soon.
"Russia's energy giant Gazprom has signed a $2.5bn (£1.53bn) deal with Nigeria's state operated NNPC, to invest in a new joint venture. The new firm, to be called Nigaz, is set to build refineries, pipelines and gas power stations in Nigeria."Uh huh. "No, no, it's Frahnk-en-shteen..."
Was just part of a junket which culminated in a meeting with the president of Blackwater (yes, that Blackwater...). I'm still digesting a lot of it, and will have more comments. But one thing he said really hit me - that with 300 of his troops (the news story says 250, but his comment was for 300) and 600 elite troops they would pick and mentor from the AU forces, they could shut down the genocide in Darfur.
I didn't ask what he charges for his forces, but imagine that it's $50,000/month/pair of boots. That's $15 million a month - $180 million for the year. Why aren't we having a telethon with Hollywood celebrities raising money for this?