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BRET STEPHENS: On Venezuela, Where Are Liberals?

Scour the Web and you’ll find a handful of reports of anti-Maduro protests or teach-ins at universities in recent years, usually organized by Venezuelans living in the U.S. And most politically informed people are more-or-less aware of Venezuela’s political and economic disorders. No doubt they don’t like what they see, and no doubt they wish it were otherwise.

They just don’t seem to care that much.

Every generation of campus activists embraces a worthy foreign-policy cause: Ending apartheid in South Africa; stopping ethnic cleansing in the Balkans; rescuing Darfur from starvation and genocide. And then there’s the perennial — and perennially unworthy — cause of “freeing” Palestine, for which there never is a shortage of credulous campus zealots.

Then there are the humanitarian causes young activists generally don’t embrace, at least not in a big way. Cuba’s political prisoners. Islamist violence against Christians in the Middle East. The vast and terrifying concentration camp that is North Korea. Where are the campus protests over any of that?

Simple: Venezuela is socialist, and the Left remains enamored with socialism.

It’s like that because they each picture themselves becoming one of the big shots with the nice dacha, but none of them imagines they’ll end up a corpse in a mass grave.

OBAMA SYRIA CHEMICAL WEAPONS RED LINE UPDATE: The UN says Syria’s Assad regime used chemical weapons at least 27 times.

A panel of United Nations rights investigators announced definitively on Wednesday that Syrian President Bashar Assad’s forces were behind April’s sarin gas attack on the rebel-held town of Khan Sheikhoun, which killed more than 80 people.

The findings were part of the latest UN report on the Syrian civil war presented in Geneva by the UN Commission of Inquiry on Syria. An earlier report by the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) was not authorized to apportion blame or investigate culpability, only to establish whether chemical weapons had been used.

Investigators also revealed that they had documented 33 chemical weapons attacks since the war’s outbreak in 2011. Twenty-seven of those were carried out by Assad’s government forces, including seven between March 1 and July 7 of this year. The perpetrators in six attacks had not yet been identified, investigators said.

Samantha Power and the Responsibility to Protect crowd that damned George W. Bush for failing to respond to genocide in Darfur were unavailable for comment.

HOW MANY PEOPLE HAVE BEEN KILLED IN SYRIA’S WAR?: Good question. This new report says 300,000. I’ve read reports that put the toll over 400,000. In early May StrategyPage editor Jim Dunnigan thought the “over 400,000” estimates were credible. I did, too. (Here is Jim’s analysis, dated May 6.) It is all but impossible to gather accurate statistics in a war zone, but there are groups that attempt to get the truth. Medical aid organizations and refugee relief groups are decent sources. Whatever the presice figure, Syria’s death toll has surpassed that in Bosnia in the 1990s. Syria is occurring on the Obama Administration’s watch. Remember, Bosnia was a genocide. Obama’s UN ambassador Samantha Power excoriated Bush for failing to stop the genocide in Sudan’s Darfur region. Responsibility To Protect, she said. Yes, that’s what she said.

WE’D BE HEARING HYSTERICAL CRIES OF HORROR AND ANGUISH ABOUT ALEPPO’S HUMANITARIAN NIGHTMARE IF A REPUBLICAN WERE IN THE WHITE HOUSE: Medical aid group says 300,000 people face starvation in Aleppo, Syria. Remember Responsibility To Protect (R2P), hyped once upon a time by Obama Administration UN Ambassador Samantha Power? She used R2P as a media-academic weapon, portraying President George W. Bush as a benighted racist cowboy dummy for failing to intervene in Sudan’s Darfur war. Bush failed to lead and look at the disaster!!!!

At the link you’ll find a Samantha quote that the mainstream media appear to have forgotten:

In what perhaps could be seen as a preview of coming Obama administration policy was revealed during Samantha Power’s U.S. Senate confirmation hearing of July 17 (2013) when she stated, “We see the failure of the UN Security Council to respond to the slaughter in Syria – a disgrace that history will judge harshly.”

300,000 about to starve in Aleppo, Samantha, perhaps 400,000 already dead in the Syrian mess. Last month 51 US diplomats filed a dissent cable — perhaps they’ve seen enough history to feel the disgrace?

Forces loyal to the Assad dictatorship, supported by Russian strike aircraft, are attacking Aleppo. Recall in August 2013 the Assad regime attacked civilian neighborhoods with nerve gas, despite Obama’s “red line” warning. A motley collection of rebel groups is defending Aleppo. Some of the rebels have links to Islamist extremist organizations. However, VOA reports: “…Western-backed nationalist insurgents loosely grouped under the banner of the Free Syrian Army say they control the rebel-held part of the city.” Note that the VOA report quotes Samantha power as telling the UN Security Council that the attack by pro-Assad forces could have “potentially devastating consequences”…”Russia, as a co-sponsor of the cessation of hostilities, should use its influence on the regime to help stop these attacks,” Power said.”

In 2004, when you were bashing Bush about Darfur, you sure talked a big game, Samantha. US leadership! Bush must lead! It’s there, in print. Pretty harsh, huh?

SURE, AND NEXT YOU’RE GOING TO TELL ME THAT THERE’S GAMBLING GOING ON IN RICK’S CAFE, TO BOOT: The American boy arrested for making a clock meets Sudan’s president, an accused war criminal:

Bashir is no ordinary world leader. He has an outstanding arrest warrant from the International Criminal Court, for example, for allegedly orchestrating genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes in Darfur. The country he leads is under a variety of U.S. sanctions. His government harbored Osama bin Laden for five years in the 1990s. A leaked U.S. diplomatic cable published by WikiLeaks even suggested he may have secretly stolen $9 billion in oil money.

I’m shocked — shocked! — by this oh, so “unexpectedly” occurring development, aren’t you?

AUSTIN BAY: Time for Obama and Ambassador Power to Account for Their Darfur Failure.

JAMES TARANTO: Obama Keeps a Promise: What he said in 2007 about withdrawing from Iraq.

As this columnist noted in a 2007 op-ed in The Wall Street Journal, then-Sens. Obama and Kerry were so eager for America to pull out of Iraq that they dismissed the possibility of catastrophic results.

Obama was asked by an AP reporter if preventing genocide was a good enough reason to keep U.S. forces in Iraq. As he often does, he took refuge in a false dilemma: “Well, look, if that’s the criteria by which we are making decisions on the deployment of U.S. forces, then by that argument you would have 300,000 troops in the Congo right now–where millions have been slaughtered as a consequence of ethnic strife–which we haven’t done. We would be deploying unilaterally and occupying the Sudan, which we haven’t done. Those of us who care about Darfur don’t think it would be a good idea.”

True, it is impractical to intervene everywhere. It does not follow that it is wrong to intervene anywhere, much less that it is right to end heedlessly an intervention already undertaken.

Today the president acknowledged that the Islamic State’s advance “poses a danger to Iraq and its people, and given the nature of these terrorists, it could pose a threat eventually to American interests as well.” In 2007 he promised to withdraw regardless of the danger to Iraq and its people. He kept that promise.

As for Kerry, he invoked Vietnam, as he often does.

For some people, “another Vietnam” is a favored outcome.

ANOTHER DUMB CAMPUS MOVEMENT: Divesting From Fossil Fuels. Sure. Colleges are swimming in money. Who cares how their endowments perform?

It’s almost like there’s a steady stream of these things, ginned up mostly to ensure that there’s something for lefty activists on campus to coalesce around. From the comments: “Oh goodness. Harvard students protesting. I’m all for not investing in Darfur. That’s a no-brainer. But nobody (except these students, perhaps) needs a reminder that university endowments took a huge hit, and Harvard was among those worst affected.”

WALTER RUSSELL MEAD: Shock News: Arab League as Ineffective In Syria As It Is Everywhere Else.

Next time you want to stop a bloodbath, don’t send a war criminal to report on human rights abuses. In a bizarre turn of events, the head of the Sudanese military intelligence has been tasked with ending the crackdown on protesters in Syria as the leader of Arab League observers.

Perhaps it doesn’t matter; the Arab League has a long tradition of irrelevance and, so far, its observer mission in Syria is keeping tradition alive. The impact of the observers has been negligible. At least 49 people have been killed by the regime in the past 5 days, according to Bloomberg. The Arab Parliament, an advisory body to a talking shop, announced on January 1 that the “fact-finding” mission of Arab League monitors has failed.

Lieutenant General Mohammed Ahmed Mustafa al-Dabi, the head of Sudan’s military intelligence since 1989, has for decades, it is widely believed, personally overseen what most now recognize as genocide in Darfur. And now he is expected to help end the bloodshed in Syria? Tellingly, he declared to Reuters after visiting Homs: “some places looked a bit of a mess but there was nothing frightening.”

Klaus Barbie was unavailable for comment. On the other hand, it’s not just the Arab League: The U.N. wound up putting genocidaires on the Rwanda investigative panels, too. I’ve discussed a more productive human-rights approach elsewhere.

THIS MUST BE MORE OF THAT “SMART DIPLOMACY” I’VE BEEN HEARING ABOUT: Dancing With A Dictator In Sudan. “In Darfur, the Khartoum regime has cleared millions from their lands, allowing ethnic groups allied with the government to move into the deserted areas. In the oilfield areas of southern Sudan in the 1990s, the regime strategically killed and displaced hundreds of thousands of indigenous residents to facilitate Chinese oil exploitation. In the Nuba mountains during the late 1980s and 1990s, the vast majority of locals were forcibly displaced by Sudanese government attacks, and hundreds of thousands died. The international community threatened real consequences during and after these incidents and after other targeted crimes against civilian populations. But the consequences never came.”

The brilliant historian Yaacov Lozowick points to a book that looks very interesting indeed: Dancing in the Glory of Monsters: The Collapse of the Congo and the Great War of Africa by Jason Stearns.

I don’t know much about the ongoing war in the Congo other than the fact that it makes the Middle East look like Canada by comparison. Millions of people have suffered and died there in silence. Few go there to report on it, and even fewer agitate to do anything about it.

Why Darfur captures the attention and passion of so many while the Congo does not is a mystery, though I think it’s partly because hardly anyone is even aware that the Congo is a war zone at all, let alone the worst one in the world. Maybe this book will help a bit. Maybe. Anyway, I ordered a copy.

LOW-TECH STOVE saves lives in Darfur. “The goal was to make a wood-burning stove that would use just a fraction of the fuel consumed by the open fires typically employed for cooking in Darfur. Each Berkeley-Darfur Stove is approximately 1 foot tall, and weighs 12 pounds. . . . These women report saving an average of approximately $1 per day in firewood expenses: A $20 stove saves a Darfuri woman more than $300 per year, or $1500 over the stove’s five-year life span. In a place where the average income is less than $5 a day (and most of this comes in the form of international aid), the impact of the stove is striking.”

IN THE MAIL: From Mahmood Mamdani, Saviors and Survivors: Darfur, Politics, and the War on Terror.

SAVING DARFUR REFUGEE LIVES with a new, efficient cookstove design. Not as satisfying as wiping out the Janjaweed, but something.

EUGENE KONTOROVICH: The Administration’s Pathetic Piracy Policy. “Indeed, as I’ve recounted elsewhere, since the beginning of the piracy epidemic last summer the United Nations has passed five Security Council resolutions on the subject– all under its binding Chapter VII authority. No other issue, not even the Israeli-Palestinian conflict (to say nothing of the bloody civil war in Sri Lanka or the ongoing genocide in Darfur) has commanded as much of the Council’s attention. Yet the piracy epidemic has only increased apace. In the days after Obama announced that the U.S. would be getting tough on pirates, as if to mock his words several more vessels were seized, including another American ship.”


AZIZ POONAWALLA POINTS OUT THE RACISM: Darfur vs Gaza: African muslims are worth less than Arab muslims.

THE INITIATIVE TO REPEAL THE MASSACHUSETTS STATE INCOME TAX seems to be gathering some steam. “For the second time in six years, voters are being asked at the ballot box whether the state should abolish its income tax. In 2002, a similar measure got about 45 percent of the vote. So this time, both sides are taking the matter very seriously. Massachusetts taxpayer groups are raising funds to wage an anti-tax campaign, while others — led by top state officials, including Gov. Deval Patrick — are campaigning against the proposal.”

Yes, below is exclusive video of the meeting at the Governor’s Mansion where the subject was discussed:

Meanwhile, here’s more from WBUR:

It may be the biggest tax revolt in Massachusetts since the Boston Tea Party. In November, voters could wipe the state’s personal income tax off the books.

Supporters call the measure, which is on the ballot as “Question 1,” a much-needed break for ordinary people.

And Jeff Jacoby has weighed in, too:

WHEN IT COMES to stopping Question 1 – the ballot initiative to abolish the Massachusetts income tax – the defenders of the status quo will spare no rhetorical expense. Months ago, Governor Deval Patrick called the prospect of Massachusetts without an income tax “a dumb idea” reminiscent of Darfur. The National Education Association, one of the public-employee unions bankrolling the Vote No campaign, condemns Question 1 as “reckless.” Michael Widmer, head of the business-backed Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation, labels it “a calamity.” To the Globe’s editorial board, it’s “a blunt budget ax.” Equally scathing is the Berkshire Eagle’s description: “devastating . . . simplistic . . . cynical . . . a recipe for disaster.” Robert Haynes, president of the state AFL-CIO, foresees “the end of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts as we know it.”

To their credit, most of the measure’s opponents have steered clear of the incendiary type of language used by Frederick Rushton, the Worcester city councilor who has slammed Question 1 as an “urban lynching by statute.” But there are still four weeks until Election Day, and the anti-repeal forces will not lack for energy or imagination in making sure their message is heard.

Most of the people complaining live, directly or indirectly, off the taxpayers’ dime, of course. And they’re pledging a campaign of “massive resistance.”

If passed, Question 1 would also cost lawmakers about $11 billion in annual revenues.
Speaker of the House Sal DiMasi has suggested he would not let the question become law even if it was passed by voters. . . . To those who feed at the Bay State’s public trough, the rest of us exist primarily to pay taxes. Their need for more of our income is always a given.

Dammit, they’re entitled to that money. Who are the voters to suggest otherwise?

Meanwhile, the proponents are styling it a “taxpayer bailout.” Hey, bailouts are all the rage! Here’s more on the subject from Cato, and here’s an interview we did with activist Carla Howell a few weeks ago. And here’s a report on this weekend’s rally at Faneuil Hall.

DARFUR UPDATE: Darfur onslaught ‘to clear way for Chinese oil hunt’ say rebels. “Sudan is already one of Africa’s biggest producers of crude oil, pumping 500,000 barrels a day. About two thirds is destined for China. Chinese companies have begun exploration in South Darfur. North Darfur lies in an oil exploration block controlled by a Saudi-led consortium and the area close to the Libyan border is thought to be the most likely to hold reserves.”

SHARON COBB ON BOYCOTTING OLYMPIC ADVERTISERS over China’s role in the Darfur genocide. It’s become a difficult subject for her since Obama made a big Olympic ad buy. “Senator Obama,you have an impeccable record on Darfur. Please don’t let this gaffe by your campaign stop you from doing the right thing.” (Via Michael Silence).

I’m planning to ignore the Olympics. It’s just another corrupt international bureaucracy, and the programming is boring anyway.

OUCH: In ‘survival mode,’ newspapers slashing jobs. “The increasingly rapid and broad decline in the newspaper business in recent months has surprised even the most pessimistic financial analysts, many of whom say it’s too hard to tell how far the slump will go.”

No wonder they’ve been telling us we’re in the midst of a second Great Depression. For them, it’s been true.

UPDATE: Reader Jerry Carroll emails:

Glenn: I’m enjoying your glee over the death of newspapers. But what will replace them when they’re gone? Think anybody is going to leave the comfort of their chair once a week to trudge to the city council and report on a blog what happened so the rest of us know? I see the time coming when there won’t be anyone watching local government, and what we know will only be what it wants us to know.

It’s not “glee.” And, in fact — as I’ve said repeatedly — I think the reason that newspapers are tubing is that they’re replaced the kind of hard-news reporting described above with editorializing and “attitude,” often in support of political positions that many people don’t agree with. I’d much rather see them flourish while doing a good job, but they’ve been cutting budgets for actual reporting for decades. Read Andy Krieg’s Spiked: How Chain Management Corrupted America’s Oldest Newspaper, to see how this trend was already underway twenty years ago. If you turn out a product whose quality is steadily declining, while simultaneously treating a substantial part of your customer base as somewhere between evil and idiotic, don’t be surprised if your business gets worse. I’ve said for years that hard-news reporting is the killer app for Big Media, but they just don’t want to do it. They want to tell people what to think, instead of telling them what’s happening.

MORE: Reader Tom Fojtik emails: “In response to the guy expressing concerns about what replaces newspapers for those who want to know what is going on in city hall. We already have it and it’s called ‘cable access tv.’ I can watch myself at the bi-weekly Plan Commission four times a week if I want. And sometimes it’s even mildly entertaining.”

STILL MORE: On Jerry Carroll’s “glee” comment, a reader emails:

I don’t know how he/she came to such a conclusion about your attitude. I have felt it a bit too much sympathy. Your response is without a doubt, the bottom line. And concerning Jerry’s assessment of readers of the paper, we may be better off without them if that’s the extent of their desire to be informed. What can they tell city council but how the school needs more tax dollars for sex ed and global warming? For many of us its more of a “comfort” getting a cup of coffee, clicking on certain favorites and staying above the imposition of distortion and agenda.

And reader Arthur Barie writes: “One quick google search found a blog that does excellent work covering politics here in my county. Don’t be surprised if most counties have someone who takes this stuff seriously.” And it’s not as if local media do such a bang-up job covering local politics anyway.

MORE STILL: Reader Peter Farmer emails:

I reside in the Chicago area, and have read the local “Chicago Tribune” for most of my life (I am 47). I started reading it as a grade-schooler, and have had ample opportunity to see the changes at the Tribune Co. over the years. The Tribune used to be a great newspaper, one which could be relied upon to report the news as impartially as possible for a human institution. Sure, I can remember my father grumbling about it – he was a senior executive at Motorola and had many dealings with the press – but we certainly never cancelled our subscription or questioned its professionalism.

I cannot mark precisely when the Tribune and The New York Times began to go downhill; I began to notice dramatic changes in the nature and quality of the content about ten years ago. Most conspicuously, nearly every section and article – save perhaps the comics and the sports page – contained more and more opinion and less and less factual content. I’ll be the first to admit opinion writing has its place, but one must first know the facts before forming opinions about them, and newspapers like the Tribune seemed to have progressively less regard for this vital task on a daily basis than ever before. What sealed the deal for me was their “reporting” about the war in Iraq. I have studied the military and military history for over 30 years, and have many sources of information in that field besides newspapers. After the invasion, it was easy to discern that few if any Tribune or other big-city newspaper reporters left the safety of their hotels in the Green Zone. Apparently, it is OK to sit in the bar with your colleagues from the other papers and maybe CNN or CBS or NBC, and simply phone it in without getting yourself dirty. Worse yet, as the Israeli-Palestinian flare-up of two years has shown, our news services are remarkably gullible, and willing to be used by stringers working for our ideological enemies, i.e. Al-Qaeda, the PLA, Hamas, Hezbollah, etc. or foreign news agencies biased against western values, such as Al-Jazeera. The AP was duped or worse, knowing used, “photo-shopped” images that purportedly showed an Israeli air strike against a marked ambulance, but were later exposed by internet fact-checkers as fraudulent propaganda on the part of the PLA. And, as you and many others in the conservative blogosphere have noted, Abu Ghraib made the front pages dozens and dozens of times, but not the good news about the war. Since the surge, presto! Good news about the war is nowhere to be found in the NYT or Tribune. Thank goodness for the blogosphere, and writers like Michael Yon and Ralph Peters.

Another nail in the coffin for the credibility of reporting by the dinosaur media is the sudden proliferation of celebrities as experts on everything from global warming to hostiles in the Iraq or Darfur to gay marriage. When did Rosie O’Donnell become an authority on anything besides mediocre comedy? And now – with a straight face no less – Al Franken is being considered seriously in some liberal-left quarters as Senatorial material. If that isn’t proof we’ve lost our collective minds, I don’t know what is! Perhaps he and Jerry Springer can hammer out the problem with the national debt in between cracking one-liners and interviewing one-legged transvestites or staging fights between estranged lovers.. Way back in the old days, when I was a kid (yeah, I know, the snow was ten feet deep and you had to walk twenty miles to school, grandpa), folks like these would have been laughed out of any serious newsroom or studio; they wouldn’t have made it in the door of any truly professional establishment, not to mention the Congress. Now, the Tribune features a column by Garrison Keillor, he of “Prairie Home Companion” fame. He has a nice show once in a while, but aren’t there better and better-qualified choices for a regular spot on your editorial page?

I am one of those folks who will mourn the death of the big-city news daily when it finally comes. I love a well-written newspaper, and the Fourth Estate has a critical role to play in the health of our Republic, if only they would in fact perform that role. Incidentally, author and physician Michael Crichton predicted the decline of the traditional media over decade ago; a transcript of one of his speeches on the topic is available on his website. Finally, my wife is from a small town, and we get the local newspaper each week – it shows all of the idiosyncrasies, of course, but all of the common sense, too – it respects the intelligence of the readers and does not stoop to political activism or naked partisanship. Maybe I’ll send a copy to the Tribune to show ‘em how it is done. Of course, they are too busy campaigning for Mr. Obama to notice….


AUSTIN BAY on Darfur.

DOG BITES MAN: U.N. ineffective against armed bandits in Darfur.

DARFUR UPDATE: “The Arab League is under increasing pressure from Moslem organizations, to pressure Sudan to stop the atrocities in Darfur. The Arab League has defended Sudan to the world, accusing critics of being anti-Moslem. But many Moslems know better, and are appalled at the suffering of the Moslem victims of Sudan’s ethnic cleansing program in Sudan.”

HOW CHINA abets genocide in Darfur.

FOR THE U.N., “humiliation” over Darfur.

JAMES KIRCHICK: “Intervention in Darfur may fuel Muslim anger, but that can’t be an excuse to do nothing.”


NOW IT’S A PANEL ON LOW-TECH SOLUTIONS FOR GLOBAL PROBLEMS: It’s Jock Brandis from the Full Belly Project, Shawn Frayne, who won a Breakthrough Award this year for generating a new, low-cost wind generator, Ashok Gadgil of Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, who got a Breakthrough Award for designing a high-efficiency cookstove for refugees in Darfur, and Peter Haas, who heads efforts on incubating for-profit enterprises targeting poor people who need clean water, sanitation, and energy.

Biggest take-away point so far: “Simple technology” doesn’t mean “dumbed-down.” It’s not really even “low tech.” It often takes a tremendous amount of intellectual input to create a simple, rugged, inexpensive device that cleans water, makes electricity, etc. And while it may seem that the opportunity for small-scale invention has passed, it turns out that there are lots of places where individual inventors can accomplish huge things — they’re just mostly in the poorer parts of the planet.

UPDATE: Best line, from Ashok Gadgil: “The fun of doing this kind of stuff is amazing!”

Second best, from Shawn Frayne: “You can actually make a living at this.”

And from Peter Haas: “There’s a renaissance in tinkering going on.”

Biggest problems in third world countries: Corruption, government bureaucracy, and lack of legal infrastructure.

I’M NOT SURE THIS IS ALL BAD: “Some of the same Arab tribes accused of massacring civilians in the Darfur region of Sudan are now unleashing their considerable firepower against one another in a battle over the spoils of war that is killing hundreds of people and displacing tens of thousands.” Frankly, they deserve it. And given that the international community has failed to do anything to stop their genocide, this sort of internecine warfare will probably do more good than the many celebrities addressing the topic.

UPDATE: Reader Michael Kolodny: “Are you saying that if your cousin commits a crime and then [the victim] comes to your home and commits a crime against your family, then your family deserved to be victimized because your cousin committed a crime against other people?”

In a culture where people are responsible for what cousins do, and where it often produces blood feuds, and where there’s no other law in action — yeah, pretty much. Or, anyway, I’m not shedding many tears when the practitioners of genocide fall to bloody fighting among themselves. But hey, if Kolodny feels differently he can agitate to get the international community to act where it hasn’t acted so far. Given that it’s Arabs killing Arabs now, instead of Arabs killing black people, the odds of action are probably slightly better.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Of course, what really seems to upset the U.N. is the thought of the refugees defending themselves.

A SAVAGE DIAGNOSIS: “Everybody wants to save Darfur but no one will do the obvious thing. Everyone bemoans what’s happening to Zimbabwe but no one will touch Mugabe. Everyone knows what Iran is up to, but heaven forfend we should do anything serious about it. Everyone sees that Putin is finlandizing Europe—I mean, he just said “I will nuke you if you try to defend yourselves against Iran”—but he’s an honored guest at the big banquets. etcetera, etcetera.”

PRAISE FOR BUSH from an unlikely source:

STOP THE PRESSES!!! Barbara Lee has just issued her second press release in two days commending President Bush.

The liberal California Democrat, who is among the most vocal critics of the war, issued a statement Tuesday applauding the president for ratcheting up pressure on the Sudanese government to stop the killing in that country’s Darfur region. Now, she’s acknowledging Bush for asking Congress for another $30 billion to fund his AIDS relief program in Africa.

He’s been pretty good on that, but not many people have noticed.

BUSH MOVES ON DARFUR: Gateway Pundit has a roundup.

JODY WILLIAMS AND MIA FARROW: “Chinese oil companies fuel genocide in Darfur. It’s time for Americans to divest.”


The critics who bother me the most are those who ordinarily would not be on the side of supporting dictatorships, who are arguing today that only military intervention can prevent the genocide of Darfur, or who argued yesterday for military intervention in Bosnia, Somalia and Rwanda to ease the sectarian violence that was tearing those places apart. . . . American liberals need to face these truths: The demand for self-government was and remains strong in Iraq despite all our mistakes and the violent efforts of al Qaeda, Sunni insurgents and Shiite militias to disrupt it. Al Qaeda in particular has targeted for abduction and murder those who are essential to a functioning democracy: school teachers, aid workers, private contractors working to rebuild Iraq’s infrastructure, police officers and anyone who cooperates with the Iraqi government. Much of Iraq’s middle class has fled the country in fear.

With these facts on the scales, what does your conscience tell you to do? If the answer is nothing, that it is not our responsibility or that this is all about oil, then no wonder today we Democrats are not trusted with the reins of power.

Read the whole thing.

UPDATE: “If Democrats had nominated the other Senator Kerrey in 2004, they might already control the White House. “

DARFUR UPDATE: FROM AUSTIN BAY, thoughts on ending Darfur’s genocide.

DARFUR UPDATE: StrategyPage has the latest.

DARFUR UPDATE: “More than three quarters of Muslim respondents in six nations surveyed said they believe Arabs and Muslims should be equally concerned about the situation in Darfur as they are about the Arab-Israeli conflict, according to the results of a recent poll unveiled at the Arab Broadcast Forum in Abu Dhabi. Results ranged from a high of 95% in Morocco to 76% in Turkey.”

BILL RICHARDSON’S plan for Darfur.

UPDATE: He hasn’t won over Don Surber.


”I would use American force now,” Biden said at a hearing before his committee. ”I think it’s not only time not to take force off the table. I think it’s time to put force on the table and use it.”

In advocating use of military force, Biden said senior U.S. military officials in Europe told him that 2,500 U.S. troops could ”radically change the situation on the ground now.”

I agree with the sentiment, though we’re a bit busy at the moment. Perhaps Biden should make pushing for a larger military a top priority.

UPDATE: Reader Ed Stephens writes: “Tell Joe Biden to ask the Europeans. . . ‘Why don’t they have 2,500 troops to send to Darfur?’ If an area w/300 million people can’t raise that many troops, then perhaps it’s time we have a discussion about ‘free riding’ with them.”

Meanwhile, The Mudville Gazette characterizes his position as “Screw Iraq, Invade Darfur:”

The harsh reality is that once we abandon Iraq we’re going to have to put all the newly available troops in Afghanistan. Al Qaeda certainly will, and their recruiting is going to soar. Ultimately we’ll lose that one, too, because they won’t quit knowing full well that we will.

Then we can go to Darfur.

Behind much of the absurd talk of the impact of Iraq on military “readiness” there’s a Democratic talking point: “Because we are in Iraq, we aren’t capable of waging a war somewhere else.” That’s valid to an extent (but absurd to a greater one), but a more complete translation is that “because we are in Iraq we aren’t capable of executing a war that Democrats could hypothetically support, because Democrats are tough on national defense, by golly, and there are plenty of wars in places other than Iraq we’d prosecute to prove it”.

That’s disturbing, I’m concerned they would do so a bit too eagerly given the opportunity. Biden seems to be going that route – but he could just be paying lip sevice to it to earn the “hawk” (or “tough guy realist”) appellation the media bestows on guys like Murtha. (The actual “go to guy” for Dems when it’s time to cut-and-run. See Somalia, for example.)

I’m all for doing things about Darfur. But I don’t believe Biden.

“WHAT THE HELL HAPPENED to ‘name, rank, and serial number?'”

“International law” is only a tool to bash the United States and its allies. It’s not meant to actually protect people. Except the enemies of civilization. Just ask the folks in Darfur.


IN RESPONSE TO MY EARLIER DARFUR POST, a reader emails: “How is it that the war we aren’t involved in ended up fulfilling all the quagmire predictions of the one we did get into? Makes Iraq look like a rather professional, and practically downright humanitarian, gesture.”


Now in its fifth year, a military campaign by the Sudanese government to crush a rebel movement in Darfur has almost completely reordered the region’s demographics. The conflict is complex but comes down to one in which the government has armed and supported certain nomadic Arab tribesmen against the region’s farming villagers, who are predominantly black Africans.

At least 450,000 people have died from disease and violence in the conflict, and more than 2.5 million — around half the area’s entire population — have fled to vast displacement camps whose numbers continue to swell.

Yet there remains a relatively small number of farming villages such as Kuteri where people are struggling to maintain dignity under the yoke of the government-backed Arab militiamen, who eat their food, drink their water and lounge under the spare shade of low, twisted trees. . . .

“They beat us, but we treat them like family,” added his friend Abdulmalik Ismail. “In our minds, we hate them.”

I can’t imagine why.

HOMEGROWN JOURNALISM in Darfur. If you think your blog is too much trouble, read this . . . . (Via Virginia Postrel).

THE CONVERSATION CONTINUES: Bill Frist has some questions for Hillary:

Do you favor personal savings accounts as a voluntary part of Social Security Reform?

Do you favor an increase in retirement age as part of Medicare reform?

Should Medicare have an element of means testing?

Do you favor opening up Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil and gas exploration?

How do you propose expanding Health Savings Accounts?

Do you favor giving citizenship to those who are in this country illegally?

Should the United States send troops to stop the genocide in Darfur?

Follow the link for more.

DARFUR UPDATE: Tim Collins calls for an army of mercenaries: ” So, for $1.3bn – approximately £700m at current exchange rates and half of Sudan’s military spend – you could field, feed and sustain an army for a year that could beat anything in Africa , permitting you to deal with the Sudanese forces and their attendant militias. A cost too far? Well Live Aid raised $300m in a single concert to buy food for a starving Ethiopia in 1985. In the UK alone we’ve apparently just drunk more than £1bn in booze over Christmas. So put in those terms it is not so much.”

There are, as he notes, legal and diplomatic issues.

DARFUR UPDATE: The International Community — a guarantor of inaction:

Some non-military options may otherwise be proposed. Travel bans may be imposed on military and civilian leaders, while assets held by Sudanese leaders overseas may be frozen. Most effective might be measures to target Sudan’s oil revenues, which provide the government with most of its cash. Sales of equipment to maintain the country’s oil infrastructure could be limited, for instance. And in extremis Port Sudan could be blockaded, thus choking off all of Sudan’s oil exports at one stroke.

But most of would depend on getting an international consensus. China, Malaysia, India and Russia are all deeply involved in Sudan’s booming oil industry. These are unlikely to support any sanctions that would hurt their own considerable interests. China, which imports about 5% of its oil from Sudan, has been a staunch supporter of Khartoum. Western countries might try unilateral action, but this is rarely effective. America has maintained comprehensive economic sanctions against Sudan since the mid-1990s, yet the economy is booming.

Nor, even if outsiders could agree on rhetoric for a plan B, is there any guarantee that action would follow. Too often, foreign (and in particular Western) countries have talked tough on Darfur but done nothing. In the past the West has bullied the Sudanese government into making commitments, such as to disarm the janjaweed, but when Khartoum failed to do so there was no follow-up. One reason for Khartoum’s assertiveness against the UN in Darfur is that it has learnt that the West, bogged down in Iraq and Afghanistan, seems to be full of empty threats on this issue. If that perception does not change, nothing else will move fast.

The real problem is that nobody cares enough to do anything.

DARFUR UPDATE: Peter Pham and Michael Krauss look at what’s going on, and what might make things better.

U.N. ENVOY JAN PRONK has been kicked out of Sudan for blogging:

Foreign Ministry spokesman Ali al-Sadig said Pronk had until mid-day Wednesday to leave.

“The reason is the latest statements issued by Mr. Pronk on his Web site regarding severe criticism of the Sudanese Armed Forces and the fact that he said the government of Sudan is not implementing the Darfur peace agreement,” al-Sadig added.

He said the Foreign Ministry met with Pronk on Sunday and had informed him of its decision.

Pronk has previously had problems with the government because of comments he published on his Web log The latest blog entry said Darfur rebels had beaten the army in two major battles in the last two months.

Here’s the blog. I’m happy to hear that the government’s doing badly, given that it’s trying to accomplish a genocide.

Austin Bay: “He blogged the truth and the Sudan government now says ‘goodbye.'”

VICTOR DAVIS HANSON notes contrasting attitudes regarding American intervention in Iraq, and in Darfur.

“DARFUR IS JUST RWANDA IN SLOW MOTION:” This week’s Blog Week in Review podcast is up, with Gerard van der Leun, Austin Bay, and Michael Totten.

DARFUR UPDATE: “A United Nations official who infuriated Washington by accusing the United States and Britain of ‘megaphone diplomacy’ over Sudan changed tack on Monday, praising both countries for keeping the issue alive. . . . ‘On Darfur, the two leaders, President Bush and Prime Minister Blair are moral stalwarts on what needs to be done,’ he said.” Actual accomplishments, however, seem scarce on this front.

DARFUR UPDATE: Austin Bay writes that the sword is mightier than the pen:

The mounting death toll in Darfur tests Annan’s stirring words. But when it comes to ending genocide, words require swords. Fine words cannot protect the vulnerable from dedicated killers — that job demands soldiers. . . . Despite Annan’s fine words, outside of London and Washington such leadership is not in evidence. Until it appears, ‘the international community’ deserves to be shamed.

Read the whole thing.

DARFUR UPDATE: “The U.N. chief in Sudan said Thursday the government is unlikely to let U.N. peacekeepers in the country anytime soon, and the international community should instead push for the African Union force to remain in the war-torn region indefinitely. . . . A U.N. Security Council resolution calls for 20,000 peacekeepers to replace the ill-equipped and underfunded AU force that has done little to prevent escalating violence in Darfur. But Sudan’s president fiercely rejects the U.N. mission, and it can’t deploy without his consent.”

It seems a bit rich to ask permission of the genocidaires before sending in troops to stop a genocide.


UPDATE: The belief on the part of many Guardian commenters that concern about genocide in Darfur is just some sort of Zionist plot is . . . disturbing.

BRENDAN LOY has photos and a report from yesterday’s Darfur protest in New York City.

DARFUR UPDATE: Ian Davis looks at the U.N.’s failure to prevent the slaughter of civilians, despite much talk.



After the United States helped broker a Darfur peace deal in May, the United Nations promised to come to the rescue with a peacekeeping force capable of enforcing the accord. But, as Darfur faded from public consciousness, the world body has again proven itself utterly ineffective. As the feeble and largely symbolic African Union force (itself indifferent at best to the continuing rapes and murders) prepares to leave the region in five weeks, Darfur is on the brink of massive human killing with no international force forthcoming. The UN’s own chief of humanitarian operations, Jan Egeland, conceded in a recent interview that mass murder is about to begin on a tremendous scale, while rapes and individual killings are already the rule, not the exception. (Systematic sexual violence against women, we recall, is the hallmark of the crimes against humanity perpetrated by the Sudanese regime’s Janjaweed militia in Darfur. Even after they have been driven from their homes into wretched camps, Darfuri women still must venture out to fetch wood and water, putting themselves at risk.)

Read the whole thing.

DARFUR UPDATE: “In the face of ongoing genocide in Darfur, the international community’s failure to accept the ‘responsibility to protect’ (that’s United Nations language, officially adopted) innocent civilian lives has taken its last, abject form. The National Islamic Front (NIF) regime in Khartoum, made up of the very men who have for more than three years orchestrated the systematic destruction of Darfur’s African tribal populations, has been told directly and unambiguously that there will be no U.N. peacemaking force without its consent.”

Kind of puts the U.N.’s disavowal of a right to self-defense in perspective, doesn’t it?

UPDATE: And it’s not just Darfur:

North Korea may be an even more egregious U.N. failure. Annan, his disgraced-and-resigned Special Envoy, his disgraced-and-fired U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees, and his America-loathing U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights said absolutely nothing while North Korea starved two or more million of its people to death — probably intentionally — and China played the role of enforcer of this democide. The one U.N. official to have been the least bit helpful was Special Rapporteur Vitit Muntarbhorn, and there is little indication that his words will make much of a difference in the killing fields of North Hamgyeong.

If the U.N. cannot stop a genocide — and we now know that it is not above forming corrupt relationships with those who commit genocide — one would at least hope that it would not stand in the way of people exercising what was once enshrined as a right under the U.N. Charter: self-defense.

Hope, maybe. Expect . . . no.

TOM W. BELL HAS THOUGHTS on victim disarmament policies. And Dave Kopel notes a Darfur connection.

Meanwhile, Judicial Watch has some new stuff on behind-the-scenes efforts along those lines in the Clinton years. Bill Clinton thought that gun control cost him the Congress in 1996, and there’s some evidence that Democrats have taken that lesson to heart, though as the party moves left I don’t know if it will stick.

UPDATE: Meanwhile, on the Darfur front, here’s a site that scores members of Congress on their efforts regarding the genocide there.


President Bush sat down yesterday with a Sudanese rebel leader whose forces are accused by refugee advocates of killing young men and raping women in the northern part of Darfur.

Bush met for about 40 minutes in the Oval Office with Sudanese Liberation Army leader Minni Minnawi. He was the lone rebel leader to agree in May to a U.S.-brokered peace accord to end what the United States calls genocide in western Sudan. . . .

Bush told the rebel leader that his forces must refrain from violence and pressed him to forge an alliance with other factions in Darfur to broaden support for a peace agreement, Jones said.

I’m skeptical that diplomacy — or the UN — will save many lives here, but I suppose it’s worth a try.


For the past three years the Government of Sudan has supported its proxy, the Janjaweed Arab militia, to perform a brutal genocidal operation closely backed by Sudanese forces. Darfur Africans cannot farm for fear of attack. No harvests mean that more than three million are dependent on international food aid. In the absence of the African Union and with no certainty that the UN will protect them, a few million hungry people will predictably turn to the only forces showing an interest in their survival — one of several rebel factions.

The Government of Sudan has probably calculated that, by playing for time, the rebel groups will attempt to provide protection for their own people. An escalation of fighting will prevent access for aid agencies and the media, and Khartoum will have the excuse it needs for a resumption of air attacks on Darfuris.

The Janjaweed leaders have had time to reflect that they have not achieved their mission to rid Darfur of black Africans. The onslaught by the mounted militia three years ago led to thousands of villages being burnt. Their aim of destroying the Darfuris will be easier now that two million people are congregated into refugee camps because they will argue that, as the camps are recruitment grounds for rebels, they are legitimate targets.

Neutralisation of the Janjaweed is a key rebel demand — indeed the Government of Sudan has been responsible for disarming them for two years. But Khartoum’s broken promises leave a legacy of mistrust. By giving the Janjaweed free rein, the Government goads the rebels into not taking peace seriously. Furthermore, many rebels are not satisfied that the peace agreement reverses the underlying problems in Darfur.

Jeff Weintraub has more thoughts.

DARFUR UPDATE: “Despite rapidly escalating violence throughout Darfur and eastern Chad, the UN Security Council refuses to push for urgent measures to protect civilians and humanitarians. Instead, deferential Council members have repeatedly insisted that the genocidaires of the National Islamic Front regime in Khartoum will determine whether an international force deploys to Darfur, even as the regime continues to send explicit signals that it has no intention of allowing for such deployment.”

UPDATE: Lou Minatti says it’s all about the oil.

DARFUR UPDATE: “Fear and mistrust as people of Darfur turn against peacekeepers.”

MERCENARIES FOR DARFUR: Max Boot floats an idea that’s been seen here at InstaPundit before:

If you listen to the bloviators at Turtle Bay, salvation will come from the deployment of a larger corps of blue helmets. If only. What is there in the history of United Nations peacekeepers that gives anyone any confidence that they can stop a determined adversary?

The odds are much greater that U.N. representatives will instead be taken as hostages by bloodthirsty thugs, as happened in Bosnia-Herzegovina in 1995 and in Sierra Leone five years later. Or that, rather than protecting the people, the peacekeepers will prey on them — as allegedly has happened in Kosovo, Sierra Leone, Liberia, Guinea and Congo, all places where blue helmets have been accused of a horrifying litany of sexual abuses, including pedophilia, rape and prostitution.

Even if these worst-case scenarios don’t come to pass, the U.N. is likely to prove ineffectual in the face of determined opposition. Look at what is happening in East Timor, where, after seven years of U.N. stewardship, the capital has been paralyzed by fighting among armed gangs. The situation is even worse in Haiti, where a Brazilian-led U.N. force has done little to stem growing chaos. It is worse still in Somalia — the most lawless country on Earth — where a U.N. deployment failed in the early 1990s. . . .

But perhaps there is a way to stop the killing even without sending an American or European army. Send a private army. A number of commercial security firms such as Blackwater USA are willing, for the right price, to send their own forces, made up in large part of veterans of Western militaries, to stop the genocide.

We know from experience that such private units would be far more effective than any U.N. peacekeepers. In the 1990s, the South African firm Executive Outcomes and the British firm Sandline made quick work of rebel movements in Angola and Sierra Leone. Critics complain that these mercenaries offered only a temporary respite from the violence, but that was all they were hired to do. Presumably longer-term contracts could create longer-term security, and at a fraction of the cost of a U.N. mission.

Yet this solution is deemed unacceptable by the moral giants who run the United Nations. They claim that it is objectionable to employ — sniff — mercenaries. More objectionable, it seems, than passing empty resolutions, sending ineffectual peacekeeping forces and letting genocide continue.

More likely they fear that if it proves effective, they’ll lose out on a line of business that has proved profitable so far.


Eastern Chad is now home for over 250,000 refugees, most of them in camps run by the UN and associated NGOs (Non-Governmental Organizations). About 20 percent of the refugees are Chadians, fleeing the increasing violence between Chadian security forces and various rebel factions. Some of the guys with guns are just bandits. These gangs, plus raiders from Darfur, and many of the Chad rebels, prey on the refugee camps, as well as the relief organizations. For example, relief organizations, despite hiring locals as armed guards, have had some 30 of their vehicles stolen. Food supplies and equipment are also taken regularly. The UN wants to send in peacekeepers to guard the refugee camps and the movements of relief supplies and aid workers. The Chad government doesn’t want foreign peacekeepers, but it unable to provide security along the Sudan border. There’s not exactly a war going on along the frontier. It’s more like a breakdown in law and order, and dozens of groups of armed men wandering around stealing whatever they can. These guys are not interested in fighting. If they encounter security forces, or another armed group, they may exchange some fire, and if the other guy doesn’t flee, just move on.


DARFUR UPDATE: StrategyPage is calling the latest deal a “phony peace.” I hope that’s wrong, but I wouldn’t be surprised if it were right.


Were the 1990s really that long ago? They are remembered now as the halcyon and money-happy interval between the war against Soviet totalitarianism and the war against Islamic totalitarianism, but the truth is that, even in the years immediately following the cold war, history never relented. The ’90s were a decade of genocides–unimpeded (Rwanda) and partially impeded (Bosnia) and impeded (Kosovo). The relative success of those genocides was owed generally to the indifference of that chimera known as “the international community,” but, more specifically, it was owed to the learning curve of an American president about the moral–and therefore the operational–difference between genocide and other foreign policy crises. The difference is simple. In the response to most foreign policy crises, the use of military force is properly viewed as a last resort. In the response to genocide, the use of military force is properly viewed as a first resort.

The notion of force as a first resort defies the foundations of diplomacy and also of common sense: A willingness to use hard power abroad must not become a willingness to use it wildly. But if you are not willing to use force against genocide immediately, then you do not understand what genocide is. . . .

Then there is the other alibi for Western inaction, the distinguished one: the belief that salvation will come from blue helmets. After the slaughters of the ’90s, all of which numbered the fecklessness–and even the cynicism–of the United Nations among their causes, it defies belief that people of goodwill would turn to the United Nations for effective action. The United Nations is not even prepared to call the atrocities in Darfur a genocide. Kofi Annan says all sorts of lofty things, but everybody knows that he is only the humble servant of a notoriously recalcitrant body. Meanwhile the Sudanese regime maneuvers skillfully–what is the Chinese word for oil?–to prevent reprisals of any kind from the Security Council.

Given recent statements about Israel by Iran, and Iranian actions, this suggests that military action against the mullahs is an imperative sooner, rather than later. Right?

Meanwhile, Mark Steyn talks about what needs to be done in Darfur:

I wish the celebs well. Those of us who wanted action on Darfur years ago will hope their advocacy produces more results than ours did. Clooney’s concern for the people of the region appears to be genuine and serious. But unless he’s also serious about backing the only forces in the world with the capability and will to act in Sudan, he’s just another showboating pretty boy of no use to anyone.

Here’s the lesson of the past three years: The UN kills.

In 2003, you’ll recall, the US was reviled as a unilateralist cowboy because it and its coalition of the poodles waged an illegal war unauthorised by the UN against a sovereign state run by a thug regime that was no threat to anyone apart from selected ethnocultural groups within its borders, which it killed in large numbers (Kurds and Shia).

Well, Washington learned its lesson. Faced with another thug regime that’s no threat to anyone apart from selected ethnocultural groups within its borders which it kills in large numbers (African Muslims and southern Christians), the unilateralist cowboy decided to go by the book. No unlawful actions here. Instead, meetings at the UN. Consultations with allies. Possible referral to the Security Council.

And as I wrote on this page in July 2004: “The problem is, by the time you’ve gone through the UN, everyone’s dead.” And as I wrote in Britain’s Daily Telegraph in September 2004: “The US agreed to go the UN route and it looks like they’ll have a really strongish compromise resolution ready to go about a week after the last villager’s been murdered and his wife gang-raped.”

Several hundred thousand corpses later Clooney is now demanding a “stronger multinational force to protect the civilians of Darfur”.

Agreed. So let’s get on to the details. If by “multinational” Clooney means a military intervention authorised by the UN, then he’s a poseur and a fraud, and we should pay him no further heed. . . .

So who, in the end, does “multinational action” boil down to? The same small group of nations responsible for almost any meaningful global action, from Sierra Leone to Iraq to Afghanistan to the tsunami-devastated Sri Lanka, Thailand and Indonesia and on to East Timor and the Solomon Islands. The same core of English-speaking countries, technically multinational but distressingly unicultural and unilingual and indeed, given that most of them share the same head of state, uniregal. The US, Britain, Australia and Canada (back in the game in Afghanistan) certainly attract other partners, from the gallant Poles to the Kingdom of Tonga.

Read the whole thing.

UPDATE: A reader emails:

Regarding your posting on Darfur and intervention in genocides, you leave out the genocide of Kurds and Marsh Arabs in Iraq. Considering that more than 300,000 appear to have been slaughtered by Saddam in the 1990s because of who these groups were, and what they represented, it would have presented the very kinds of issues that those on the Left are now trying to suggest in Darfur.

And the ties between Saddam and those who carried out his orders in Iraq are far more direct than the relationship between the Janjaweed and Khartoum.

Good point. Someone should ask Clooney about it.

DARFUR UPDATE: “The government of Sudan and the largest rebel faction fighting in the conflict in Darfur signed a pact today to end the carnage there.” But don’t pop the champagne just yet.


DARFUR UPDATE: On the way home from the studio I passed a big Darfur rally, starting in front of the synagogue and continuing quite some distance down Kingston Pike. I don’t know how many people were there, but it was certainly more than I’ve seen at any antiwar protests in Knoxville.

Those are going on all over the place, with support from people like George Clooney. I’m happy to see it, but I agree with Tim Cavanaugh’s point:

I don’t want to make the umpteenth cheap shot about Hollywood stars and their political campaigns. I think military intervention in Darfur is a non-starter, and I’m glad about that. But what’s the clear categorical distinction between intervening in Iraq (which I think it’s fair to say Clooney and many other Darfur hawks opposed) and this one? Why does it always seem like progressives support any intervention that clearly does not advance any American interests?

Why, indeed?

UPDATE: Jose Guardia emails: “Yeah, it’s great that some people are marching against the genocide in Darfur; and no, I can’t understand either why for them for them it’s OK to intervene militarily in Darfur and it wasn’t in Iraq. Anyway, just wait until -if- Bu$Hitler starts making plans for an intervention. You’ll see how fast they start chanting ‘No War.'”

DARFUR UPDATE: There will be a rally in DC on Sunday, April 30.

DARFUR UPDATE: The trouble has spread to Chad, and StrategyPage has the latest:

While Sudan insists it did not support the Chad rebels, people who have traveled through the border area contradict this. The U.S. also says Sudan is involved (without revealing its sources, which probably include satellite surveillance and agents on the ground.) Sudan apparently believes that, if the faction it backed got control of Chad, the Darfur rebels would have one less place to hide out in. But some of the Darfur rebels belong to tribes that have branches in both Sudan and Chad. That said, Sudan’s brutal policy in Darfur doesn’t make sense either, but there it is. The Sudanese leadership are ruthless, and don’t much care how much mess and misery they create.

Indeed. Meanwhile, Osama bin Laden — who was already mad about the end to genocide in East Timor — is now declaring war against the world over efforts to end the genocide in Darfur. I agree that this is, if genuine, an agitprop error. But it’s hard to stay in touch with the currents of popular opinion when you live in a cave.

UPDATE: TigerHawk notes something that this dog isn’t barking about: “Apart from the list’s comic aspects, it is fascinating for its omissions. Why didn’t bin Laden talk about Iraq? Less than 2 1/2 years ago, al Qaeda broke the news to the Taliban that it was diverting resources to Iraq so as to humiliate the American ‘Crusaders.'”

I guess that didn’t work out so well.

ANOTHER UPDATE: In TigerHawk’s comments, Kai Carver says that Osama did talk about Iraq. I guess it just wasn’t seen as newsworthy. Hmm.

WHEN MINDLESS SNARK SUBSTITUTES FOR THOUGHT: Jesse Walker quotes something I wrote in 1999 about how “wars initiated essentially on presidential whim” would have horrified the Framers, and it’s supposed, I guess, to indicate some change in my views.

Er, except that war on Al Qaeda, and the invasion of Iraq, were explicitly authorized by Congress, in declarations of war and everything. After, you know, an actual attack on the United States.

A pretty lame effort on Jesse’s part — really, a cheap shot — but typical of what passes for antiwar analysis, even among libertarians today, I’m afraid. As are the comments that follow. Jeez.

UPDATE: Kjell Hagen emails:

I understand the Kosovo military action in 1999 was not so popular in the US, I don´t know what you thought about it. However, those 35 days of bombing from the air saved a people, the Kosovo Albanians. Kosovo would have been Darfur or Rwanda without this military action. Although it is a UN-chaos today, it is a lot better than the alternative. USA and NATO did the right thing, and the Kosovo Albanians are very grateful for it.

And I supported that bombing, though I had doubts as to whether it would work. (It was Wesley Clark, not me, who called it illegal.) I did — and do — favor getting Congressional declarations of war whenever possible, though one reason I have done so, that it would discourage sniping later in the conflict by forcing people to go on the record, has been only imperfectly borne out by recent events.

I love the term “UN-chaos,” too, as its meaning is, alas, immediately clear. Meanwhile, reader B. de Galvez emails:

Speaking of old quotes, it never hurts to be reminded of the railing about Clinton’s “genocide”, claiming sanctions killed 1.5 million Iraqis (500,000 to 700,000 of them little tykes).

Indymedia produced this video at the time of the 2000 Democratic Convention. The Iraq section starts at about 36:36.


As so many repeatedly have asked, why aren’t these people rejoicing over the countless lives that have been spared by Saddam’s involuntary retirement?

The video wouldn’t play for me, but the point certainly holds.

MORE: Walker responds that I have so changed my views. Er, no. He also says that the Congressional declarations were not declarations of war. Actually, they were. But even if one were to accept what I think is his argument — that they were authorizations to use military force against a named enemy, but not technically declarations of war — they surely undercut any claim that we went to war on President Bush’s “whim.”

I’m not really sure what point Walker was trying to make in his post anyway. That — as some of his commenters libellously suggest — I’m on the White House payroll? (Er, no again). That I hated Clinton back then, but love Bush now? No, in fact I co-wrote a book generally regarded as a Clinton defense, though I was pretty disappointed in him by the end. But I didn’t let my disappointment with Clinton turn into a hatred of all his policies, the way that some people seem to have let their dislike of Bush turn into a belief that all of Bush’s policies — and anyone who defends any of them — have become evil. Indeed, regular readers of InstaPundit will see that my references to Bush and the Republicans are not exactly uniformly positive. (And I have managed to praise Clinton when I thought he deserved it, too.) One would think that libertarians, as Walker claims to be, would be less anxious to divide the world up into teams, but that seems not to be the case, alas.

And, yes, rather than responding to this I probably should have read the post below again, and taken it to heart. . . .

MORE STILL: A reader emails that the Iraq and Al Qaeda declarations were “informal” rather than “formal” declarations of war. This distinction, which has to do with the (fictional) notion that we don’t go to war since the U.N. Charter was adopted, isn’t really relevant for U.S. constitutional law. If you have an identified enemy, a casus belli, and an authorization for the President to go after them with the military, you’ve got a declaration of war. The Hamdan opinion responds to the claim of no formal declaration in essentially these terms. (And, lest I be accused of changing my views on this topic, I remember having this very discussion with John Hart Ely back when we were both visiting professors at U.Va, over ten years ago. As I recall, he agreed.)

Since people seem interested, click “read more” for an excerpt from an article by Ely with which I was, and am, in substantial agreement. It’s “KUWAIT, THE CONSTITUTION, AND THE COURTS: TWO CHEERS FOR JUDGE GREENE,” 8 Constitutional Commentary 1, 1991. But here’s the gist:

Judge Harold Greene’s decision in Dellums et al. v. Bush was plainly right in its central proposition, that (except in the event of a “sudden attack” upon the United States) the Constitution places unambiguously in Congress the authority to decide whether the nation goes to war. (Once war is congressionally authorized–note that there has never been a requirement that such authorization actually be labeled a “declaration of war,” only that it be clear–authority to manage it then passes to the President in his role as “Commander in Chief.”)

(emphasis added) Click “read more” for a couple of other bits, but it should be clear that Walker is without basis saying that the notion that the Iraq and Al Qaeda resolutions were declarations of war is bizarre. (Downside to my position: I agree with Joe Biden — upside, I agree not only with Ely but with Eugene Volokh. I hope Walker’s writings on pirate radio are better researched.)

Some comments here and here.

Continue reading ‘WHEN MINDLESS SNARK SUBSTITUTES FOR THOUGHT: Jesse Walker quotes something I wrote in 1999 about ho…’ »

DARFUR UPDATE: “China and Russia last night thwarted a year-long diplomatic drive by Britain to impose United Nations sanctions on the perpetrators in of the violence in the Darfur province of Sudan. . . . The United States, which backed the British initiative, reacted angrily by threatening to call a public vote of the 15-nation Security Council that would force Russia and China into making a formal veto.”

DARFUR UPDATE: Why don’t black Americans show more interest?


The continuing raids by Sudanese tribesmen have sent over 50,000 Chad civilians fleeing from their villages. Some of the Sudanese raiders belong to tribes with branches in Chad. Same thing with the victims. Like Sudan, Chad has tribes that consider themselves Arab, while others consider themselves just African. There has always been animosity between the two groups, although intermarriage, rape and slavery have resulted in both groups looking much alike, and sharing languages and customs.

Sudan continues to receive the support of other Arab nations, especially Egypt. The Arab nations oppose bringing in UN, and especially European, peacekeepers. This would offend the dignity of the Arab world (the way overthrowing Saddam Hussein did), thus the Arabs allow the ethnic cleansing of Darfur to continue, even though the victims are Moslem. These attacks are less painful to Arabs because the victims are black Africans, who have always been held in low esteem by Arabs, even if the Africans are Moslem. . . . a coalition of Arab and Moslem nations, plus China (which wants to protect its business interests in Sudan), block any too aggressive operations by the UN.

So much for “never again.” And for the U.N.

VIA HOWARD KURTZ I see that Andrew Sullivan was slamming me for “barely mentioning” Tom Delay’s resignation. Well, here’s what I said:

Rep. Tom DeLay (R-TX), the House Republicans’ number-one fixer and enforcer, has announced that he will give up his seat. DeLay is under investigation on charges of campaign finance violations, but I’m happy to see him leave for other reasons: He was the architect of the Republicans’ “K Street strategy” – a program of incorporating lobbyists and interest groups into the process of governance – that has been disastrous for Republican ideals.

DeLay’s defenders say that the K Street strategy is merely a reprise of what Democrats have been doing for decades, and they have a point. But Democrats are supposed to be the party of Big Government. Republicans are not, and the K Street strategy has led to a serious abandonment of their principles. (DeLay lost me back before the scandals broke, when he pronounced, inexplicably, that there was no fat left to cut in the federal budget.) I don’t have much hope that DeLay’s departure will do much tug the GOP back toward its principles, but it can’t hurt.

“Silence?” You decide. I will confess, though, that I don’t care about the story very much. I care about issues more than people, and Tom DeLay has never been much of an issues guy. He’s always been a backroom guy, a fixer (that’s where he differs from, say, Newt Gingrich, with whom he’s being compared now). As Mickey Kaus notes, those traits can come in handy. But guys like that are pretty replaceable. To the extent that DeLay stood for anything, though, it was the win-at-any-cost, outdo-the-Democrats-in-pork mentality that I think is bad for the country and, for that matter, the Republicans. I can see how people stories like this are a bigger deal to inside-the-beltway types who actually knew DeLay and who followed his activities more closely than I do, but just as I never felt any particular urge to defend DeLay, I don’t think his departure matters all that much either.

UPDATE: Reader John Barton agrees: “Andrew Sullivan looking for DeLay commentary reflects his DC location. From inside the beltway it’s a big deal. I suspect that for the rest of the world outside the beltway it’s never been a very interesting subject. I never liked DeLay, wish there were fewer like him, I’m glad to see him go, and that’s about the end of it.” Indeed.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Reader Jim Miller emails:

Glenn, its also quite possible that Sully meant comments on your blog and hadn’t seen your other short comment in Guardian Unlimited.

I personally don’t recall your spending much time defending Delay, so I’m not sure why you were required to dance on his grave, despite its being fairly big news.

Sullivan’s larger point is not unreasonable, that the right side of the blogosphere would prefer to “move on” and not dwell on the matter. I think it can be easy for people to forget that its not like you are happy with the Republicans; you just are VERY unhappy with the Democrats.

Good points all. However, the “right side” of the blogosphere contains plenty of people who aren’t at all happy with the DeLay approach to politics and governance. Sullivan’s tendency to lump ’em all together says more about his approach to blogging and politics than it does about the people he’s describing.

MORE STILL: Gerald Montaigne emails: “It appears that Sullivan chooses the subjects that you are supposed to be blogging about. For the life of me, I don’t understand why he persists in the belief that you have some larger responsibility to the blogosphere and a lack of comments on your part constitutes proof positive of… well whatever point Sullivan is trying to make at the time, I guess.”

Perhaps I should put up a post calling him a racist because he doesn’t blog about Darfur as much as I do. But in truth, I never give any thought to the question of what Sullivan isn’t blogging about, and I think it rather odd that he spends so much time on the question of what I’m not blogging about.


The violence in Darfur continues to spread into neighboring Chad. The fighting along the Sudanese border not only involves Chad rebel groups, but also pro-Sudanese government militias that have been raiding the refugee camps just across the border in Chad. To further complicate matters, Sudanese rebel groups have been coming to the refugee camps, to recruit, and to get supplies.

It still seems to me that arming the victims would be a good idea, although Jim Dunnigan has said otherwise.

And here, by the way, is a Darfur website recommended by U.Va. law student Mark Finsterwald.

THE ATLANTIC REVIEW looks at German media and asks: “Why is Abu Ghraib a cover story again, but not Darfur? . . . Why is the German media reporting again about the horrible Abu Ghraib pictures taken by dishonorable US soldiers, but not about the even more horrible Darfur pictures taken by an honorable former U.S. Marine?”


While human rights activists and others applaud New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof for his coverage (by subscription) of Sudan, some are appalled at the paper’s business side for accepting an eight-page advertising insert singing the praises of the government of the African nation, which is widely considered responsible for genocide against its own citizens. The supplement lauds Sudan for facing a “peaceful, prosperous and democratic future,” and, according to criticizes the media for being “focused almost exclusively on the fighting between rebels and Arab militias.”

Human Rights Watch program director Iain Levine tells Daily News columnist Lloyd Grove that when he saw the ad “I practically fell off my seat on the subway …. I could not believe it.”

“Would the New York Times run an advertorial extolling the charitable works of Osama bin Laden?” asks felixsalmon. “Would it run advertisements from Nambla, or from the Ku Klux Klan?”

Apparently it would. Grove quotes a Time spokesperson as saying the paper took the ad because of “our strong belief that all pages of the paper — news, editorial and advertising — must remain open to the free flow of ideas.” But Mickey MacLean at World Views speculates that “it also didn’t hurt that an estimated $929,000 freely flowed into the newspaper’s coffers as a result of the section.”

Well, if you only take ads from organizations that share your opinions, then people will accuse you of being bought off. That’s a good argument for taking a wide range of ads, but there ought to be some limits. My blogads policy has been pretty much anything but Nazis. But Sudan looks pretty close to that line.

And, as Gateway Pundit notes, the New York Times took a different position when it came to publishing the Muhammad cartoons.


DARFUR UPDATE: Nat Hentoff writes:

I continue to hear even some journalists adhering to the myth that the New York Times largely determines the priority of daily news. But, as I tell journalism students, if that is your primary source, you’re going to miss a lot. For example, the New York Sun’s diligent U.N. correspondent, Benny Avni, keeps breaking news on the contrast between the U.N. Security Council’s repellent realpolitik and the unapologetic candor and impatience of our committed U.N. Ambassador John Bolton’s fight for human rights.

With the number of corpses in Darfur steadily mounting, and President Bush again seriously involved in confronting what he has accurately called the genocide there, Mr. Bolton has been pressing hard to get the United Nations moving against the resistance of the government of Sudan, the perpetrator of the genocide.

Read the whole thing. (Via Newsbeat 1).

SAUDI BLOGGER The Religious Policeman writes:

This is THE big meeting of the OIC, the Organization of the Islamic Conference. So are they finally going to resolve the Darfur conflict, the Brown-Muslim-on-Black-Muslim genocide that has already claimed an estimated 300,000 lives?

Well, actually, no.

As usual, their priorities are elsewhere.

Austin Bay and Jim Dunnigan on the war, Roger Stern and Lynne Kiesling on oil supplies and energy policy, and warblogger Michael Yon on his experiences in Iraq, and his difficulties with the U.S. Army — all in the latest podcast.

Once again, we got syndicated columnist, author, and blogger Austin Bay together with author and publisher Jim Dunnigan and let them talk (with just a few questions from us) about what’s going on in the world. The discussion covers Iran, the Cartoon War in Europe, the difficulties in intervening in Darfur, and more.

Also, Roger Stern, from the Department of Geography and Environmental Engineering at Johns Hopkins (and author of this paper on geopolitics and oil pricing in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences) talks with Lynn Kiesling, Director of the Center for Applied Energy Research, and blogger, about oil pricing and U.S. policy — will there be pressure for higher petroleum taxes, and is that better than pushing particular technologies like hybrids or ethanol?

Finally, warblogger Michael Yon talks about his experiences in Iraq, a famous photo, and his difficulties with the U.S. Army’s legal team — difficulties that were resolved once the blogosphere got involved. Apparently, a lot of people in the Pentagon read blogs.

Hope you like it! You can listen directly by clicking here; it’s also available via iTunes.

And, as always, the lovely and talented Insta-Wife wants your comments and suggestions.

And there’s a complete archive of podcasts here, too.

DARFUR UPDATE: Writing in the New York Review of Books, Nicholas Kristof reviews two books on Darfur — Julie Flint and Alex de Waal’s Darfur : A Short History of a Long War, and Gerard Prunier’s Darfur: The Ambiguous Genocide. Kristof writes:

Much the same has been true of the Western response to the Armenian genocide of 1915, the Cambodian genocide of the 1970s, and the Bosnian massacres of the 1990s. In each case, we have wrung our hands afterward and offered the lame excuse that it all happened too fast, or that we didn’t fully comprehend the carnage when it was still under way.

And now the same tragedy is unfolding in Darfur, but this time we don’t even have any sort of excuse. In Darfur genocide is taking place in slow motion, and there is vast documentary proof of the atrocities. Some of the evidence can be seen in the photo reproduced with this essay, which was leaked from an African Union archive containing thousands of other such photos. And now, the latest proof comes in the form of two new books that tell the sorry tale of Darfur: it’s appalling that the publishing industry manages to respond more quickly to genocide than the UN and world leaders do.

Norm Geras comments: “It’s hard not to be led to the most disheartening of conclusions about the putative legitimacy of the international system. For those of us who look towards a strengthening of transnational institutions, and of the quality and the reach of international law, whether in working for peaceful outcomes, in bringing to justice the perpetrators of crimes against humanity, or in preventing major atrocities, especially genocide, how is it possible to speak for that emergent legitimacy, or the claim to one, when the international community repeatedly just stands by as the worst crime on its books unfolds?”

How, indeed? Here are some earlier thoughts of mine on this topic.


He’s also got a blog post with a Christmas note from Iraq.

And it’s still Thank A Soldier Week. People certainly seem to be doing that.

Meanwhile, the Pope delivered a Christmas message on Darfur.

DARFUR UPDATE: Alas, it’s more bad news.

DARFUR UPDATE: As usual, alas, it’s bad news:

Darfur has fallen into anarchy, with army troops, pro-government tribal militias, bandits, anti-government rebels and AU peacekeepers all fighting one another. It’s a low key war, with the main objective being to rob, rape and kill civilians, or loot UN relief operations, or trying to stop the all the lawlessness. There are only about 7,000 AU peacekeepers, and, technically, they are only supposed to be observing, not protecting. Such is the chaos, that few countries are willing to offer more peacekeepers. Historically, this sort of widespread tribal warfare is nothing new. But in the past, news of the atrocities took a lot longer to get out to the rest of the world. Getting the news faster has not made it any easier to stop the violence. Since Arab Sudanese run Sudan, they have the rest of the Arab world to protect them in the UN, and make it difficult for sanctions or war crimes investigations to get anywhere. Officially, the Arab world denies that there are any Moslem-on-Moslem atrocities being committed by Sudanese Arabs.

Here’s a big Darfur roundup from AllThings2All.


The UN Mission in Sudan (UNMIS) said on Thursday that it had received an unconfirmed report that some 1,500 armed men had attacked and burned six villages in South Darfur, killing 18 people earlier this week.

UNMIS said the report indicated that on Sunday and Monday, the armed group travelling on camels, horses and in vehicles killed the 18 victims, wounded 16 others, and attacked and burned the villages of Dar es Salam, Jamali, Funfo, Tabeldyad, Um Djantara and Um Putrum in the Gereida area of South Darfur.

I think it’s going to take more than U.N. commissions. Why can’t we send these people some guns and trainers?


The International Committee of the Red Cross is warning that rising violence is threatening food security in Sudan’s Darfur region. It says next month’s important harvest may be affected by fighting between rebels and government forces, banditry and violence over cattle looting and access to grazing lands. The main crops in Darfur include maize, millet and okra.

More starvation is likely to ensue. Unfortunately, the rebels are rather disorganized at the moment, though they seem to be trying to get their act together. Special Forces trainers and guns would probably help.

UPDATE: Much more here.


Deputy Secretary of State Robert Zoellick Wednesday briefed the Senate Foreign Relations Committee about the current situation in Darfur.

“In general in Darfur, what you are seeing is [that] the large scale organized violence has substantially subsided,” said Mr. Zoellick. “But the situation remains very fragile and dangerous.”

Mr. Zoellick said that while Sudanese government forces have withdrawn, their government-backed Arab militias, known as the “janjaweed,” have not disbanded and are still contributing to the violence.


The U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees said Thursday an unprecedented attack on a displaced persons’ camp in Sudan’s embattled Darfur region reportedly has killed 29 people.

Antonio Guterres, chief of the U.N. agency, cited aid workers’ reports of the attack Wednesday at Aro Sharow camp which also left 10 seriously injured. These reports said up to 300 armed Arab men on horses and camels attacked the camp in northwest Darfur and burned about 80 makeshift shelters.

Between 4,000-5,000 Sudanese were believed to be living in the camp and most reportedly fled into surrounding countryside, UNHCR said. The nearby village of Gosmeina was also reportedly attacked and burned.

Why don’t we send guns and trainers?


Darfur rebels claim that soldiers and pro-government tribal militia are increasing their raids on villages, killing, raping and stealing as they do. At least 30 villagers have been killed in these raids in the last week. The government denies any responsibility. The UN and AU observers confirm that there has been an increase in violence in Darfur in the last month, but has a hard time confirming specific claims by the rebels. The government blames all the violence on rebels or bandits. There are bandits operating in the region, but pro-government militias, and soldiers, have been spotted attacking non-Arab civilians as well.

I still think we should send the rebels guns and trainers.

WELL, IT’S NOT QUITE THIS, but you can see it from here: “In the final declaration last week 191 countries, including Sudan and North Korea, went along with a restatement of international law: that the world community has the right to take military action in the case of ‘national authorities manifestly failing to protect their populations from genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity’. It comes too late to help Darfur, not to mention Rwanda and Cambodia, but it is a millennial change.”

And now that this principle is established, the next international human right is clear.

JOSEPH BRITT: Don’t forget about Darfur. It is, in fact, worse than a hurricane.

DARFUR UPDATE: The death of Sudanese VP Garang makes a resolution seem less likely. That’s bad news.

DARFUR UPDATE: Nicholas Kristof writes:

This is a column I don’t want to write – we in the media business have so many critics already that I hardly need to pipe in as well. But after more than a year of seething frustration, I feel I have to. . . .

I’m outraged that one of my Times colleagues, Judith Miller, is in jail for protecting her sources. But if we journalists are to demand a legal privilege to protect our sources, we need to show that we serve the public good – which means covering genocide as seriously as we cover, say, Tom Cruise. In some ways, we’ve gone downhill: the American news media aren’t even covering the Darfur genocide as well as we covered the Armenian genocide in 1915. . . . If only Michael Jackson’s trial had been held in Darfur.

Indeed. Covering this kind of thing seriously would make journalism seem, and be, more serious.

So would avoiding shoddy reporting and dishonest pseudo-corrections.

AUSTIN BAY looks at the manhandling of U.S. officials and reporters accompanying Condi Rice in Sudan today, and asks “where’s the outrage” compared to reports that a Koran may have been mishandled.

I think we should bring the hammer down. Condi should announce that we’re sending guns, bombs and trainers to the Darfur rebels — and that should just be the start.

DARFUR UPDATE: My former student Mary Littleton sends this link to the Genocide Intervention Fund, which supports military intervention, though as far as I can tell they’re not actually raising money to hire mercenaries to intervene, as the title made me hope . . . .