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Tagging posts, posts by category, next/previous post indicators, and other post-2003 design innovations are incrementally being tweaked/kludged/melting.
Above email address currently deprecated! Use gary underscore farber at yahoodotcom, pliz! Sanely free of McCarthyite calling anyone a traitor since 2001!
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I've a long record in editorial work in book and magazine publishing, starting 1974, a variety of other work experience, but have been, since 2001, recurringly housebound with insanely painful sporadic and unpredictably variable gout and edema, and in the past, other ailments; the future? The Great Unknown: isn't it for all of us?
I'm currently house/cat-sitting, not on any government aid yet (or mostly ever), often in major chronic pain from gout and edema, which variably can leave me unable to walk, including just standing, but sometimes is better, and is freaking unpredictable at present; I also have major chronic depression and anxiety disorders; I'm currently supported mostly by your blog donations/subscriptions; you can help me. I prefer to spread out the load, and lessen it from the few who have been doing more than their fair share for too long.
Thanks for any understanding and support. I know it's difficult to understand. And things will change. They always change.
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"The brain is wider than the sky, For, put them side by side,
The one the other will include With ease, and you beside"
-- Emily Dickinson
"We will pursue peace as if there is no terrorism and fight terrorism as if there is no peace."
-- Yitzhak Rabin
"I have thought it my duty to exhibit things as they are, not as they ought to be."
-- Alexander Hamilton
"The stakes are too high for government to be a spectator sport."
-- Barbara Jordan
"Under democracy, one party always devotes its chief energies to
trying to prove that the other party is unfit to rule --
and both commonly succeed, and are right."
-- H. L. Mencken
"Necessity is the plea for every infringement of human freedom.
It is the argument of tyrants; it is the creed of slaves."
-- William Pitt
"The only completely consistent people are the dead."
-- Aldous Huxley
"I have had my solutions for a long time; but I do not yet know how I am to arrive at them."
-- Karl F. Gauss
"Whatever evils either reason or declamation have imputed to extensive empire,
the power of Rome was attended with some beneficial consequences to mankind;
and the same freedom of intercourse which extended the vices, diffused likewise
the improvements of social life."
-- Edward Gibbon
"Augustus was sensible that mankind is governed by names; nor was he deceived in his
expectation, that the senate and people would submit to slavery, provided they were
respectfully assured that they still enjoyed their ancient freedom."
-- Edward Gibbon
"There exists in human nature a strong propensity to depreciate the advantages, and to magnify
the evils, of the present times."
-- Edward Gibbon
"Our youth now loves luxuries. They have bad manners, contempt for authority.
They show disrespect for elders and they
love to chatter instead of exercise.
Children are now tyrants, not the servants, of their households. They
no longer rise when elders enter the room. They contradict their parents,
chatter before company, gobble up their food, and tyrannize
"Before impugning an opponent's motives, even when they legitimately may be impugned, answer his arguments."
-- Sidney Hook
"Idealism, alas, does not protect one from ignorance, dogmatism, and foolishness."
-- Sidney Hook
"Let me never fall into the vulgar mistake of dreaming that I am persecuted whenever I am contradicted."
-- Ralph Waldo Emerson
"We take, and must continue to take, morally hazardous actions to preserve our civilization.
We must exercise our power. But we ought neither to believe that a nation is capable of perfect
disinterestedness in its exercise, nor become complacent about particular degrees of interest
and passion which corrupt the justice by which the exercise of power is legitimized."
-- Reinhold Niebuhr
"Faced with the choice of all the land without a Jewish state or a Jewish state without all the
land, we chose a Jewish state without all the land."
-- David Ben-Gurion
"...the proscribing any citizen as unworthy the public confidence by laying upon him
an incapacity of being called to offices of trust and emolument, unless he profess or renounce this
or that religious opinion, is depriving him injuriously of those privileges and advantages
to which, in common with his fellow citizens, he has a natural right; that it tends also
to corrupt the principles of that very religion it is meant to encourage, by bribing,
with a monopoly of worldly honours and emoluments, those who will externally profess
and conform to it;[...] that the opinions of men are not the object of civil government, nor under its jurisdiction; that to suffer the civil magistrate to intrude his powers into the field of opinion
and to restrain the profession or propagation of principles on supposition of their ill tendency is a dangerous fallacy, which at once destroys all religious liberty....
-- Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom, Thomas Jefferson
"We don't live just by ideas. Ideas are part of the mixture of customs and practices,
intuitions and instincts that make human life a conscious activity susceptible to
improvement or debasement. A radical idea may be healthy as a provocation;
a temperate idea may be stultifying. It depends on the circumstances. One of the most
tiresome arguments against ideas is that their 'tendency' is to some dire condition --
to totalitarianism, or to moral relativism, or to a war of all against all."
-- Louis Menand
"The darkest places in hell are reserved for those who maintain their neutrality in times of moral crisis."
-- Dante Alighieri
"He too serves a certain purpose who only stands and cheers."
-- Henry B. Adams
"The law, in its majestic equality, forbids the rich as well as the
poor to beg in the streets, steal bread, or sleep under a bridge."
-- Anatole France
"When bad men combine, the good must associate; else they will fall one by one, an unpitied sacrifice in a contemptible struggle."
-- Edmund Burke
"Education does not mean that we have become certified experts in business or mining or botany or journalism or epistemology;
it means that through the absorption of the moral, intellectual, and esthetic inheritance of the race we have come to
understand and control ourselves as well as the external world; that we have chosen the best as our associates both in spirit
and the flesh; that we have learned to add courtesy to culture, wisdom to knowledge, and forgiveness to understanding."
-- Will Durant
"Glimpses do ye seem to see of that mortally intolerable truth; that all deep, earnest thinking is
but the intrepid effort of the soul to keep the open independence of her sea; while the wildest
winds of heaven and earth conspire to cast her on the treacherous, slavish shore?"
-- Herman Melville
"The most important political office is that of the private citizen."
-- Louis D. Brandeis
"If we desire respect for the law, we must first make the law respectable."
-- Louis D. Brandeis
"We can have democracy in this country, or we can have great wealth concentrated in the hands of a few, but we can't have both."
-- Louis D. Brandeis
"It is an error to suppose that books have no influence; it is a slow influence, like flowing water carving out a canyon,
but it tells more and more with every year; and no one can pass an hour a day in the society of sages and heroes without
being lifted up a notch or two by the company he has kept."
-- Will Durant
"When you write, you’re trying to transpose what you’re thinking into something that is less like an annoying drone and more like a piece of music."
-- Louis Menand
"Sex is a continuum."
-- Gore Vidal
"I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should
make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibit the free exercise thereof, thus building a wall of separation between church and state."
-- Thomas Jefferson, letter to the Baptists of Danbury, Connecticut, 1802.
"The sum of our religion is peace and unanimity, but these can scarcely stand unless we define as little as possible,
and in many things leave one free to follow his own judgment, because there is great obscurity in many matters, and
man suffers from this almost congenital disease that he will not give in when once a controversy is started, and
after he is heated he regards as absolutely true that which he began to sponsor quite casually...."
-- Desiderius Erasmus
"Are we to have a censor whose imprimatur shall say what books may be sold, and what we may buy? And who is thus to dogmatize religious opinions for our citizens? Whose foot is to be the measure to which ours are all to be cut or stretched? Is a priest to be our inquisitor, or shall a layman, simple as ourselves, set up his reason as the rule of what we are to read, and what we must disbelieve?"
-- Thomas Jefferson, in a letter to N. G. Dufief, Philadelphia bookseller, 1814
"We are told that it is only people's objective actions that matter, and their subjective feelings are of no importance. Thus pacifists, by obstructing the war effort,
are 'objectively' aiding the Nazis; and therefore the fact that they may be personally hostile to Fascism is irrelevant. I have been guilty of saying this myself more than once. The same argument is applied to Trotskyism. Trotskyists are often credited, at any rate by Communists, with being active and conscious agents of Hitler; but when you point out the many and obvious reasons why this is unlikely to be true,
the 'objectively' line of talk is brought forward again. To criticize the Soviet Union helps Hitler: therefore 'Trotskyism is Fascism'. And when this has been established, the accusation of conscious treachery is usually repeated.
This is not only dishonest; it also carries a severe penalty with it. If you disregard people's motives, it becomes much harder to foresee their actions."
-- George Orwell, "As I Please," Tribune, 8 December 1944
"Wouldn't this be a great world if insecurity and desperation made us more attractive? If 'needy' were a turn-on?"
-- "Aaron Altman," Broadcast News
"The great thing about human language is that it prevents us from sticking to the matter at hand."
-- Lewis Thomas
"To be ignorant of what happened before you were born is to be ever a child. For what is man's lifetime unless the memory of past events is woven with those of earlier times?"
"Knowledge is of two kinds. We know a subject ourselves, or we know where we can find information upon it."
-- Samuel Johnson, Life Of Johnson
"Very well, what did my critics say in attacking my character? I must read out their affidavit, so to speak, as though they were my legal accusers: Socrates is guilty of criminal meddling, in that he inquires into things below the earth and in the sky, and makes the weaker argument defeat the stronger, and teaches others to follow his example."
-- Socrates, via Plato, The Republic
"Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired, represents, in the final analysis, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, who are cold and are not clothed. This world in arms is not spending money alone. It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children."
-- Dwight D. Eisenhower
"The term, then, is obviously a relative one; my pedantry is your scholarship, his reasonable accuracy, her irreducible minimum of education, & someone else's ignorance."
-- H. W. Fowler
"Rules exist for good reasons, and in any art form the beginner must learn them and understand what they are for, then follow them for quite a while. A visual artist, pianist, dancer, fiction writer, all beginning artists are in the same boat here: learn the rules, understand them, follow them. It's called an apprenticeship. A mediocre artist never stops following the rules, slavishly follows guidelines, and seldom rises above mediocrity. An accomplished artist internalizes the rules to the point where they don't have to be consciously considered. After you've put in the time it takes to learn to swim, you never stop to think: now I move my arm, kick, raise my head, breathe. You just do it. The accomplished artist knows what the rules mean, how to use them, dodge them, ignore them altogether, or break them. This may be a wholly unconscious process of assimilation, one never articulated, but it has taken place."
-- Kate Wilhelm
"The most beautiful experience we can have is the mysterious. It is the fundamental emotion that stands at the cradle of true art and true science. Whoever does not know it and can no longer wonder, no longer marvel, is as good as dead, and his eyes are dimmed."
-- Albert Einstein
"The decisive moment in human evolution is perpetual."
-- Franz Kafka, Aphorisms
"All of old. Nothing else ever. Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better."
-- Samuel Beckett, Worstward Ho
"First they ignore you. Then they ridicule you. And then they attack you and want to burn you. And then they build monuments to you."
-- Nicholas Klein, May, 1919, to the Third Biennial Convention of the Amalgamated Clothing Workers of America (misattributed to Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, 1914 & variants).
"Our credulity is a part of the imperfection of our natures. It is inherent in us to desire to generalize, when we ought, on the contrary, to guard ourselves very carefully from this tendency."
-- Napoleon I of France.
"The truth is, men are very hard to know, and yet, not to be deceived, we must judge them by their present actions, but for the present only."
-- Napoleon I of France.
"The barbarous custom of having men beaten who are suspected of having important secrets to reveal must be abolished. It has always been recognized that this way of interrogating men, by putting them to torture, produces nothing worthwhile. The poor wretches say anything that comes into their mind and what they think the interrogator wishes to know."
-- On the subject of torture, in a letter to Louis Alexandre Berthier (11 November 1798), published in Correspondance Napoleon edited by Henri Plon (1861), Vol. V, No. 3606, p. 128
"All living souls welcome whatever they are ready to cope with; all else they ignore, or pronounce to be monstrous and wrong, or deny to be possible."
-- George Santayana, Dialogues in Limbo (1926)
"If you should put even a little on a little, and should do this often, soon this too would become big."
-- Hesiod, Work And Days
"Your Honor, years ago I recognized my kinship with all living beings, and I made up my mind that I was not one bit better than the meanest on earth. I said then, and I say now, that while there is a lower class, I am in it, and while there is a criminal element I am of it, and while there is a soul in prison, I am not free."
-- Eugene V. Debs
"Reputation is what other people know about you. Honor is what you know about yourself."
-- Lois McMaster Bujold, A Civil Campaign
"All that we have to do is to send two mujahidin to the furthest point east to raise a piece of cloth on which is written "al-Qaida," in order to make the generals race there to cause America to suffer human, economic, and political losses without their achieving for it anything of note other than some benefits for their private companies."
-- Osama bin Laden
"Remember, Robin: evil is a pretty bad thing."
Gary Farber is now a licensed Quintuple Super-Sekrit Multi-dimensional Master Pundit.
He does not always refer to himself in the third person.
He is presently single.
The gefilte fish is dead. Donate via the donation button on the top left or I'll shoot this cutepanda. Don't you lovepandas?
Current Total # of Donations Since 2002: 1181
Subscribers to date at $5/month: 100 sign-ups; 91 cancellations; Total= 9
Supporter subscribers to date at $25/month: 16 sign-ups; 10 cancellation; Total= 6
Patron subscribers to date at $50/month: 20 sign-ups; 13 cancellations; Total= 7
...writer[s] I find myself checking out repeatedly when I'm in the mood to play follow-the-links. They're not all people I agree with all the time, or even most of the time, but I've found them all to be thoughtful writers, and that's the important thing, or should be.
-- Tom Tomorrow
I bow before the shrillitudinousness of Gary Farber, who has been blogging like a fiend.
-- Ted Barlow, Crooked Timber
Favorite.... [...] ...all great stuff. [...] Gary Farber should never be without readers.
I usually read you and Patrick several times a day, and I always get something from them. You've got great links, intellectually honest commentary, and a sense of humor. What's not to like?
-- Ted Barlow
One of my issues with many poli-blogs is the dickhead tone so many bloggers affect to express their sense of righteous indignation. Gary Farber's thoughtful leftie takes on the world stand in sharp contrast with the usual rhetorical bullying. Plus, he likes "Pogo," which clearly attests to his unassaultable good taste.
Jaysus. I saw him do something like this before, on a thread about Israel. It was pretty brutal. It's like watching one of those old WWF wrestlers grab an opponent's
face and grind away until the guy starts crying. I mean that in a nice & admiring way, you know.
-- Fontana Labs, Unfogged
We read you Gary Farber! We read you all the time! Its just that we are lazy with our blogroll. We are so very very lazy. We are always the last ones to the party but we always have snazzy bow ties.
-- Fafnir, Fafblog!
Gary Farber you are a genius of mad scientist proportions. I will bet there are like huge brains growin in jars all over your house.
-- Fafnir, Fafblog!
Gary Farber is the hardest working man in show blog business. He's like a young Gene Hackman blogging with his hair on fire, or something.
-- Belle Waring, John & Belle Have A Blog
Gary Farber only has two blogging modes: not at all, and 20 billion interesting posts a day [...] someone on the interweb whose opinions I can trust....
-- Belle Waring, John & Belle Have A Blog
Isn't Gary a cracking blogger, apropos of nothing in particular?
-- Alison Scott
Gary Farber takes me to task, in a way befitting the gentleman he is.
-- Stephen Green, Vodkapundit
My friend Gary Farber at Amygdala is the sort of liberal for whom I happily give three cheers. [...] Damned incisive blogging....
-- Midwest Conservative Journal
If I ever start a paper, Clueless writes the foreign affairs column, Layne handles the city beat, Welch has the roving-reporter job, Tom Tomorrow runs the comic section (which carries Treacher, of course). MediaMinded runs the slots - that's the type of editor I want as the last line of defense. InstantMan runs the edit page - and you can forget about your Ivins and Wills and Friedmans and Teepens on the edit page - it's all Blair, VodkaP, C. Johnson, Aspara, Farber, Galt, and a dozen other worthies, with Justin 'I am smoking in such a provocative fashion' Raimondo tossed in for balance and comic relief.
Who wouldn't buy that paper? Who wouldn't want to read it? Who wouldn't climb over their mother to be in it?
-- James Lileks
I do appreciate your role and the role of Amygdala as a pioneering effort in the integration of fanwriters with social conscience into the larger blogosphere of social conscience.
-- Lenny Bailes
Every single post in that part of Amygdala visible on my screen is either funny or bracing or important. Is it always like this? -- Natalie Solent
People I've known and still miss include Isaac Asimov, rich brown, Charles Burbee, F. M. "Buzz" Busby, Terry Carr, A. Vincent Clarke, Bob Doyle, George Alec Effinger, Abi Frost,
Bill & Sherry Fesselmeyer, George Flynn, John Milo "Mike" Ford. John Foyster, Mike Glicksohn, Jay Haldeman, Neith Hammond (Asenath Katrina Hammond)/DominEditrix , Chuch Harris, Mike Hinge, Lee Hoffman, Terry Hughes, Damon Knight, Ross Pavlac, Bruce Pelz, Elmer Perdue, Tom Perry,
Larry Propp, Bill Rotsler, Art Saha, Bob Shaw, Martin Smith, Harry Stubbs, Bob Tucker, Harry Warner, Jr., Jack Williamson, Walter A. Willis, Susan Wood, Kate Worley, and Roger Zelazny.
It's just a start, it only gets longer, many are unintentionally left out.
And She of whom I must write someday.
President Bush signaled a new American commitment on Friday to addressing the crisis in Darfur, saying he would support an expanded role by NATO to shore up a failing African peacekeeping mission there.
Mr. Bush also said he favored doubling the number of peacekeepers operating in Darfur under United Nations control, as proposed by the Security Council last month. He discussed Darfur, in western Sudan, as an offshoot of a question about the fate of children in war-ravaged northern Uganda.
"I talked to Kofi Annan about this very subject this week," Mr. Bush said, referring to a meeting with the United Nations secretary general. "But it's going to require, I think, a NATO stewardship, planning, facilitating, organizing, probably double the number of peacekeepers that are there now, in order to start bringing some sense of security. There has to be a consequence for people abusing their fellow citizens."
Administration officials said Mr. Bush's comments reflected discussions between the United States and its allies calling for a broader interim role for NATO in Darfur until a larger, United Nations peacekeeping operation can be established.
NATO has played a small logistical role in Sudan thus far, primarily airlifting African troops. Until recently, government officials had said NATO might do more, but all the discussion has been about providing equipment, communications and other logistical support.
After President Bush spoke on Friday, a senior State Department official said the United States proposal continued to be "to strengthen the A.U." until United Nations forces arrive late this year.
While Mr. Bush spoke of "a NATO stewardship," the American officials cautioned that NATO would command only logistical operations, not the African Union troops.
They reiterated that Washington would send no American troops. In Congressional testimony this week, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said, "We are prepared to talk with our NATO counterparts about what more we can do to support" the African Union forces "until we can get the U.N. forces" into Darfur.
A Pentagon spokesman, Lt. Col. Joe Carpenter, said in Washington that no decisions had been made on NATO's role, but "NATO could potentially be a significant leader" in United Nations peacekeeping.
Over the last two years, under NATO auspices, the United States has transported tons of supplies and several thousand African Union troops to western Sudan. The United States has also provided $190 million for training and building camps for the soldiers, the Pentagon said.
Mr. Bush's comments on Friday were much more specific than his words at the White House earlier this week when he met with Mr. Annan to discuss Darfur.
An official who described the Oval Office session said Mr. Annan had noted that any new United Nations force would need heavier weapons and far better intelligence units than those provided to the African Union. "That can only come from a few places," the official said, "NATO or the United States."
Mr. Bush acknowledged that the African Union troops had been unable to "bring some sense of security to these poor people that are being herded out of their villages and just terribly mistreated."
"The effort was noble," he said, "but it didn't achieve the objective."
At a NATO meeting last week in Taormina, Sicily, an alliance spokesman, James Appathurai, said the United Nation special representative for Sudan, Jan Pronck, briefed defense ministers on the Security Council debate on Darfur. No decisions were made on expanding the NATO role, he said.
Over the last year, about 7,000 African Union peacekeepers troops have been stationed in Darfur to monitor and enforce a cease-fire between rebel and government troops. In January, the Security Council began to plan to send peacekeepers to Sudan, which envisions a force of as many as 20,000 operating under a broad mandate.
But United Nations officials have acknowledged that winning commitments from member nations to send that many troops is likely to prove difficult. The United States has stated unequivocally that American combat troops would not be sent there, and other nations have offered similar cautions.
Collecting commitments of troops and deploying them is expected to take up to a year.
In recent days, some members of Congress and others have begun saying they hoped NATO forces could work with the African Union troops until United Nations forces arrive.
"In the interim, let's get NATO involved in this process, because every day you wait, you're going to have more people dying," Senator Sam Brownback, the Kansas Republican, said Thursday in an interview on "The Newshour With Jim Lehrer."
Mr. Bush noted on Friday, as he did last month when asked about Darfur by a student in Kansas, that his Administration was the first to use the word genocide to describe what was happening in Sudan.
"Our country was the first country to call what was taking place a genocide, which matters," he said in front of the audience of about 400 people, who appeared overwhelmingly supportive of Mr. Bush. "Words matter."
I'm not inclined to have kind words for either Senator Brownback or President George W. Bush, and this is just another small step in a long tap-dance, but I'll applaud any little step I see.
Four U.S. military planners were sent to the United Nations this week to assist the U.N. peacekeeping department in coming up with a range of options for the military forces, according to a State Department official.
But Bush brushed aside the resistance of some senior policymakers and sided with White House adviser Michael J. Gerson and others who have been lobbying for more assistance to Darfur. Bush this week also proposed $500 million for Darfur as part of a larger special budget request to Congress.
There is some bipartisan support for intervening in the troubled region. Sens. Sam Brownback (R-Kan.) and Joseph R. Biden Jr. (D-Del.) plan to introduce a resolution in Congress calling for NATO troops to help the African Union "stop the genocide" in the Darfur region.
The State Department official said there appears to be broad consensus at the United Nations to provide the force much broader rules of engagement. But he said that there are still many difficult issues to address, making it unlikely to win U.N. Security Council authorization by the end of the month. The United States holds the rotating presidency of the Security Council this month.
The council's African members, Tanzania, Congo Republic and Ghana, backed by China and Qatar, do not want to discuss a U.N. peacekeeping mission until the African Union has formally indicated that it wants the United Nations to step in. That is expected to happen early next month.
The U.S. European Command (Eucom) announced this week in Stuttgart, Germany, that U.S. airmen from Ramstein Air Base have begun helping with the logistics of moving 1,200 troops belonging to two Rwandan battalions from Kigali, Rwanda, to the Darfur region. Contracted aircraft started bringing the troops to the region last Saturday as part of a rotation scheduled to last about three weeks. Capt. Beverly Mock, a Eucom spokeswoman, said she was unaware of any specifics related to increasing U.S. troops in the Darfur region. She said plans are to continue supporting African troops.
Last week, Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Jendayi Frazer signaled a shift in American policy towards Darfur when she refused to say that genocide was currently taking place in the region. Asked twice whether the Darfur genocide was ongoing, she would only say that "a genocide has occurred in Sudan and we continue to be concerned about the security environment in Darfur." In other words, there was a genocide but now it's over. Frazer went on to assert that "there isn't large-scale organized violence taking place today," while describing the current situation as "a series of small attacks and incidents."
This is mendacity. Recent reports from South Darfur, for example, make clear that approximately 70,000 civilians have been violently displaced by Janjaweed raids. They were attacked primarily in camps for displaced persons in the Mershing and Shearia areas; and they were attacked because they were mostly Zaghawa, one of the non-Arab or African tribal groups of Darfur. Moreover, the timing of the massive Janjaweed attack makes it highly likely that the signal for the raids came from Khartoum's military. That's because several days before the onslaught, the Sudan Liberation Army (SLA) assaulted a nearby government military garrison in Golo, killing several of Khartoum's regular troops. The SLA in this part of Darfur draws heavily from the Zaghawa--the targets of the subsequent Janjaweed attacks.
This replicates the basic pattern of the last three years: Khartoum seeks to destroy Darfur's non-Arab or African tribal populations as a means of counterinsurgency warfare. These actions clearly fall under the 1948 U.N. Convention on Genocide, which says that intent to destroy civilian populations based on their ethnicity constitutes genocide. The most recent attacks on civilians, gathered in camps for the displaced, were clearly aimed at the Zaghawa. They therefore qualify as further acts of genocide.
So too do the rampant destruction of crops, agricultural fields, and water sources of African peoples, actions recently highlighted by Physicians for Human Rights in an extraordinary report that stands as the most authoritative indictment of Khartoum for the crime of genocide. PHR field researchers found "intense destruction of land holdings, communities, families, as well as the disruption of all means of sustaining livelihoods and procuring basic necessities." The organization concluded that "By eliminating access to food, water and medicine, expelling people into inhospitable terrain and then, in many cases, blocking crucial outside assistance, the Government of Sudan and the Janjaweed have created conditions calculated to destroy the non-Arab people of Darfur in contravention of the 'Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide.'" It's a shame the State Department doesn't agree.
What will the State Department and its U.N. ambassador, John Bolton, do? (After all, it was Bolton who several months ago prevented the Security Council from hearing a report on Darfur by Juan Méndez, U.N. special advisor on the prevention of genocide, declaring that he was sick of reports and wanted "action.") The answer has come in three parts. First, Frazer pointedly refused to say that genocide was still taking place. Second, Bolton has introduced a "Statement by the President of the Security Council"--not a resolution, which would actually have authorizing force, but a statement that will enable only contingency planning for some sort of U.N. mission while serving largely as a diplomatic placeholder for the United States during the month of February. Finally, behind the scenes at Turtle Bay, there is an effort underway to limit the mission that will actually deploy when the United Nations takes over for the largely ineffectual African Union troops, according to a U.N. military official involved in the planning.
This last move is particularly disturbing. The goal seems to be to make the new force so unthreatening to Khartoum that the regime will accept it as the price of forestalling any further, more robust, international efforts. According to the U.N. military official, several members of the Security Council, including the United States, are seeking to deny the mission much of the sophisticated equipment Kofi Annan spoke of at several points in January ("tactical air support, helicopters, and the ability to respond very quickly"; "very sophisticated equipment, logistical support").
Asked if such a force would include rich countries, like the United States and European nations, Annan said last month that "those are the countries with the kind of capabilities we will need, so when the time comes, we will be turning to them. ... I will be turning to governments with capacity to join in that peacekeeping operation if we were to be given the mandate." But according to the U.N. military official, neither the United States nor European nations will be asked to contribute a significant number of troops to the mission.
Moreover, it remains to be seen whether the United States or the Europeans will push for a Chapter VII mandate (which would give U.N. forces peacemaking authority) or a Chapter VI mandate (which would only give U.N. forces peacekeeping authority). The latter would be wholly inadequate to stop the genocide, since there is presently no peace to keep.
Of equal concern is the size of the U.N. force. The U.N. military official says that Security Council members are seeking to impose a ceiling of 12,000 on the number of troops. Such a force would not be nearly large enough to provide security for Darfuris seeking to return to their land. Absent a peace agreement that is nowhere in sight, the failure to provide enough troops would consign more than 2 million displaced persons and refugees to camps where the only constants of life are insecurity, disease, and desperation.
If this is as much as the United Nations is prepared to offer the victims of genocide, then the international community will have failed Darfur once more, and yet more profoundly. Then again, if it's not really a genocide, the failure will be of lesser moral magnitude--part of the ordinary bumbling and stumbling of the international community. So evidently goes the thinking of the Bush administration.
Of course the Europeans are just as guilty here: Their Parliament declared that realities in Darfur were "tantamount to genocide" in September 2004--the vote was 566 to 6--and they were present in September 2005 when the U.N. World Summit formally proclaimed "a responsibility to protect" civilians when "national authorities are manifestly failing to protect their populations from genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing, and crimes against humanity." Fine words. Unsurprisingly, no European leaders seem inclined to act on those words. They could learn a valuable lesson in realpolitik from the State Department: If you can't stop a genocide, just call it something else.
I've despaired of hoping many bloggers will blog much on Darfur. It's only genocide.
If it's not of use as a political football, either against or for G. W. Bush, it's of insufficient concern to blog about. And if one's fellow pack-members aren't blogging about it, aren't swarming about it -- and there are no blog-swarms absent a news hook, or a created campaign (and mostly the latter don't work) -- it's not really news, anyway.
Bloggers aren't the least bit better than the dread "MSM" in their pack-journalism. If anything they're worse, save that there are more bloggers and thus more outliers. But if the leading blogs of Your Side aren't saying "this is important, here's the news, here's the outrage," few bloggers notice.
It's only genoicide.
So, in my despair, I offer this.
Pro-Bush bloggers: your President just called for doing something to fight a genocide. Support him. Encourage him. Tell your readers to do the same. Mobilize outrage in support of defeating genocide, and expressing the values of the American people. And if you want to take a slap at those nasty, wimpy, do-nothing Europeans, here's a free shot.
Anti-Bush bloggers: Bush has fallen down and done little but talk on a genocide. Speak up for your liberal values. Talk about the racism involved in ignoring yet another genocide against dark-skinned people. Speak bitterly of John Bolton's obstructionist tactics. Say that the UN needs to be supported by America in saving lives and fighting genocide. Spread the outrage at how little is being done.
Libertarians: well, you can at least donate money to charity, and that's good, although how that would be sufficient to help the people of Darfur, I don't know.
Everyone else: at least spread the word. Pay attention. Don't look away. Whatever you can do, it's better than nothing.
People are dying. Every day.
It's only genocide.
Read The Rest Scale: 3 out of 5, 3 out of 5, 4 out of 5. Do something today. Do it for frigging Abe Lincohn. Then keep doing things each week, until there is genocide no more. Make "never again" mean something.
[...] JIM LEHRER: Hundreds of thousands of people have died. So you're satisfied the U.S. is doing everything it can do?
VICE PRESIDENT DICK CHENEY: I am satisfied we're doing everything we can do.
GWEN IFILL: But the Darfur conflict still attracts international attention. At the Olympics Monday, U.S. speed-skating Gold Medal winner Joey Cheek announced he will donate his $25,000 purse to relief efforts for Sudanese refugees in neighboring Chad.
GWEN IFILL: Two senators from opposite sides of the aisle have joined together to call for increased U.S. involvement in Darfur. They are Sam Brownback, Republican of Kansas, and Barack Obama, Democrat of Illinois.
Sen. Brownback was in Darfur in 2004 and Sen. Obama is a member of the Foreign Relations Committee.
GWEN IFILL: Gentlemen, you both co-authored an op/ed piece in the newspaper in which you called for increased U.S. involvement and you said that the situation in Darfur is dangerously adrift. Sen. Brownback, what does that mean?
SEN. SAM BROWNBACK: It means people are dying. It means the genocide continues. It means that there's been inadequate international force in place to be able to stop the people from being slaughtered by the Janjaweed, by militia being supported by the government in Sudan. It means that we have got a bad situation and it has not stabilized and we need to do more to be able to stop the carnage from taking place.
GWEN IFILL: Sen. Obama, to what do you attribute the bad situation that Sen. Brownback talked about?
SEN. BARACK OBAMA: Well, essentially you've got a protection vacuum. Originally the thinking was that as a consequence of a negotiated settlement between Northern Sudan and Southern Sudan, that you could broker a peace deal between the Sudanese government and rebels. And that would then take some pressure off the people who were being displaced. And we also hoped that an African Union force could ramp up sufficiently quickly to provide some protection. That has not happened.
Essentially the African Union force has never been of sufficient size or force nor has it had the mandate to provide real protection to ordinary Sudanese who are being attacked by the Janjaweed, and there has been essentially no real progress in terms of political settlement. So you have a situation where just recently 30,000 displaced persons as a consequence of attacks are wandering Western Sudan.
You've got situations in which you continue to have rapes and assaults on women who are trying to gather firewood. You've got 2 million people who are displaced, 300,000 dead and you don't have any kind of force on the ground that can really provide them the protection that they need.
GWEN IFILL: Now, Sen. Brownback, Kofi Annan was in Washington this week meeting with President Bush and among the things that he was talking about was increasing the U.N. peacekeeping force, something which the Security Council has agreed to at least start the wheels in motion but that might not happen for a year. Is that soon enough?
SEN. SAM BROWNBACK: It's not soon enough. Something needs to take place now. That's why a number of us have been pushing the idea, let's get NATO involved at this point in time; that there's a discussion of changing the African Union force into a U.N. force. It's still going to have to be upgraded in size, scale, ability and mandate.
But in the interim, let's get NATO involved in this process because every day you wait, you're going to have more people dying.
GWEN IFILL: If NATO gets involved, Sen. Brownback, I'll turn this question to Sen. Obama, if NATO gets involved, does that increase the chances that there will be US troops involved on the ground?
SEN. BARACK OBAMA: Well, I don't think that the issue right now is US troops. The issue is US leadership. What we can do is to insist that NATO forces provide a bridge as was indicated by Sen. Brownback. Otherwise you could have a situation, even if the U.N. finally does authorize a larger force, let's say of 20,000, it may take a year, year and a half to create that force and get it on the ground.
In the interim, having NATO forces there that could be supplied by some of the middle powers, Canada, Australia, others that have experience in peacekeeping would be absolutely crucial. We also need to provide additional funding for the A.U. troops who are already on the ground. There's been some talk that funding may discontinue sometime this year for that force and if they don't have any kind of support, then it's going to be fair game across the board for the people who are being assaulted by the Janjaweed.
The main thing that we've got do is use the kinds of political pressure that we can bring to bear on other countries when we really think that something is of our national interest. And this is a situation where not only for humanitarian reasons should we be concerned but situations of failed states like this are going to continue to come up in the coming years.
And if we don't have an international structure that's prepared to deal with failed states, genocide, displaced persons, refugees, ultimately that is going to create a situation that undermines a world order in which we have an enormous stake.
GWEN IFILL: Sen. Brownback, Sen. Obama just talked about the need for US leadership. You may know that Vice President Cheney told Jim Lehrer in an interview last week that the United States is doing all that it can. How do you respond to that?
SEN. SAM BROWNBACK: Well, I think the United States is doing a lot, and I think we've done more than any other country regarding the genocide that's taking place in the Sudan. But it's not enough. And people continue to suffer in very large numbers, in the millions. And it would not take that large of a group from NATO or a larger group from the African Union with mobility, with a broader mandate, to stop the killing from taking place. So I applaud the Bush administration leadership relative to the rest of the world but still not enough is occurring that it's stopping this -- as former Secretary Albright called it -- this rolling genocide that continues to occur.
GWEN IFILL: Sen. Obama, you referred to the need to have - for the US to use its leverage to make other countries does what it ought to do. I assume you're referring to countries like Chad and Libya and China even. Is Khartoum listening to anyone?
SEN. BARACK OBAMA: Well, I don't think that they're listening right now because they're not feeling enough pressure. I mean, part of what we have to stay to our allies and part of what we have to communicate to countries like China is that this is an important national priority for us, that we expect sanctions on Sudan if it is not willing to abide by basic humanitarian standards, that we may choose to freeze assets. We may impose travel bans. We expect support from other countries who claim that they're concerned about humanitarian issues. And that kind of pressure on a consistent basis in a sustained basis is not something that we've seen.
I completely agree with Sam that, in fact, the United States has done more than our European allies, for example, and that's a scandal. But that does not excuse the situation on the ground. We still have a lot of work to do. We have more weapons in our arsenal diplomatically that we have not yet deployed, and would I hope that the sense of urgency that's needed remains in the administration.
I was concerned that Under Secretary for Africa Frazer, suggested recently that maybe this wasn't a genocide after all. When 300,000 people have been killed, 2 million displaced, I think that that is the kind of disaster that merits world attention and world action.
GWEN IFILL: Sen. Brownback, what can Congress do to jumpstart this process?
SEN. SAM BROWNBACK: We can pass the Darfur Accountability and Peace Act. We've cleared it through the Senate. It's in the House of Representatives. I urge the action to take place there.
There's been negotiations back and forth of what all should be in that but basically this is a bill that provides for key sanctioned language and aggressive sanctioning taking place against the perpetrators in the Sudanese government and the Janjaweed leadership. I think that's something we could do.
Second is we've got a fund and helping the funding of the African Union force. We'll have supplemental bills coming through and I'm hopeful that we can get that funding pushed forward there.
And third, I think we need to continue to push this administration and NATO to get much more aggressively involved. I applaud the actions by a recent U.S. gold medalist at the Olympics where he's going to give everything that he gets out of this to Darfur. There is support in the country, particularly on young people - young people on college campuses to do something against this genocide; we should listen to those urging us and get some of these things done.
Read The Rest Scale: 2.5 out of 5.
ADDENDUM, 6:55 p.m.: I should probably note before someone tells me something I already know, that last I looked the Canadian military had been so reduced in size that it effectively its entire fieldable force (that which is not in training or rest and recuperation) is tied up in Afghanistan; I doubt they have any significant ground troop forces left to spare for Sudan; maybe a handful of planes, though their Air Force is pretty miniscule by now, too. Now, maybe India, and more Nigerians, and, hey, the remaining Bundeswehr isn't very busy....
2/20/2006 12:47:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | Tweet |
You're correct re: Canada. Archer is all we've got. What we did do is send some LAV armored vehicles for use by the AU troops.
In fairness to the Germans, ISAF and Kosovo have tapped out many of their deployable troops. Most people don't understand just how deep the cuts have been there.
Having said that, could the Spanish and Italians take care of this whole thing themselves? Yes, easily - if they wanted to. Could Egypt send 10,000 troops equipped with the most modern American weapons to a country on its very borders? Easily - if they wanted to.
Does the term "international community" mean anything, or is it just lying verbiage? Darfur is your answer.
"Does the term 'international community' mean anything, or is it just lying verbiage?"
I'm a little less harsh, myself. I'd say that it doesn't mean remotely as much as many imply it does, and it doesn't mean remotely as much as I'd like or wuld be good, but it means something in some places at some times. Darfur is one of many places where it doesn't mean remotely what it would be for it to mean.
For Eqypt, well, we know Egypt is something of a shithole. So there are a variety of pros and cons to consider as regards what would theoretically be good and bad about Egyptian involvement.
But in the end, it comes back to Eqyptian being an authoritarian dictatorship where mass Islamist views are popular and widespread (though not universal, of course -- but it's the main outlet for objecting to Mubarak and his ilk), so hoping for much of anything good from Eqypt, other than small isolated and powerless pockets of democratic types, is pretty much just fantasy, I'm afraid.
But even if we set all that aside, and Eqypt were some dreamland of democratic modernism, having countries on the border of another doing peacekeeping, let alone peacemaking (which is what is needed in Sudan), is always deeply problematic, anyway. Too much self-interest, too much appearance of conflict, too much real self-interest and conflict.
The Spanish and Italians, less so, but they do have the large shadow of relatively recent and long history of conquests in North Africa, and the lingering memories of colonialism, so this makes them somewhat problematic as neutrals, as well. It wasn't terribly long ago that Spain was ruling Morocco and Italy was bombing and using poison gas in Libya, etc.
Better to get troops from further away, who have no history in the region, as per the usual tendency in peace-keeping/peace-making situations. But I don't expect to see China volunteering any time soon (and, besides, seeing China projecting force so far away, even if somehow we invited them, and provided transport, logistical support, and money, I expect would put many folks into quite a tizzy at the precedent).
And India has its own huge and obvious tensions with Moslems. So maybe Brazil...? Taiwan? (Oh, right, never mind.) Now if only there were a Tibetan Army....
Actually, the Poles strike me as a possibly good choice.