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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.
I'm sometimes available to some degree as a paid writer, editor, researcher, or proofreader. I'm sometimes available as a fill-in Guest Blogger at mid-to-high-traffic blogs that fit my knowledge set.
If you like my blog, and would like to help me continue to afford food and prescriptions, or simply enjoy my blogging and writing, and would like to support it --
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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.
GENOCIDE, GENOCIDE, WHO'S GOT THE GENOCIDE? Before we get to Darfur, let's not let Congo, Burundi, and Uganda be forgotten or obscured. Here an excellent short write-up by Tapped'sMark Goldberg:
A collection of human rights and child welfare experts working with the UN’s peacekeeping mission in the Congo issued a scathing report yesterday that accused all armed groups in Congo’s troubled Ituri province of committing massive human rights abuses and war crimes. The 65-page report was based on some 1,600 interviews, including victims and eyewitnesses, and was presented to the Security Council. It claims that at least 8,000 civilians were deliberately killed or were victims of the indiscriminate use of force in Ituri province in 2002 and 2003,and more than 600,000 civilians were displaced. Perhaps most damning of all, the report accused both Rwandan and Ugandan government forces of having a hand in some civilian massacres.
Though the report made no mention of it, the International Criminal Court is already investigating war crimes in Ituri as well as in a separate conflict in Northern Uganda. The report’s accusations of crimes committed by the Uganda People's Defense Forces (UPDF) in Congo actually throws a rather large kink in the ICC’s other investigation in Northern Uganda. Last February, when Uganda’s President Yoweri Museveni requested that ICC investigate suspected war crimes of the Lord’s Resistance Army in Northern Uganda, he assured the Court that he would allow it to probe into suspected abuses on both sides of the conflict, and this, of course, includes the UDPF.
Uganda’s official response to yesterday’s report seems to suggest that this rhetoric of cooperation might not be backed up in policy. UPDF spokesman Maj. Shaban BantarizatoldThe Monitor in Uganda, "Saying that is one thing and providing credible evidence is another. What jurisdiction does [UN’s mission to the Congo have?"]
Dozens of attackers raided a United Nations refugee camp in western Burundi, shooting and hacking to death at least 180 people, witnesses and officials said Saturday.
A Burundian Hutu rebel faction, the National Liberation Forces, claimed responsibility for the attack late Friday near the border with Congo, saying that its fighters were pursuing Burundian soldiers who fled to the camp from a nearby military position. The camp sheltered Congolese ethnic Tutsi refugees, known as the Banyamulenge, who had fled the fighting in Congo's troubled border province of South Kivu.
The attackers screamed war cries as they rushed into the camp and set it on fire, said Louis Niyonzima, a local official.
"What we have seen so far are many, many, many bodies of children, women and men," said Eliana Nabaa, spokeswoman for the United Nations mission in Congo. "People were sleeping when the attack happened. People were killed as they tried to escape."
"The scene is absolutely horrific," Ms. Nabaa said by telephone from Bukavu, the capital of South Kivu. "There are many people burnt." She described the attackers as well armed and organized.
Isabelle Abric, spokeswoman for the United Nations mission in Burundi, said 159 people were killed and 101 others were wounded in the attack on the camp in Gatumba, 12 miles from the Congolese border. At least 30 of the wounded died later in a hospital, she said.
The bloodshed came after gunmen attacked a Burundian Army position about a half-mile away.
"These guys were armed with grenades, machetes and automatic weapons," said Fernando del Mundo, a spokesman for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees in Geneva. "While the attack was going on they were beating drums."
A renegade Congolese Army commander, whose troops briefly seized Bukavu in June over complaints that Banyamulenge kinsmen were singled out by Congolese authorities, said the attack in Burundi proved his charges. But he stopped short of threatening retaliation.
The commander, Brig. Gen. Laurent Nkunda, accused the Congolese Army of letting attackers of the Burundi operate in its zone unchallenged. "This event proves me right," he said by telephone. "This confirms that there's an extermination plan against the Banyamulenge."
President Paul Kagame of Rwanda, speaking in Kigali, the Rwandan capital, said the massacre "proves what we have been saying over time, that there have been incidents that are ignored by the international community and the U.N. where people are being killed in eastern Congo, being targeted for who they are."
United Nations officials were studying whether the attack was carried out with the help of Congolese tribal fighters known as the Mayi-Mayi or with Rwandan rebels based in eastern Congo, an official said.
A human rights group accused the Sudanese authorities on Tuesday of rounding up scores of people in the conflict-torn western Darfur region because they had spoken to visiting officials and journalists about the dire situation there.
According to the rights group, Amnesty International, the detainees included 15 men arrested in the Abushouk camp near El Fasher after a visit to Darfur by Secretary of State Colin L. Powell on June 30, and 5 people taken after a visit on July 27 to the same camp by the French foreign minister, Michel Barnier.
Six men were arrested from July 15 to July 17 in Abu Jereda, a village near El Fasher, after they had spoken to members of the cease-fire commission run by the African Union, according to a report by Amnesty International, which is based in London.
The Sudanese government and two rebel groups fighting in western Sudan have agreed to peace talks in Abuja, Nigeria, on Aug. 23, the African Union said Sunday.
A spokesman for the African Union, Adam Thiam, said the group's chairman, President Olusegun Obasanjo of Nigeria, would mediate discussions between the Sudanese government and the Justice and Equality Movement and Sudan Liberation Army in the Nigerian capital. Foreign Minister Mustafa Osman Ismail of Sudan said the government would take part in the talks without conditions. The leader of the Liberation Army, Abdel Wahed Muhammad Ahmed al-Nur, said from the Darfur region of Sudan that his rebel movement would send a high-level delegation to the talks and that he welcomed Nigeria as a neutral site and Mr. Obasanjo and the African Union as neutral mediators.
At best this might affect things in the long run.
The horrors of Sudan's war on the young. Read The Rest Scale: 5 out of 5; I can't bear to quote it.
Sudanese police officers sent to restore security in troubled Darfur are sexually exploiting refugee women, according to a U.N. report.
Khartoum says it has sent10,000 police to the western region, and has only about two weeks to convince the U.N. Security Council it is serious about improving the plight of people in Darfur or face unspecified sanctions.
``IDPs (Internally Displaced People) report increasing incidents of sexual abuse and exploitation in Abu Shouk Camp near el-Fasher committed by police officers,'' said the U.N. humanitarian situation report, received by Reuters Saturday.
President Omar el-Bashir pledged to end violence in Sudan's western Darfur region in comments aired Saturday, but his vice president said it was not practical to disarm within 30 days the Arab militias responsible for the killings of some 30,000 people.
El-Bashir blamed ``plotters'' and ``enemies'' for the violence in Darfur in remarks apparently aimed at defending his government's claims that rebel groups were behind the conflict.
Read The Rest Scale: 2 out of 5.
This is a micro-step that also won't do much for now:
A contingent of Rwandan troops heads to Darfur this weekend -- the first foreign soldiers to deploy in western Sudan, where thousands have been killed in communal strife that some are calling genocide.
Their main mission is to protect 80 African Union truce observers already there. But with a somewhat vague mandate, and Arabic nomads still attacking African farm villages, the 154 Rwandans could easily find themselves defending civilians and getting drawn into the conflict.
On Friday, Sudan announced that President Omar el-Bashir ordered tribal leaders in Darfur to form security forces to disarm the Arab militias blamed for the killings of 30,000 people over the past 18 months.
But human rights groups and aid workers say earlier Sudanese pledges to improve security in Darfur have not been fulfilled and attacks on civilians continue unabated.
In Geneva, meanwhile, the United Nations' World Food Program said it had reached a deal with rebel groups in Darfur to allow the agency to truck in food supplies from Libya. The aid agency hoped to begin the shipments over the weekend.
The Rwandan troops will leave Sunday for al-Fasher, Darfur's main city, in an operation that will be a major test for the African Union. The union was established two years ago to replace the Organization of African Unity, which over the years failed to intervene effectively in the continent's wars and insurrections.
The Rwandans' mandate is ``filled with creative ambiguity,'' said David Mozersky, an analyst at the International Crisis Group in Brussels, Belgium. ``How proactive (the soldiers) will be about protecting civilians is entirely up in the air.''
Can the Rwandan troops only step in if they witness a raid in progress? Can they set up a defensive perimeter around a village facing imminent attack? Can they launch a pre-emptive strike on Arab militiamen?
While the mandate is to protect the truce observers, African Union spokesman Desmond Orjiako said Friday: ``I'm not saying they cannot defend civilians.'' He would not elaborate.
A Rwandan army spokesman, Col. Patrick Karegeya, said the troops will defend civilians if they are attacked.
``But it's not that they are going out to hunt for'' Arab militiamen, he added.
Sudanese officials, who deny charges they have provided military support to the rampage by Arab militias, are not happy about having foreign troops come to Darfur, an expanse of desert roughly the size of Iraq.
The government gave in to pressure from African leaders last month and agreed to allow the protection unit, but it appears to be dragging its feet on whether the African Union can send in a full-fledged peacekeeping force. And when the idea of Western intervention was recently floated, Sudanese officials said they would forcibly resist such a move.
The Rwandans represent the first contingent of what is to be a 300-soldier force to protect African Union monitors observing a little-respected cease-fire agreed to in April. Nigeria and other African countries are expected to contribute the rest of the force, though no date has been set for the additional troops to go.
Today marks the halfway point in the UN security council's 30-day ultimatum to the government of Sudan to disarm the Janjaweed militias, responsible for what is commonly described as the world's worst humanitarian disaster. Already it is apparent that the response of the Islamist regime will be to continue bluffing it out with protests of injured innocence in the hope that the international community eventually gives up and loses interest.
Daily reports of attacks against civilians continue to come in from across Darfur; 30,000 people are said to have fled in the latest round of violence. But far from restraining the militias, the government is providing continued military support for their campaign of ethnic terror. In the past week the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs reported that helicopter gunships had again been used in attacks; and the traumatised victims of earlier atrocities, crammed into refugee camps, continue to suffer violent assaults by the Janjaweed, often under the nose of Sudanese troops supposed to protect them. This is not a little local difficulty; it is a war waged by the government against its people.
To the extent that the authorities have acted at all, it has been to cover up evidence of what is happening. Instead of being disarmed and disbanded, the militias are being integrated into the security forces where they will be less conspicuous. Refugees are being pressured to return to their villages with threats of violence or offers of desperately needed food, only to become victims once again. Those who speak to international observers are being rounded up and imprisoned, according to Amnesty International. And aid workers attempting to get supplies to those most at risk from malnutrition and disease are reporting new government-imposed restrictions on their operations. Everything that is being done is a calculated play for time.
The reaction of the Khartoum regime is scarcely surprising. Little of what the international community has done suggests that the political will exists for any meaningful intervention. The watering down of security council resolution 1556, as a result of pressure from several states, will not have been lost on Sudan's rulers. While the original draft contained an explicit threat of sanctions, the final version did little more than vaguely promise to "consider further actions" in the event of non-compliance. This will have been interpreted, correctly, as a sign of weakness and an indication that little is likely to be done when the UN deadline expires.
Those of the "nothing must be done" persuasion dismiss outside intervention as irresponsible or malevolent, and probably both. Not one of them has suggested a credible way for this hopelessly one-sided conflict to be resolved except for it to run its bloody course. They are entitled to their position, but they are not entitled to deny its human consequences.
Splitting hairs over the definition of genocide or quibbling over how many thousands have been killed doesn't alter the fact that serious crimes against humanity are being committed with every passing day. Nor does the argument that the militias are beyond Khartoum's control. Disputes about whether the regime is orchestrating the violence or has simply lost control of events are unimportant when set against the suffering in Darfur. States that fail to protect the human rights of their own citizens forfeit the sovereign right to non-interference in their internal affairs. Without that principle, the universal declaration of human rights isn't worth the paper it's written on.
Excellent up to there, it's at this point that the piece went off the rails in proclaiming that the problem was the lack of primacy of international law (hinting that Britain was a major cause of injustice in the world because of lack of upholding this principal), and the cure is:
If he really wanted to push a radical agenda, he could do worse than propose that the power to impose sanctions and authorise the use of military force should be exercised by the UN membership as a whole. The general assembly has its problems, but is a far more representative body than the security council and is becoming more so with the passage of time. The days when its membership consisted largely of the representatives of military juntas and one-party states are long gone.
This is a notion that is, shall we say, premature.