Moon of Alabama Brecht quote
October 09, 2007

Darfur, Myanmar and Masturbation

In comments here I have often highlighted news on Sudan that questions the perfunctory black and white picture the 'Safe Darfur' crowd is painting.

They don't touch the reason for the conflict (local climate change), all the parties involved (farmers versus stock-breeding nomads, various criminal freelancers, a tribal government) and they only achieve to make the mess bigger than it already is.

Ken Silverstein points to a good essay by Brendan O'Neill of spiked who gets to basic motives of the 'movement'.

Darfur: pornography for the chattering classes

Western agitation for action in Darfur, .. , is divorced from real events in Darfur or Sudan. This is not really surprising, since ‘Save Darfur’ activism – from Hollywood celebs calling for Western military action to the growth of campaigning commentary on the conflict – has not really been about Darfur. Rather, it has been about creating a new moralistic and simplistic generational mission for campaigners and journalists in America and Europe.

The Save Darfur brigade has effectively transformed Darfur into a morality tale, in which it plays the role of a pure and virtuous warrior force against what a columnist for the UK Daily Telegraph hysterically describes as a warzone ‘comparable to the death camps in Nazi Germany’. And as with all morality tales, facts are less important than feelings, and the truth comes a poor second to creating a childishly simplistic framework of ‘good’ and ‘evil’.
...
Increasingly, commentary on Darfur is not intended to clarify what is happening there but rather to indulge and flatter readers’ sense of self-serving anger. In deed, campaigners and writers have demanded Western military action to end a conflict that has actually been in decline since 2005 (although there have been renewed outbursts in recent months); and now they have got what they wanted, in the shape of the 26,000-strong UN force. Every bit as cynically as the Bush administration’s intervention in Iraq, these activists have sought to turn someone else’s country and conflict into outlets for their own moral self-gratification.
...
In Africa, Western do-gooding can prove deadly indeed. Save Darfur activism is one kind of porn that really has given rise to violence in the real world.

The same process is visual with the outrage about the protests in Myanmar. Again people don't know the cause (a price hike for gasoline, expensive food), nor do they know about the parties involved. Every monk in some saffron coat is thought of as peaceful (these people should read up on Lozang Gyatso, the fifth Dalai Lama). Every police action against the demonstrators is regarded as brutal and no thought is given on what could happen if the police would not interfere.

Unfounded rumors about brutalities are constructed as news -pornography of violence- and used for selfsatisfying 'calls for action'. Sanctions are demanded and, if there are possible hydrocarbon profits involved, 'western' politicians will duly implement them. The plight of the people, but not of their rulers, will increase.

The only way to break this is through more and better information. But that's a difficult, laborious and thankless task. Doing such one is immediately accused of downplaying the issue and via the black and white mechanism branded as helping the perceived perpetrator of the issue at hand.

People just hate to interrupt their masturbation.

Posted by b on October 9, 2007 at 19:09 UTC | Permalink

Comments


this is an excellent article by Brendan O’Neill, maybe even a landmark article.

Posted by: jony_b_cool | Oct 9 2007 21:09 utc | 1

"The only way to break this is through more and better information. But that's a difficult, laborious and thankless task."

A sincere word of thanks and appreciation, Bernhard.

The work you do on this site to provide 'more and better information' has been so valuable to me. Really helped me to have some insight into various contemporary problems and issues. I am one of those bleeding heart types by nature who could easily be won over by the "save Darfur" crew if I had no source presenting other points of view and other information about the reality and the complexity of the situation there.

Posted by: Maxcrat | Oct 10 2007 0:54 utc | 2


a good term for this phenomenom might be the "Darfur Syndrome", or if thats too polite, how about "morality whores"

Posted by: jony_b_cool | Oct 10 2007 1:52 utc | 3

I can't agree with your analysis here Bernhard; and I think you've gone over the top on this one. In psychological terms outrage is more apt to be linked with feelings of impotence in the face of monstrous evil, rather than with masturbation. The outrage many of us feel is with regard to seeing the world we care about going up in smoke, on so many levels.

What do you want the people of Myanmar to do? Shake it off? Settle in for another decade of dictatorship? Maybe they should try to forget the spilled blood? It's not like they're saddled with an old tyrant like Franco, and can wait patiently for 30 years until he dies in his sleep. Will the junta die in bed? What do you recommend? What would you do if it was your country?

And as far as Darfur is concerned, it's not the same war it was a few years ago. I'm aware of that. Please pardon the outrage I felt over the original genocide. It's safe to say that millions of people have had similar feelings. I need more facts because the truth of what's happening there still seems pretty obscure to me. I understand there are outside powers meddling in these scenes. But why do you insist on conflating people's reactions to Myanmar and Darfur?

Your post seems to me like a classic case of protesting too much--accusing others of emotionalism--while the tone of the post seem awfully emotional to me.

I'm guilty of this at times. I just went off on a rage against a writer at The Left Coaster, because of a post that proclaimed that Hillary Clinton is no corporate democrat. I even called the fellow "a hack" on his own thread.

I'm speaking with respect to you, because I value your work and your intelligence. But I confess there is something about the tone of your post here. Right in the middle of it I had the feeling that you were lashing out somewhat blindly.

How dare we reduce these scenes of civil strife and war to a simple case of right and wrong? We've done it in the case of the USA and Iraq. Our dear friend and comrade r'giap does it. I'm probably just a poor provincial from Texas; but there's a saying we have down here..."It all depends on whether you're pitching or catching."

And tell me, Bernhard. Who would bear the oppressor's wrong?

Posted by: Copeland | Oct 10 2007 4:32 utc | 4

I should modify my remarks by saying it's more Brendan O'Neill's words than your own that disturb me; but still you are building on the citation.

Posted by: Copeland | Oct 10 2007 5:01 utc | 5

o’neill is correct to point out mamdani's criticism of the savedarfurians for exploiting the anger & empathy of student & civil activists, bleeding off the bleeding hearts from the very real genocide underway in iraq for the benefit of the very same westerners & israelis who decry the khartoum regime for killing innocent africans.

and the parallel w/ the situation in myanmar is apt. emaciated pacifist asian monks are hardly threatening in the same way those stereotyped muslims in the resistance in iraq are, surely an easier underdog to root for. what would it take for the same level of concern for the iraqi people? a change of wardrobe? not likely, stereotypes are powerful obstacles. meanwhile, the bodies continue to pile up in iraq & afghanistan.

jimmy carter's been taking some heat from the savedarfurians -- eric reeves went into conniption -- and the indoctrinated media for his (not-really)controversial stmts over the w/e in sudan

Mr. Carter, who singled out the United States government for its use of the term "genocide" to describe the Sundanese conflict. Reuters reports that Carter called Washington's use of the term "genocide" was both legally inaccurate and "unhelpful."

"There is a legal definition of genocide and Darfur does not meet that legal standard. The atrocities were horrible but I don't think it qualifies to be called genocide," he said. Washington is almost alone in branding the 4 1/2 years of violence in Darfur genocide. Khartoum rejects the term, European governments are reluctant to use it and a U.N.-appointed commission of inquiry found no genocide, but that some individuals may have acted with genocidal intent. Carter, whose charitable foundation, the Carter Center, worked to establish the International Criminal Court (ICC), said: "If you read the law textbooks ... you'll see very clearly that it's not genocide and to call it genocide falsely just to exaggerate a horrible situation I don't think it helps." [link]

that no groups have yet claimed responsibility for the 29 sept attacks on the AMIS troops still leaves it open to speculation. cui bono?

mamdani's latest LRB essay on outsider efforts to undermine AU autonomy reprinted here
Blue-Hatting Darfur

Significant changes are currently taking place on the ground in Darfur. The peacekeeping forces of the African Union (AU) are being replaced by a hybrid AU-UN force under overall UN control. The assumption is that the change will be for the better, but this is questionable. The balance between the military and political dimensions of peacekeeping is crucial. Once it had overcome its teething problems – and before it ran into major funding difficulties – the AU got this relationship right: it privileged the politics, where the UN has tended to privilege the military dimension, which is why the UN-controlled hybrid force runs the risk of becoming an occupation force.

also worth re-linking, from vijay prashad

The U.N. called the Sudan situation a “crime against humanity”, while the U.S., uncharacteristically, labeled it genocide. For a while the African Union was able to stabilize the situation, although it did not succeed in crafting a political solution to the problem. The African Union, created in 1999, has neither the financial ability to pay its troops nor the logistical capacity to do the job. The European Union, which paid the troops’ salaries, began to withhold funds on grounds of accountability, and this gradually killed off the peacekeeping operations.

Professor Mahmood Mamdani of Columbia University (one of the world’s leading experts on contemporary Africa), says of this: “There is a concerted attempt being made to shift the political control of any intervention force inside Darfur from inside Africa to outside Africa”. In other words, the U.S. and Europe are eager to control the dynamics of what happens in Africa and not allow an indigenous, inter-state agency to gain either the experience this would provide or the respect it would gain if it succeeds. The African Union has been undermined so that only the U.S. can appear as the savior of the beleaguered people of Darfur, and elsewhere.

Meanwhile, it suits the U.S. that the campaigns to save the people of Darfur concentrate on the role of China and on what is often framed as an “Arab” assault on “Africans.” The Save Darfur Coalition in the U.S., for instance, has a report on the “Deadly Partnership” between Sudan and China but says nothing of the role of the U.S. in undermining the African Union’s attempts. The Coalition is more sophisticated than can fit into the Arab-African stereotypes, but its members include groups that are less careful (the Vishwa Hindu Parishad of America, for instance, is an organizational member; it has not yet tried to distance itself from its parent organization's role in the Gujarat pogroms).

The Save Darfur Coalition, which is the largest U.S. umbrella organization, was formed in 2004 through the work of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum and the American Jewish World Service. People who have been motivated by the efforts of the group are aware of what is happening in Darfur. This is a worthwhile goal, particularly if it is able to bring a ceasefire and an eventual peace settlement in Darfur. But, the movement seems to have no viable strategy to do this beyond putting pressure on China and pleading with the U.S. government to take “tough” stands against Khartoum. The complexity on the ground is irrelevant.

The heads of the Save Darfur Coalition and the Genocide Intervention Network (set up by the Center for American Progress) are all liberal Democrats who played some kind of a role in the Bill Clinton administration. The Darfur campaign enables them to distance themselves from the excesses of the Bush regime and yet preserve an essential element of the Clinton foreign policy arsenal, “humanitarian intervention” (as in the Kosovo war of 1999). For that reason, these groups have begun to offer the slogan, “Out of Iraq and Into Darfur”.

seen any "out of iraq and into myanmar" placards yet?

Posted by: b real | Oct 10 2007 5:14 utc | 6

looked up the legal definition of "re-linking" and, lo & behold, it requires a link. sorry 'bout that.
prashad article

Posted by: b real | Oct 10 2007 5:18 utc | 7

Is there a kind of genocide that is not 'real' genocide? And since when do the dead themselves become stereotypes? Are we forgetting to think about Iraq while thinking of another example of ethnic cleansing? I think not.

Bleeding hearts is a corrupt term. It's normally a disparaging remark used by people who have grown dead in their hearts, as a putdown of those who can still feel something.

Fuck the government in Khartoum. Fuck them.

They are the lying killing sons of bitches who lied early and lied often about aiding and abetting the crimes against humanity in Darfur. With all the good information you provide to us, b real, I always sense a little whitewashing going on in this particular question. You seem to sort of elide over this history in a rather casual way--mostly by not mentioning it.

Posted by: Copeland | Oct 10 2007 6:19 utc | 8

What do you want the people of Myanmar to do? Shake it off?

Certainly not - there are ways for them to change the situation. They know the ways much better than we do.

We can help them for example by building/running a University there teaching engineering so they themselves can extract hydrocarbons without 'western' or Chinese companies involved. We can again buy textiles from them. (The U.S. boycott of Myanmar textiles did cost them 100,000 paying jobs and with the families attached to these send 1,000,000 people into poverty.)

We can talk with the military and find out what their greatest fear is. Why are they determined to lead? (It's not a one person dictatorship, but a group) What is their fear (likely the country could fall apart - lots of ethnicies).

The people in Myanmar will work on their issues. We should help them. Sanctions and other "strong measures" do not work. We have learned that over and over.

On Darfur - the accepted numbers are 50,000 dead through violence, 150,000 through hunger and other consequences of war. Certainly not a genozide which would be an attempt to erradict a race/people. The problem is that there is simply not enough water there fo the number of people. Some will have to migrate. We should think about how, whereto etc ...

Posted by: b | Oct 10 2007 7:19 utc | 9

I would be grateful if someone could provide some links to information about the AU force in Darfur. Specifically it's competencies ( what sort of a job is it doing there ? ) and why the money ran out. ( This could be because of conflicting priorities by the funders. Or corruption and mis-management. Or innocent mistakes ?

I might as well state by bias up front -- I hear reports that the AU is NOT that effective -- never mind the inter-action with the diplomats / politicians rather than the military.

There is a long history of different "peace-keeping" forces in Africa. But like everything else there are always more than a hundred different reports -- all claiming to be the correct one. I tend to like verifiable on the ground first person accounts.

Posted by: Chris | Oct 10 2007 7:52 utc | 10

A thought on why I am emotional about this. 'Save Darfur' collected about $15 million and spend all of it on its management and marketing campaign to get more donations. Not one cent went to help Darfurians.

Some dumb people wrote diary over diary at DKos and elsewhere to propagandazise what 'Save Darfur' claimed to be the truth. Kristoff in the NYT raised hell about 'genozide' in Darfur. The U.S. congress, under public pressure and after winks from the hydrocarbon lobby (we know there is oil), declared it a genozide. The U.S. started 'negotiations' elevating criminal gangs to legitimate revolutionaries and 'partner in peace'. These took the money offered and went on further with their business to extract more money. They killed more people.

The actions of Safe Darfur and its supporters literary killed more people and made the situation on the ground worse. I now see the same happening with Myanmar.

Do-gooders do this simply for self satisfaction. They have no interest in the issue itself. The don't learn about, they don't invest time to understand its complexity. There only interest is to feel good. Not really people I like ...

Posted by: b | Oct 10 2007 7:59 utc | 11

I don't know Copeland, if people feel impotent, masturbation is a likely stand in (so to speak). I think what b is troubled by is how liberalism is used as a handmaiden to empire. Specifically, the term "neo-liberal"- is an activist formality that taps in on peoples natural sense of empathy and nefariously uses it toward ends that are at odds with the original intent. A seemingly sympathetic response to the suffering of others is projected into a polarized narrative of either isolationism, or doing absolutely nothing, or transposing our own cultural values onto the situation. And because our culture is obsessed with the military, the means of transposing is military intervention.

Show me one example where western military intervention in the third world has been successful at bringing the promised goods.

Posted by: anna missed | Oct 10 2007 8:07 utc | 12

It goes further than whether, as B. said, the money was spent in Darfur or not. Ironically the fact it wasn't is probably a good thing for the people of Darfur, since western meddling rarely provides anything the locals want.

Apart from a few exceptions most people who use this blog come from the Western consumerist culture.

That Western culture is causing sufficient trouble in the world for us to get a handle on and try to change without getting involved in other tragedies where we have no 'dog in the fight'and little real understanding of the true situation.
The ignorance is caused by a plethora of media furnishing bullshit in a piss weak effort to distract the lily livers from those horrors that their nation is involved with, and which those liberals could effect with concerted political action.

Cast your mind back to 2003 and 2004 when Darfur was being painted as the worst thing since the holocaust. Most people in amerika and to a lesser extent in europe (remember freedom fries) were too scared to stick their head above the parapet and point out the horror of Iraq. Certainly celebrities were, the Dixie Chickens are still trying to live it down. Darfur was beaten up as an issue in the hope that people would vent on that thereby distracting themselves and providing USuk with a "now who's talking" to hit China with should China bring up Iraq, weapons of mass destruction or any other issue best left unsaid.

A lot of refugees have come out of Darfur but nothing like 4 million. Plenty of people have died in Darfur, but nothing like the million plus of Iraq.

The Khartoum government is correct when it accuses the west of a double standard. USuk are asking for a respect for the people of Darfur that it doesn't ensure is given the people in the oil producing areas of Africa controlled by USuk such as the Niger delta where western mercenaries protect the oil rigs.

Why don't we hear of the crimes committed against those people in the mainstream media? If journalists had been kidnapped in Darfur by government troops the way that three european journos in Nigeria were, we would never hear the end of it. Yet there was virtually nothing said at the time of their abduction/arrest. Now we are told several weeks after the fact that the US is 'disturbed' by the 'arrests'.

I seem to remember banner headlines around the world when the Sudanese government tried to control Aid workers in Darfur.

Until a multi-lateral body is created which is empowered to intervene anywhere injustices/killings/ and population displacements occur, without fear or favour for any major power, protesting the situation in the Sudan or Myanmar where intervention will only occur if it is in the economic interest of the west, is a counter productive distraction from horrors that those liberal protesters do have the power to effect.

Posted by: Debs is dead | Oct 10 2007 9:45 utc | 13

I would be grateful if someone could provide some links to information about the AU force in Darfur. Specifically it's competencies ( what sort of a job is it doing there ? ) and why the money ran out. ( This could be because of conflicting priorities by the funders. Or corruption and mis-management. Or innocent mistakes ?

I'll collect some stuff later, but for starters:
Darfur is about the size of france, but without any infrastructure. France has some 240,000 police. The AU peacekeepers were 7,000 without the means for wider transport.

The new mission now will have some 26,000 peacekeepers, again without the means of transport in such a wide running country. These peacekeepers will need lots of water and other stuff for themselves further deminishing the available resources.

They will not be able to do one bit to help on the real problems. Troops are the wrong tools.

From today's WaPo a halfway decent piece on the troubles: Darfur Mission Lacks Tools, U.N. Says

Even as nearly two dozen countries are signing up to send thousands of peacekeepers to Darfur, a U.N.-backed force deploying there still lacks crucial equipment, a shortfall that could threaten the viability of the mission, according to senior U.N. officials.

The shortages gained urgency this month as the United Nations rejected a Jordanian offer to supply 10 transport and attack helicopters to reinforce the new African Union-U.N. peacekeeping mission in Darfur. They said the aircraft are too small, lack night-vision technology and cannot travel long distances required in the mission, according to U.N. and Jordanian officials.
...
Gu¿henno held a news conference on Monday to draw attention to U.N. shortages of advanced air and land transport assets needed to respond to crises in remote parts of the country. He said the United Nations also needs more land to build barracks to accommodate thousands of additional troops. The United Nations' failure to acquire these assets could jeopardize its efforts "to stabilize a region where there has been so much suffering," he added.
...
The United Nations, meanwhile, has been awash in commitments for ground troops, including nearly 16,000 infantry, medics and engineers from Nigeria, Rwanda, Egypt and nine other African countries. Another 4,000 peacekeepers will come from China, Pakistan, Thailand, Nepal and Bangladesh. Four European countries -- Denmark, the Netherlands, Norway and Sweden -- are prepared to commit about 400 medics, engineers and security forces.

(btw: Looking at the history of Sudan, what idiot came up with peacekeepers from Egypt?)

Posted by: b | Oct 10 2007 9:49 utc | 14

Chris@10,

the quotes in b real@6 provide a pretty good assessment of the AU's performance in Darfur.

here we have again the age-old question. Can Africans/Blacks save themselves or do they need Europeans to do so ?

I personally beleive this was never an issue. It is just another piece of hegemon put in place (by force & deceit) to justify European intervention & exploitation in Africa. And its sad that it persists till today.

b@11 They have no interest in the issue itself. The don't learn about, they don't invest time to understand its complexity.
this is absolutely right. When has it ever made sense (in any culture) to attempt to solve problems without understanding the complexities ?

in fact, Africa is an incredibly complex place. The cultural & ethnic complexities of Africa might be comparable to Europe two thousandd years ago. Hence, nobody coming from Europe or America today really has a clue until they make an effort to learn & a lot of patience.

r'giap in a recent tribute to Che also recognized Patrice Lumumba, Steve Biko & Mandela. And there are many others. And lets not forget the pain, demonization & oppression Mandela (like the others too) suffered with the full complicity of the West. Lets not forget that while these progressives were being hounded, demonized & killed, brutal dictators like Mobutu, Abacha, Siad Barre, Vorster, Ian Smith could always count on Western support, or at least indifference.

the real question is not whether Africans are capable of being competent. The real question is why is it that the West historically & till today takes every opportunity to undermine the progress & development of Africa, in the name of exploitation, control & greed.

Posted by: jony_b_cool | Oct 10 2007 10:46 utc | 15

and why is it that past crimes against humanities and exploitations against Africans by the West are framed as INCIDENTAL, to be quicly forgottten, discounted & then placed in the 'one-bad-apple' bin, while problems occcuring in Africa are held up as undisputable proof of the INHERENT hopelesssness, helplessness & perversions of Africans ?

why is one incidental & the other inherent but not the other way around ?

Posted by: jony_b_cool | Oct 10 2007 11:23 utc | 16

b@9
We can help them for example by building/running a University there teaching engineering

this is an insanely great idea.

Any Western govt can fund, build & staff small to mid-size two-year colleges to teach professional certification-level technical skills in poorer countries. And I believe such curriculum are common particularly in countries such as Germany that practice apprentice type educational programs -- machining/fabrication, tool/die making, engine rebuilding/maintenance, HVAC, plumbing, wiring, wood-work, materials-science, food-proccessing, construction, smelting/welding ...

these are the types of seed programs that have a lasting effect & also build critical masses of people who become stake-holders in development, progress and accountability.

Posted by: jony_b_cool | Oct 10 2007 12:29 utc | 17

"___________ collected about $15 million and spend all of it on its management and marketing campaign to get more donations."

this would seem to be characteristic of many charitable organizations:

MADD - 81 cents out of every dollar goes to admin

United Way - similar revelations

7 from the US

Scotland - more scandals to come

Canada - 12,000 charities @ aboot 15 cents on the dollar

dot dot dot

Posted by: jcairo | Oct 10 2007 13:45 utc | 18

There's over a million dead in Iraq, and Palestine is an invisible concentration camp.

The West (the US, Britain, France,with its own ongoing genocide charnel house in Africa, and Germany) have absolutely no lessons to teach anyone about human rights.

Moralizing woo woos in the West, of course, will be outraged. As usual, selectively.

Posted by: Thrasyboulos | Oct 10 2007 17:21 utc | 19

copeland - i should have wrapped "bleeding hearts" in quotes. i was mocking a bit in tone throughout that comment, though it may not be so apparent.

also, you shouldn't draw the conclusion that i'm an apologist for the khartoum regime or diminishing the struggles & deaths of anyone all around simply b/c of what i haven't written. i'll try to put together some relevant historical material later (timing & resource permitting) to help better understand the story there.

worth revisiting this mamdani article from three years back
How can we name the Darfur crisis: Preliminary thoughts on Darfur

Understanding Darfur Conflict Politically

The peace process in the South has split both sides to the conflict. Tensions within the ruling circles in Khartoum and within the opposition SPLA have given rise to two anti-government militias. The Justice and Equality Movement has historical links to the Islamist regime, and the SLA to the southern guerrilla movement.

The Justice and Equality Movement organized as part of the Hassan Turabi faction of the Islamists. Darfur, historically the mainstay of the Mahdist movement, was Turabi's major claim to political success in the last decade. When the Khartoum coalition - between the army officers led by Bashir and the Islamist political movement under Turabi - split, the Darfur Islamists fell out with both sides. JEM was organized in Khartoum as part of an agenda for regaining power. It has a more localized and multi-ethnic presence in Darfur and has been home to many who have advocated an 'African Islam'.

The SLA is linked to SPLA, which first tried to expand the southern-based armed movement to Darfur in 1990, but failed. The radical leadership of that thrust was decapitated in a government assault. Not surprisingly, the new leadership of SLA has little political experience.

The present conflict began when the SLA mounted an ambitious and successful assault on El Fashar airport on April 25, 2003, on a scale larger than most encounters in the southern civil war.

The government in Khartoum is also divided, between those who pushed the peace process, and those who believe too much was conceded in the Naivasha talks. This opposition, the security cabal in Khartoum, responded by arming and unleashing several militia, known as the Janjawid. The result is a spiral of state-sponsored violence and indiscriminate spread of weaponry.

In sum, all those opposed to the peace process in the south have moved to fight in Darfur, even if on opposing sides. The Darfur conflict has many layers; the most recent but the most explosive is that it is the continuation of the southern conflict in the west.

one of those many layers of complexity is that, as we know, many "black africans" see a different battle going on, primarily racialist, as expressed in views like The Arab Quest for Lebensraum in Africa and the Challenge to Pan Africanism

these are the type of circumstances that make divide et impera so inviting & profitable for the powerful. and that's what we're seeing in sudan/darfur, as the western nations help undermine local solutions, arm all sides, and ensures that the AU fails, prolonging the conflicts.

debs is dead did a better job of making the point i wanted to make in my comment -- those of us in the usa can change the situation in iraq & afghanistan, while we do not have anywhere near the same opportunity in sudan & myanmar.

Warren Buffet Sells Shares in PetroChina With Oil Interests in Sudan

Is he a social as well as a financial sage? Following months of pressure from human-rights activists perturbed at PetroChina's activities in the Sudan, Warren Buffet is selling shares in the mainland oil and gas giant. On Tuesday it emerged that the billionaire investor sold a further $100m worth of shares, his fifth disposal since he began selling in July.

On the face of it, it looks as if Mr Buffet's shareholders can rest assured that their guru has not gone soft. PetroChina, the biggest of China's oil and gas trio, has performed fabulously. Its Hong Kong-listed shares are up 29 per cent so far this year, and almost four times the level at which the UK's BP exited in 2004. Mr Buffet is selling shares at roughly seven times the amount he paid for them in April 2003 and quitting one of the world's priciest integrated oil and gas stocks, trading on around 16 times this year's consensus earnings.
...
Mr Buffet was close to calling the bottom when he piled into PetroChina. Even if he has sold short of the top, the investment has been an outstanding one.

Posted by: b real | Oct 10 2007 19:03 utc | 20

chris - aside from my initial mamdani link, you might also start at the wiki entry
African Union Mission in Sudan

Posted by: b real | Oct 10 2007 19:09 utc | 21

quote:

Today, Man has arrived at a turning point in his history. Those forms of energy which he uses the most, based on fossil sources (oil, gas and coal), are going to become scarcer and scarcer. Renewal will take millions of years! There is no miracle solution to this problem, but there are a large number of actions which, put together, will enable us to overcome the difficulties that lie ahead. It will be up to each one of us to play a role in meeting the huge challenge of ensuring that our future children will be able to have access to the energy that is essential for life.

arhem, end quote.

http://www.planete-energies.com/content/energy.html>link, from http://www.total.com/en/home_page/> Total, home page.

and see:

http://burma.total.com/en/contexte/p_1_2.htm> Oil and Gas in Myanmar from Total

Posted by: Tangerine | Oct 10 2007 19:55 utc | 22

I come away with a good feeling after reading everything in this thread. This is quality communication. I'm so glad for the opportunity to be part of it.

It's late and I'll say goodnight. Much heartfelt appreciation for the responses to b, b real, anna missed, debs is dead.

Posted by: Copeland | Oct 11 2007 4:57 utc | 23


I'm absolutely sure Africa will get back on its feet, with or without any help from the West or anyone else for that matter. Its just going to take some time.

but if Westerners really want to assist, they should (first as individuals) try to understand why. We all tend to assume that there is some core highly valued fundamental reason that brings us all together on this issue. Kind of like a globally uniform "We are the world" like sentiment. But this is a weak approach because it subordinates the individual to a vague poorly defined & meaningless oneness.

Posted by: jony_b_cool | Oct 11 2007 9:26 utc | 24

Just wanted to say that I think this was a great post, b.

Several months ago, I was at a faculty party at Connecticut College, one of the premier small liberal arts colleges in the country, and one of the professors started chirping up about how she was organizing the students to protest about the genocide in Darfur. I bit my tongue as I was new in town, but finally couldn't hold back and carefully explained the issue to her, point-by-point. She listened somewhat impatiently, then said, "well, but its an easy issue for students to grasp, and a good way to get them active."

Yes, but you are getting supposed "progressives" to do Empire's work for them!

The other professors all sided against me. Analyzing a situation is just too much work for most. Anyway, it is always good for students to grasp the idea that when there is injustice in the world, sending in the Army with guns and weapons blazing is the best way to handle it. Sheesh! Shock and Awe.....

Posted by: Malooga | Oct 16 2007 10:38 utc | 25

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