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Heavy-Handed Politics

"€œGod willing, with the force of God behind it, we shall soon experience a world
without the United States and Zionism."€ -- Iran President Ahmadi-Nejad

Saturday, July 02, 2005

China's Courtship of Sudan

On June 9th, 2005 there was a supposed peace accord between the Sudanese government and the rebel organization Sudan's People’s Liberation Movement.

Those who participated in this confab, chose not to address the human tragedy that continues to take place in the Darfur region. Victims of ethnic-cleansing atrocities conducted by the government and Muslim militias, the Sudanese continue to suffer by the hundreds of thousands. All the while, neither party to the confab, nor the U.N., mentioned the rapid development of an uprising in Sudan’s eastern districts, an area close in proximity to the important Port Sudan on the Red Sea and nearby oil installations.

Injured civilians arriving at Port Sudan’s hospital carefully described the air raids that killed nearly 100 civilians and severely wounded dozens more. Many of the injured insist "they were victims of gunfire aimed at them from helicopter gunships."

Behind the scenes, Egypt is helping to strengthen the Sudanese army and pro-government militias. One example of this is Egypt giving logistical support to the Sudanese air force. "Egypt also continues to supply Sudan with ammunition and spare parts for Russian made aircraft being phased out from the Egyptian air force."

The Sudanese carried on talks in Cairo about military cooperation with representatives from both North Korea and China. China's interest in the Sudan is quite important, especially when one considers China’s pursuit of its own "emerging global strategic plans and her intensifying involvement in developing world oil markets." Additionally, their enthusiasm to buy UNOCAL is a scary proposition and should not be overlooked. In fact, we should be very concerned.

The Chinese would like to get their hands on the huge Sudanese oil and natural gas reserves. As an inducement, the Chinese are offering money to the Sudanese for improvements to their infrastructure. Chinese (and maybe North Korean?) engineers were spotted in Sudan studying a number of gravel landing strips close to the tumultuous Red Sea region. "Residents of port cities say the Chinese offered to upgrade important landing strips and to fit them for year round use."

These events in Sudan also have serious implications for the U.S. and its’ war on terrorism. The intelligence community claim that "a number of sources linked to the Egyptian-Yemeni and Eritrean intelligence agencies indicate the government in Khartoum continues to distance itself as much as possible from its old ties with the Jamaa Islamiah and Khalifat dreams previously part of the Islamic government’s unofficial policy."

Promises made to Egypt and the U.S. have now distanced the Khartoum government from its earlier clandestine ties with al-Qaida. In addition to a shifting attitude with regards to al-Qaida, the Khartoum government is actively involved in curtailing such groups as the Muslim Brotherhood, the Islamic Jihad, the Yemeni Abyan organization and various such groups operating in Somalia, Eritrea and Djibouti. This by itself signaled jihadis to push for more intervention in the east, and to increase their cooperation with members of anti-government guerrillas capable of providing al-Qaida operatives or fugitives with shelter. It is also expected to boost the establishment of bi-lateral relations so that military capabilities of various guerrillas will improve."

Unmistakably, China’s intention is to make the most of her participation in oil rich countries, like Sudan, by slyly filling the "vacuum" brought forth by means of U.S. embargos designed to punish.

Thursday, June 30, 2005

"[How] to check these unconstitutional invasions of... rights by the Federal judiciary? Not by impeachment in the first instance, but by a strong protestation of both houses of Congress that such and such doctrines advanced by the Supreme Court are contrary to the Constitution; and if afterwards they relapse into the same heresies, impeach and set the whole adrift. For what was the government divided into three branches, but that each should watch over the others and oppose their usurpations?" --Thomas Jefferson, 1821.

Infant Mortality Rates

Fellow MOBster Apprehension has written a couple of posts on aid to countries and how it relates to infant mortality rates (IMR). King Banaian at SCSU Scholars has picked up on this theme and has posted some excellent material on the subject as well.

Doug at Apprehension suggested tying financial aid (or forgiveness of debt) to a country's progress on reducing IMR. I kind of liked the idea of this at first blush. King posted some data showing no real connection to financial aid to declining IMR.

My question is this: Are we not overlooking that there has been to this point all carrot - no stick - no incentive to make a country accountable to IMR reduction? If we give the $20 million in aid and they spend $10 million of it on government buildings, salaries, expensive government and personal cars and $10 million is unaccountable as to where it went, of course there will be no reduction in IMR. And if we double our financial aid to said country and nothing changes in the way of accountability in the use of funds, IMR still will not change.

Comments, anyone?

UPDATE: Chrenkoff writes: No More Business as Usual
Nigeria is getting its debt forgiven to the tune of $18 billion and is planning to buy back the other $18 billion it owes to the rest of the world, which as the UK's Chancellor of the Exchequer, Gordon Brown, said "mean[s] there is 100% debt relief for Nigeria possible over the next six months".

The BBC report reminds us that "Nigeria is the world's seventh-largest oil exporter and Africa's most populous nation, but also one of its poorest."

It shouldn't be - not just with all its natural resources bounty, but also the entrepreneurial spirit of its people - as evident in the Nigerian internet scam (according to some, its largest source of foreign revenue). All these energies need to be liberated and channeled into legal avenues.

The problem is the abysmal standards of political and economic governance in Nigeria and abysmal levels of corruption (the worst in Africa and in the world top three). Both factors have held the country and its people back for too long.

As Mark Steyn reminds us, it takes 21 steps and 9 months to transfer a piece of land in Lagos. No wonder poverty and under-development are the norm, and no amount of aid is having impact on the living standards of African people (for example, despite all the aid - estimated at $1 trillion since the colonial period - between 1981 and 2001, the region's GDP fell by 13 per cent).

Which is why President Bush's requirement that the doubled aid over the next five years be tied to achieving reformist outcomes is the only way forward. As Bush said, African leaders must become the "agents of reform" rather than "passive recipients of money".

That's not quite right - the problem is that it's been the West who has been a largely passive giver of aid, while the post-colonial leaders have been its very active recipients.

It's time for a paradigm shift. Africa certainly cannot afford more business as usual."


CLAUDIA ROSETT has an excellent piece at Opinion Journal about Kofi Annan wanting to "reform" the U.N. - again.

Titled, "Turtle Bay Tea Party; Kofi Annan wants to "reform" the U.N. again. Watch out for your wallet, Claudia points out that Annan has already "reformed" the U.N. in 1997 and 2002.

She writes:
For the core budget alone, the U.S. has been assessed this year for well over $400 million, or somewhere in the neighborhood of more than 10 times the amounts paid by China and Russia combined. That's despite the reality that though both those countries also find funding enough at home to field lively military programs, both--like the U.S.--enjoy permanent seats on the Security Council. And neither is exactly a force for enlightened governance.

That's disturbing. But if there is one item in all Mr. Annan's talk of reform that should provoke distinct horror, cold sweats, and mighty fears over the trajectory of the U.N., it is a small cipher embedded in Mr. Annan's tastefully printed and expensively bound proposal for U.N. reform, "In Larger Freedom," Annex item No. 5(d). That would be the proposal that developed countries contribute 0.7% of their gross domestic income to the cause of "official development assistance."

For the U.S. alone, where gross national income now totals about $11 trillion, that would add up to more than $82 billion per year--by itself more than 10 times what the U.N. has already failed miserably to manage well. And though Mr. Annan does not spell out exactly how such official aid would "officially" reach its intended beneficiaries, the clear implication is that it would go through the "official" U.N.--generating a great gush of cash, with no more need for the U.N. to worry about reform, or Mr. Annan and his successors even to strain themselves sending staffers to lobby Washington, or signing self-laudatory Op-eds."
Emphasis added. Go read it here.

Peggy Noonan has a good column at Opinion Journal, "Conceit of Government Why are our politicians so full of themselves?"

Go read it.

Monday, June 27, 2005

Thefts of U.S. technology boost China's weaponry
by Bill Gertz

China is stepping up its overt and covert efforts to gather intelligence and technology in the United States, and the activities have boosted Beijing's plans to rapidly produce advanced-weapons systems.

Beijing devoted to weakening 'enemy' U.S., defector says
by Bill Gertz

China's communist leaders view the United States as their main enemy and are working in Asia and around the world to undermine U.S. alliances, said a former Chinese diplomat.

Misuse of Financial aid

I provided some inspiration for fellow MOBster Apprehension. He wrote:

It's all the fault of MOBster Heavy-Handed Politics. If he hadn't linked to a rant in the UK Spectator about the profligate spending habits of leaders of African nations with hunger problems, I might not have looked to see exactly how Swaziland is doing. It turns out that Swaziland's IMR is 74, and they have had the second largest increase in IMR over the past 10 years.

Go read his post "A Pleasant Surprise, Part 2 - Better Data And The Fine Print".

Sunday, June 26, 2005

Why is Beijing opening up bomb shelters?

China's nuclear drill, perhaps?

The Chinese government made a high-profile public announcement that bomb shelters in central Chongqing would be opened to the public to allow residents to cool off during a heat wave in which temperatures are reaching into the 90s.

In an apparent move to provide relief from summer heat, China's decision to open up 24 massive, cool, underground air raid shelters to the public, has U.S. intelligence analysts concerned about a possible strategic deception.

The bomb shelters, most of them built in the 1960's and 1970's, covered an area estimated to be more 17.3 acres, and could accommodate tens of thousands of people.

Some specialists knowledgeable about nuclear arms think that opening up large fallout shelters to the public on a regular basis could serve a couple of strategic purposes for the Chinese government.
1. It would familiarize the Chinese people to the shelters, making it easier to evacuate the public in times of potential nuclear attack;
2. It would confuse Western intelligence analysts who monitor movements of the Chinese public by satellite as evidence of the government's intentions;
U.S. national security officials keep an eye on large scale public movements in other countries, and if such massive movements became routine because shelters are opened up in the heat of summer and in the cold of winter to provide shelters from the elements, then such movements would more likely be disregarded as militarily insignificant rather than a sign the government might be preparing for an attack of some kind.

Iran's new leader takes hard line by Kathy Gannon
Iran's president-elect spoke yesterday of making the country a "modern, advanced, powerful and Islamic" model for the world, borrowing the style of the hard-line ruling clerics that backed him in his landslide victory.

Curtain to fall on Supreme session by Gina Holland
The Supreme Court ends its work tomorrow with the highest of drama: an anticipated retirement, a ruling on the constitutionality of government Ten Commandments displays and decisions in other major cases.

Chinese dragon awakens by Bill Gertz
Part I : China is building its military forces faster than U.S. intelligence and military analysts expected, prompting fears that Beijing will attack Taiwan in the next two years, according to Pentagon officials.

U.S. defense and intelligence officials say all the signs point in one troubling direction: Beijing then will be forced to go to war with the United States, which has vowed to defend Taiwan against a Chinese attack."
This prospect makes me uneasy.