Eight dead and 49 wounded in Chicago this weekend read this morning's headlines. After 178 years of occupation, it is obvious that we are unable to quell the violence in Chicago and we should bring our people home.
Week after week the carnage piles up. Memorial Day weekend saw 10 dead and more than 40 wounded with monthly death tolls usually higher than Baghdad or Kabul.
While 2011 saw a slight decline in murders from 2010 (2010 saw 431 murders through December 29, there were 432 in the same period in 2010), they soared by 60 percent during the first quarter of 2012 to 120 compared to 75 in the same period of 2011.
Americans have apparently been unable to quell the violence despite having several National Guard and Reserve military units permanently based in the vicinity. At the current pace, we are on track to see more violent deaths in Chicago than US soldiers killed in Iraq in 2003 (486).
We should simply admit that we have tried, but we have failed. We should begin the withdrawal of our people from Chicago.
Chicago's population has fallen to what it was in 1910. Illinois saw an increase of about a half a million people between 2000 and 2010 while the city of Chicago and Cook County lost 200,418.
What that means is that the political influence of Chicago within the state of Illinois is falling. It has slightly less influence on elections than it had at its peak population (and thereby political influence) in 1960 because it has a declining portion of the overall population of Illinois.
Europe has lit the fuse on an economic and financial bomb. The rescue package for Spain cannot plausibly be contained to €100bn once it begins, given the subordination of private creditors and collapse of global confidence in the governing structure of monetary union.
By Nicholas D. Kristof
IN THE NUBA MOUNTAINS, Sudan
There's the ring of authority right there...
WHEN a government devours its own people, as in Syria or Sudan, there are never easy solutions.
The solutions may not be easy but they can be straight-forward...
That helps explain President Obama's dithering, for there are more problems in international relations than solutions, and well-meaning interventions can make a crisis worse.
As Champ amply demonstrated in Libya...
Yet the president is taking prudence to the point of paralysis.
As in Libya, but we repeat ourselves...
I'm generally an admirer of Obama's foreign policy, but his policies toward both Syria and Sudan increasingly seem lame, ineffective and contrary to American interests and values.
Since even Mr. Kristof is reluctant to cozy up to murderous thugs. He should have a conversation with his colleague Tom Friedman sometime...
Obama has shown himself comfortable projecting power -- as in his tripling of American troops in Afghanistan.
Followed by his yanking the rug out from under those very same troops, which the world watched and interpreted correctly -- for Champ it's about a favorable headline, never about staying to get a tough job done.
Yet now we have the spectacle of a Nobel Peace Prize winner in effect helping to protect two of the most odious regimes in the world.
Let us not quibble between 'helping' and mere dithering...
Maybe that's a bit harsh. But days of seeing people bombed and starved here in the Nuba Mountains have left me not only embarrassed by my government's passivity but outraged by it.
Other than writing a column, what will you do about it?
The regime of President Omar Hassan al-Bashir is dropping anti-personnel bombs full of ball bearings on farming villages. For one year now, Bashir has sealed off this area in an effort to crush the rebel force, blocking food shipments and emergency aid, so that hundreds of thousands of ordinary Nubans are now living on tree leaves, roots and insects.
What should I tell Amal Tia, who recently lost a daughter, Kushe, to starvation and now fears that she and her four remaining children will starve to death, too? "We'll just die at home if no food comes," she told me bleakly.
Perhaps I should tell her that Nuba is an inconvenient tragedy, and that the White House is too concerned with Sudan's stability to speak up forcefully? Or that Sudan is too geopolitically insignificant for her children's starvation to matter?
You reap what you sow, Mr. Kristof. You and the Left hammered Dubya for his willingness to depose odious thugs. Is what Sudan is doing to its people any worse than that Saddam did to the Iraqis? What Pencilneck is doing in/to Hama?
Yet you excoriated Mr. Bush for putting American prestige, soldiers and money into stopping Saddam, and even stopping the Taliban in Afghanistan. You did everything you could to lower the man in the world's eyes, to lower him in the eyes of your fellow Americans, to tear down his presidency in order to advance your own partisan agenda.
And now with Champ in charge, you wonder why he and others in government today are unwilling to go after odious thugs who are murdering their own people. Perhaps they understand the lesson of 2002-2008 even better than you?
You thought you were lowering Dubya's prestige. But what you really were doing was lowering America's. Now there's a new debt to pay and our present government doesn't have the will or the means to do so.
Nothing moved me more than watching a 6-year-old girl, Israh Jibrael, tenderly feed her starving 2-year-old sister, Nada, leaves from a branch. Israh looked hungrily at the leaves herself, and occasionally she took a few. But, mostly, she put them into her weak sister's mouth. Both children were barefoot, clad in rags, and had hair that was turning brown from malnutrition.
Their mother, Amal Kua, told me that the family hasn't had regular food since the Sudanese Army attacked their town five months ago. Since then, she said, the family has lived in caves and subsisted on leaves.
One most sincerely hopes Mr. Kristof didn't visit them empty handed. A nice box of chocolates, a bottle of multivitamins and another of high protein wafers would not go amiss under the circumstances.
Yet the Obama administration's special envoy for Sudan and South Sudan, Princeton Lyman, generally a smart and hard-working diplomat, said in a December newspaper interview: "We do not want to see the ouster of the regime, nor regime change."
That's pretty much in line with the rest of the civilized world, isn't it? Are the French demanding intervention? The Germans? The Chinese? Please. They're all lined up to do business in Khartoum.
Huh? This is a regime whose leader has been charged with genocide, has destabilized the region, has sponsored brutal proxy warlords like Joseph Kony, has presided over the deaths of more than 2.5 million people in southern Sudan, in Darfur and in the Nuba Mountains -- and the Obama administration doesn't want him overthrown?
Nor does anyone else. Though we at the Burg wouldn't mind a few well placed rounds...
In addition, the administration has consistently tried to restrain the rebel force here, led by Abdel Aziz Al-Hilu, a successful commander who has lived in America and projects moderation. The rebels are itching to seize the South Kordofan state capital, Kadugli, but say that Washington is discouraging them. In an interview in his mountain hide-out, Abdel Aziz noted that his forces have repeatedly been victorious over Sudan's recently.
"Their army is very weak," he said. "They have no motivation to fight." He seemed mystified that American officials try to shield a genocidal government whose army is, he thinks, crumbling.
He would say that; it's in his interest to portray Khartoum as weak. They may very well be but that doesn't make the rebels strong...
Likewise, in Syria, the United States has not only refused to arm the opposition but has, I believe, discouraged other countries from doing so. Yes, there's an underlying logic: the Syrian opposition includes extreme elements, and the violence is embedded in a regional sectarian conflict.
There are also the examples of Libya, Tunisia and Egypt...
Nonetheless, the failure to arm the opposition allows the conflict to drag on and the Syrian president, Bashar al-Assad, to massacre more people. The upshot is that the violence spills over into Lebanon, and sectarian poisons make Syria less and less governable.
In both Syria and Sudan, the Obama administration seems stuck behind the curve.
No, they're just stuck in the worldview that you've advocated over the last two decades...
So what could be done? In Syria, we should make clear that unless the security forces depose Assad in the next 30 days, our Middle Eastern allies will arm the Syrian opposition. We should work with these allies, as well as with major powers like Russia and China, to encourage a coup, or a "retirement" for Assad.
Oh snicker: 'work with these allies'? What makes you think they want to work with us? And Russia has already made clear their intent: they're in with Pencilneck all the way. They're shipping the Syrian government weapons. They and the Chinese are helping the Syrians evade sanctions. Oh enlighten us, Mr. Kristof: how exactly would we 'work' with Russia and China?
In Sudan, we should disable the military runways that bombers take off from to attack civilians in the Nuba Mountains, or destroy an Antonov bomber and make clear that we'll do the same to others if Sudan continues to bomb its people. Then we should support efforts by private aid groups to bring food and seed into the Nuba Mountains, by airdrops in this rainy season when roads are impassible.
The United States and other powers are helping to pay for the Yida refugee camp in South Sudan. But without the bombings, the Nubans would be able to farm and feed themselves and wouldn't need a refugee camp.
If we armed the Nubans, and the South Sudanese, Khartoum would rapidly find something else to do. If we helped South Sudan build a pipeline to ship their oil to (say) Mombasa, the Khartoum government would rapidly find a way to 'moderate' itself.
As Andrew Natsios, a former special United States envoy to Sudan, has argued in The Washington Post, we should also provide South Sudan with a modest antiaircraft capability. That would prevent Sudan from escalating its air war on South Sudan.
We should also provide the South Sudanese with arms and training.
These measures may or may not work.
That covers all the possibilities.
Stopping a government from killing its own is an uncertain business.
Unless you're willing to take out that government. Then it becomes certain but bloody...
But our existing policies in Syria and Sudan alike are failing to stop the bloodshed, and they also are putting us on the wrong side of history.
I thought the 'right side of history', as explained by that famous American philosopher Cindy Sheehan back in 2005, was for us to bring all our troops home and leave everyone alone. When did that change for the Left?
Obama was forceful in demanding that President George W. Bush stand up to Sudan during the slaughter in Darfur, so it's painful to see him so passive on Sudan today.
He was forceful because he knew for certainly that Dubya was so constrained by the Democrats, the MSM, and most of the rest of the world that he couldn't act on Darfur. It was cheap theater.
When governments turn to mass murder, we may have no easy solutions, but we should at least be crystal clear about which side we're on. That's not too much to expect of a Nobel Peace Prize winner.
It's not enough to be 'crystal clear' about which side you're on. You have to do something about it, or else it's all just talk.
I gotta ask: where does that number come from? Thirty or forty thousand would not seem unusual (ok, extravagant, but not unusual). Even $36,000. But where does the 35.8 factor come from? Taxes? Handling charges? Miscellaneous beak-wetting?
In 2003, a year before his death, Forbes Magazine placed Yasser Arafat on their list of the world's wealthiest kings and despots with a net worth of 300 million dollars. This number was on the low end of the estimates that had been made of the fortune of the leader of the Palestine Liberation Organization. Israeli intelligence had estimated Arafat's net worth at 1.3 billion dollars and an audit conducted by American accountants, authorized by the Palestinian Authority, turned up 1 billion dollars in investments. While an exact number may never be arrived at, Time Magazine's report that Arafat's wife had received a 200,000-dollar-a-month allowance, gave one small glimpse into the lifestyles of the rich and infamous of the Palestinian Authority.
The Palestinian Authority books were a black hole with billions of dollars from Western and Muslim countries, bribes and foreign aid, going to a network of secret bank accounts and investment portfolios that not only financed terrorism, but also the lifestyles of the men at the top. The audits of the PA in the twilight days of Arafat and afterward were meant to reestablish the credibility of the Authority with foreign donors, while seizing control of the assets stockpiled by Arafat for the benefit of the new bosses.
Mahmoud Abbas, Arafat's successor, has been accused of hoarding a fortune of 100 million dollars and of owning palaces and property across the Middle East. Those accusations come from Mohammed Rashid, Arafat's former financial advisor, who knows the ins and outs of Palestinian Authority finances like no one else, and whose own net worth is estimated at being around half a billion dollars.
Posted by: Frank G ||
The Palestinian Authority books were a black hole with billions of dollars from Western and Muslim countries, bribes and foreign aid, going to a network of secret bank accounts and investment portfolios that not only financed terrorism, but also the lifestyles of the men at the top.
The PLO were running a 'Stimulus Package' before there was a 'Stimulus Package'.
There's a lot of noise coming out of Syria and the various international chat-fests being organized around it these days. Stern warnings from the State Department, charges and counter charges of massacres and atrocities on the ground in Syria, soothing platitudes from Kofi Anan, diplomatic warnings from Russia: most of it can be summarized as "blah, blah, blah."
None of this has much bearing on what will happen. It is mostly posturing -- the Russians are trying to look like they matter, the Turks want to look busy while minimizing their risks, the Americans want to feel good about themselves by mounting rhetorical assaults against atrocities they have no will to prevent, and so it goes. The legacy press covers this stuff because it can, and because it often buys into the establishment's diplomatic narrative, but serious students of international affairs should not be misled: most of what is written about Syria these days is fluff and filler rather than news.
For insight into the future of Syria, try this story in the (paywall protected) Financial Times. Support for arming the rebels is growing, as Saudi Arabia, Qatar and wealthy Syrian expats and others step up funding for the military resistance to Assad.
The weapons being provided include light infantry arms and, increasingly, anti-tank weapons. Better armed rebels are credited with increasing the death toll among Assad's soldiers as well as growing numbers of tanks destroyed.
...radical and Salafist sheikhs and organizations in the Gulf are getting into the weapons delivery act. For many jihadis, the fight against Assad is first and foremost a struggle against Alawite "heretics", and the goal is to build a radical Islamic state on the ruins of Ba'athist, secular Syria.
It's been a classic Saudi ploy to keep the radicals quiet at home by letting them fight and support fighters abroad; this dates back at least as far as the war against the Soviets in Afghanistan and has been a pattern in many conflicts since. It seems likely that in this case, when the Saudi state interest in weakening Iran and strengthening the Saudi voice in both Lebanon and Damascus coincides with the jihadi hunger for a Syrian religious war, that Saudi authorities will see radical enthusiasm for Syria as an asset. IMO, the most important thing to remember re Soodia vs. MM is that here enemy of my enemy is not my friend
A large collection of individuals with long held plans to kill everyone they disagree with.
Posted by: M. Murcek ||
Let's see now, Ali was killed in 638 AD(?) correct me if the date is wrong. The murder is the basis for the Sunni avs. Shia conflict.
Imagine fighting over a disagreement on succession to a ruler lasting over 1300 years and causing the creation of numerous backward, brutal, repressive rulers, all in the name of one side of the dispute or another.
I actually believe the Muslim antipathy for Christians is just a sideshow and a diversion for the main event, the Sunni vs. Shia war.
The only time we really come into the picture is a diversionary tactic used by incompetent repressive rulers such as Assad to turn people's attentions away from the misery at home. The Soviets did the same thing with the US during the Cold War and Hitler used the Jews as a scapegoat for the excesses of his regime.
The US is the boogey man in the closet. The Sunni/Shia down the road is the real enemy.
Posted by: Bill Clinton ||
IMO, the most important thing to remember re Soodia vs. MM is that here enemy of my enemy is not my friend
IMO, the Syrian regime isn't really our enemy. And it isn't even Israel's enemy either. What we are seeing there is the beginning of the end of Arab nationalism. Good riddance - it unified Syrians in opposition to the West, whereas now, its core of Sunni Arab irredentism will have to stand alone, stripped of its claim as a force that binds all of the Middle East together. The Alawites, Christians, Kurds and so on will now each go their own way. Is the Alawite faith irrevocably bent on global conquest against non-Alawites, the way the Sunni faith is bent on world conquest against non-Sunnis? When was the last time you heard of Alawites conducting terrorist attacks against non-Alawites?
A multi-volume chronology and reference guide set detailing three years of the Mexican Drug War between 2010 and 2012.
Rantburg.com and borderlandbeat.com correspondent and author Chris Covert presents his first non-fiction work detailing
the drug and gang related violence in Mexico.
Chris gives us Mexican press dispatches of drug and gang war violence
over three years, presented in a multi volume set intended to chronicle the death, violence and mayhem which has
dominated Mexico for six years.