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December 20, 2005

The Grinch
Posted by JohnNorris

Following up on Heather’s earlier post, but with a bit of a twist of the Grinch, I would like to add my five bad news stories from around the globe as we stagger out of the year that was 2005.

Nepal: With the King of Nepal increasingly refusing to compromise or restore democracy, mainstream political parties have been forced into an alliance with Maoist rebels seeking to overthrow the government. It looks like things are positioned to get worse before they get better in 2006.

Russia: President Putin has been cracking down on NGOs and the media while trying to buy the favors of western politicians, including Gerhard Schroeder, as a means to stave of criticism and cut pro-Russian business deals. There has been nary a peep on all these troubling developments out of the White House, and this is particularly disappointing given that Condi Rice cut her teeth as a Russia hand.

The Democratic Republic of Congo: With national elections set for next year, this should be a promising story, but the international community remains distracted and reluctant to finally put some of the truly awful militias operating out of the east of the country out of business for good.

Darfur: 2005 was a muddle through year for the world in its efforts to deal with Sudan. Why are so many people still dying in plain sight in Darfur and why does the United States let Sudan get away with the same tactics over and over again?

China: Does the United States have a discernible strategic approach to China? If anyone finds one around, please let me know. As the interesting piece in the Sunday Times about the growing militancy of Tibetans made clear, China has lots of internal fissures that will become more pronounced as expectations for democracy and prosperity take flight. The Bush Administration, after beginning its tenure almost China-obsessed, seems to have a hard time finding Asia on a map these days.

Happy holidays!


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Mr. Norris, your ironic closing is appropriate. The US has had no discernible strategic position toward China for a long, long time. It’s scary.

But you can’t seriously blame the US for the laconic international response to the Sudan crisis. The US has taken the lead on the issue at the UN, but has been steadfastly blocked by France. So, you should be looking to France to answer “why does…Sudan get away with the same tactics over and over again?”

Your knee-jerk liberal response illustrates another contradiction in liberal rhetoric: if the administration waits for multilateral action you blame the US for not acting, if the US acts unilaterally you blame the US for acting. Even Madeleine Albright (who is no Conservative) has dismissed this kind of fallacious rhetoric.

I'm generally in agreement with your points John, except for the case of Russia. I incline toward a pro-Putin view.

Putin has to worry about taking back control of Russia from the spectacularly wealthy, Western-backed gangters who came to rule much of it following the collapse of the Soviet state, and who have looted the country and funnelled much of its wealth abroad for their own benefit, and for the benfit of a variety of dubious international projects.

He has to worry about several violent Islamist terrorist groups who are active along his borders, and inside his own country, and who seem to be the beneficiaries of moral and other kinds of support from people outside his country - people who hate every Islamist group with a passion except, inexplicably, the ones making trouble for Russia.

He is also worry about various well-funded "NGOs" that serve as holding pens for past and future US government officials, which work closely with current agencies of the US government, and work as the tools of unreconstructed cold warrior Russophobes like George Soros who appear to be hell-bent on nothing short of the total destruction of the Russian state. For them, Russia appears to be the grand prize, the spot of some ultimate and phantasmagorical revolution which will be the culmination of all the other color-coded "revolutions" combined.

I don't think that the Tibetan populace is necessarily growing more militant --- the piece was more about how the tiny, insignificant Tibetan exile community in India is growing more militant, which frankly will come to nothing. Life in India is far too comfortable to abandon for fruitless guerilla warfare in Tibet.

Kervick --- Gosh, that poor Putin! What ever will he do now?

I can see the wisdom of certain Putin moves, like reining in the oligarchs. But in reality he's done nothing to rebalance the distribution of wealth or bring any genuine transparency or anticorruption measures to Russia's economic system --- he's simply added another layer of takers (witness Russia's plummeting ranking on Transparency International's Perceptions Index since 2000, now below Belarus, Zimbabwe, and Afghanistan) while ensuring that no private investor can ever feel safe with the dismantling of Yukos.

Meanwhile the second invasion of Chechnya has resulted in little more than tens of thousands of dead Chechens, an increase in terrorism in Russia itself, an increasingly systematic corruption of the Russian military, and spreading Islamic militancy throughout the Caucasus. Nice job there, Vlad.

Jeff Younger, you're back.

If you want you can respond on the "No ambiguity on torture" and "Opportunity amidst the rhetoric" topics.

J Thomas, sure. I'll check the topics.

I've posted repies to J Thomas here.

I've posted a reply to Captain Morgan here.

I've posted repies to J Thomas here

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