Merkel, Clinton and Trump

Posted October 12, 2016 on 7:54 pm | In the category Africa, Canada, Germany, Merkel | by Mackenzie Brothers

On October 9, 2008 the day of the second US presidential (so-called) debate in Missouri, Angela Merkel was in Mali, making the very difficult trip to a country torn in half by east/west political and religious disputes that have turned it into a battleground for a brutal civil war. It is clearly one of the most dangerous parts of Africa or for that matter anywhere, and it is widely expected that Canada will soon send special forces troops to join the French contingent there in attempting to help restore order to a battered land, once better known for its splendid music.  And that seems to be the only reason that Kanzlerin Merkel was also there.

It was exactly sixteen years earlier to the day that Angela Merkel  became the Kanzlerin of the recently reunited Federal Republic of Germany. The daughter of a Lutheran pastor in the old East German Peoples Republic, she was relatively young and not very experienced at  50, and it’s  fair to say, in retrospect, that no-one imagined at the time  that she was potentially  a long-term Powerfrau in the tricky world of German politics, and that within a decade she would enjoy a reputation  as  the most powerful and respected government leader  anywhere nor that  she would soon become the most honoured politician in the world.  But in the sixteen years during which she became the longest-ruling leader on a floundering continent where, after a catastrophic war that had ended little more than a half-century before her inauguration,  Germany has under her leadership become the uncontested economic and arguably even moral centre of Europe.
And yet there she was on a day when she could have enjoyed a bright spotlight in Berlin, offering help to a country in great need of it, far from home and very far from a place that could bring her political gains.  At home in this last year she has made decisions declaring  Germany’s willingness to accept  virtually all refugees (almost a million at this point) from a  terrible war zone, and that has cost her some popularity.  But she still says “Wir schaffen es” (“We’ll make it work”) and  she still enjoys the support of more than 50% of the German population.  Most experts believe her party will win the upcoming German election if she decides to run again.

Hard to imagine that on that same day, the two candidates running for Head of State of the United States, still the most powerful military presence in the world, could put on such an embarrassing and demeaning piece of sordid entertainment as the so-called debate.  One can forgive the female candidate, Hillary Clinton, for gradually starting  to look like a smiling robot, since that must have been  because the overwhelming thuggery of her opponent Mr. Trump, often lurking threateningly just behind her,  was something she could not have been prepared for.  But what does it say about the political system that allowed such a spectacle to take place after it slowly simmered into a boil in the course of more than a year?  My advice for Mme Clinton is to take a break after she wins (which she will) and go over to Berlin and have a long talk with  the woman who  has walked the walk rather than just talk the talk.

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World Cup, Bring it on – G8 and G20 meetings, Send them to Baffin Island

Posted June 15, 2010 on 12:13 am | In the category Africa, Canada, Economy, Sports | by Mackenzie Brothers

The Canadian government is spending 2,5 billion dollars (yes that is a b), instead of the originally budget 20 million dollars (yes that is an m) to provide security for the upcoming G8 and then G20 conferences, first in backwater Ontario and then in Toronto. Having learned nothing whatsoever from the catastrophic Greek government’s philosophy of living beyond its means, Prime Minister Harper has decided to impress the world by following suit. One of his most creative ventures is to spend who knows how many millions to create an artificial lake with real Muskoka chairs .(i.e. Adirondack chairs in deep south parlance) for the economic wizards of the world to relax in deep in black fly country. Apparently no one told the Alberta-born primo that there are countless lakes up there that you don’t have to build. Then there’s the 8 million dollar fence set up in central Toronto to mimic the Berlin Wall. Nobody told him that Baffin Island is comparatively black-fly free and easily isolated at a thousandth of the price – and it’s certainly also more interesting than Toronto for those sightseeing tours.

The World Cup of Soccer on the other hand is taking place in South Africa, and plenty of those same western experts who will leave Ontario after a week of sound and fury signifying nothing (pace Copenhagen) and had been predicting a disaster in primitive Africa, can settle down before their tv sets and watch a very big public event in which even South and North Korea are both participating . As far as my brother and I can see, the only violence has been in the incessant horn-blowing of the capacity rainbow-coloured crowds. We’re sure there has been some real money spent on security for the month of the tournament in South Africa, but nothing like the absurd amounts being spent for a week in Ontario. So what gives? Can’t we either send those suited economic chaps out onto the soccer pitch in short pants to duke it out for economic bragging rights just like Monty Python sent out the Greek and German philosophers against each other in one of their most compelling skits. In the end they could even exchange shirts and make sweatily embrace the previous enemy. And if they refuse, send em to Baffin Island.

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“Never Again”? OR, “Only Occasionally”?

Posted November 18, 2006 on 6:56 pm | In the category Africa, China, DARFUR, Genocide | by Jeff

The linked story from the BBC updates the naïve reports in major Western media to the effect that Sudan had agreed to a joint United Nations/African Union peacekeeping force. The stories that appeared in major U.S. papers including the NY Times and Boston Globe (see earlier post on this blog) reported Kofi Annan’s comments to the effect that an agreement had been reached. Alas, some deals are not real, after all. According to the BBC report, immediately after Annan’s comments, Sudanese Foreign Minister Lam Akol said that “there should be no talk about a mixed force” and that there would be no UN troops in Darfur. Mr. Akol said that the UN would simply provide technical support.”
There are reports today that Sudanese forces are once again on the attack, working with Arab Janjaweed militia in destroying villages. UN humanitarian chief Jan Egeland has been forced to leave Darfur by veiled threats from the Sudanese government and is publicly wondering why the world is watching while Darfur burns.

The last fifteen years have seen two major genocides preceding the one in Darfur. The Rwanda genocide was more efficient: 800,000 to 1,071,000 ethnic Tutsis and moderate Hutus killed in 100 days. Individual nations, including the Western powers did not find it in their interest to intervene and the UN maintained that it had to follow its rigid rules of engagement, which were in reality rules of nonengagment. The leader of the U.N. mission, Canadian General Romeo Dallaire suffered major depression and was hospitalized over the failure to act and wrote movingly of the Rwanda genocide in his book, Shake Hands With the Devil (read an excellent interview with Dalliere here).

The Bosnia Genocide was less efficient but equally ghastly – it took from 1992-95 for the Serbs to kill over 200,000 Bosnian Muslims. A watershed of sorts – perhaps “bloodshed” should be the term – occurred at Srebrenica when the UN’s 400 Dutch peacekeepers watched as over 8000 Bosnian males were systematically murdered over a period of ten days in July 1995. Once again, the UN forces asked for permission from UN headquarters to use force to resist the genocide and permission was denied.

These examples seem likely to predict the future for Darfur – and the lessons from them do not lead to optimism. Based on recent history and the quality of current leadership, the major powers are unlikely to intervene until it is far too late for effective action (what is too late? 200,000 lives? 500,000?, one million?); some countries (esp. China) will assist Sudan in resisting UN force implementation; and if and when UN forces are there they are likely to be ineffective. Hope I am wrong.

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Sudan To Choose Who “Intervenes” in Their Crimes?

Posted November 17, 2006 on 3:24 pm | In the category Africa, China, DARFUR, Genocide, Uncategorized | by Kiwi

Roll over George Orwell, newspeak has reached a new high.

Earlier today the Chinese government said that it was up to the Sudanese if the UN would be permitted to prevent the Sudanese government from prosecuting its genocide in Darfur. If that weren’t sufficiently perverse, the Chinese added that Beijing promised to use its seat on the UN security council to “continuously play a constructive roll” in Darfur.

Now the Sudanese are so confident of their oil-for-genocide pact with the Chinese that they have just suggested negotiations begin for “…all financial, material, logistic or technical assistance from the UN in order to strengthen the AU mission in Darfur.”

Confused? Well, don’t be. The Organization of African Unity mission is unlikely to do anything to interdict the Sudanese government so why not make them comfortable? The Sudanese Foreign Minister has made it clear that “there should be no talk about a mixed [UN/AU] force”.

He also wants to discuss the AU missions size and composition. There is no agreement on anything until he’s satisfied. He told the BBC there would be no UN troops.

To drive home the point the Sudanese Defense Minister, Abdel Rahim Mohamed Hussein, said Darfur would become an “invaders’ graveyard” if a UN peacekeeping force was sent there.

Well, surely the UN won’t tolerate being instructed by the very government it seeks to constrain? Yeah, right. It is a good bet that the UN will do the rolling over in this situation. They will try to put a good PR face on this and kick the can a further few months down the road.

Think not? Well, the UN’s head-dude-on-the-scene is no longer on the scene : “UN humanitarian chief Jan Egeland has cut short his trip to Darfur after Sudan’s government told him it would be too dangerous for him to travel outside the region’s major towns.” according to the BBC.

And in a few months the death toll will be up from the current 200,000-plus and the refugee count will be more than the present 3,000,000-plus.

And the new UN Secretary General will announce that he is getting up to speed on what’s happening in Darfur.

Orwellian or what?

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UN : No Stronger than its Weakest Link

Posted November 17, 2006 on 1:10 am | In the category Africa, China, DARFUR, Genocide | by Kiwi

For the last 36 hours the UN Secretary General has been urging a “hybrid force” of African Unity and Blue Helmut troops be cautiously deployed in Darfur. This measured 3-step intervention was designed to end the Sudan government’s use of Islamist Arab janjaweed murderers as it slaughters the black muslims in Darfur and– more recently—in Chad.

This blog has taken an interest in the conflict and was hoping to applaud the Security Council’s endorsement of this too-modest but long sought relief from Darfur’s suffering. There are many who have been skeptical of China’s role in the Sudan and indeed in the entire African continent. Worry has been expressed that China would continue its refusal to permit any interference with the Sudanese –who supply China with oil.

A few hours ago the Chinese confirmed that once again it would frustrate the UN with impunity. The story is here. Read it and weep for the hapless peoples of Africa. In the words of the Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson :

“The deployment of UN peacekeepers in Darfur should first have the consent of the Sudanese government.”

Of course the Sudanese government had already said that it would permit no such deployment. The Chinese are protecting their oil contracts and reminding the world that:

“As a permanent member of the UN Security Council, China will continuously play a constructive role in solving the Darfur issue. ”

The world is at risk when the UN pretends to play a protectorate role but is neutered by its self-dealing impudence. The wrath of citizen activists– so recently unleashed on other member states who frustrate the UN’s peaceful intentions– should once again be inflamed and then directed at the Chinese who are behind the second African genocide in a dozen years.

That isn’t any more likely than that the UN–in its current form– will be a meaningful force for world security. Good luck Darfur. Good luck to us all.

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“China Seduces Africa While West Watches”

Posted November 6, 2006 on 6:50 pm | In the category Africa, China | by Jeff

The above is the title of a piece from Reuters that follows up very nicely on Kiwi’s earlier blog here on China buying Africa for its oil. The price is cheap – $1.9billion and the use of its veto in the UN – when needed. The fact that the deal is in China’s current national interest and not in the national interest of the U.S. or other Western countries points out the fundamental weakness of current Western policies and diplomacies in Africa.

And, in a not-so-funny way we in the West end up complicit by demanding cheap goods from China which contributes to China’s increased demand for oil which leads to a new Chinese colonialism in Africa which will in all probability lead to increased human rights problems in Africa.

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