Tuesday, December 16, 2008

One blog at a time

I find that I'm duplicating entries here on my other blog, The Infusion, so I'm going to stop adding new entries at this page. Thoughts on Africa will occur on a sporadic basis on my primary blog, interspersed with other items. If you are interested, feel free to come by.

Opinions on an opinion

There was a long editorial in the NYTimes today suggesting that creating a trade agreement in East Africa will create peace in the Congo. I think that's a lovely thought, but I'm skeptical. And it's not that I know a lot about the situation, and perhaps a trade agreement will help. But I'm particularly dubious that having the U.S. negotiate such a trade agreement will make any difference.

It seems rather infantilizing, suggesting that Daddy needs to step in and negotiate among the different parties. These are, you know, sovereign countries in their own right and if they want a trade agreement, they can negotiate it amongst themselves. If anything, I would suggest that the new administration say they are ready to help if asked, but will not create plans and programs for East Africa. My two cents.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Violence in Nigeria

I find it very strange that I only learned today that over 300 people have been killed in post-election, sectarian riots in Jos, Nigeria. And that I learned about it sideways through an Anglican blog, which was noting the silence of the Archbishop there.

I can believe that I haven't been paying enough attention; I know that full well. It's just particularly strange that this happened at the same time as the siege in Mumbai, in which (and not to belittle this at all) about 200 people died.

I'm not saying one is worse than the other because there's greater carnage. I'm just struck by the fact that there was constant radio and TV coverage of the one and (in my media exposure) silence on the other. To me, that painfully suggests that deaths in Africa are not news.

Please pray for Nigeria, and India, and all places torn by violence or strife.

At the U.N.

Of all the Obama appointees announced today, I am personally most interested about the ambassador to the United Nations, Susan E. Rice -- another Rice from Stanford (she got her BA there in 1986).

For one thing, she seems quite a change from John Bolton who simply despised the UN in which he worked (I was appalled by his appointment). What's more, Obama is making UN Ambassador a cabinet position during his administration.

I'm excited about her because her particular specialty seems to be African affairs, and one of her primary goals is to prevent and/or put a stop to genocide. I'm nervous about her because she seems very hawkish.

During her first run at the State Department, Ms. Rice was a point person in responding to Al Qaeda’s 1998 bombing of United States Embassies in Kenya and Tanzania. But her most searing experience was visiting Rwanda after the 1994 genocide when she was still on the N.S.C. staff.

As she later described the scene, the hundreds, if not thousands, of decomposing, hacked up bodies that she saw haunted her and fueled a desire to never let it happen again.

“I swore to myself that if I ever faced such a crisis again, I would come down on the side of dramatic action, going down in flames if that was required,” she told The Atlantic Monthly in 2001. She eventually became a sharp critic of the Bush administration’s handling of the Darfur killings and last year testified before Congress on behalf of an American-led bombing campaign or naval blockade to force a recalcitrant Sudanese government to stop the slaughter.

But I don't know. This could be a very positive thing, especially for African nations. Or it could be a disaster. Here's hoping it's a good thing.