Monday, October 31, 2011

Islamicists undermining African prosperity

a long article in Reuters explaining why the terrorists are trying to destroy Africa to set up religious dictatorships.

however, they link Kenya and Nigeria as examples, even though their problems are different.

In Nigeria, the failure of the northern tribes to get an education means they are poorer, and their terrorists oppose modern education. Since Christians educate, they are the ones being killed (and when they retaliate the press says "sectarian conflict to minimize the one sided war, similar to how the press ignores the attacks and fleeing of Christian villagers here in the Philippines when they are attacked).

But it goes beyond religion: it is tribal and also a conflict between the agricultural tribes of the south and the herders of the north, of the Sahel.

in Kenya, it is a blowback from the Somalian civil war. (Kenya's tribal problems are not part of this, since the terror is from Somalian tribes). I don't see Luo terrorists, for example, complaining they are kept out of the gov't.

peacekeeping in Africa

long article about what the US will do and why at Strategypage.

AFRICOM sees its mission as aiding African armed forces with training, advice and small grants of weapons and equipment. But Congress is aware that, in the past, small numbers of professional troops have gone in and quickly eliminated outfits like LRA. For example, in 2005, Britain sent in a few hundred commandos to shut down some holdout rebel groups in Sierra Leone. That worked. But the U.S. Army is reluctant to divert any of its counter-terrorism forces for an African pacification mission. Such an operation would require a lot of aircraft support, and other troops to establish bases. Instead, the hunt for Kony will be assisted, not carried out, by AFRICOM.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Long term strategy for Africa

from Time argues that the long term plan of President Obama sending troops in to get the LPA is to stablize an unstable Africa

No direct threat to cite here, and no linkages to transnational terrorism, so this is a pure humanitarian/regional stability play - exactly what Africom was initially sold as doing. Lately, Africom's focus has shifted dramatically to killing bad actors as part of the long war against violent extremism, so this is a good image-enhancing move already being applauded by human rights groups. Nobody likes the LRA. They're essentially an insurgency that outlived the civil war and they've been doing their crimes for so long that they don't know how to stop, so the key here will be crafting some exit strategy for the rank and file while separating the leadership for prosecution. The longtime leader, Joseph Kony, is a true nutcase.

The nice upside of this move: it has Africom working with militaries and governments in Uganda, the D.R. Congo, Central African Republic, and fledgling state South Sudan - all states in real need of military mentoring. So this is the right subject, right sort of states, and helping in the way Africom was designed to work. It's a nice move by the Obama administration that speaks to the reality that a lot of this work still needs to be done across Africa. China won't do it, so it's us or nobody

Thursday, October 20, 2011

US troops to Uganda: backstory

strategypage summarizes who is the LRA and who is supporting them. LINK

Some of this I didn't know (e.g. Sudan's use of them to stop Uganda from helping Southern Sudan).

In 1999, Sudan and Uganda agreed to end support for rebel organizations (ie, the LRA in Sudan's case, the southern Sudanese rebels in Uganda's case). Khartoum let Ugandan forces pursue the LRA into its territory.

Since 2003, the LRA has diminished in size, shrinking from several thousand fighters to a remnant band of some 200. Its ferocity, however, has not diminished, nor its capacity for bloodshed, nor its potential usefulness to Khartoum.

The Ugandan government has accused Khartoum of continuing to secretly provide support for Kony, though no one has publicly produced hard evidence of Sudanese complicity. Yet Kony has shown an uncanny ability to evade capture. That suggests he has high-level intelligence sources. Khartoum is a terrorist facilitator waging a genocidal war in its own Darfur region. South Sudan has repeatedly accused Sudan of inciting tribal wars with the goal of making South Sudan a failed state. The LRA's continuing existence contributes to South Sudan's instability.

Uganda may possibly have new intelligence regarding Kony's precise whereabouts. This would make an American-supported effort to end Kony's career quite timely. Removing the LRA scourge will improve security conditions in Congo's northeastern provinces and South Sudan. It will also remind Khartoum's leaders that fomenting chaos has consequences. Sudan's president, Omar al-Bashir, faces International Criminal Court war crimes charges for atrocities committed in Darfur. Kony's arrest might provide Bashir with a sudden dose of sobriety.

Monday, October 17, 2011

US sends soldiers to fight the LRA in Uganda

a lot of Republicans in the US are rolling their eyes up in mockery at the report that President Obama plans to send in US troops to fight the so called "Lord's Resistance army" in Uganda.

I'm pleased that he plans to do so.

This group is a very nasty violence filled cult (can you say "demonic" cult in today's world? that would describe their violent actions, rape, murder and turning kidnapped children into soldiers).

BBC report here.

what is being sent in is not "combat troops" but soldiers with expertise in finding the bad guys.

The force will use hi-tech equipment to assist in what analysts say is a "kill or capture" policy, the BBC's Marcus George in Washington reports

That is the same way that the US is helping us here in the Philippines to help the Abus and other terrorist offshoots of the MILF (who are fighting for their own land and ironically have cooperated with the US and AFP to catch these guys, whose tactics often kill fellow Muslims).

Lots of new techniques to find the bad guys were used in Afghanistan and Iraq: but in Afghanistan, it is easier to send in a drone and kill them. In the Philippines, they send in the local troops to find and catch them. (Local law forbids Americans from firing weapons, although there are rumors by human rights groups that in a few cases that they have pulled out guns to protect themselves).

So I am happy.

But, as Senator McCain pointed out, the president again bypassed congress in this decision, and it will not please congress, who is after all the only ones allowed to okay a war and holds the purse strings.

One reason the President is in trouble in the US is similar one sided arrogant actions in the past, which he could get away with when he had his own party in charge of congress, but will not help him with the present divided congress, who may ask nasty questions.

What kind of nasty questions?

well, I figure that there are three reasons that the president decided at this time to send in the help.

ONE: To help an ally. After all, Uganda has sent troops to Somalia (and in this interesting article, as private security guards to Iraq...hmmm...wonder how many Pinoys are there too)...

Showing a "quid pro quo" here isn't a problem for most folks, although saying it that way is not very diplomatic.

Two: To be able to say we fight ALL terrorists, not just Islamicists inspired ones.

and the real reason a lot of folks will be sceptical:

Three: it's election year, and every war helps the one in office.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Rowan hand Mugabe a nasty letter

from the BBC:

Abuses detailed in the dossier given to Mr Mugabe included:

  • Zimbabwean bishops had received death threats by phone, in person and at gun point
  • Access to to churches, schools, clinics and mission stations had been denied
  • Police had tear-gassed and beaten congregations
  • An Anglican Church member had been murdered after refusing to join Dr Kunonga's Church
  • Clinics had been told they could not accept donated drugs - leading to deaths when drugs were rejected
  • Priests had been evicted from their rectories

Anglicans accuse Mr Mugabe of helping Nolbert Kunonga, the former bishop of Harare dismissed by Dr Williams, to carry out assaults on them.


Two African women from Liberia won the Nobel peace prize.

I was in Liberia before the first civil war broke out. It was a corrupt oligarchy, where the American-Liberians ran the place, and locals had little power or money.

I left/was thrown out just before the first civil war started there. (visa problems, and it was easier to return to the US and get a new visa than try to bribe folks to update it there). Two days later, they started an uprising, killed the president, and were shooting looters in front of the Hilton, where I used to disco dance. So I stayed safe at home, and wasn't there several months later when the US Marines had to evacuate all US citizens in August.

There was a terrible civil war, followed by "peace" when Charles Taylor "won" the election. This was followed by a second civil war, which is where the women played an active role in establishing peace.

Film: Pray the Devil Back to Hell.

A group of ordinary women in Liberia, led by Leymah Gbowee, came together to pray for peace. Armed only with white T-shirts and the courage of their convictions, they demanded a resolution to the country’s civil war.[5]

Under Leymah Gbowee's leadership, the women managed to force a meeting with President Charles Taylor and extract a promise from him to attend peace talks in Ghana. Gbowee then led a delegation of Liberian women to Ghana to continue to apply pressure on the warring factions during the peace process.[6] They staged a silent protest outside of the Presidential Palace, Accra, bringing about an agreement during the stalled peace talks.

Asatu Bah Kenneth is featured in the film. She is currently Assistant Minister for Administration and Public Safety of the Liberian Ministry of Justice.[7] At the time, she was president of the Liberia Female Law Enforcement Association, and inspired by the work of the Christian women's peace initiative, she formed the Liberian Muslim Women's Organization to work for peace.[8]

Working together, over 3,000 Christian and Muslim women mobilized their efforts, and as a result, the women were able to achieve peace in Liberia after a 14-year civil war and helped bring to power the country's first female head of state.

of course, it was a bit more complicated than that. God got a little help from the US Marines:

From Wikipedia:

On August 14, Rebels lifted their siege of Liberia's capital and 200 American troops landed to support a West African peace force. Thousands of people danced and sang as American Marines and ECOMIL, the Nigerian-led West African troops, took over the port and bridges which had split the capital into government and rebel-held zones.[1]

more information HERE. The US troops were the pathfinders, helping with logistics to stablize the country with the help of African peacekeepers.

So Blame Bush for ending the war, because without the Marines and US logistics and support, the local peacekeepers would not have succeeded.

The real role of the women was that they established the infrastructure for a civilian resumption of the government. But that job is a lot harder and messier than the summaries suggest.

So the women do deserve their peace prize.

Whether or not it will help Mrs. Johnson to win reelection however is another story. More on her HERE and HERE.

she is running against a Tubman, which means a grandson of a previous AmeriLiberian president.

She herself is both, since both her indigneous father and mother were adopted and raised by AmeriLiberian family she is would have links with both the patricians and the hoipolloi....and she worked for the Tolbert government (the AmeriLiberian one that was thrown out by Sargent Doe). After that, she worked a lot for think tanks. So she has ties with the elites of the world.

AlJezeerah's report here.

"A win for Johnson-Sirleaf will come as no surprise," he says. "It would be a win for the West, a win for many Liberians and a win for the international investor community. Only time will tell if it turns out to be a win for the poor, the disillusioned and the hungry."

Gberie suggests that it is ultimately these distinct economic and ethnic fault lines that will dictate the course of the election. "The key issue in Liberia, I think, is the gap between Monrovia and the rest of the country. Educated Liberians tend to play this down, but most educated Liberians don't make an effort to understand rural Liberia - the anxieties, hardships, struggles of the rural poor," he says. "Even so-called natives who grew up in Monrovia and are educated hardly speak the native languages. It is the only country in West Africa where you find this kind of thing. [It is] rather bewildering and this cannot help [with closing] the gap between Monrovia and rural Liberia."
a lot of this sounds like the Philippines, where the elites and clan leaders run the place, but we can chose between the clan leaders.

Despite the drawbacks of poor institutions, rampant corruption and divisions along social and ethnic lines, upon being elected six years ago, Johnson-Sirleaf invited rival political parties and civil society into her cabinet and pushed for social cohesion. She has been credited with diversifying her cabinet and appointing women to key ministerial positions, including finance, foreign affairs and commerce and industry, as well as ambassadors to postings like Germany, South Africa and Scandinavia.

Moreover, she is seen to have advanced greater transparency and freedom of speech, while reducing political persecution and, through the support of the US, arranging the cancellation of billions of dollars of foreign debt.

Ajiyi says that even her critics have lauded her attempts to establish stability, whether through infrastructural development or regular salaries.

"She seems to have laid the foundations of governance to build on. Liberia needs foreign direct investment from the rich West, and if they, the rich West have already expressed that they would rather do business with Johnson-Sirleaf then technically, in a strange but real way, it is in Liberia's interest that she wins," Ayo Johnson says.

African peace prize

I worked in Liberia and left in a hurry when it fell apart (I was actually deported but that's another story).

But I haven't followed the war there, mainly because until the internet got going and was available in the rural US clinics where I worked (which was about 1998) I rarely had access to decent news, and such things are not followed by the US newspapers/TV. Yes, I did have shortwave for the BBC but not the time to listen every day.

So the news of the Nobel peace prize being given to two Liberian women including their president is good news.

But GetReligion Blog has a backstory ignored by the clueless press, about their religious inspiration.

(GetReligion gets it's name from the quip that the US reporters don't "get" religion, i.e. understand how religion is seen and practiced by ordinary folks in the US. It is part of our press bias against the ordinary American by the elites who run our institutions).

Their report HERE.

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BBC report on witchcraft


if an African witchdoctor arranged to kill a child so a rich businessman could be successful, or be cured from HIV, it is terrible.

But the west doesn't think it's wrong if a woman goes to an abortionist and kills her child so she can be successful (e.g. not drop out of school, not be burdened with a child) or if a man pressures his lover to abort (because he is too greedy to pay child support) so he too can be richer.

The Devil is behind both types of killing.

Tuesday, October 04, 2011

Dambisa Moyo has a new book

via Booker Rising:

. However, Penguin Books has announced her next book, Winner Take All: The Race For The World's Resources: "Winner Take All represents the penetrating research Dambisa Moyo has conducted to uncover the realities behind the numbers. By looking at the developing trends in our commodities markets, and recent geo-political shifts, she has revealed the true state of the contemporary world and the shape it will take over the coming decades. This is not just about oil. Commodities permeate virtually every aspect of the modern world: from the energy complexes that power transport and the electricity grid, to the water needed for all life. From land for food production to the long list of minerals without which technology ceases to exist. What Moyo shows is we are in the middle of unprecedented times. She details how China has embarked on one of the greatest commodity rushes in history and examines the effects this is having on us all. Where is China taking control of land and water? Who is giving up their title to these precious resources? What will be the financial and geopolitical effect of all this? And is large-scale resource conflict inevitable or avoidable?"
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