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Daniel

John,

Thanks for the post. As you know, its getting worse and worse. Last year, when public schools were closed, Daystar University (a private Christian university) was the only school left open. Since the violence of early January, that has changed. Missionaries are being asked to leave (by their funders). And more are dead than can reasonably be counted. Thanks for the reminder.

JohnFH

Thanks, Daniel, for providing more background.

I worry that Kofi Annan unwittingly provides cover for the ruthless in this situation. As he talks and talks, the ruthless continue unperturbed in their killing and raping. I worry that the only way to stop the ruthless in a situation like this is by the force of arms.

Peter Kirk

John, I worry that any attempt to stop the bloodshed by force of arms will only make things worse. After all even if some kind of peace is imposed by force the underlying tensions remain and are likely to break out again before long. The only way to resolve situations of this kind is to find a compromise which is more or less acceptable to all. And presumably that is what Annan is trying to do.

JohnFH

I would like to see the two approaches combined. That is, while someone like Annan is attempting to work out a compromise, a rapid reaction force would simultaneously be put into place and keeps the factions from killing each other.

How many thousands of people have to be killed and tens of thousands displaced before that looks like a better option than the status quo?

Peter Kirk

Well, people generally don't like talking peace with mediators who are simultaneously confronting them with force. A difficult one, I know, and perhaps one in which robust policing methods like rubber bullets and Tasers might be usefully employed, but I would not support use of anything more lethal than that.

JohnFH

Tasers and rubber bullets might work against people armed with machetes. If they have guns and RPGs, you are asking for trouble. And if they find out you'll never take them on with more that tasers and rubber bullets, they will find a way to escalate the situation to their advantage. That's the nature of conflict, which your choice to use only non-lethal violence on principle cannot overcome.

It's interesting to read the African press in a situation like this. Some news articles lead with headlines like the "US" or the "international community" "threatens to impose" a solution. Wishful thinking, so far as I can see.

Peter Kirk

Well, I hardly read words like "threatens to impose" as wishful thinking. Rather it is something these Africans are terrified of. They may not like the current situation, but it is much preferable for them than the kind of international intervention which you are proposing, which will take them back into the kind of semi-colonial situation you (with our help) have tried to impose on Iraq. They want to be allowed to sort out their own problems, with the help of mediators they trust. Let them do it!

JohnFH

That's what I would have thought, too, Peter. And I'm sure there are Africans who feel the way you suggest, for the right and the wrong reasons.

But the African press articles I read, which I unfortunately did not bookmark, suggests that another point of view is more prevalent still. As in Iraq, people would love to sort out things themselves, but when they can't, they are willing to exploit big brother to their own ends.

There are also many examples of genuine collaboration - in Iraq, Africa, and elsewhere.

That you fail to note these complexities, because they don't fit into your colonial / neo-colonial narrative, is disturbing. But the blind eye you have in this sense is sufficient to explain your soft pacifism.

For the sense in which the United States is an empire, see Niall Ferguson's Colossus. You might also be interested in the conclusions he draws from past history and current affairs, even if they are far from yours.

Daniel

It always bad when a govt imposes itself on a people (be it their own govt or a foreign one). But its always worse when violence that can be stopped continues.

Yet I still say, those who trade their freedom for protection deserve neither.

A Western resolution to this would be a type of invasion into African land. Call it colonialism, call it what you want. While we in the west should support our rebel brothers in Kenya, Sudan, and Ethiopia, we cannot impose our solution. Weak Christians who remove funding to missionaries to Kenya need to repent; we need to educate (even militarily) those under oppression in Africa, but we cannot execute our plan. We must suppport the African plan for bringing Eastern Africa from the death of violence.

I think it won't be long before this war moves outside its country and the nature of men will execute divine judgement. Perhaps the rising Tigrinyan movement in Ethiopia will squash the pride in Kenya, for they are much more prideful and brutal.

I think of Yahweh telling Habakkuk, "I'm raising up the Chaldeans to end you, cause they're even worse than y'all" (A simplistic rendering, but you get the idea)

JohnFH

Daniel,

it sounds like you think that another African conflagration with Kenya as an epicenter is all too likely. If so, as was true for Habakkuk, it may already be too late to avoid the worst. But it is never too late to interpret events in solidarity with one's people, and on the basis of one's faith in a vision of a future according to God's justice.

Peter Kirk

John, the reason that I "fail to note these complexities" is that you have provided no evidence that they exist, merely a generalised reference to African newspapers which you can't even name and a three word quote "threatens to impose" which actually suggests the opposite of your thesis.

I accept that a few Africans may welcome US intervention, and they are likely to be in the class who might be able to write in newspapers of the type which would have online editions. But I would be very surprised if this is a widespread opinion anywhere (except among white communities) in Africa.

If there is another African conflagration, it is likely to be a delayed result of the way in which Africa was carved up by western governments without taking any note of traditional and tribal boundaries and affiliations. These imposed boundaries have mostly survived in the post-colonial era because it has been in the interests of the small ruling classes to preserve them. But the underlying tensions have never been far beneath the surface and can easily break out again almost anywhere. I don't know what the solution to this is, but the worst possible one is for us westerners to try to impose our own ideas.

JohnFH

Peter,

To be honest, if I didn't know you better, I would accuse you of racism for the way you bring back everything that goes wrong in Africa to Western intervention. Are Africans so out of it, so Lilliputian, that they are not even responsible for their own calamities?

I didn't realize that someone might think the complexities of which I speak are inventions. Maybe I should post on these things more often, and document what I thought were self-evident statements.

Peter Kirk

John, I don't say every problem in Africa is due to western intervention, but certainly quite a lot are, and we shouldn't be adding to them. As for complexities, I realise that there are many of them, but I can hardly accept an accusation of failing to note particular ones which you allege but also failed to take proper note of.

I just spotted your words "they are willing to exploit big brother to their own ends". Yes, some Africans think they can get some kind of advantage by using us westerners, but do we want to let them use us? Anyway much of the time what they mean is that they want western goods to be sent to their countries so that they can steal them or demand bribes for distributing them. And this applies not just to Africans, as sadly there are people of all races who will sell their countries to foreigners for personal gain.

JohnFH

You remind me, Peter, of something I learned from African ambassadors when I used to have tea with them after worship every Sunday at the English speaking Methodist church in Rome.

We talked about the importance of aid to African countries. One ambassador made a point of saying - in the presence of FAO employees! - that UN to government and intergovernmental aid goes wasted due to graft and patronage systems, whereas church-to-church aid was more effective.

Peter Kirk

John, I have tagged you with something relevant to this post.

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