30 June 2005

Bad News on the Kyoto Protocol

Economist Robert J. Samuelson in Washington Post offers some harsh observations about progress on the Kyoto Protocol to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
From 1990 (Kyoto's base year for measuring changes) to 2002, global emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2), the main greenhouse gas, increased 16.4 percent, reports the International Energy Agency. The U.S. increase was 16.7 percent, and most of Europe hasn't done much better.

Here are some IEA estimates of the increases: France, 6.9 percent; Italy, 8.3 percent; Greece, 28.2 percent; Ireland, 40.3 percent; the Netherlands, 13.2 percent; Portugal, 59 percent; Spain, 46.9 percent. It's true that Germany (down 13.3 percent) and Britain (a 5.5 percent decline) have made big reductions. But their cuts had nothing to do with Kyoto. After reunification in 1990, Germany closed many inefficient coal-fired plants in eastern Germany; that was a huge one-time saving. In Britain, the government had earlier decided to shift electric utilities from coal (high CO2 emissions) to plentiful natural gas (lower CO2 emissions).

On their present courses, many European countries will miss their Kyoto targets for 2008-2012. To reduce emissions significantly, Europeans would have to suppress driving and electricity use; that would depress economic growth and fan popular discontent. It won't happen. Political leaders everywhere deplore global warming -- and then do little. Except for Eastern European nations, where dirty factories have been shuttered, few countries have cut emissions. Since 1990 Canada's emissions are up 23.6 percent; Japan's, 18.9 percent....

"We expect CO2 emissions growth in China between now and 2030 will equal the growth of the United States, Canada, all of Europe, Japan, Australia, New Zealand and Korea combined," says Fatih Birol, the IEA's chief economist. In India, he says, about 500 million people lack electricity; worldwide, the figure is 1.6 billion. Naturally, poor countries haven't signed Kyoto; they won't sacrifice economic gains -- poverty reduction, bigger middle classes -- to combat global warming. By 2030, the IEA predicts, world energy demand and greenhouse gases will increase by roughly 60 percent; poor countries will account for about two-thirds of the growth. China's coal use is projected almost to double; its vehicle fleet could go from 24 million to 130 million.
Signing a protocol is the easiest part. Fashioning a protocol that can effectively accomplish what it claims to do is a lot harder. (And I have major doubts about this one.) Adhering to a demanding protocol is harder still.

Something for both Canadians and Americans to consider on their holiday weekend.

Fiberoptics-dependent Economies

CRMBuyer [CRM = Customer Relationship Management] reported Wednesday on a major blow to offshore service centers in South Asia.
Damage to the undersea telecommunications cable SEA-ME-WE3 (SMW3) Monday initially disrupted most of Pakistan's international telephone and Internet connections, but the outage spread to India, the United Arab Emirates, Oman and Djibouti as repairs were started yesterday.

Call centers in India using connections through the Reliance Group, India's largest corporate conglomerate, to SMW3 to reach customers in the U.S. were experiencing service outages for the past day, they reported to InternationalStaff.net, a company that specializes in offshore process migration, call center program management, turnkey software development and help desk management....

SMW3 provides Pakistan with its sole high speed cable access. All call centers in Pakistan serving international customers have been without their usual level of telecommunications service since Monday.

The government of Pakistan has provided satellite backup systems to international call centers in that country at no charge to those centers, in order to make them more internationally competitive, and nine international call centers in Pakistan are reportedly operating on satellite backup connections now.
Oil-dependent economies need strategic reserves; connectivity-dependent economies need strategic backup networks.

29 June 2005

The Japanese Emperor's Quiet Rebellion

Japanese PM Koizumi's uphill battles with his government's imagination-impaired bureaucrats are not nearly as uneven as the Japanese imperial family's battles with the crushingly reactionary Imperial Household Agency, but guest blogger Oranckay at The Marmot's Hole has an encouraging post about Emperor Akihito's quiet rebellion on a small Pacific island.
While visiting Saipan, Japanese Emperor Akihito made a surprise visit to a memorial there honoring Koreans killed during World War II, having been brought to the island as military conscripts in the Japanese military or as forced laborers. It is significant that he went to the Korean memorial at all, but also notable that he did so unannounced.

The Saipan Tribune, which naturally has the most detailed coverage of what happened, says Akihito was headed back to his hotel when his limousine suddenly pulled over in front of the memorial and that “no cameras were present.”

One might imagine two possible reasons why he chose not to let the world know he would visit the Korean memorial, and indeed both could have been a factor. According to the Guardian, some in Japan’s Imperial Household Agency opposed the emperor’s visit to Saipan altogether, but “relented when the emperor expressed a strong desire to go.” One Korean story quotes the agency as saying the decision was made to visit the Korean memorial only a day in advance and that even the Japanese consulate was unaware of what was going to happen. Then there is the issue of the island’s Korean residents association, which earlier had demanded that the Japanese emperor visit the memorial but (quite naturally) “found the Japanese consulate on the island unresponsive,” among other things. You can imagine the many Koreans, some welcoming but some there in protest, who would have been waiting had it been part of his official itinerary.
The Saipan Tribune reports a few more heart-warming aspects.
On the same stop, Akihito and Michiko also paid tribute to the Okinawan people who died on Saipan during the war.

Both the Korean and Okinawan memorials are located within the vicinity of the memorial built by the Japanese government in Marpi.

However, members of the media who are covering the emperor's visit were not as pleased. Most of them apparently headed back to the media center at Dai-Ichi Hotel Saipan Beach immediately after the Banzai Cliff activity, thinking that it was the last stop in the imperial couple's tour of Marpi.
Ooh! Ooh! Even better. He flummoxed the media (hardly worth an exclamation point). And that's not all.
The fall of Saipan was a turning point in the war in the Pacific. As many as 55,000 Japanese troops and civilians died in the three-week "Operation Forager," which began on June 15, 1944.

Early Tuesday, Akihito offered prayers at "Banzai Cliff," which owes its name to the shouts of "banzai"--a cheer wishing long life to the emperor--by Japanese who plunged to their deaths rather than face capture by the American troops. The royal couple later visited monuments to more than 5,000 Americans, about half of them Marines, and 1,000 or so islanders who were killed on Saipan or nearby islands.

Akihito, 11 years old when the war ended, has been to China and has expressed remorse for the past during visits to Japan by South Korean leaders. But he has never made a trip to offer condolences at a battlefield overseas.
The Japanese imperial family is perhaps the last royal line on earth to see their role as 120% duty and -20% privilege, and one of the few current royals for which I have any respect at all. I wish Crown Prince Naruhito and Crown Princess Masako all the best in their own subtle rebellions against the Imperial Household Agency. Give the latter some imperial robots to command instead.

Lind on Halberstam on Ho

The biases of the sixties-era liberal left are manifested most clearly in polemics written at the time of the Vietnam War by journalists such as Frances Fitzgerald and David Halberstam. Fitzgerald ended her Pulitzer Prize-winning tract Fire in the Lake with a hopeful vision of a time when "the narrow flame of revolution [would] cleanse the lake of Vietnamese society" and purge it of "'individualism' and its attendant corruption." Similar undisguised admiration for the communists pervades David Halberstam's Ho (1971). Halberstam's book is perhaps the most sympathetic portrait of a Stalinist dictator ever penned by a reputable American journalist identified with the liberal rather than the radical left.

In Ho, Halberstam omits any mention of the repression or atrocities of Ho Chi Minh's regime. For example, Halberstam writes that in August 1945, "the Vietminh had in one quick stroke taken over the nationalism of the country, that Ho had achieved the legitimacy of power." From reading Halberstam, one would never guess that in 1945-46 Ho's deputy Giap carried out a reign of terror in which thousands of the leading noncommunist nationalists in territory controlled by Ho's regime were assassinated, executed, imprisoned, or exiled. Halberstam condemns the repression carried out by the Saigon regime: "Diem and the Americans had blocked elections in 1956 and Diem had carried out massive arrests against all his political opponents, particularly anyone who had fought with the Vietminh." Of the far more severe repression in North Vietnam, there is not a word in Halberstam's book. The Maoist-inspired terror of collectivization in the mid-fifties, in which at least ten-thousand North Vietnamese were summarily executed because they belonged to the wrong "class," is not mentioned. Nor is the anticommunist peasant rebellion that followed; nor the deployment of the North Vietnamese military to crush the peasants; nor the succeeding purge of North Vietnamese intellectuals; nor the fact that almost ten times as many Vietnamese, during the brief period of resettlement, fled from communist rule as left South Vietnam for the North. The equivalent of Halberstam's book would be a flattering biography of Stalin that praised his leadership during World War II while omitting any mention of the gulag, the purges, and the Ukrainian famine, or an admiring biography of Mao that failed to mention the Cultural Revolution or the starvation of tens of millions during the Great Leap Forward.

Halberstam is even less forthcoming when the subject is relations among North Vietnam, China, and the Soviet Union. He accurately describes Ho's background in the French Communist party and his residence in the Soviet Union in the 1930s. But Halberstam omits any mention of Soviet or Chinese support for North Vietnam after 1949. "No matter that the superpower America was aiding the South; [Ho] realized that the Saigon government had no base of popular support." No mention is made of the fact that the Hanoi government was aided by the Soviet superpower and China, a great power. The fact that in 1950, responding to pressure from Ho, Stalin ordered Mao to support Ho's regime; the fact that the victory of North Vietnam against the French depended on military supplies and advice from the Sino-Soviet bloc; the fact that Ho's dictatorship modeled its structure and policies on Mao's China and Stalin's Soviet Union; the fact that Soviet and Chinese deterrence forced the United States to fight in unfavorable conditions in Vietnam; the fact that hundreds of thousands of Chinese logistics troops, as well as Chinese and Soviet antiaircraft troops and Soviet fighter pilots, took part in the Vietnam War; the fact that North Vietnam would have been forced to abandon its effort to conquer South Vietnam, if not for massive Soviet and Chinese subsidies--all of these facts are omitted from Halberstam's Ho.

That these damning facts were omitted by design rather than by mistake becomes clear when one examines the sources that Halberstam lists in his bibliography. Halberstam's book leaves out everything critical written about Ho Chi Minh by the authors that Halberstam used as his sources. For example, one of Halberstam's authorities, Joseph Buttinger, described the repressiveness of Ho's government in great detail, and bitterly condemned it, in Vietnam: A Dragon Embattled (1967). The major source for Halberstam's Ho appears to have been the book Ho Chi Minh published by the antiwar French journalist Jean Lacouture in 1968.

In an interview in the late 1970s with a Milan newspaper, Lacouture, referring to the communist dictatorship in Cambodia, spoke of "my shame for having contributed to the installation of one of the most oppressive regimes history has ever known." ... Lacouture described pro-Hanoi journalists in the West like himself as "vehicles and intermediaries for a lying and criminal propaganda, ingenious spokesmen for tyranny in the name of liberty." In light of this confession, the fact that Halberstam is even less critical of Ho than his source Lacouture, then a supporter of Hanoi, raises serious questions....

American academic histories of the Vietnam War tend to show the same biases that are evident in the work of journalists such as Fitzgerald and Halberstam.
SOURCE: Vietnam, the Necessary War: A Reinterpretation of America's Most Disastrous Military Conflict, by Michael Lind (Simon & Schuster, 1999), pp. 176-178

Well, I suppose it's clear enough where most of my received wisdom about the War in Vietnam has come from. Uncle Ho is certainly overdue for the kind of debunking that Mao has been getting.

28 June 2005

Japundit Series on Koizumi's Icebreaking

Japundit's Ampontan has posted a fascinating two-part analysis of Koizumi's unexpectedly effective new broom in Japanese politics. Here's the beginning of part two:
Yesterday we described Junichiro Koizumi’s unlikely selection as prime minister of Japan. It was unlikely because he ran as a reformer to lead a conservative party that had no interest in reform, but was desperate to survive as an entity. The disastrous administration of Yoshiro Mori—with single-digit approval ratings—had everyone in the party worried that they would get clobbered in the upper house election just a couple of months away.

Mind you, the LDP did not actually expect Koizumi to do too much in the way of reform; they were more interested in someone talking about a new broom sweeping clean than someone actually getting the broom out of the closet. The party elders were confident in their ability to keep things from getting out of hand.

They soon realized they had badly misjudged the situation. The long-suffering Japanese public have been subjected to politicians from the ruling party who don’t pretend to mean what they say, can’t be bothered to hide their disdain for the average voter, and save their remaining passion for their mistresses or money raising. When an eloquent politician appears with enthusiasm, energy, and ideas, and—most importantly—focuses his attention on the public’s concerns rather than trying to convince the public to focus on the politician’s concerns, the Japanese public repays that politician tenfold.

That’s just what happened with Koizumi. Desperate for a leader who acted like a real human being, still recovering from the disillusionment over the crushing of the first reform government during Morihiro Hosokawa’s term as prime minister in 1993-4, and believing that this was the last real chance to reform Japan’s political system, the public rewarded the off-beat, blunt Koizumi with popularity ratings that soared over 80%, unprecedented in Japan.

For the LDP, Koizumi was both a nightmare and a dream come true. Koizumi’s popularity also sent the popularity of the LDP skyrocketing. Under his leadership, the party won a stunning victory in the upper house election when their prospects verged on the hopeless just three months before. During the election campaign, Koizumi himself became the public symbol of the LDP; while the emphasis on an individual leading a party is the de facto standard in most Western political campaigns, it is extremely rare in Japan.

This came at a price for the party, however, and they first realized it with Koizumi’s Cabinet appointments. As we explained yesterday, the LDP is comprised of several factions. The primary objective in Cabinet appointments has been to apportion the spoils among the different factions according to their relative strength. Competence for the job is not a qualification, and neither the prime minister nor the rest of his Cabinet were selected to formulate policy—they were just asked to implement it.

Koizumi ignored these practices. He already represented a break with the past because he was the second prime minister in a row from the same faction. But he alienated the old guard in the party when he appointed to key Cabinet posts allies from his faction who shared his views instead of balancing factional interests. He even appointed economist Heizo Takenaka (second photo) to reform the banking sector and clean up the economy. (And he has succeeded; the worst is over for the banks and their bad debt problems and the stock market has rebounded).
The whole thing is worth reading. So is a recent account in the Japan Times about Koizumi taking the extremely rare step of relieving two high-ranking bureaucrats of their duties.

UPDATE: The series continues with a post about Japan's New Generation. For many Japanese, the 1990s were a long Decade of Disillusionment after their economic bubble burst in 1989, and the dysfunctionalities of their political system became much more glaring. (The same can be said for the overly Japan-dependent economy of Hawai‘i.) For many North Americans and Europeans, however, the Great Disillusionment didn't hit with full force until 2000-2001. By now, even the elites are beginning to grasp the dysfunctionalities of politics and economics as usual.

But no one really seems to know what to do about it yet. The major disagreement is between the "What the hell? Let's try this, then!" crowd and the "Hell, no! You can't do that!" crowd. In other words, those who don't know what they can't do, and those who only know what they can't do. The other labels really don't mean much anymore. The tinkerers inspire trepidation; the status quo aunties inspire resignation. Neither group inspires confidence.

27 June 2005

Baseball's Performance-enhancing Cabbage

Japundit's JP blogs the Korean Baseball Organization's latest attempt to clean up its act: by banning performance-enhancing cabbage! Apparently, Babe Ruth used to get away with a similar practice.

Lind on the Continuity of Antiwar Arguments

IN ADDITION to examining the Vietnam War from a post-Cold War perspective, one of the purposes of this book is to set the historical record straight. I address the major myths about Vietnam disseminated by the radical left and liberal left at the time of the war and repeated for three decades afterward....

To a remarkable extent, anti-Vietnam War activists recycled both Marxist and isolationist propaganda from previous American antiwar movements. For example, much of the anti-Diem and pro-Ho Chi Minh propaganda echoed the left's vilification of China's Chiang Kai-shek and South Korea's Syngman Rhee and its idealization of Mao Zedong; only the names of individuals and countries were changed. Various "missed opportunity" myths about U.S.-Vietnam relations were first spread in the context of relations between the United States and communist China in the 1940s. The influence of the generations-old isolationist tradition in the United States is clear in the arguments that Johnson and Nixon were treacherous tyrants whose foreign wars endangered the U.S. Constitution--arguments almost identical to those made against previous wartime presidents, including Polk, Wilson, Roosevelt, and Truman. The ease with which Francis Ford Coppola could turn Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness, a parable about European imperialism in Africa, into the movie Apocalypse Now illustrates the extent to which much anti-Vietnam War literature and art has been generic antiwar propaganda that could be illustrated by imagery from any war in any country in any period.

In the section of this book dealing with domestic politics, I demonstrate the extraordinary continuities between the anti-Vietnam-War movement and other antiwar movements--both earlier ones, like the movements opposing U.S. intervention in World Wars I and II, and subsequent ones, like the nuclear freeze campaign and the opposition to the Gulf War. Most remarkable of all is the continuity in regional attitudes toward U.S. foreign policy. The Democratic party's abandonment of the Cold War liberalism of Truman, Kennedy, and Johnson for the neoisolationism symbolized by George McGovern and Frank Church can be explained almost entirely in terms of the shift in the party's regional base from the promilitary, interventionist South to Greater New England, the region of the United States associated throughout American history with suspicion of the military and hostility to American wars.

LET THERE BE no doubt: There will be "Vietnams" in America's future, defined either as wars in which the goal of the United States is to prove its military credibility to enemies and allies, rather than to defend U.S. territory, or as wars in which the enemy refuses to use tactics that permit the U.S. military to benefit from its advantage in high-tech conventional warfare. The war in Kosovo fits both of these definitions. Preparing for the credibility wars and the unconventional wars of the twenty-first century will require both leaders and publics in the United States and allied countries to understand what the United States did wrong in Vietnam--and, no less important, to acknowledge what the United States did right.
SOURCE: Vietnam, the Necessary War: A Reinterpretation of America's Most Disastrous Military Conflict, by Michael Lind (Simon & Schuster, 1999), pp. xvi-xviii

This political tract aimed to drive a stake through the ghost of Vietnam in order to justify and guide a centrist Democratic U.S. administration's intervention in the Balkans (and possibly elsewhere). It's doubly provocative in hindsight, but its polemical tone gets a bit tiresome. After one more excerpt debunking the mythical Uncle Ho, I'll give Lind a rest.

26 June 2005

Assessing Corruption in Nigeria

Nigerian expat Abiola of Foreign Dispatches notes a report in the Telegraph of 25 June 2005 about the extent of corruption in Nigeria.
Here's why scepticism over the world-changing impact of yet more aid and debt forgiveness is thoroughly justified.
The scale of the task facing Tony Blair in his drive to help Africa was laid bare yesterday when it emerged that Nigeria's past rulers stole or misused £220 billion.

That is as much as all the western aid given to Africa in almost four decades. The looting of Africa's most populous country amounted to a sum equivalent to 300 years of British aid for the continent....

The stolen fortune tallies almost exactly with the £220 billion of western aid given to Africa between 1960 and 1997. That amounted to six times the American help given to post-war Europe under the Marshall Plan.
I can't close this post without including the following excerpt, which goes to show that lots of sensible Nigerians understand all too well something a lot of foreign know-it-alls seem incapable of grasping.
The G8 has refused to cancel Nigeria's loans, despite writing off the debts of 14 other African countries this month.

Prof Pat Utomi, of Lagos Business School, said that was the right decision. "Who is to say you won't see the same behaviour again if it is all written off?" he said.
A lively discussion ensues in the comments to Abiola's blogpost.

Colby Cosh has a related post that quotes John Lennon at some length:
Lennon Where do people get off saying the Beatles should give $200,000,000 to South America? You know, America has poured billions into places like that. It doesn't mean a damn thing. After they've eaten that meal, then what? It lasts for only a day. After the $200,000,000 is gone, then what? It goes round and round in circles. You can pour money in forever. After Peru, then Harlem, then Britain. There is no one concert. We would have to dedicate the rest of our lives to one world concert tour, and I'm not ready for it. Not in this lifetime, anyway.
And Black Star Journal links to a new BBC World Service documentary on The Aid Trap:
In the run-up to July's G8 summit Britain is calling for the world's richest nations to treble the amount of development aid. But is Aid really a solution to the causes of poverty?

Many economists challenge the idea that aid offers an escape to the poverty trap. Some say it may even create a trap of dependency and corruption all its own. We visit the two poorest countries in the World, according to the United Nations, Liberia and Sierra Leone.

Peacekeeping Conditions Delta and Echo

Emergency Sex and Other Desperate Measures is divided into sections, each descending into a lower level of hell, from the shining idealism of Condition Alpha in 1990 to the total burnout of Condition Echo in 1998. Here are the introductions to Condition Delta and Condition Echo. The interior echoes of psychological collapse in Condition Delta don't lend themselves to easy excerpting, and I just can't bring myself to quote any of the representative passages from Condition Echo, where the peacekeepers themselves are brutal enough, while the young crackhead rebels are as close to diabolical as humans can get.

Bosnia, Rwanda, Haiti, 1994-96
Yugoslavia. At the end of the Cold War, Bosnia, home to Muslims, Serbs, and Croats, ignited. Bosnian Serb forces conducted a campaign of systematic expulsions, rapes, and executions, "ethnically cleansing" Muslims from their midst. UN peacekeepers were on the ground and NATO patrolled the skies, but fearing robust use of air power would endanger UN forces, the international community refused to act. The UN Security Council declared Sarajevo and four other towns in Bosnia "safe areas" for Muslim civilians fleeing Serb paramilitary attacks. In July 1995, Dutch UN peacekeepers watched as Serb forces overran the safe haven of Srebrenica. Serbs executed eight thousand civilian men and boys and bulldozed them into unmarked graves. Passive on the ground, the UN instead became aggressive in court, creating an International Criminal Tribunal--the first since Nuremberg after World War II--to prosecute war crimes throughout the former Yugoslavia.

Rwanda. Throughout the early nineties, Rwandan Tutsi rebels from the Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF) conducted a series of attacks against the Hutu-dominated Rwandan government from rebel bases along the northern border. On April 6, 1994, one week after U.S. forces withdrew from Somalia, a plane carrying the president of Rwanda was shot down over Kigali and massacres of Tutsis and moderate Hutus began within half an hour. UN peacekeepers withdrew while a radical Hutu militia, the interahamwe, engaged in an orgy of killing over ninety days at a rate three times that of the Holocaust. In the meantime the RPF broke out of Uganda, defeated the Rwandan Army, as well as the interahamwe, and occupied the country. But they were too late to save most Tutsis, and when it was over, 800,000 had been slaughtered. Having failed to intervene in genocide on the ground for the second time in two years, the UN again chose to prosecute it in court instead, creating the second war crimes tribunal since Nuremberg.

Haiti. In September 1994 the U.S. finally sent twenty thousand troops to Haiti in Operation Uphold Democracy, and in October Jean-Bertrand Aristide returned from Washington, reclaiming his presidency. Among the American Troops, twelve hundred U.S. Special Operations Forces operated out of twenty-seven towns and cities to maintain order and suppress paramilitary groups' antidemocratic activity in the run up to parliamentary elections in the summer of 1995.

Somalia. On March 28, 1994, the U.S. withdrew the last troops of Operation Restore Hope from Mogadishu. The UN stayed on but slowly began to dismantle its sprawling presence.
Bosnia, Haiti, and Liberia, 1996-1998
ECOMOG: Liberia is a beautiful country on the West Coast of Africa founded by freed slaves. Bereft of its U.S. patron at the end of the Cold War, it descended into a civil war characterized by total state collapse and a relentless campaign of sadistic, wanton violence. State authority was consigned to marauding rebels, many still in their teens. Still chastened from Somalia, Clinton and the UN refused to commit troops to Liberia. So peacekeeping responsibility was relegated to an African force not under UN command, known as the Economic Community of West African States Monitoring Group (ECOMOG), led by the regional superpower, Nigeria, and including small contingents from West African countries such as Ghana.
SOURCE: Emergency Sex and Other Desperate Measures: A True Story from Hell on Earth, by Kenneth Cain, Heidi Postlewait, and Andrew Thomson (Miramax Books, 2004), pp. 195-196, 247

25 June 2005

Boxing Day Tsunami, Six Months Later

Macam-macam offers a wide-ranging overview on the state of recovery efforts throughout the worst-affected areas.

Lind on U.S. Military Failures during the Cold War

In hindsight, the record of the Kennedy and Johnson administrations compares favorably with that of the Pentagon. The constraints imposed on theater operations by the Johnson administration did not cause the war to be lost--and those constraints may well have averted a second Sino-American war in little more than a decade. The argument that Kennedy and Johnson were wrong to ask the U.S. military to wage a difficult and ambiguous war of counterinsurgency in a peripheral country is unpersuasive. The Cold War was going to be fought under difficult conditions, in places like Vietnam, or it was going to be forfeited by the United States....

Unfortunately, the military's response to pressure from the Kennedy and Johnson administrations to master the complexities of counterinsurgency was to dismiss it as a fad. General Lyman L. Lemnitzer, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff in 1960-61, thought that the Kennedy administration was "oversold" on unconventional warfare. General George Decker, army chief of staff in 1960-62, claimed that "any good soldier can handle guerrillas." Even General Maxwell Taylor, who as chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff from 1961-64 championed flexible response, claimed that "Any well-trained organization can shift the tempo to that which might be required in this kind of situation." John A. Nagl, a U.S. Army captain and professor at West Point, suggests that "it was the organizational culture of the British army that allowed it to learn counterinsurgency principles effectively during the Malayan emergency, whereas the organizational culture of the U.S. Army blocked organizational learning during--and after--the Vietnam War." During the conflict in Indochina, one anonymous U.S. army officer was quoted as saying, "I'm not going to destroy the traditions and doctrine of the United States Army just to win this lousy war."...

Throughout the Cold War, the U.S. military prepared to fight Field Marshal Rommel and Admiral Yamamato, when it should have been preparing itself in addition to fight opponents like Nicaragua's Sandino and Haiti's Charlemagne. Under the "the buck stops here" principle, President Johnson must be held ultimately responsible for the disaster in Vietnam between 1965 and 1968. On the other hand, it is not the responsibility of civilian politicians in a democracy to instruct military professionals in the rudiments of their art. An argument in extenuation of the failures in Vietnam of Presidents Kennedy and Johnson and Nixon appears more plausible when one considers the impressive string of military failures in the last quarter of the twentieth century under a succession of very different presidents: Desert One in Iran; the bombing of the U.S. marines barracks in Beirut; the bungled invasion of Grenada; the botched invasion of Panama; the debacle in Somalia. If not for the Kosovo War, which failed to prevent the expulsion of most Albanian Kosovars, and the Gulf War, which left Saddam in power, despite a later renewal of the air war under President Clinton, the U.S. military would have little to show since the Korean War except for a string of disasters or botched successes--all of which, the Pentagon's apologists would have us believe, represent failures of presidential conception and direction rather than of military implementation. Generals Colin Powell and Norman Schwarzkopf won the Gulf War, but Admiral Sharp and General Westmoreland did not lose the Vietnam War. The point is not to impugn the integrity of America's soldiers as individuals, but to wonder how the military leadership can ever be held accountable if an alibi for military failures can always be had by blaming civilian political leaders....

In the final analysis, however, the American public's support for a sound grand strategy of global military containment of the communist bloc by means of flexible response collapsed for most of the 1970s because the U.S. military in Vietnam was too inflexible in its response to the enemy's tactics.
SOURCE: Vietnam, the Necessary War: A Reinterpretation of America's Most Disastrous Military Conflict, by Michael Lind (Simon & Schuster, 1999), pp. 102-105

Lind on Nixon's Strategic and Tactical Failures

Nixon's dramatic opening to China marked the beginning of an informal Sino-American alliance against the Soviet Union that would last until the end of the Cold War. Nevertheless, Mao's regime continued to compete with Moscow for influence in Indochina by supplying the anti-American forces until the bitter end in 1975. Nor did Nixon's divide-and-rule strategy toward the two communist giants succeed in reducing Soviet material or diplomatic support for North Vietnam. The Soviets were not willing to allow Soviet-American tensions over Vietnam to disrupt their negotiations over other issues, such as ratifying the status quo in Europe and limiting the arms race (to the advantage of the Soviet Union, which had a comparative advantage in conventional military forces in Eastern Europe). But neither did the Soviets see fit to reduce the stream of supplies to North Vietnam, or to make a serious effort to pressure Hanoi into ending tbe war. Moscow was able to have it both ways. It could engage in global detente (defined as American acceptance of the equality of the Soviet empire as a military and diplomatic superpower) even as it helped Hanoi bleed the United States in Southeast Asia.

In addition to failing to separate Hanoi from its Soviet and Chinese patrons, the Nixon-Kissinger policy gravely weakened the ability of the United States to wage the ideological war that was an essential component of the containment strategy. Even if he had received more in return, Nixon's dining and drinking and sailing with the totalitarian rulers of the Soviet empire and the Chinese dictatorship tended to undermine the claim that there was a moral difference between the two sides in the Cold War. Kissinger's allusions to nineteenth-century European Realpolitik had a similar effect.

Nixon's policy toward the Soviet Union and China, then, conceded too much in the ideological war, while producing few benefits in the Vietnam War. Nixon's tactics were as flawed as his strategy. Nixon hoped that airpower alone would be sufficient to ensure the survival of South Vietnam, once U.S. combat troops had been completely withdrawn. The Watergate scandal and the crisis that ended in Nixon's resignation and his replacement by the unelected Gerald Ford made a dead letter of Nixon's secret written assurances to South Vietnam's president Thieu that the United States would respond with air strikes to North Vietnamese violations of the Paris peace accords. Even without the congressional cutoff of U.S. military involvement in Indochina, it seems unlikely that any endgame that did not lead to an indefinite Korean-style commitment of U.S. forces to Indochina probably would have doomed South Vietnam along with Laos and Cambodia.

Nixon's Vietnam policy, then, was a resounding failure in every way. Worst of all, in pursuing an unworkable plan, Nixon added an additional twenty-four thousand to the American death toll in the Vietnam War. After all of those additional sacrifices, the United States abandoned Indochina anyway. The difference between allowing Indochina to fall in 1970 and allowing it to fall in 1975 may have been the difference between the loss of public support for one Cold War intervention and a public backlash against the Cold War as a whole....

The American public turned against the Vietnam War not because it was persuaded by the radical and liberal left that it was unjust, but out of sensitivity to its rising costs. According to polling data, there was higher public support for the Vietnam War than there had been for the Korean War when comparable numbers of casualties had been reached. In both Asian proxy wars support declined as body counts rose. In 1965, only 25 percent of the American public thought that it was a mistake to send troops to Vietnam. The number rose to 31 percent in November 1966 and to 46 percent in October 1967. By June 1968, more than 50 percent agreed that dispatching troops to Indochina had been a mistake. In the next few years, opposition to the Vietnam War metastasized into opposition to Cold War intervention anywhere. According to one poll, in 1975 a majority of Americans surveyed opposed sending U.S. troops to defend any ally from invasion--with the sole exception of Canada.
SOURCE: Vietnam, the Necessary War: A Reinterpretation of America's Most Disastrous Military Conflict, by Michael Lind (Simon & Schuster, 1999), pp. 135-138

24 June 2005

Lind on Regional Divisions in the Cold War

The pattern of northern isolationism and southern interventionism continued into the Cold War. Ohio's [Republican] senator Robert A. Taft voted against both the Marshall Plan and NATO. The legacy of Greater New England isolationism explains the curious fact that William Langer, a progressive Republican senator from North Dakota, opposed the censure of Wisconsin senator Joseph McCarthy--and the fact that McCarthy was admired by Robert La Follette's son Philip. Although McCarthy's demagogy is usually attributed to his Irish Catholic background, his hatred and suspicion of U.S. national security agencies resonated with many left-of-center progressive isolationists in Wisconsin and surrounding states. Indeed, it is no accident that the same region produced both Wisconsin senator Joseph McCarthy, determined to expose alleged communist subversion of American national security agencies in the 1950s, and Idaho senator Frank Church, determined to expose the immorality of the CIA in the 1970s. Both McCarthy and Church must be placed in the context of two centuries of Greater New England opposition to standing armies and the national security state. Nor is it an accident that it was the Wisconsinian McCarthy's attack on the Virginia-bred General George Marshall and the largely southern U.S. Army that finally led to his downfall at the hands of the southern-dominated U.S. Congress.

The regional continuities in American foreign policy during the Cold War are clear in spite of the political realignment of 1964-94, in which the two parties exchanged their constituencies. As the right-wing Goldwater movement, based in the South and the West, became more powerful in the GOP, growing numbers of progressive and liberal Republicans from New England and Yankee states such as Ohio, Michigan, Wisconsin, the Dakotas, and Oregon joined the Democratic party. At the same time, blacks deserted the party of Lincoln and joined their traditional northern Protestant and Jewish white allies in the Democratic coalition....

In taking over the Democratic party, left-liberals and radical activists--many of whom came from progressive Republican or Marxist backgrounds--delegitimated the older elements in the party by demonizing them. America's soldiers, far more likely to be southerners than northerners, were "baby-killers" and "Nazis"; northeastern police, far more likely to be Irish-American, Polish-American, or Italian-American Catholics than Yankee or German- or Scandinavian-American Protestants, Jews, or blacks, were denounced as "pigs" and "fascists." Pro-Cold War labor leaders, disproproportionately Irish Catholic, were "labor fascists." In the 1960s and 1970s the institutions in which the northern Protestant/Jewish left-liberal alliance was overrepresented--the press, universities, and the federal courts--were identified by the media and Hollywood with liberty and justice, while the institutions that the southern white/northern Catholic New Deal Democrats dominated--the urban political machines, the U.S. military, the police, the U.S. Congress, and the state legislatures--were vilified as tyrannical and corrupt. The battles within the Democratic party during the Vietnam era were only superficially about ideology. They were really about regional subculture, ethnicity, and race.
SOURCE: Vietnam, the Necessary War: A Reinterpretation of America's Most Disastrous Military Conflict, by Michael Lind (Simon & Schuster, 1999), pp. 116-118

The Effect and Scent of Durian

The Cambodia Weblog Santepheap reports on the sights and smells of the local durian capital.
On the subject of smells, Kampot is home to the finest durian plantations in the whole of Cambodia and is therefore the perfect place to sample the fruit of Durio zibenthinus.

Durian does tend to polarize opinion. The white and creamy goo that surrounds the tree seeds inside this rugger ball sized plant is much beloved of locals who consider the flavor to be indescribably good and who appreciate the fruit’s acclaimed aphrodisiac qualities; 'As the durians fall down, the sarongs fly up,' the local saying goes.

The author Anthony Burgess had a wholly different take on durian however, 'It’s like eating a magnificent raspberry blancmange in a foul public toilet,' he is reputed to have said.

Scandal and the Plummeting Popularity of Sumo

Japundit's Ampontan reports on the plummeting popularity of sumo, some of it tied to the scandals surrounding what was once the most popular family in sumo: the Waka (Cain) and Taka (Abel) Hanada brothers.
It’s as if Americans were to give up eating hot dogs and apple pie and stop having picnics on the 4th of July: public interest in sumo is sharply waning in Japan. This week a television network reported on a comparison of two public opinion polls, the first taken 10 years ago and the second taken this year. The pollsters asked a sampling of the Japanese public to name their favorite sport. Ten years ago, more than 60% of the respondents answered sumo. This year, the percentage of people giving the same answer had fallen to the teens....

A third factor contributing to the lack of interest in sumo among Japanese [besides weak local economies and the lack of Japanese in the top ranks] is the disappearance of the so-called Waka-Taka boom. This refers to the immense popularity of two brothers, Wakanohana ... and Takanohana ..., who rose to the rank of yokozuna in the 90s. They were the sons of another popular wrestler, Futagoyama, who died about three weeks ago. Both were very successful in the ring, especially the younger Takanohana, but they stopped competing some time ago. Wakanohana tried his hand at American football and then Japanese television, but bellyflopped twice. Takanohana took over his father’s training stable for developing new wrestlers. The brothers had been out of the public eye until recently.
Philip Brasor of the Japan Times has more about the scandal.
It's not clear if the media's previous restraint was due to tact or ignorance, but once the funeral was over it was every reporter for himself. The surviving sons, whose real names are Masaru and Koji Hanada, openly admitted that they are, in fact, not speaking to each other and haven't for years. During the pair's dominant period in the 90s, when they were the stars of their father's almost invincible stable, the press loved to portray the Hanadas as the ideal Japanese family, though one could hardly call them examples. Rich, imperious, and completely removed from the everyday lives of most Japanese, the Hanada clan was about as average a family as Michael Jackson's.

The media's sudden and overwhelming obsession with the story is thus self-generating, since it was the media who placed the Hanadas on a pedestal from which their fall was much farther than it should have been. However, the real reason the saga has had huge coverage in the tabloid press is that none of the principals are acting the way they were portrayed 10 years ago.
Yet another aspect in which the 1990s were the Decade of Illusion.

Slavery Conviction in Samoa

The Honolulu Star-Bulletin of 23 June 2005 reports on the sentencing of a man convicted of enslaving Vietnamese and Chinese workers in Samoa.
An American Samoa factory owner convicted of what federal prosecutors call the biggest "modern-day slavery" case in U.S. history was sentenced yesterday to 40 years in prison.

In February 2003 after a four-month trial, a jury here found Kil Soo Lee, 52, guilty of 14 counts, including conspiracy, involuntary servitude, extortion and money laundering. The case involved 300 Vietnamese and Chinese immigrant workers, the largest number of victims of involuntary servitude, prosecutors said.

U.S. District Judge Susan Mollway said the 40 years, which reflected consecutive terms well above the guideline range, was appropriate given the physical, psychological and financial harm the workers endured and continue to suffer to this day. Lee was facing a range of 30 years to life.

She also noted Lee showed "greed, arrogance and contempt for American law" for disregarding an order by the U.S. Department of Labor that he run a legal workplace and pay the workers back wages.

Lee recruited Chinese and Vietnamese workers, ranging from their early 20s to their 40s, to work in his factory producing garments for major U.S. retailers. The workers incurred large debts to pay export labor companies up to $5,000 each to work at Daewoosa Samoa Ltd. in Pago Pago from March 1999 to November 2000.

23 June 2005

Lind on the UN, US, and Utopian Illusions

In the fateful month of March 2003, Michael Lind published an op-ed in The Australian entitled Future world stability does not require either a US or a UN hegemony. Here's how it concludes.
The rival conceptions of the UN as world government and the US as world governor are two versions of the same utopian illusion. The only realistic method of maintaining a minimal degree of order in international affairs is world governance neither by all nor by one but by some. When the great powers of a given era compete, the results are expensive and lethal proxy wars or direct conflicts. However, when the great powers form a concert and collaborate in managing regional crises, the chances for a nonviolent, if not necessarily just, world are maximised.

This was the perception of 20th-century realists such as Theodore Roosevelt, who envisioned a US-British-French alliance as an alternative to US president Woodrow Wilson's League of Nations after World War I, and it inspired Roosevelt's hopes for a US-British-Soviet concert after World War II.

The relative success of NATO in the Balkans suggests an approach to world order that requires neither collective security under the UN nor collective acquiescence to the US. Most so-called global problems, including Iraq and North Korea, are actually regional problems and should be dealt with chiefly by those great powers that have the greatest interest in doing so, in addition to the greatest capability to act.

The hype about the US as the sole global superpower obscures the fact the US is best described as a multi-regional great power. Both the US and Russia, among the great powers, have a stake, for reasons of geography alone, in what goes on in Europe and North-East Asia. Russia, bordering on many Muslim nations, arguably has a greater interest in the Middle East and Central Asia than does the US, which has been the hegemon in the Persian Gulf only since the first Gulf War. BECAUSE neither the US nor Russia colonised the Middle East, Russo-American co-operation in the region might have more legitimacy than interventions by the former colonial powers of Britain and France (although US acquiescence in Israeli extremism hurts US legitimacy).

By the same realist logic, the North Korean crisis ought to be addressed not by all (the UN) nor by one (the US) but by some - the US, Japan, Russia, China and South Korea, the states with the greatest stake in the outcome. Unlike the Bush administration's collection of bribed and opportunistic client states, these regional coalitions, to be perceived as legitimate, would have to include more great powers than one.

The alternative to the false utopias of UN world governance and US world governance, then, is not global chaos, as the rival proponents of the two schools of collective security and unilateralism claim. Rather, the alternative is a sustainable system in which different groups of great powers collaborate to resolve regional problems on an ad hoc basis.

Such an approach is not likely to inspire the visionaries who dream of world federation or world empire. But the 20th century should have taught us that there is nothing more dangerous than visionaries wielding power.
Even when Lind fails to convince me, I do admire his pragmatism (and even his cold-blooded foreign policy Realism to some extent) but I appreciate most of all his provocative failure to adhere to the standard partisan talking points.

Haiti, 1993: The UN Bugout

The cook runs into the kitchen in a panic.

"They killed him, they killed him," she screams, shaking and weeping.

I turn on the radio to find they've gunned down Guy Malary, Aristide's justice minister, in the middle of town in broad daylight. I drive down there right away but it's all over. His overturned car is riddled with bullets; his body, his driver's, and his bodyguard's are all lying inert among broken glass in the street in front of the church. I return home, nothing I can do. The cook says she wants to run into the hills. You can take to the hills, but there are no trees left to hide you. You can kneel in a church, or lie in a hospital bed, but there's no sanctuary if the macoutes have orders to kill you. You might as well just put your affairs in order and wait for them at home.

The mission is imploding because of a tragedy in Mogadishu that has nothing to do with us. I receive a radio message to muster at the Hotel Christopher downtown. The parking lot is an ocean of white UN-marked Land Cruisers: it could be a Toyota convention. CNN is filming from the back of the meeting hall as the UN chief of mission announces that it is no longer safe for us to work and we are to evacuate immediately across the border to the Dominican Republic. Silence. Then as the news sinks in, an angry, confused buzz spreads across the room. Dozens of hands shoot up with a torrent of questions.

"What about our Haitian staff?"

"They're staying?"

"What do we do with the computer files and the database of witness statements?"

"Destroy them quickly?"

"How do we protect the witnesses? The macoutes will kill them if we leave?" More silence. The staff are angry now and a young observer, shaking, voice cracking, leaps up and shouts, "Who made the evacuation decision, did you?" There's a long, uncomfortable pause.

"UN Headquarters in New York together with UN Security here on the ground in coordination with the American Embassy." He's already being vague, trying to dilute the blame that will surely follow.

"Sorry, no more questions. The first plane leaves in three hours. We're calling in all staff from around the country, and the second plane will leave tomorrow morning. And there's a ten-pound baggage limit, so pack only essentials."

The meeting breaks up and suddenly, from one minute to the next, life is totally changed. Observers are crying and you can feel the beginning of a roiling panic in the parking lot. Hysteria is contagious, so I get out of there quickly....

We just showed Haitians that our lives are more valuable than theirs. The logic of the mission was ours, not theirs, and so is the logic of our retreat. "Tell us the truth and we will seek justice" was our idea. "It's too dangerous and we must evacuate" is our privilege. Neither applies to the Haitians. A ship with soldiers arrives at the dock and exits the dock. Haitians have no exit.

The most basic principle they teach you at medical school, years before you even get to touch your first patient, is "First, do no harm." But harm is exactly what we've done, identifying the next victims for the assassins running Haiti. It was a vicious setup from the beginning.
SOURCE: Emergency Sex and Other Desperate Measures: A True Story from Hell on Earth, by Kenneth Cain, Heidi Postlewait, and Andrew Thomson (Miramax Books, 2004), pp. 172-174

Somalia, 1993: Questions for the White House

The president's spokesperson, Dee Dee Myers, is on CNN. If I have to listen to Dee Dee Myers explain the military scenario in Mogadishu one more time, I'm going to projectile vomit on the screen. She sounds like the PR chick from a record label, describing why this year's album sales are, um, not down, but they're just not what we hoped for. The other one, Jamie Rubin, the spokesman for Madeleine Albright, is worse. He's the junior vice president for sales at the same record label, two years out of business school. We've got a really great new foreign policy idea, it's going to be a super-great way to defeat evil in the nineties, really. It's great. And it's new. And it's an idea. Really.

It's now an official ceasefire; we no longer intend to capture Aidid. Dee Dee calls it a "shift in focus," not a change, and adds her insight that, as a matter of fact, Aidid is a "clan leader with a substantial constituency in Somalia," and therefore we have to negotiate with him, not fight. Last week he was a war criminal the pursuit of whom was worthy of American lives; this week he's a corrupt but popular alderman from the south side of Chicago.

Dee Dee's taking questions from reporters now. I have a question, Dee Dee. Aidid was to be arrested for killing twenty-four Pakistanis in June, and then was pardoned for the crime and resurrected as a credible negotiating partner after killing eighteen Americans in October. What's the message if the policy of accountability for the crime of attacking peacekeepers is abandoned after a successful repetition of the same crime? How can the policy our soldiers died for reverse the next day, because of their death?

Dee Dee's not taking questions from Mogadishu today.
SOURCE: Emergency Sex and Other Desperate Measures: A True Story from Hell on Earth, by Kenneth Cain, Heidi Postlewait, and Andrew Thomson (Miramax Books, 2004), p. 178

But see Mickey Kaus's review of Black Hawk Down for a list of pointed questions about the failures of the U.S. and UN commanders on the ground in Mogadishu.

22 June 2005

Haiti, 1993: After Watching Somalia on CNN

The U.S. chargé d'affaires goes to the docks to greet the American soldiers and their landing ship, the USS Harlan County. The chargé's car is kicked and rocked by a gang of drunken macoutes with crude weapons. "Haiti, Somalia! Haiti, Somalia!" they shout. "Aidid, Aidid!" Their eyes are wide and bloodshot and gleeful. Goliath is wounded and confused. Democracy in Haiti is no longer worth American blood.

So President Clinton orders the American soldiers and their ship to withdraw from the docks and from Haiti. It's too dangerous.

But it isn't. The American military could crush the macoutes in an afternoon's training exercise. They know it, and the macoutes know it.

The problem is not military; it's psychological. Fear ripples from Somalia through Washington to Haiti. A few punks with small guns and big mouths and the world's only superpower is in retreat.

Far up the hill at the Hotel Montana, the UN's special representative for Haiti is on TV assuring the world that the USS Harlan County will soon dock and American soldiers will disembark before dark. Someone forgot to tell him that they've withdrawn and that the whole city is watching as the ship grows smaller and smaller and disappears over the horizon, past Cuba, toward Miami.

It's a lonely and demoralizing sight. The chargé d'affaires is almost in tears on TV as it dawns on her how badly she's been betrayed by her superiors. She denounces the macoutes as gangsters who don't want the future of Haiti to arrive. But it's her ship that didn't arrive. Last week it required eighteen fallen Rangers in Somalia to get Clinton running scared. This week a group of loudmouthed thugs did it.

How in hell is he ever going to face down the Bosnian Serbs, who, unlike their Somali and Haitian brothers, have a real army?
SOURCE: Emergency Sex and Other Desperate Measures: A True Story from Hell on Earth, by Kenneth Cain, Heidi Postlewait, and Andrew Thomson (Miramax Books, 2004), pp. 170-171

Somalia, 1993: Watching Haiti on CNN

I check in with Heidi at India Base. She's watching CNN with the American Intel officer who's been hovering around her lately. Wonder what's up there. They're watching breaking news from Haiti. The Intel guy says the USS Harlan County arrived yesterday to deploy American and Canadian peacekeeping troops and a crowd of Haitians came to the dock to greet the ship, shot in the air, shouting "Aidid, Aidid," and the Harlan County was ordered to retreat. Turned tail. Withdrew.

From Haiti?

I look at the Intel guy. Are you shitting me? We retreated from Haiti? They barely have an army for fucksake. The macoutes will run riot now. Open season. They win. He looks back at me with a cold stare. I try to hold his gaze. There's an entire doctoral dissertation communicated in the three-second silence of that stare-down. It's the most coherent articulation of an American foreign policy critique I've ever heard in my life, and he didn't have to say a thing.

I'm ashamed in front of the officer. For being a civilian. Like I personally represent everything that's wrong with the policies we're all watching fall apart. Only civilians would imagine that you can keep the peace in a hot war without fighting.

This will never work now. It's over. I gave this idea everything I had, literally. Why am I taking this all so personally? It's not about me, I tell myself, even as I talk to myself. This is exactly why Heidi thinks Andrew and I are full of shit: it's always about us and our ideas, not about individual humans. But an idea died this week, just like a human dies. How many successful peacekeeping missions will never be sent now? How many lives we could have saved will be lost now? The question is palpable as India Base Somalia watches CNN Haiti.
SOURCE: Emergency Sex and Other Desperate Measures: A True Story from Hell on Earth, by Kenneth Cain, Heidi Postlewait, and Andrew Thomson (Miramax Books, 2004), pp. 171-172

21 June 2005

Lind on Vietnam as an Ideological Symbol

After the Vietnam War ended in 1975, it took on a second life as a symbol in American politics. For the radical left, the war was a symbol of the depravity of the United States and the evils of "capitalist imperialism." For the neoisolationists and "realists" of the liberal left, the U.S. war in Indochina was a tragic and unnecessary mistake, brought about by American arrogance and an exaggerated fear of the threat posed to U.S. interests by the Soviet Union and communist China. Conservatives, too, had their orthodox view of the conflict. Conservatives joined many military officers in arguing that the United States could have achieved a quick and decisive victory in Indochina, if only the pusillanimous civilian policymakers of the Kennedy and Johnson administrations had not "tied the hands" of the U.S. military and "denied it permission to win."

One point of view has been missing from the debate over the Vietnam War. The political faction known as liberal anticommunists or Cold War liberals, identified with the Truman, Kennedy, and Johnson administrations, ceased to exist as a force in American politics in the 1970s, more as a result of partisan realignment than of the Vietnam War. One group of former Cold War liberal policymakers and thinkers sought to ingratiate themselves with the antiwar leftists and liberals who were ascendant in the Democratic party after 1968. Among these were the late McGeorge Bundy and his brother William (who, as part of his campaign to rehabilitate himself, recently wrote a harsh and unfair book criticizing Nixon's and Kissinger's handling of the war that the Bundys had helped to begin). Former defense secretary Robert McNamara not only recanted his support for the war in his book In Retrospect but endured the abuse of functionaries of the Vietnamese dictatorship during a humiliating pilgrimage to Vietnam in 1997. Another group of former Cold War liberals joined forces with anti-Soviet conservatives, maintaining their support for the Cold War while jettisoning their prolabor liberalism in domestic politics. The number of unreconstructed Cold War liberals thus dwindled in the 1970s and 1980s, making it easy for radical leftists, left-liberals, and conservatives, in their discussions of the Vietnam War and U.S. foreign policy in the 1960s, to caricature and vilify Presidents Kennedy and Johnson and their advisers with no fear of rebuttal.

Almost everything written by Americans about the Vietnam War in the past quarter century has conformed to one of the three scripts of radical leftism, anti-Cold War liberalism, or conservatism. Each of these three partisan schools has drawn attention to evidence that appeared to support its preconceptions, while ignoring evidence that contradicted them. These ritualized debates might have continued for another generation or two. But two historic developments have now [in 1999] made it possible to transcend the thirty-year-old debates about the Vietnam War.

The first development is the end of the Cold War and its aftermath, including the global collapse of communism and the realignment of world politics around the United States as the hegemonic military power. Only now is it possible to view the Cold War as a whole and to evaluate the U.S. strategy of global containment that led to the U.S. wars in defense of South Korea and South Vietnam, as well as the U.S. protectorate over Taiwan--"the three fronts," according to Mao Zedong, where the communist bloc met the American bloc in East Asia.

The second development is the demise of the radical left in North America and Western Europe as a political force (leftism survives only in pockets in the academy and the press). [This obituary seems a little premature!] In the 1960s and 1970s, the ascendancy of the radical left in the liberal and social democratic parties of the West--the Democrats in the United States, the British Labor Party, and the German Social Democrats--caused western electorates to turn to conservative, anticommunist parties under the leadership of Ronald Reagan, Margaret Thatcher, and Helmut Kohl. The economic difficulties of Swedish social democracy, coming soon after the collapse of the Soviet Union, have discredited western as well as eastern Marxism and permitted the emergence of a new, more moderate center-left, variously described as "the Third Way" or "the New Center" and symbolized by President Bill Clinton and British prime minister Tony Blair. As recently as the Gulf War, which the overwhelming majority of Democrats in Congress voted against, foreign policy debates in the United States pitted anti-American leftists and isolationist liberals against interventionist conservatives. But the subsequent U.S.-led NATO war in the Balkans, supported by many liberals and opposed by a number of conservatives, has helped to rehabilitate the legitimacy of military intervention for many left-of-center Americans.

These developments in global politics and western politics have made it possible to write this book, which could not have been written in the 1970s or 1980s. In this book, I examine the Vietnam War in light of the end of the Cold War, from a centrist perspective more sympathetic to American, Cold War policymakers than that of their critics on the left and the right.
SOURCE: Vietnam, the Necessary War: A Reinterpretation of America's Most Disastrous Military Conflict, by Michael Lind (Simon & Schuster, 1999), pp. xii-xiv (reviewed in the NYT here and here)

Lind is the author of The Radical Center: The Future of American Politics (with Ted Halstead) (2001, reviewed here); Hamilton's Republic: Readings in the American Democratic Nationalist Tradition (1997); Up from Conservatism: Why the Right is Wrong for America (1996); and The Next American Nation: The New Nationalism and the Fourth American Revolution (1995). I'm far less comfortable with Lind's nationalism than I am with his anticommunism.

Finally, Lind is decidedly not for the latest U.S. intervention in Iraq.

In a Haiti Hospital, 1993: No Rules

I was debating whether to post excerpts from Emergency Sex and Other Desperate Measures, but after viewing the CBC documentary Shake Hands with the Devil: The Journey of Roméo Dallaire this weekend, I lost any qualms I might have had. (And it has only been six months since I saw Hotel Rwanda when it premiered in NYC.) The abject failure of the U.S. and UN interventions in Somalia and Haiti in 1993 practically guaranteed an even more pusillanimous effort to stop full-on genocide in Rwanda a few months later. So here, without pity, is the first of a short series of excerpts from the memoirs of UN workers in Haiti and Somalia in 1993.
After a short briefing, my new boss sends me straight to the [Port-au-Prince] city hospital. The UN's mission here is to gather enough evidence of brutality to convince the world to reverse the coup and force the military from power. All over Haiti, 250 unarmed observers are investigating and documenting atrocities against the civilian population. Most of the victims are too terrorized to talk to foreigners or provide any meaningful evidence, but I have an advantage and the boss is happy to exploit it: victims need doctors and doctors get access.

My task at the hospital is to interview a beating victim, see whether there's anything we can do to help him, and take a statement. The sleepy receptionist thumbs through a grubby admissions book. He's in the surgical ward, she says in French, throwing her arm in a wide, unspecific arc, in the general direction right. So I head off down a series of endless corridors and soon get lost. Clouds of flies lift off the chipped floor tiles, resettling behind me as I pass. When I finally find the surgical ward, I give the victim's name to a nurse.

He was here but now he's not, she says. I look at her, waiting for more, but she just stares off somewhere over my shoulder. She's uneasy. The ceiling fan turns slowly, cobwebs dangling from its blades. No air moves.

Well, where is he now? I need to talk to him. She shrugs.

I start to lose patience.

I tell her I'm a doctor with the UN and I need to talk to the treating doctor now. She goes away and doesn't return.

There's no one around except patients and orderlies. I linger for half an hour until finally a slight man in his fifties appears. It's the surgeon. He invites me into his office and closes the door behind him.

Look, he says, I know why you want to talk to him, but he's gone. He was brought in several days ago after they'd beaten him terribly, for hours. He was barely alive when I first saw him, skull fracture, both arms broken, multiple rib fractures, smashed kneecaps, urinating blood. We did what we could for him, he says sighing, set the fractures, dressed the wounds. He did well, but he was weak and couldn't afford to buy any blood for a transfusion.

So where is he now? I ask. When they heard he was still alive, they came in here last night and just dragged him away again, he tells me.

And no one did anything to stop them? I was in the operating theater when I heard the screams, he says, and I ran down here in my greens and gloves to plead with them. But one of them just stuck his gun in my face and told me he'd turn me into a patient if I didn't back off. There was nothing I could do, they have all the guns. I have to go, he says wearily, there are patients waiting. A bitter look crosses his face as he opens the door to leave. They should have just finished him off the first time, he adds, it would have been much more humane.

I sit staring through the cracked pane of the office door at the post-op patients in their beds. I should write up a report, but I can't think straight, so I drive back up to the villa and gaze out past the bougainvillea at the pool. I can't quite believe what I've just heard.

In Cambodia I treated children who stepped on landmines, villagers stabbed in their sleep, shoppers shelled in the marketplace, drivers shot up at roadside checkpoints. The victims all made a beeline for our hospital and I was usually able to help. We didn't care who they were or how they got there; everyone knew that the killing stopped at the red cross on the front gate. Once you made it past there, you were safe, a custom of war so accepted that I never even heard it discussed. Check your weapons in at reception, get a receipt. Do whatever you must to your enemies out in the killing fields, but do not ever bring that shit inside my hospital.

Maybe there are no rules here.
SOURCE: Emergency Sex and Other Desperate Measures: A True Story from Hell on Earth, by Kenneth Cain, Heidi Postlewait, and Andrew Thomson (Miramax Books, 2004), pp. 112-113

20 June 2005

Two Dilemmas: Kosovo in 1999, Vietnam in 1965

When bombing initially failed to change the enemy's policy, the pressures on the president to commit ground troops increased. The president, a politician more interested in the mechanics of domestic reform than in foreign policy, pondered his options. To back off at this point would result in devastating humiliation for the United States, with consequences around the world that could not be foreseen but which might well be severe. To escalate the war by introducing ground troops would be to risk a bloody debacle and a political backlash. Every choice presented the possibility of disaster.

THIS IS A description of the situation that confronted President Bill Clinton in the spring of 1999, after the United States and its NATO allies began bombing Serbia with the goal of forcing Yugoslav dictator Slobodan Milosevic to agree to autonomy for the Albanian ethnic majority in the Yugoslav province of Kosovo. It is also a description of the dilemma of President Lyndon Johnson in the spring and summer of 1965, when the failure of U.S. bombing raids against North Vietnam to dissuade Ho Chi Minh's communist dictatorship from its low-level war against South Vietnam had become apparent. In each case, what was at stake for the United States was its credibility as the dominant global military power and the survival of a regional alliance--NATO in the case of the Balkan war, the Southeast Asia Treaty Organization (SEATO) in the case of the conflict in Indochina. (In fact, SEATO did dissolve, when the United States abandoned Indochina to communist conquest between 1973 and 1975.)

Both Slobodan Milosevic and Ho Chi Minh were communist dictators who manipulated the nationalism of their subjects--Milosevic in the service of his dream of a Greater Serbia dominating the former Yugoslav federation, Ho in the service of the dream of a united Vietnam dominating all of Indochina. Both Milosevic and Ho promoted their goals by supporting guerrilla terror campaigns in other countries. Milosevic armed, supplied, and directed Serb paramilitary units engaged in mass murder and ethnic cleansing in Bosnia, Kosovo, and other parts of the former Yugoslavia; Ho armed, supplied, and directed Viet Cong guerrillas in South Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia who waged war against South Vietnamese military and police forces and murdered tens of thousands of South Vietnamese officials and civilians. In both cases, the low-intensity wars launched by the communist-nationalist dictators produced tidal waves of refugees. Hundreds of thousands of non-Serbs were forced from their homes in different parts of the former Yugoslavia by Serbian ethnic cleansing. Nearly a million residents of North Vietnam fled Ho Chi Minh's rule in the 1950s, and following the communist conquest of South Vietnam in the 1970s more than two million others risked their lives in fleeing the country. Of the two communist-nationalist leaders, Milosevic was the less tyrannical; his Serbian regime was far less repressive than the government of Ho Chi Minh. The latter was a strict Stalinist dictatorship that tolerated no political or intellectual dissent and executed more than ten thousand North Vietnamese villagers in cold blood in a few months because they were landlords or prosperous peasants and thus "class enemies," according to Marxist-Leninist dogma.

Despite these similarities, the U.S. wars in the Balkan and Indochinese peninsulas differed in one fundamental respect. The Yugoslav War was not a proxy war among great powers. Although Russia protested the NATO war against the Serbs and supplied some limited assistance to the Milosevic regime, postcommunist Russia, truncated, impoverished, and weak in the aftermath of the Soviet collapse, did not commit itself to defeating American policy in the Balkans. The situation was radically different in the 1960s. The Vietnam War was a proxy war between the United States, the Soviet Union--then growing rapidly in military power, confidence, and prestige--and communist China. Despite their rivalry for leadership of the communist bloc of nations, the Soviets and the Chinese collaborated to support North Vietnam's effort to destroy South Vietnam, to promote communist revolutions in Indochina and, if possible, Thailand, and to humiliate the United States. In the 1990s, Serbia was a third-rate military power lacking great-power patrons. In the 1960s, North Vietnam was protected from an American invasion, and equipped with state-of-the-art weapons and air defenses, by the Soviet Union and China, the latter of which sent hundreds of thousands of troops to support Ho Chi Minh's war effort between 1965 and 1968. By the late 1970s, the Vietnamese communists, after annexing South Vietnam, occupying Cambodia, and breaking with and defeating China in a border war, possessed the third largest army in the world and ruled the most important satellite region of the Soviet empire outside Eastern Europe. At the time of the Vietnam War, the United States was engaged in a desperate worldwide struggle with two of the three most powerful and murderous totalitarian states in history; in 1999, the United States faced no significant challenge to its global primacy by another great power or coalition.

The American wars in defense of Kosovo and South Vietnam, then, differed chiefly in this respect: More--far more--was at stake in Vietnam.
SOURCE: Vietnam, the Necessary War: A Reinterpretation of America's Most Disastrous Military Conflict, by Michael Lind (Simon & Schuster, 1999), pp. x-xii

"[This] is a necessary book." --Dan Rather, CBS News

I'm going to excerpt more from this book. It challenges almost every aspect of my received wisdom about the War in Vietnam during the 1960s and 1970s, during which time I spent 996 days in the U.S. Army--all safely Stateside. A degree of survivor guilt impels me to explore another viewpoint about why so many Americans of my generation--and far, far more Vietnamese of all ages--ended up either killed or disabled by that godforsaken conflict.

Reporting on the Kosovo War

Why did the [Kosovo] war end when it did? If you believe Nato or any of the alliance governments it ended because the bombing campaign had succeeded. The high-tech weapons performed largely as advertised and Milosevic and the Serb people no longer had the stomach to see their country being destroyed around them. If you believe some of the correspondents, the war ended because during peace talks on June 3 the Russians urged Milosevic to do a deal, threatening to cut gas supplies to Serbia.

It took the BBC's documentary division to reveal why Russia, which had steadfastly supported their fellow Slavs throughout the war, brought this pressure to bear on Serbia. The second BBC programme on Kosovo called "An Audit of War" broadcast on October 18 said, "Shortly after Serbia accepted the peace deal the International Monetary Fund provided Russia with nearly three billion pounds to payoff the interest on its foreign debts."

This leaves us with the most intriguing question of all--what was the war really all about? The Spectator doubted if it was actually about the ethnic cleansing of the Kosovars. "In the three years leading up to 25 March 1999, between two and three thousand people had died in Yugoslavia's latest ethnic conflict," wrote Mark Steyn, the magazine's American correspondent. "Not a pretty sight. But let's say it was the upper number, 3,000. That still gives it a lower murder rate per capita than New Orleans or New York ... Washington, Oakland, Houston, Las Vegas, Dallas.

"Sitting in Belgrade browsing through the homicide statistics Slobo must have thought that the Americans of all people would appreciate how some societies can tolerate a level of slaughter others might find excessive." But, said Steyn, Milosevic failed to understand a crucial distinction--if you kill people in drive-by shootings, liquor store hold-ups and child custody disputes, that was the sign of healthy mature democracy. But if you killed people because of an ongoing blood feud rooted in centuries of history, that was barbaric.

Perhaps President Clinton gave the game away when early into the bombing campaign he tried to ease America's doubts. "Had we not acted," he said, "the Serb offensive would have been carried out with impunity." The bombing, therefore, was to punish the Serbs. Punishment is an established part of U.S. foreign policy [and not that of every country outside of late 20th-century Europe?]. Gary Sick, who was then in charge of Gulf policy at the National Security Council, said after Iran took American hostages in Teheran in 1979, "There was a strong view ... that Iran should be punished from all sides."

But what was Serbia being punished for? "For the humiliation we suffered at their hands in Bosnia," according to Robert Fisk. "For daring to resist the project of establishing the West's hegemony" said the celebrated Russian dissident Alexander Zinoviev in Le Monde.
SOURCE: The First Casualty: The War Correspondent as Hero and Myth-maker from the Crimea to Kosovo, by Phillip Knightley, with an introduction by John Pilger (Johns Hopkins U. Press, 2000; first published in 1975), pp. 517-518

Interesting that, when it comes to the Kosovo War, the Telegraph/Spectator's Mark Steyn appears to have kept company with the Guardian/Observer's John Pilger and the Independent's Robert Fisk.

19 June 2005

Romania's Role in Freeing Hostages in Iraq

Jim Hoagland's column in last Thursday's Washington Post exposed an unusual angle on the hostage-taking business in Iraq.
Three haggard Romanian journalists appeared on al-Jazeera television April 22, in handcuffs and with guns pointed at their heads, to beg for their lives. They would be killed if Romania did not immediately withdraw its 860 troops from Iraq, their captors announced to the world....

There is a happy ending to this particular story: The Romanian government, which rejected any troop withdrawals, managed to win the journalists' freedom a month after their suffering was exploited on al-Jazeera. With the help of Iraq's besieged authorities, Bucharest has also unraveled many details of the kidnapping plot.

That investigation in turn contributed to the freeing Sunday of French journalist Florence Aubenas and her Iraqi translator, Hussein Hanoun Saadi. They and the Romanians were held on a "hostage farm" north of Baghdad by one of the local networks that traffic in foreign and Iraqi hostages. French Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin publicly thanked Romania on Tuesday for its help.

Criminality became ingrained in Iraqi society during the long and brutal rule of Saddam Hussein, and it did not disappear with the U.S. invasion. Many of those who finance or commit the bombings and other atrocities that flash nightly on American television screens, where the violence is interpreted uniformly as a political phenomenon, fight to be able to return to crime-as-usual in Iraq.

The Romanian case also casts new light on the strong connections that united the Iraqi dictator -- and other Arab leaders -- with the intelligence services and political establishments of the Soviet bloc for three decades. As they made cause against the United States together, they also made money together.

The U.N. oil-for-food scandal is in many ways only a small strand in the vast web of international corruption and violence spun around the Middle East's oil riches....

The [Romanian] election last December of a democratic government headed by President Traian Basescu [who ran as an anticorruption candidate] has finally opened the files of the Romanian Intelligence Service ...
O să fie foarte interesant, cred eu.

Growth of Papuan Nationalism, 1961-2004

Honolulu-based East-West Center has issued a policy study that is of particular interest to me, for its focus both on Papua and on the construction of national identity.
Pan-Papuan identity is much more widespread and the commitment to a Papuan nation much stronger in 2004 than it was in 1963, when Indonesia thought it was liberating the Papuans from the yoke of Dutch colonialism. Rather than feeling liberated from colonial rule, Papuans have felt subjugated, marginalized from the processes of economic development, and threatened by the mass influx of Indonesian settlers. They have also developed a sense of common Papuan ethnicity in opposition to Indonesian dominance of the local economy and administration, an identity that, ironically, has spread in part as a result of the increasing reach of Indonesian administration. These pan-Papuan views have become the cultural and ethnic currency of a common Papuan struggle against Indonesian rule. Yet the sharp ethnic distinctions Papuans make between themselves and Indonesians reflect the various and complex relationships Papuans have had with the latter.

Despite the sharp distinctions they draw between themselves and Indonesians, the Papuans are themselves diverse. Papuan society is a mosaic of over three hundred small, local, and often isolated ethno-linguistic groups, whose contacts with each other and with non-Papuans has varied significantly. The evolution of Papuan nationalism has therefore gone hand in hand with the creation of a pan-Papuan identity. The first generation to begin thinking of themselves as Papuans were the graduates of the mission schools and colleges established by the Dutch to train officials, police, and teachers after the Pacific War. The study examines two regions to illustrate something of Papua's ethnic and religious diversity as well as the different ways in which regions have interacted with the world outside Papua. These two regions, Fakfak [on the lower beak of the Bird's Head] and Serui [on Yapen Island], had displayed some of the strongest pro-Indonesian sentiment prior to 1961. Today, the choice between Papuan and Indonesian identity is a hotly contested issue in Fakfak, while Serui has become anti-Indonesian. The analysis in these case studies sheds additional light on the ways Papuans have negotiated their ways through choices of identity and political orientation.
SOURCE: Constructing Papuan Nationalism: History, Ethnicity, and Adaptation, by Richard Chauvel.

Beijing's (and Washington's) Policies toward the Uyghurs

Honolulu-based East-West Center has just issued a policy study that sounds two notes worth repeating.
Both Beijing and Washington are about to lose crucial political opportunities in this far-flung territory. Beijing’s new hard-line stance, which restricts even language and culture, has galled the many moderate Xinjiang citizens who once grudgingly accepted Chinese political restrictions as a price of regional economic development. The PRC government still has an opportunity to win back these people with a more pluralistic cultural policy that emphasizes support for Uyghur and other policy-relevant minority languages and that eases other cultural restrictions, particularly on religion. Without such a policy shift, as Beijing well knows, Xinjiang could become China’s Kashmir. Yet if current PRC policy stays on course, any change is likely to be even more restrictive, since the government considers its cultural accommodation of the 1980s and 1990s to be a cause of unrest, rather than a solution to it.

The United States, for its part, must make clear to Beijing that current U.S. political imperatives will not distract U.S. policy from supporting human rights, including cultural rights. The Uyghurs have been among the most pro-American citizens in China. They also happen to be Muslims. If the United States wants international partners in fighting terrorism, it should cultivate a cooperative partnership with China, including the Uyghurs. If the Xinjiang region is to be involved in an initiative against international terrorism, then the United States can urge China and its allies to cultivate the Uyghurs—with their knowledge of the language and cultures of Central Asia—as partners rather than as opponents. As Washington has begun to realize, its anti-Uyghur policies, even those targeted only at violent fringe groups, have already generated negative sentiment in Xinjiang towards the United States. Policies perceived as anti-Uyghur or anti-Muslim could well radicalize previously apolitical Uyghurs, pushing them into militant or radical Islamic groups.
SOURCE: The Xinjiang Conflict: Uyghur Identity, Language Policy, and Political Discourse, by Arienne M. Dwyer (2005).

18 June 2005

Algeria: Split by the Gulf War

Initially, the Gulf crisis, set off by Iraq's invasion of Kuwait on August 2, 1990, drew increasingly marked lines of separation within the Algerian political class. Although all the parties condemned the Western reaction--the massing of troops and weapons in Saudi Arabia--whose aim, according to some, was only to "preserve their interests," or even "seize control of hundreds of billions of Arab dollars and threaten the Islamic and Arab nation in its security," the position toward Saddam Hussein's regime was far from unanimous.

The ISF [Islamic Salvation Front] Islamists proved to be increasingly embarrassed. How ought one to "protect" Saudi Arabia's appeal for Western troops? Response: "Let us brandish the torch of Islam. Let us brandish the jihad. Down with the servants of colonialism! No to Iraqi intervention in Kuwait, no to the intervention of unbelievers in Saudi Arabia, no to the governments that have compromised with the West. Yes to the peace dialogue. My dear brothers, we reject all intervention in our affairs." The ISF preacher who gave this speech in Constantine ended it with the search for the inevitable scapegoat, "the Jews, who occupy all the holy places of Islam" (Sigau 1991).

The rejection of "the American war," which increased after the air offensive by the coalition against Iraq on January 17, 1991, did not signify adherence to the doctrine of Iraq's sole party, the Baas [= Baath]. From one end of the Maghreb to the other, the violence of the conflict provoked the return in force of the tradition of revolutionary populism, of a movement of unanimity without any possible differences in points of view. And yet, in the many pro-Iraqi demonstrations that occurred in Rabat, in Algiers, and in Tunis, a rift appeared.

On the one hand, there were those who demanded peace, an immediate cease-fire. They spoke of safeguarding the unity of the "Arab nation." They adopted the tone of the Third World movement of the 1960s, supported in the past by the Moroccan Mehdi Ben Barka and the West Indian writer Frantz Fanon: they denounced the oppression of the peoples of the "Arab nation" by a regime resolved to establish its hegemony over it. The rejection of US intervention against Iraq was accompanied by a denunciation of the petroleum monarchies in the Gulf. They were accused of placing their capital in Western financial institutions when, in the overwhelming majority of Arab countries, social progress remained very slow. But that effort at social clarification collided with the power of consensus based on identity, the sense of belonging to the same "Arab camp." And the "Palestinian cause" further united people. Some, however, particularly the heads of the human rights leagues, attempted to explain the necessary distinction between Saddam Hussein's totalitarian regime and the suffering of the Iraqi people.

On the other hand, in Morocco and Algeria the Islamist movement championed the jihad. The Western view of the Arab world, simplified to the point of caricature, encouraged this movement. Feeding the worship of a fixed past, the Islamist movement assimilated democracy (seen simply as a product of European history) to irreligion, that is, to one of the weapons in the vast conspiracy fomented by the enemies of the Prophet.

The West, out of habit or laziness, has relegated all the Arab countries to a global otherness--a homogeneous whole, sometimes invaded by abrupt fits of fever--without understanding that these peoples, in mobilizing against the war, aspired not to a return to military nationalism, but only to a greater degree of justice.

Public opinion brandished the democratic argument with the slogan "two weights, two measures." The Algerians emphasized the glaring inequality in the application of UN resolutions. But the majority of them did not embrace Saddam Hussein's regime. In Rabat and Tunis as well, there was a demand for more rights and not for the withdrawal of the international community.

The tragedy lay in the refusal by the "North" to take these considerations into account. It has then been easy for the Islamists to demonize the idea of democracy, understood as a product of the West and not as a universal principle.
SOURCE: Algeria, 1830-2000: A Short History, by Benjamin Stora (Cornell U. Press, 2001), pp. 208-209