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Why is the world blind to the tragedy in Africa.

 
 
ehBeth
 
  1  
Reply Fri 2 Apr, 2004 03:32 pm
Since Scrat has indicated he's leaving, I think we can regain the thread. <nods>

I'll be back after work.
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Scrat
 
  1  
Reply Fri 2 Apr, 2004 05:04 pm
Cute ehBeth. Apparently I'm somehow not allowed to take part? Or perhaps I didn't get the memo about what we're allowed to discuss and what we're not.

If I stated two opinions that didn't square with each other, AU would be one of the first in line to challenge me on my inconsistency. As usual for his ilk, he can dish it out the scrutiny, but can't take it.

Personally, I thought there might be some interesting and useful discussion inherent in exploring why AU has taken different positions regarding the problems in Africa and the problems in Iraq. I imagine he could articulate his reason for seeing the two situations as requiring different handling or how he thinks they are more different than similar. Shame he's too hypersensitive to step up and discuss them.
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au1929
 
  1  
Reply Fri 2 Apr, 2004 05:46 pm
Scrat
One more time the post was related to the worlds apathy regarding the tragedy on the African continent. It was not about the lies Bush told to justify his invasion of Iraq. If you have anything worthwhile to add relative to the post please do.
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hobitbob
 
  1  
Reply Fri 2 Apr, 2004 06:03 pm
Scrat is more interested in argument than discusion. I suggest we take the advice of the long departed Mamajuana and "stop making faces at the babboon."
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ehBeth
 
  1  
Reply Fri 2 Apr, 2004 06:23 pm
Quote:
It's time for Bush to speak out forcefully against the slaughter. This is not just a moral test of whether the world will tolerate another genocide. It's also a practical test of the ability of African and Western governments alike to respond to incipient civil wars while they can still be suppressed. Africa's future depends on the outcome, and for now it's a test we're all failing..


I don't think it's up to Bush (or any other leader) to say anything. I think it's up to those of us who live in democracies, who are concerned about what is going on in the rest of the world, and who feel some responsibility for our world to let them know that this issue means something to us, and that their re-election, in part, would be impacted by their lack of action.

Our new Canadian Prime Minister has already started to take some action on one of the problems facing Africa right now. As much as I was uncomfortable with his election to the leadership of the Liberal Party, I am pleased to see that he has begun to follow-through on the things he promised during his leadership campaign.

Quote:
link

Part of what I have found interesting about this, is that the action here is cutting across party lines. Stephen Lewis was leader of the provincial New Democratic Party here for some time.
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au1929
 
  1  
Reply Fri 2 Apr, 2004 06:43 pm
ebeth

Quote:
I don't think it's up to Bush (or any other leader) to say anything. I think it's up to those of us who live in democracies, who are concerned about what is going on in the rest of the world, and who feel some responsibility for our world to let them know that this issue means something to us, and that their reelection, in part, would be impacted by their lack of action.


Is it not up to the world leaders to speak up. Bush and the rest of the leaders of the free world should make it a priority issue with the UN.
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ehBeth
 
  1  
Reply Fri 2 Apr, 2004 06:50 pm
au, I don't really expect any politician to care about Africa, or anything other than their own personal self-interest. However, we can show them that if they're interested in being re-elected, they need to listen to what matters to voters. We've certainly seen the impact of voter behaviour on government behaviour in several Canadian provinces, and Spain, recently.

Soooo, I don't expect Bush to think of doing anything about Africa, unless American voters let him know it matters to them/ to how they think the U.S. should behave as a citizen of the world.
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au1929
 
  1  
Reply Fri 2 Apr, 2004 07:10 pm
Is Bush who can't spit and walk a straight line the only world leader? Where are the leaders of the nations who comprise the UN? The shame is the world leaders do not seem to give a tinkers damn about Africa and Africans.
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ehBeth
 
  1  
Reply Fri 2 Apr, 2004 07:21 pm
au - did you not read my post about Canada? We have been providing help in Africa in a number of areas for several years. Not huge things, we're not a big country. However, Stephen Lewis is very active as a respected campaigner for the needy in Africa, and I believe he's done some very good things.

Americans need to get their leaders to do things. Others of us need to be active in our own communities. My impression is that Mr. Bush doesn't care much what other world leaders think, only whether he'll be re-elected. You (as an electorate) have to deal with him.
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InfraBlue
 
  1  
Reply Fri 2 Apr, 2004 08:26 pm
Yet another example of good 'ol Western colonialism and its enduring effects today.

There has been an imbalance of power between the Hutus, racially Congoid, who are a majority in Rwanda, and the Tutsi, racially Hamitic, and emigrating from East Africa, since the times when both groups emigrated to Rwanda, when both groups replaced the Twa, pygmys who had pre-existed the other groups arrival there eons and eons ago.

The Hutus were agriculturalists, while the Tutsis were herders, and this accounted for the pronounced differences in culture between these two groups. The cattle of the Tutsis, "providing beef and milk for sustenance, as well as dung for agricultural fertilizer, promised enormous benefit to the majority Hutus, but the Tutsis didn't simply hand over this valuable resource, rather; they lent it out in an evolving system whereby a Tutsi patron would provide cattle, and in return a Hutu client would provide his lands, military service, and homage to the patron. The Hutus were thus enfeuded to the Tutsi establishment, the Tutsis becoming masters, while the groups whos previous name remains unknown came to called in its own language "servants" or 'Hutu'." History of Rwanda Wikipedia

An obsession with race was introduced there during the European colonial period when Germany gained control of Rwanda and Burundi, and the first Europeans arrived there in 1894. The Germans favored the Tutsis, who thought of them as more "white" than the Hutus they dominated. Despite this prejudice, the Germans brought changes that gave the Hutus more autonomy than they had previously wielded.

After WWI, the League of Nations mandated Rwanda and Burundi to Belgium. It was the Belgians' manipulations in Ruanda that lead to the ethnic strife that exists today in Rwanda. The Belgians held to the racism of the Germans as did the Roman Catholic Church which concentrated on the evangelization of the Tutsis, and they in turn enjoyed certain privileges that were not affored the Hutus. Also, the Belgians discriminated in education, favoring the Tutsis over the Hutus, resulting in an imbalance of education and literacy between the two groups.

Belgium and the Roman Catholic Church, in a fit of compunction upon seeing the plight of the Hutus, began to reverse the old socio-political systems that had favored and maintained a Tutsi domination. In 1959 Belgium encouraged the overthrow of King Kigeri V, the last Tutsi monarch by the Hutus. Twenty thousand Tutsis were killed, and one hundred and sixty thousand Tutsis fled to bordering countries. The Tutsis that remained were excluded from the political process that was consolidated under Hutu power when Belgium declared Rwanda's independence in 1962.
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joe harris
 
  1  
Reply Fri 2 Apr, 2004 08:43 pm
au 1929;

You ask , "Why is the world blind to tragedy in Africa"?

I will answer you with another question,"How much oil does Africa have that we (World) can take from her.??????

Joe Harris
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Tarantulas
 
  1  
Reply Fri 2 Apr, 2004 10:06 pm
So the author is asking for our President to make a speech? That doesn't seem like much of a response.
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edgarblythe
 
  1  
Reply Fri 2 Apr, 2004 10:30 pm
I have spent many years pondering the same question. It seems like people's compassion stops long before it gets to Africa.
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Scrat
 
  1  
Reply Sat 3 Apr, 2004 12:40 am
au1929 wrote:
Scrat
One more time the post was related to the worlds apathy regarding the tragedy on the African continent. It was not about the lies Bush told to justify his invasion of Iraq. If you have anything worthwhile to add relative to the post please do.

One more time, you have called for international action in sovereign African nations, and I WONDER WHY, given your stance against such action elsewhere. If you can't see the relationship, that's fine, but don't pretend that I'm changing the subject when I simply ask you why you've done a 180 on the question of intervening in sovereign nations. You have. I wonder why the difference. You don't want to talk about it, fine, but don't complain that I notice your inconsistency.
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Scrat
 
  1  
Reply Sat 3 Apr, 2004 12:45 am
au1929 wrote:
Is Bush who can't spit and walk a straight line the only world leader? Where are the leaders of the nations who comprise the UN? The shame is the world leaders do not seem to give a tinkers damn about Africa and Africans.

Why don't you answer my question, AU?

If a single nation took military action to restore order within one of the African nations you complain needs such intervention, would your complaint be with the nation that took action or those that sat idly by?
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roverroad
 
  1  
Reply Sat 3 Apr, 2004 12:52 am
The US only gets involved when there's some kind of benefit for us. They ignore the little countries because it doesn't directly affect America's cause of stamping out Communism, finding druglords or terrorists or controlling the Oil. Otherwise we'd go in there. And it's only for the reason of terrorism when it directly affects us. Do you really think the US government gives a hoot about terrorism in Europe or Africa?

This is me jumping into a thread late again.
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au1929
 
  1  
Reply Sat 3 Apr, 2004 09:05 am
Scrat
It is not up to a single nation to take action. It is the responsibility of all the nations of the so called free world to take action. Hopefully the action would come in the form of diplomacy and economics. There is a UN and I can't think of a better use for it than being in the forefront. Military action on the other hand should last option and only used for peacekeeping. You can lead a horse to water but you can't make him drink.
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georgeob1
 
  1  
Reply Sat 3 Apr, 2004 10:59 am
I don't think it is true that "The world is blind to the tragedy in Africa". Awareness of the poverty, lack of civil order, and the ravages of disease that prevail in many (not all) parts of Africa is generally very high worldwide. Perhaps the proposition implies that the world, or more likely the West, or in the words of some posters - the United States, hasn't done enough to alleviate it.

That opens several questions. Whose responsibility is it to alleviate these problems? Can externally applied solutions work? Do some non-African nations have more responsibility in this area than others? If so, on what basis should they be identified, and who are they? Which nations are helping well, relative to their responsibilities, and which are not?

Scrat opened a hornet's nest by noting the hypocrisy of some who decry intervention in any form (in Iraq) and who here imply the lack of it in Africa is somehow immoral. Not much benefit to anyone in pursuing that question further.

It is worth recollecting that sixty years ago, virtually all of Africa was ruled by one or another of the European powers. In most cases immense wealth was accumulated in Europe through the economic exploitation of their African colonies. It will take many, many years of government to government assistance by the European powers before even a small fraction of that accumulation is repaid, and, at current European aid levels, only an insignificant fraction will ever be returned.

In recent times the major restraints on beneficial development in Africa seem to be primarily internal. The first generation of independent African post-colonial leaders mostly chose the then fashionable European socialist model for their political and economic development. That unhappy choice cost them a wasted generation and much human misery. Corruption, excess dependence on government, wasted resources, and crumbling infrastructure were the results.

While the illusions of socialist development models are now largely gone, mismanagement by African governments continues to harm the people of that unhappy continent. The effects of civil war and sectarian strife have already been noted. Even the richest and best-developed governments of Africa have done their share of harm. Just a few years ago Zimbabwe was relatively prosperous and growing economically. Now, as a result of the unbridled ambition of an old revolutionary leader who exploited racial strife merely to prolong his own incompetent rule, a formerly rich economy is in ruins, and poverty, disease, and civil strife are rampant. Denial and government inaction, even among the richest African countries permitted the HIV infection to spread unabated for more than a decade - HIV rates in South Africa and Botswana are 21% and 39% respectively, while relatively poorer Uganda, which 15 years ago took elementary public health and information steps, has a 5% infection rate. Fifteen years ago infection rates in these countries were all about the same.

Today European governments use their influence to persuade African governments to resist the use of genetically modified seeds that promise significantly improved production, increased local food supplies, and the possibility of export income. At the same time these same European governments keep their own agricultural markets closed to the agricultural products of even their former African colonies. The government aid they provide doesn't even dent the harm they do through trade and tariff policies. The U.S. is far from perfect in this area, but, compared to Europe, we are quite benign. While much has been made of perceived shortfalls in the current funding of the U.S. program to combat HIV, the fact remains that in comparison to the current giving of other nations it is huge.


In Africa and in the Middle East the United States is dealing with the legacy of several centuries of European Imperialism. Meanwhile Europeans, obsessed with their new EU, have become inward looking and forgetful of all that happened in the world before 1985. Perhaps they imagine that the United States was a colonial power.
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InfraBlue
 
  1  
Reply Sat 3 Apr, 2004 03:39 pm
The US' trade policies are anything but "benign," even when comparatively speaking. They are less severe than the EU's, but they are far from "benign," and their malignancy was only made worse with the passage of the Farm Bill in 2002. They affect countries all over the world, including those in Africa.

The US exports corn at prices 22% below production cost, and wheat at 46% below. Through NAFTA, the dumping of these artificially priced commodities in Mexico have directly affected the small corn producers there, putting many of them out of business. This has lead directly to the undermining of local rural economies and an increase in Mexican immigration to the US.

The US' subsidized citrus industry is currently battering at Brazil's closed markets to gain an access to dump their artificially priced citrus commodities onto the Brazilian market.

The IMF blew open Haiti's closed rice markets in the mid 1990's, opening the country to the US rice industry's subsidized exports. This crippled local production, and maligned the rural populations there. Haiti used to be self-sufficient in rice production. It now imports most of it from the US.

West African cotton exporters lost around $250 million a year due to US cotton subsidies. That was before the passage of the Farm Bill in 2002.

Among other things, the Farm Bill:

- Fixed payments totaling $5 billion annually for 10 years to all grain, cotton and soybean farmers based on historical production. Farmers are allowed to update the production records on which the payments are based.

- Provides for additional subsidies for the same farmers based on fluctuations in market prices for commodities. Farmers would be eligible for two separate payments on each crop.

- Created a new subsidy for peanuts, replacing an existing quota program, and payments are restored for honey, wool and mohair. Price supports for sugar and milk are continued.

- Created the Conservation Reserve Program, which pays farmers to idle environmentally sensitive land, would be expanded from 34 million to nearly 40 million acres. A new program would protect up to 2 million acres of grasslands.

- Created the Environmental Quality Incentives Program, which subsidizes the cost of manure control and other conservation projects, would receive nearly $1.3 billion a year, up from $174 million. Producers could qualify for up to $50,000 per year, up from $10,000.

Created a program that underwrites the cost of advertising U.S. food products overseas would more than double to $200 million annually.

http://www.yellowtimes.org/article.php?sid=791

http://www.pjstar.com/services/special/Farm/f998774a.html
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hobitbob
 
  1  
Reply Sat 3 Apr, 2004 05:26 pm
Repeating Rwanda?
Quote:
UN urges global action on Darfur
Hundreds of thousands have been driven from their homes
A senior UN official has urged the world to pressure the Sudan government and rebels into ending human rights abuses in the western Darfur region.

UN emergency relief co-ordinator Jan Egeland said the organisation was getting daily reports of atrocities but was unable to help those affected.

He accused the government in Khartoum of tolerating "ethnic cleansing" by Arab militias.

"We must put pressure on the parties," he told the Security Council on Friday.

Hundreds of thousands of civilians have been displaced in the fighting, with more than 100,000 fleeing across the border into neighbouring Chad.

Fighting in Darfur broke out more than a year ago, when rebels attacked government targets, saying black Africans were being oppressed in favour of Arabs.

'Starvation' fears

Mr Egeland described it as one of the world's worst humanitarian crises.

Thousands of people had been killed in the region and there were reports of mass rape by the Arab militias.

He said it appeared to be an organised campaign of ethnic cleansing, with villages looted and burnt down and food and seed supplies destroyed in a "scorched earth" policy.

"I've had colleagues from my office seeing in desperation people being killed, gang-raped, abused and not being able to do anything to help," he said.

He warned that there was a possibility of mass starvation and said a new UN appeal would need $115 million, with an added $30 million to care for refugees.

Aid workers can only reach a third of those affected due to government travel restrictions and insecurity.

The UN is also planning to send a fact-finding mission to Darfur in the next few days to investigate alleged human rights abuses.

On Friday a report by New York based rights group Human Rights Watch also accused the Sudanese authorities of committing crimes against humanity in the region.

The government has dismissed the claims as "a heap of lies".

Talks threatened

On Wednesday rebels from the Sudan Liberation Movement (SLM) and the Justice Equality Movement (Jem) began indirect talks with government representatives in the Chadian capital, Ndjamena, aimed at ending the war.

But the Jem rebels say they plan to withdraw from the talks.

Fighting in the west of Sudan has intensified as government peace talks to resolve a 20-year war with rebels in the south of the country are nearing an end.

But the UN is concerned that the Darfur conflict could undermine the separate peace talks taking place in Kenya with the southern rebels.
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