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November 11, 2006

Legal Postings

Teacher /student sex, "Sleeping Dogs Lie" and the cultural implications of the double standard over on the Brecher Brief.

Posted by stevemack at 10:49 AM | Comments (4282) | TrackBack

November 01, 2006

"John Quixote": Edwards' Africa Policy

It would be difficult to imagine a more quixotic, more obscure world crisis to ground a presidential aspirant’s foreign policy credentials than Darfur. But John Edwards has found it—the war in Northern Uganda. Darfur is the crisis that everybody knows about, but no one tries to solve. Northern Uganda is the crisis that nobody even knows about.

But crisis it is. As Edwards describes it in a Washington Post Op-Ed piece,

It is perhaps the worst humanitarian catastrophe to have gone practically unnoticed by most of the world. The two decades of violence in northern Uganda have had devastating consequences -- nearly 2 million people have been run out of their homes and forced to live in overcrowded, squalid camps; tens of thousands have died; 30,000 children have been abducted by an organization called the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) and forced to fight as child soldiers or used as sex slaves. Hundreds of villages have been abandoned and destroyed.

Edwards is not exaggerating. The BBC quotes Jan Egeland, UN Under Secretary General for Humanitarian Affairs, as saying the situation in northern Uganda is “worse than in Iraq, or anywhere else in the world.”

The rebels routinely abduct children to serve as sex slaves and fighters.

Thousands of children leave their houses in northern Uganda to sleep rough in the major towns, where they feel more safe from the threat of abduction by the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA).

The LRA, under shadowy leader Joseph Kony, says it wants to rule Uganda according to the Biblical Ten Commandments.
They often mutilate their victims, by cutting off their lips, noses or ears.

"I cannot find any other part of the world that is having an emergency on the scale of Uganda, that is getting such little international attention," Mr Egeland told the BBC's Focus on Africa programme.

Despite this horrific depiction, Edwards’ argument is an optimistically toned plea for creative diplomacy. It’s worth quoting at length:

First, the United States and the United Nations should offer whatever support outside mediators, led by the government of southern Sudan, require. In particular, assistance in monitoring the cease-fire and the assembly of LRA fighters at two agreed-upon sites in southern Sudan would be critical to boosting the confidence of both sides -- while also holding them accountable to their commitments.

Second, the United States should publicly voice its support of the peace talks and encourage the Ugandan government and the LRA to maintain their commitment to the process. It's understandable that Uganda's government is skeptical of the LRA's intentions, given the atrocities that organization has committed. Yet this is the closest the two sides have ever come to a comprehensive agreement. Uganda needs to know that Washington stands behind the drive for peace and will be a supportive ally after an accord is signed.

Third, the key donors -- the United States, European countries and the United Nations -- must come together and make clear their commitment to providing the financial assistance necessary to help victims rebuild their homes and villages. This will create incentives for both sides and, just as important, lay the foundation for long-term reconstruction and reconciliation -- not only in Northern communities that have been terrorized by the LRA but also between Northern and Southern Uganda. Once the agricultural breadbasket of Uganda, the North has been marginalized and impoverished for decades. It must be integrated more fully into the country.

Finally, the United States and the international community must fulfill their pledges to help southern Sudan recover after more than 30 years of its own war. Peace and reconstruction in Northern Uganda have to be supported by reconstruction and development in neighboring southern Sudan, which is critical for regional economic recovery and cross-border trade.

Policy-wise, one has to note that Edwards is here reasserting the centrality of human rights, the ethos that grounded President Carter’s foreign policy. While the Neocons see democracy (or some cartoon version of it) as the sufficient agent of change, the Carter/Edwards doctrine treats fundamental human rights as the vehicle for achieving democracy.

Politically, it seems, in a sense, almost daring: Edwards appears to be betting that addressing a problem so obscure (in American political consciousness) gives him both moral and political capital to bank—that moral politics might also be smart politics.

It’s an audacious and novel ploy.

Posted by stevemack at 10:39 PM | Comments (2199) | TrackBack

"A Whitman for our Time."
- Jerome Loving,
"Stephen John Mack's The Pragmatic Whitman: Reimagining American Democracy, [is] The most thoroughly informed philosophical reading of Whitman to appear in decades. Mack develops the premise . . . That Whitman shares with John Dewey a vision of democracy as a 'civic religion' in America, a profoundly secularist and progressive perspective.

- M. Jimmie Killingsworth, Texas A & M University
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