Wednesday, July 25, 2007

2008 Beijing Genocide Olympics

2008 Beijing Genocide Olympics

I was struck by an opinion piece in the International Herald Tribune in which two reasonably high-powered American-based academics, both of Chinese descent, try to defend China's policies toward Sudan, and take issue with the increasingly popular notion that the 2008 Olympics in Beijing will be the genocide Olympics.

What really stood out about this opinion piece was that it is childish, or, at best, sophomoric, and I was surprised that responsible editors, first the editor of The Boston Globe and then the editor of the IHT, had seen fit to give it house room.

The two Chinese authors are not, I presume, in the pay of the Chinese government, but they might as well be, because their opinion piece is pure Ministry of Truth propaganda.

They mask the bare simplicities of the undeniable facts by trying to have us believe that the issues surrounding China's involvement in Sudan are complicated, nuanced, and by no means as simple as they seem at first blush.

I don't buy that for a moment.

What is happening in Darfur is genocide, pure and simple, a rape, kill and pillage operation that neither Genghis Khan nor Atilla the Hun would have had any trouble understanding, despite their lack of a modern university education.

In broad outline, the Islamic government of Sudan is facilitating the mass murder of black Africans living in Darfur, a region in the west of Sudan. This slaughter is being carried out by Arab militias who think that they are doing the work of God by using rape, murder and arson as instruments of ethnic cleansing. Their goal is to extirpate Darfur's black Africans, who do not adhere to their religion, and who are seen as being subhuman.

China's role in this affair is, amongst other things, the role of weapons supplier. China knowingly sells Sudan the weapons which are being used for the Darfur genocide.

In an act of stunning intellectual dishonesty, China's two academic cheerleaders pass over this fact in silence. In effect, they are lying by omission.

In addition to handing out the guns and ammo, China also supports Sudan's genocidal regime with direct aid, millions of dollars in pocket money with no strings attached. Additionally, China invests in Sudan's oil industry.

The two Chinese authors say, in part, that "Beyond development cooperation, China's principle of exerting influence but not interfering and imposing is consistent with African practice, and the final political decisions will have to be made by Africans."

If you're at the zoo and you're videotaping a lion in the process of mauling a hapless tourist to death, are you, by playing that passive spectator role, be in some sense "exerting influence." Well, you're certainly not interfering, nor are you imposing.

The subtext of the article seems to be that interfering and imposing are wrong when we're dealing with Africa. But certain regimes in Africa are run by thugs, tyrants, kleptocrats or out-and-out monsters, an example of an out-and-out monster being Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe.

If we don't judge these people by our own standards, if we not just ignore but connive at bald-faced evil on the grounds that it is "consistent with African practice," then we become morally responsible for that evil.

By facilitating the genocide in Darfur, China is morally responsible for that genocide.

The authors seek to attribute the West's criticism of China's policies as an act of diversion. In particular, the United States of America is accused of trying to "divert public attention" from, wait for it, America's "oil-centered foreign policy" in the Twentieth Century, and its breach of UN sanctions against apartheid South Africa.

This is cloud cuckoo ideation. The adjective asinine, which I have never had occasion to employ before, seems apposite. Who, right now, in Brazil, Bolivia or Bhutan, is concerned about the rights or wrongs of America's petroleum policy in the previous century? And who, right now, in Cape Town, Johannesburg or Pretoria, is up in arms about American sanctions busting?

To complete this intellectual debacle, the authors finish with the following paragraph:

"If there is a linkage between the Darfur crisis and Beijing Olympics, it should be in the West and China together using the spirit of the Olympics - mutual understanding, friendship, solidarity and fair competition - with their sympathetic hearts to collectively create a better future for Darfur."

When Adolf Hitler was busy cranking up genocide in Germany, the rest of the world came to his Olympic games and played, judging that the Olympic spirit trumped any worries about expendable people (Jews, gypsies, gays, Communists and dissident priests) destined for gas chambers and incinerators.

Given a choice between allowing the 2008 games to be a propaganda coup for the People's Republic of China or pining the genocide label home where it belongs, I think that we should clearly state that the 2008 Olympics is, indeed, going to be the genocide Olympics.

The two clowns who perpetrated this propaganda stunt are Jason Qian, a fellow at the Harvard Negotiation Project at Harvard Law School, and Anne Wu, a research fellow at the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs at Harvard University's Kennedy School of Government.

Cheng (Jason) Qian is currently at work on "a collaborative research/training program on bridging western and eastern negotiation theories and practices."

Whether he can be considered as an independent academic in the Western sense is, to my mind, unclear. He has in the past been a part of the machinery of China's government, for we read about him the following:

"Prior to coming to the US, he was senior expert on E-governance in Ministry of Supervision of China. His work covered e-government development, organizational reform, good governance, and knowledge management."

I don't find his e-mail address on the one page about him that I downloaded, but maybe I could find it if I looked harder.

His fellow author, Xiaohui (Anne) Wu, to my surprise, has not just her e-mail address but her telephone number and fax number online. To avoid being abusive, I won't give any of that data here, even though I assume it's all just her university coordinates.

Her specialty is atomic war, so, understandably, she's currently focused on North Korea, and she's teamed up before with Jason Qian on a couple of pieces related to North Korea. A cabal of two, evidently.

The reason why she speaks like a mouthpiece of the government of the People's Republic of China is no secret. If you Google him, you can find, amongst other things, the following information:

"Prior to joining Harvard University, she was a career diplomat serving as the Director of the Political & Press Department in the Embassy of China to Singapore and the chief analyst of the Asian Department of Ministry of Foreign Affairs of China."

With that background, I'd trust her to tell me about Singapore, but not about China and Darfur.

To get a simple background briefing on Darfur I went to the Wikipedia page on the subject, which gives a useful collection of links. If you want pictures, video, details, then follow the links.

In my quest for an enlarged understanding of the Darfur issue, one of the Wikipedia links I followed led me to an article by a Muslim writer who takes issue with the notion that the conflict in Darfur is between Islamic "Arabs" and non-Islamic blacks. In his opinion, everyone on both sides of this conflict is an adherent of the Islamic faith.

He is R.S. O’Fahey, who, writing in Islamica Magazine. He is Professor of History at the University of Bergen, Norway, and he is writing in November 2006. That is the "present" of which he says the following:

"From 2003 to the present, Darfur has been subject to all the biblical woes: war, famine, rape (on a horrendous scale), looting, etc., carried out by the Arab nomad militias, the notorious janjaweed (“devils on horseback”), in conjunction with the Sudanese army. Small mountain villages built out of stone and millet stalks have been repeatedly attacked with oil barrel bombs filled with stones and pieces of metal. These are tossed from Antonov transports into the center of the villages, killing or maiming mainly women and children. These attacks are then followed by a posse of Janjaweed horsemen charging in to rape or kill survivors, a policy that has been absolutely lethal.

"It is difficult for outsiders to comprehend the sheer scale of death, destruction and misery in Darfur. Visiting the IDP camps in 2005 was traumatic; I have a 5-year-old Sudanese grandson in Oslo, Norway, but the 5-year olds in the camps looked nothing like my Bushra.

"Khartoum has kept the Western media largely out while the Arab media seems to be generally indifferent. Why is the latter the case? Why are Muslims not more vocal about what is happening in Darfur?"

This is the truth of what is happening on the ground in Darfur. The news in recent months has all been of things getting worse, not getting better, so this situation is obviously neither self-healing nor self-limiting. Hence the growing concern of the wider world, when it does not have its attention firmly focused on other issues, such as the upcoming movie about the Simpsons, or the release of the latest Harry Potter book.

I confess, at this juncture, that I, for my part, have spent more time in the last few months reading about Paris Hilton and her escapades than about the more serious issues that beset the world. But I assume that I am not alone in sining thus.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

unrelated, but may be of interest with respect to cancer treatment.

9:54 AM  

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