J Walking

J Walking

Justice for Sudan

From Mark Helprin in The New York Times, a way to end the genocide in the Sudan… yesterday:

DESPITE almost 1.5 million bombing sorties flown against Germany during the Second World War, the United States and Britain failed for lack of trying to destroy the system of transport that fed the gas chambers and crematoria. Thirty-five years later, America did not, despite its unquestioned naval supremacy, protect the Vietnamese boat people. That we and our two allies capable of projecting power, France and Britain, are now distracted and divided by the wars in the Middle East is terribly unfortunate for the people of Darfur….
The genocide there is thus an unattended stepchild left to well-meaning groups and individuals who further sap the possibility of decisive action by directing attention to delicate measures of relief and equally fragile diplomacy. Blankets are necessary, but they will not stop the razing of villages. As Sudan brazenly defies, if not the world’s will, then, its wishes, and the death toll closes upon half a million, the pity is that the people of Darfur can in fact be saved. In concert with our allies or entirely alone, we have the military potential to accomplish this.
Although Darfur is part of Sudan, it is physically distant from the country’s heartland and sources of military power. Every inch of the 600 miles of barren territory between Khartoum and the killing grounds is an opportunity for a reprieve commanded by American air power — with not a boot on the ground. The Sudanese military in Darfur can be trapped there without sustenance, to wither or retreat as the bulk of Sudanese forces are kept out. And the janjaweed can be denied tangible support merely by severing the few extenuated routes of supply.

Why are we waiting another day?

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Another day

posted March 26, 2008 at 7:17 am

Hypocrisy is glaring here David. To end the genocide IN Darfur, “we” will have to “go over there” and kill terrorists (mostly, if not all Muslims) that are engaging IN genocide of others (usually Christians). And why do you allow the slight against Christians by the NY Times? The people that are “distracting” France and Britain, from doing the right thing, is the left-wing, liberal socialists, that are trying to implement the Humanist Manifesto uber alles, drive Christianity out of their countries and implement some socialist hedonistic utopia. And of course, other evil people in other evil places are committing genocide and the only people really trying to do anything about it are Christian organizations. Or as the Times puts it: “well meaning groups.”

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posted March 26, 2008 at 9:41 am

I have no idea if Halperin is right or not but the fact that no one will try the simple solutions in Darfur is awfully depressing. If only we sang jeremiads over thatched villages the way we weep for Jerusalem.

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posted March 26, 2008 at 2:39 pm

Air power was an extremely crude weapon in the 1940s– less than half of the bombs we dropped landed within half a mile of the target. Therefore, it’s not clear we could have used air power to shut down the death camps, at least not without diverting large amounts of resources to the war effort. Also, the death camps weren’t essential to the Holocaust– well over a million Jews along the eastern front were shot and dumped in mass graves they had been forced to dig themselves. I’m not inclined to second-guess the men who decided that defeating Hitler as quickly as possible was the best way to end the Holocaust.
America’s real complicity in the Holocaust was our failure in the 1930s to throw open our doors to every Jewish refugee who wished to immigrate here. Based on our current immigration policy, it seems we didn’t learn from that experience.

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Texas in Africa

posted March 26, 2008 at 3:14 pm

Because China needs access to Sudanese oil, and we can’t afford to destabilize relations (or lending relationships) with China right now. So we sit back and let an underfunded, underequipped, and inadequately-mandated African Union peacekeeping force “do something” with our minimal support.

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posted March 26, 2008 at 3:38 pm

Texas in Africa is right although perhaps now is the time (Tibet, Olympics, et al) to challenge China on the international stage.
A number of years ago, I was part of a movement that eventually successfully pressured Talisman Energy here in my hometown to get out of Sudan (see attached below). Although Talisman got out, they sold their shares to Indian and Chinese oil companies. Last I knew, there were still some lawsuits against Talisman that were tied up in U.S. courts.
Divestment Campaign to Get Talisman Out of Sudan
Boston Phoenix
July 12, 2001
An international campaign to get Canadian oil company, Talisman Energy Inc. out of the oil project in Sudan was succesful — only to have the India based Oil and Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC) come in and buy its shares. For more information, read the article, India’s ‘See No Evil, Hear No Evil’ Policy in Sudan.
Below is a July 2001 editorial from Boston based publication, Phoenix, laying out the divestment campaign to get Talisman out of the Sudan oil project.
When Will Fidelity Investments stop funding Sudan’s civil war?
Fidelity holds some five million shares of stock in Canadian-based Talisman Energy, Inc., making it the company’s largest private investor. By virtue of that investment, Boston’s mutual-fund giant is supporting a company that contributes to slavery, murder, and famine in southern Sudan.
Since 1955, Sudan has been ripped apart by a bitter civil war: north versus south, Arabs versus Africans, Muslims versus Christians and animists. With the backing of the government in Khartoum, the northern Arab Muslims have long held the upper hand in this war, displacing and even enslaving southern Africans (see “Africa’s Invisible Slaves,” News, June 30, 1995). Since 1983, the most recent phase of the war has been fueled in part by the desire to control the southern Sudanese oil fields discovered by Chevron in the 1970s.
The government in Khartoum has made no secret of its desire to amass oil profits, with which it can buy helicopters, tanks, bombs, and guns to use on its southern neighbors. Indeed, the World Bank estimates that since oil profits began flowing into Khartoum, its military budget has doubled. (According to the CIA’s World Factbook, the Republic of Sudan spends $1.3 billion annually–$550 million of which is dedicated for military expenditures.) The southern oil fields themselves act as government strongholds, with soldiers camping nearby. The United Nations, Amnesty International, and Human Rights Watch have all documented the connection between oil profits and famine, murder, and slavery in southern Sudan. In May 2000, Amnesty International issued a scathing report titled “Sudan: The Human Price of Oil,” documenting how government troops have displaced and killed civilians who live around the Sudanese oil fields. This May, Amnesty published a follow-up report titled “Sudan: Talisman Energy Must Do More To Protect Human Rights,” in which it found “little evidence that the company has taken effective action in its area of operations to protect human rights of civilians as well as to prevent violations.” In 1997, then-president Bill Clinton issued an executive order banning American-based companies from doing business with Sudan.
In the summer of 1999, the American Anti-Slavery Group launched a divestment campaign against Talisman Energy, the only Western oil company doing business in Sudan. Since then, every major public institutional investor has sold its shares of stock in the company: the state of New York (353,000 shares); the state of New Jersey (700,000 shares); the California Public Employees Retirement System (300,000 shares); the Texas Teachers Retirement System (100,000 shares); New York City (186,000 shares); and the state of Wisconsin (180,000). In addition to these public investors, TIAA-CREF, which serves employees in higher education and is the largest private pension plan in the world, has sold its 300,000 shares of Talisman. And Vanguard Mutual Funds, Manning & Napier Investments, and the Presbyterian Church USA have all done the same.
It’s the most successful divestment protest since the 1980s campaign to get investors out of South Africa. Eric Reeves, a professor who has taken a leave from Smith College to research the Sudanese war, attributes the campaign’s success to evidence of “overwhelming human devastation in Sudan and the unambiguous corporate complicity in that devastation.”
Still, one target of the divestment campaign remains obdurate: Fidelity Investments. It’s hard to imagine that investors in Fidelity funds that hold stock in Talisman Energy would feel comfortable knowing that their investment is financing slavery and death. Yet the mutual-fund giant remains impervious to pleas for divestment.
To be sure, it’s illegal for an institutional investor to sell shares of stock for any reason other than to maximize profit for investors, and Talisman’s market fundamentals havent changed; indeed, Talisman has been a good investment since the campaign was launched. During the summer of 1999, when the campaign began, a share of Talisman cost just over $26. Currently, when adjusted for splits and dividends, a share is worth $38.48.
But advocates count a successful divestment campaign as one in which 100 percent of the targeted shares are liquidated in the wake of “significant” pressure, even if that pressure is never cited as the reason. And thats just whats happened elsewhere. Every major public institutional investor has dumped its Talisman shares. Then theres the story of TIAA-CREF. In December, divestment advocates turned up the pressure on the private pension fund. At a rally in Boston on December 3, 1999, students from Harvard, Tufts, Simmons, Suffolk, and Boston University spoke out against TIAA-CREFs investment in Talisman. Four days later, recalls the American Anti-Slavery Groups Jesse Sage (one of the protests organizers), TIAA-CREF had sold all its Talisman shares.
“What’s really remarkable about this [divestment drive] is that it has support from the far left and the far right,” says Sage. “You have people from Al Sharpton to Jesse Helms supporting this campaign. What we do here in Boston can make a difference halfway around the world. Fidelity investors need to know they can make a difference.”
If you or your company does any business with Fidelity, you can make a difference, regardless of whether you own shares in Fidelity mutual funds that invest in Talisman. Or if you simply care about this issue, call Jeffrey Hamilton, assistant to Fidelity CEO Ned Johnson, and tell him you want Fidelity to divest its shares of Talisman Energy: (800) 771-7213. The American Anti-Slavery Group has also set up a protest Web site from which you can e-mail Hamilton directly at For more information about slavery in the Sudan or about the divestment campaign, visit

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John E.

posted March 26, 2008 at 6:13 pm

Heck, a big dent in the problem could be made by simply airdropping shotguns and shells to the villagers.

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Another day

posted March 27, 2008 at 12:23 pm

Gas is 3.50-plus a gallon. China is at war with us and we sit by a rant on about worthless other things.

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posted March 27, 2008 at 2:24 pm

Gas is 3.50-plus a gallon. China is at war with us and we sit by a rant on about worthless other things.
Actually, gasoline has long cost that much in other countries. And China is not at war with us.
But it’s exactly that selfcentered and selfpitying attitude, that notion that world is a drama of oneself and oneself alone, that is at the root of unwillingness to act to improve things in e.g. Darfur.

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