Tsunami: the politics of relief..a request for the bloggosphere to check out some disturbing rumors..

    From     Dan Gould
    Subject:     Tsunami regions
    Date:     December 31, 2004 4:20:55 PM EST
    To:       Jim Moore

Jim–

I’ve appreciated your work on the Passion of the Present; you’ve done
hugely important work in getting media attention for desparately
important issues.  I don’t have a blog myself, but I’m emailling
you and a very few other relevant bloggers in hopes that you can help
inject some news into the blogosphere that is similarly important and
not being reported on in the major papers.  Moreover, the world is
paying attention to the tsunami-affected regions right now and a little
bit of attention may go a long way in stopping some absuses that may be
similar in numbers to the Sudan crisis.

My girlfriend is from Sumatra (though inland, away from the directly
affected regions); I’m sure similar things are going on elsewhere, but
that’s where I’m hearing reports from.  If you’ve followed the
news reports, you’ve probably run across the perplexing question of why
Indonesia has been drastically underreporting the casualities from the
Earthquake and Tsunami, particularly in the Aceh region.  When you
see the papers discussing the fact that Aceh is a “politically
troubled” region, there is a lot to this story, and only bits and
pieces of news are leaking out, just like in Sudan or World War Two
Germany.

Much of Aceh is controlled by Islamist rebels; as such, the government
is not acting to help people affected in Aceh.  Instead, their
attitude is that “the next generation of potential terrorists has been
killed off.”  They are purposely moving slowly and in a limited
fashion to provide aid.  So, while some terrorists were killed
off, far more innocent people are suffering

Also, a substantial number of children have been left orphaned in the
Chinese regions of Aceh.  Since the Chinese population was willing
to put up with the required bribes and ransoms to the local Islamist
rebels, the Indonesian Army considers them tacit supporters of the
rebels.  Because of that, now that the army has enter Aceh, there
have been rumors of mass rape of the young Chinese teenagers in the
refugee camps.

Singapore Airlines was generous enough to fly a number of the children
who weren’t being let out of the area by the government to the former
WWII refugee camps near Medan.  However, they are beginning a “no
questions asked” adoption of those children.  Some will certainly
find good homes, but without any monitoring, a substantial number will
likely be sold in to servitude or prostitution unless someone pays
attention.

As I mentioned, I only know dribs and drabs of what’s going on. 
Because these regions all speak local languages, there is almost no
news available in Western languages.  But, a few reporters shining
some light on the situation could provide enough attention to stop some
of the worst of the actions with relative ease.  So, I’d certainly
appreciate it if you could spread the “let’s check this out” meme.

Thank you,
Dan

Globalization, competition among communities of globalizing states, China, the US, and the gap states they are competing to link up with.

Here’s one for Tom Barnett, who as we speak is going through a “big think” (his words) about his next book: 

The current situation in Sudan illustrates key aspects of the struggle
among great powers to integrate gap states into the global
economy. 

I.  The fact that the struggle to integrate these gap states into
the global system is not clearly-enough recognized in the United States
by policy makers does not mean that the competition among super powers
has not been joined.  All superpowers, implicitly by way of the
interests of the businesses that make up their economies, and
explicitly as an element of foreign policy, are continually engaged in
a competition to link up and develop gap states.  And in doing so,
they also compete in terms of the “value regime” that they promote
across the world.  Gap-integration-initiatives are not value
neutral.  The US-centered integration initiative has values–some
I support and some I frankly abhor. So does the Chinese integration
initiative.  Globalization is not a single process, it is a
competition among “paradigms of globalization” and among networks of
states joined together to make up a particular economic and value
community, and a competition among nations that have the power to drive
such communities.  The US and China are the central, but by no
means the only, drivers of communities of globalizers.

China, as it reaches out for natural resources, is naturally attracted
to certain gap states as sources of raw material for its booming
economy.  Gap states ranging from Burma to Sudan are good sources
of some materials.  The prices are often quite cheap, reflecting
low labor and other costs.  And often there is less competition,
or none, from other super powers in gap states that have been declared
world pariahs.  So China, whether consciously or not, has an
aggressive gap-development policy working its way in Burma, Sudan, Iran.

In addition, China is keen to develop the Asian nations into a regional
economy that it can dominate.  In doing so it will integrate
certain developed economies, such as Singapore, with many less
developed states–some of which qualify as gap states, and some of
which, like Indonesia, have gap regions within their borders.

II.  Moreover, once a superpower takes action, other players are
incented to join.  Like tenants in a new shopping mall, they are
reassured by the presence of an “anchor tenant” such as China, knowing
that trade traffic will abound, national security in the gap state will
be supported, and that in helping a gap state connect to the global
economy there will be many opportunities to establish new elements of
the local economic system, and to prosper.  Note two announcements in the
past two days: 1.  The World Bank and the IMF are stepping in to shore up the Sudanese banking system
and national accounts system–providing essential training, systems
and certification for a banking system preparing for membership in the
global economy.  2.  The
United Arab Emirates announces an agreement with the Sudanese
government to set up an international-level “Emirates and Sudan Bank”
that is Sharia-law compliant, will have bank branches all over Sudan.

Dr Kharbash, who is also Chairman of Dubai Islamic Bank (DIB),
added: ‘The creation of the new bank draws tighter the historically
close ties between Sudan and the UAE, a great supporter of economic and
trade cooperation between Arab countries. He added: ‘UAE investors
reacted enthusiastically to the opportunity to set up the bank.

‘Sudan’s economic indicators are generally positive and forecasts
for gross domestic product, balance of payment, balance of trade,
exchange rates, and foreign investments suggest that the country is
poised for an economic upswing, particularly after the latest
developments to do with the peace treaty.

‘It is crucial to the country’s further progress that it has solidly
established banks and financial institutions with the resources and
facilities to offer a service that can facilitate international
transactions.’

Post-script: in the time period Barnett is hoping to
address-say, 20 years into the future–could another sort of
globalizing/global competition emerge?  Could the power of the
globalized countries expand to the point that they become their own
drivers?  Or might some sort of NGO/UN/WTO/Social Investment third
way of organizing gap-development and globalization be established?

Here’s one for Tom Barnett, who as we speak is going through a “big think” (his words) about his next book: 

The current situation in Sudan illustrates key aspects of the struggle
among great powers to integrate gap states into the global
economy. 

I.  The fact that the struggle to integrate these gap states into
the global system is not clearly-enough recognized in the United States
by policy makers does not mean that the competition among super powers
has not been joined.  All superpowers, implicitly by way of the
interests of the businesses that make up their economies, and
explicitly as an element of foreign policy, are continually engaged in
a competition to link up and develop gap states.  And in doing so,
they also compete in terms of the “value regime” that they promote
across the world.  Gap-integration-initiatives are not value
neutral.  The US-centered integration initiative has values–some
I support and some I frankly abhor. So does the Chinese integration
initiative.  Globalization is not a single process, it is a
competition among “paradigms of globalization” and among networks of
states joined together to make up a particular economic and value
community, and a competition among nations that have the power to drive
such communities.  The US and China are the central, but by no
means the only, drivers of communities of globalizers.

China, as it reaches out for natural resources, is naturally attracted
to certain gap states as sources of raw material for its booming
economy.  Gap states ranging from Burma to Sudan are good sources
of some materials.  The prices are often quite cheap, reflecting
low labor and other costs.  And often there is less competition,
or none, from other super powers in gap states that have been declared
world pariahs.  So China, whether consciously or not, has an
aggressive gap-development policy working its way in Burma, Sudan, Iran.

In addition, China is keen to develop the Asian nations into a regional
economy that it can dominate.  In doing so it will integrate
certain developed economies, such as Singapore, with many less
developed states–some of which qualify as gap states, and some of
which, like Indonesia, have gap regions within their borders.

II.  Moreover, once a superpower takes action, other players are
incented to join.  Like tenants in a new shopping mall, they are
reassured by the presence of an “anchor tenant” such as China, knowing
that trade traffic will abound, national security in the gap state will
be supported, and that in helping a gap state connect to the global
economy there will be many opportunities to establish new elements of
the local economic system, and to prosper.  Note two announcements in the
past two days: 1.  The World Bank and the IMF are stepping in to shore up the Sudanese banking system
and national accounts system–providing essential training, systems
and certification for a banking system preparing for membership in the
global economy.  2.  The
United Arab Emirates announces an agreement with the Sudanese
government to set up an international-level “Emirates and Sudan Bank”
that is Sharia-law compliant, will have bank branches all over Sudan.

Dr Kharbash, who is also Chairman of Dubai Islamic Bank (DIB),
added: ‘The creation of the new bank draws tighter the historically
close ties between Sudan and the UAE, a great supporter of economic and
trade cooperation between Arab countries. He added: ‘UAE investors
reacted enthusiastically to the opportunity to set up the bank.

‘Sudan’s economic indicators are generally positive and forecasts
for gross domestic product, balance of payment, balance of trade,
exchange rates, and foreign investments suggest that the country is
poised for an economic upswing, particularly after the latest
developments to do with the peace treaty.

‘It is crucial to the country’s further progress that it has solidly
established banks and financial institutions with the resources and
facilities to offer a service that can facilitate international
transactions.’

Post-script: in the time period Barnett is hoping to
address-say, 20 years into the future–could another sort of
globalizing/global competition emerge?  Could the power of the
globalized countries expand to the point that they become their own
drivers?  Or might some sort of NGO/UN/WTO/Social Investment third
way of organizing gap-development and globalization be established?

New Year’s reflections on our web-centered campaign for Darfur, Sudan.

I just posted this on Sudan: The Passion of the Present, as a reflection on the year:

Intention, Darfur, Sudan

I’ve been listening to a CD of The Power of Intention, by Wayne Dyer.
The essence of his message is that there is a kind of divine intention
acting all the time in the world.  We experience this intention as an
energy and as a sense of purpose. We can choose to harmonize with it
and create new things.

The CD (and the book it is an abridged from) is based on his
experiences, experiments, and study of living in this manner. 

One of Dyer’s conclusions:  You cannot make change by condemning something.

When you condemn something you partake of its energy–of its
sensibility–and you inadvertantly establish more of this negative
sensibility in the world.

The way to make change is to seek to understand the positive
possibilities trying to enter, establish themselves, and grow and
develop in the situation. You make change by being open to ways to
align your efforts with the intention expressing itself through
transformative tendrils sprouting on the landscape.

I think this is what many of the religious people in our movement
for Sudan and Darfur are saying, and seeking to help actualize.

As I mull this over, it occurs to me that several lines of intention are seeking to be realized:

Awareness and witness: visibility for all people

The victims of genocides often talk about their invisibility, and
the crippling sense that the world was not watching, that the world did
not care.  Interviews with survivors of the Nazi Holocaust often  dwell
on this theme, and one the counterpart healing power of sharing one’s
story, and having it be heard.

This website began with the goal of witness.  Like Mary’s loving
witnessing of Jesus’ suffering in the movie The Passion of the Christ,
one of our founders felt deeply moved to witness the suffering in
Sudan, and to make connections with others involved in the tragedy and
the response and rescue.  The Green Ribbon Campaign, the plastic
bracelets, the South African-made beaded bracelets (coming soon), the
candle-lite vigils, and STAND and other high-school and college groups
(spreading very very rapidly), provide a kind of deep ecology of
witness. 

In Darfur and Sudan, witness also has proven to be fundamental. 
When one talks to humanitarian workers, surprisingly, one often hears
that the victims in Darfur greatly value simply being respected, being
heard, being attended to, and knowing that people are working on their
behalf, even if that work is so far unsuccessful in stopping the
tragedy.  In some sense this kind of listening, listening to the
stories,
witnessing, seems like a weak response in the face of overwhelming
evil.  Yet it also seems at the root of healing, at the root of putting
oneself in position to take loving action.

Information and insight

The developmental link from witness to broader community
understanding has been forged by both the blog community and the
mainstream press.  Nick Kristoff’s stories in the New York Times, the
stories told by
Jerry Fowler of the Holocaust Memorial Museum, the story remembered in
Song for Sudan, these and many many other media-carried stories have
enriched the
spiritual soil in which our movement is growing.

Our work on this site is sometimes seen by me as countering the
disinformation spread by the Sudanese government and its allies–and
condemning that government and its allies. 

Perhaps better to see Passion of the Present as establishing clear,
truthful information and insight into the situation and lives in Darfur
and Sudan.  If we look long-term at what we would hope for Sudan, it is
that information, dialogue, constructive relationships would thrive
among its citizens and those of the rest of the world.  The hundreds of
bloggers now focusing on Sudan, and the thousands and thousands of
regular readers, as well as the dozens of major newspapers that have
taken up the cause, and their millions of readers, are surely improving
the information and insight that citizens of the world have about
Darfur and Sudan (and insight about the UN, the African Union, and the
role of China and other nations in the world economy and society, and
about many other topics).  Central also is direct web-access to
specialized data gathering and analysis provided by human rights
organizations, economic and social policy think tanks, and individual
commited citizens.

Intention seems to be manifesting a world of continually refreshed
global information and insight, with as much wisdom as possible laid
in.  And this global knowledge, this global dialogue, is increasingly
free and open to all people of the world. Indeed, it is co-created by
the people of the world. It is not produced mainly by media companies,
but created principally by free people.

Personal relationships that will endure

More and more, our community seems to be manifesting a next level of
intention, that of connecting face-to-face as people with people in
Darfur and all of Sudan.  Jay McGinley brings our attention to the
Catholic Workers who are now in Sudan.  Phil Spector and others that we
know personally have now worked in Sudan as members of MSF.  In about
two weeks Gloria White-Hammond and Liz Walker of My Sister’s Keeper
will be entering Darfur to establish connections with communities of
women who will be central to reweaving and strengthening the
post-conflict fabric of society in Darfur.  Other friends are also
planning missions in January. Their names cannot be mentioned because
of the challenges of getting visas to go into Darfur.  A human bridge
to Sudan is starting to be built. The suspension cables of this bridge
are personal relationships—reaching across and connecting solidly at
each end–on our end, solidly reflecting a philosophy of learning from
the Sudanese as well as offering help.

There are other layers of intention that seem to be manifesting in
the relationship with the people of Darfur and Sudan.  Two of special
note are electronic communication and international law. 

Open electronic communication in Sudan

Looking forward long-term, I believe that what is trying to manifest
in Sudan is a telecommunications capability that is ubiquitous across
the country, inexpensive and accessible to all, open and uncensored,
and connects citizens of Sudan with those of the rest of the world.  On
top of this platform will be blogs, websites, lots of email, VOIP–and
on top of these applications will be lots of communication among
people.  Lots is happening in this layer, and I hope to explore this
topic in more depth in a future post. Satellite voice service is
well-established throughout the country, and is being introduced to
previously isolated communities by the humanitarian agencies.  In other
crisis zones, such as the Balkans, communications platforms are first
established by outside agencies, and then opened up to local
communities and activists.  The private sector is starting to be more
active. In the north, a second cell phone carrier, to compete with the
government, is in the process of being licensed.  The provisional
governnment in Southern Sudan, the NPLA/M, is
accepting bids for cell-phone and other communications licenses.  It
seems that there are companies and investors willing to take on this
challenge.  Our own Digital Green Ribbon Campaign is just starting (and
needs your help) but will hopefully contribute to the establishment of
local digital services and digital entrepreneurs–both social
entrepreneurs and for-profit/public service entrepreneurs.

Human Rights Law

Where the law is well-established and supports human rights, it is a
powerful force for good. On the international human rights law front,
some elements of the agenda for activist lawyers are becoming clearer
through our experience with Darfur and Sudan.  It is blindingly obvious
that the UN Security Council is good for keeping nations from invading
each other, but is not good for keeping nations from killing their own
citizens.  And the intention to remedy this lack is also clear, and
becoming clearer.  To develop such capacity, advances in international
law will incorporate innovations in laws, due process, and enforcement.

Laws: One terrific idea (first articulated for me
by a member of the staff of Physicians for Human Rights) is to to
create a voluntary codicile to the UN Genocide Treaty clarifying its
meaning to include “attempted genocide,” clarifying due process and
enforcement, and perhaps extending the treaty to cover a broader range
of human rights abuses–and get nations to sign it.

Due Process: There are going to be interesting discussions at the UN Security Council about the use of the International Criminal Court
to bring charges against perpetrators in Sudan.  The Bush
administration does not want to legitimize the court, yet needs it in
this case.  An alternative, discussed by Christian activists two years
ago as part of the six point plan to deal with Iraq, would be to
establish a citizen-sponsored global court to try the criminals in
Sudan.  This court would not have enforcement, but might have enough
legitimacy to bring other sorts of help following.

Enforcement: Ideas range from creating a permanent
UN peacekeeping force dedicated to protecting human rights, to a new
“council of democracies” to replace the UN and to advocate for
democracy and human and civil rights–making membership contingent on
the establishment of these values within nations.

So here is my New Year’s resolution.  I’m going to keep witnessing,
keep working with all of you who want to help. I commit to try to use
the web help develop good information and insight across our community,
and try to bring attention, resources, and encouragement to those
working on the various Darfur and Sudan and world advances. Thanks so
very much for all of your help this year, for your love, your
encouragement, your criticism where necessary, and most of all your
incredible creativity in extending our community and our activities.
Thanks, and warm best wishes this and every night.

December 26, 2004 | Permalink 

What? Unbelievable, it it weren’t true: Great time for the World Bank and the IMF to show support for the genocidal regime in Sudan.

Worldbankhq

What
follows is the sort of news we don’t normally see here in the US, but
that is widely noted in Africa and the Middle East:

On the same day
that Kofi Annan called for emergency help to stop the fighting in
Darfur, and just after George W. Bush signed into law a new set of
sanctions against Sudan, the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund
gave Sudan a high sign!

No wonder Sudanese government leaders say they
are feeling less and less international pressure in regard to their
conduct in Darfur. 

Backing from the international financial institutions is expanded!
This complements and reinforces the economic contributions Sudan
receives from China, India, Russia, Pakistan, and Saudi Arabia.  The
following is reported today in the Sudan Tribune, by way of the Middle Eastern News Agency:

KHARTOUM, Dec 23, 2004 (MENA) — The
International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank (WB) adopted an
initiative to exempt Sudan from its debts and lure international
finance for reconstruction operations and arrangements for the
post-peace stage.

An IMF-WB Joint Assessment Mission (JAM), at the end of
talks it held with a host of Finance and National Economy Ministry
officials, underlined a strategy to combat poverty with a view to
macro-economy regarding economic growth rates and fair distribution of
the Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

The mission discussed with the Finance Ministry and the
Bank of Sudan institutional reforms to apply the government statistics
system in the budget and upgrade the efficiency of cash flow management.

————————————————————————-

ImfboardPhoto
above is of the world headquarters of the World Bank, in Washington,
D.C., and at left is a photo of the Executive Board of the
International Monetary Fund.

Note that both institutions run with very
little democratic ovesight, but with funds originally supplied mainly
by the US and other western countries. In a sense, these organizations
have their own foreign policy.

Congression staffers who are reading this:
perhaps there are important questions to be brought forward by members of Congress, by US Senators
and Representatives:

What are we allowing the World Bank and
the IMF to do in regard to Sudan? 

How can we let these instititutions to undermine our
policy initiatives, and side with China to shore up the genocidal
regime in Sudan–at the very time that that Khartoum regime is stepping
up military operations, sealing borders, and disabling even the
humanitarian agencies’ work?

December 23, 2004 | Permalink on Passion of the Present

Abortion politics and the Democratic Party

Today’s Boston
Globe has a startling front page story reporting that leading Democrats
want the party to be more welcoming to anti-abortion candidates

Harry Reid, new leader of the Senate Democrats, is anti-choice, as is
centrist DNC Chairman-candidate Terry Roemer, said to be John Kerry’s
choice to lead the Democratic party. 

Now folks, is this really the way to rebuild a party that has been
gutted by centrism for the past decade? A party that now stands for
almost nothing? A party that nominated someone who’s views can barely
be recalled a few weeks after the election?  A party that persists
in vetting its candidates in a tiny rural state dominated by senior
citizens bitter about the condition of the modern world (and folks,
note that my home town is Cedar Rapids, Iowa, so I speak from both
respect and knowlege.)

Here is an excerpt from the Globe article. Read and weep:

Democrats eye softer image on abortion

Leaders urge more welcome for opponents

By Susan Milligan, Globe Staff  |  December 19, 2004

WASHINGTON — Leading Democrats, stung by election losses, are
signaling they want the party to embrace antiabortion voters and
candidates, softening the image of the party from one fiercely
defensive of abortion rights to one that acknowledges the moral and
religious qualms some Americans have about the issue.

House minority leader Nancy Pelosi, a California Democrat who is one of
the most ardent supporters of abortion rights in Congress, has
encouraged Tim Roemer, a former representative with a strong voting
record against abortion, to run for the chairmanship of the Democratic
National Committee. The Democrats’ new Senate minority leader, Harry
Reid of Nevada, opposes abortion rights.

No prominent Democrat has suggested that the party change its long-held stance
that a woman should have the right to an abortion if she chooses. But
as Democrats assess what went wrong for them in November, some are
urging a “big tent” approach that is more welcoming to those who oppose
abortion. Democrats say that attitude might be especially useful with
Hispanics, a critical constituency that tends to be Roman Catholic and
whose majority support for Democrats has slipped in recent elections.

Abortion rights activists are alarmed at the
potential shift in the party’s approach to the issue as they look
warily ahead to Supreme Court nomination fights and efforts in Congress
to restrict abortion. But Democratic leaders say they can reach out to
voters in the “red states,” which voted Republican in November, without
compromising their party platform on abortion.

“All Democrats are united around the idea that we should make abortion
safe, legal, and rare,” but “we also have to be open to people who are
pro-life,” said Simon Rosenberg, the president of the New Democratic
Network who is mulling a run for the DNC chairmanship.

Here
is deeper look at the shocking story, told by the New Prospect from
the angle of the race for DNC Chairman, with the following excerpt:

At a post-election meeting of party activists,
Kerry, in response to a question from Ellen Malcolm, president of the
pro-choice Emily’s List, said that Democrats need to elect more
anti-abortion candidates, and that they should find ways of letting
voters know that they do not actually like abortion. “There was a gasp
in the room,” Nancy Keenan, the new president of NARAL Pro-Choice
America, told Newsweek’s Debra Rosenberg.