Category Archives: Walther

8 Reasons McCain Needs a Miracle to Win

John McCainIf you’ve been watching the news for the last month, it seems like John McCain might actually pull out a victory in November.  After months of the press fawning over the unlikely candidacy of Obama (remember, he’s a mixed race junior senator with no executive experience) the press has rediscovered that John McCain actually has the credentials, the political persona and the charisma of a fantastic presidential candidate.  Unfortunately for Senator McCain, he simply doesn’t have the support.  Despite popular polls numbers (this isn’t a popular election after all, it is a state by state winner take all contest) and a receptive media, eight national trends would make a John McCain victory miraculous.

Voter Registration

The Republicans are losing more and more registered voters to the Democrats and independents while the Democrats are registering unprecedented numbers of young, black and formerly disenfranchised voters.
Real Clear Politics states: “The number of registered Democrats in party registration states has grown by nearly 700,000 since President George W. Bush was reelected in November 2004, while the total of registered Republicans has declined by almost 1 million.”
The changes are most notable in Iowa and Nevada, two states that were majority Republican in 2004 (and voted for Bush) and now have more registered Democrats.  The other 5 states with growing democratic advantages are Oregon (10pts), New Jersey (14pts), New Hampshire (-.6pts), Connecticut (15pts) and Pennsylvania (12pts).
By most accounts, the Obama campaign machine has been impeccably organized, and it isn’t hard to understand why the Republican machine is failing.  Quite simply,  being a Republican is no longer as cool as it used to be.  As the Economist so aptly noted a year ago, no matter how clever the Republicans are at politics, at the end of the day when they were given the chance to lead, they failed.


Obama has 336 open offices while McCain has just 101. While field offices, like voter registration, doesn’t directly correlate to voters, one has to wonder where the McCain campaign will base their get-out the vote operations when the election arrives.  More specifically interestingly, McCain has 1 office in Colorado and 1 in Pennsylvania while Obama has 10 and 18 respectfully.


The 1.7m net loss net of Republicans since 2004 means independents are more important for McCain.  Historically he has garnered much support from independents but Obama is denying him an advantage as polls show them neck and neck.

Millennial Generation

One day, the Millenials, which are Americans under the age of 26 and are the largest generation in American history, (over 100m) will dominate American politics.  Obama has a massive advantage amount youth and his campaign has vigorously registered and engaged this demographic.  Whether or not this is the election that will permanently shift America politics from the Boomers to the Millennials, it’s clear that Obama has the age demographic advantage as there are nearly twice as many 18-30 year olds than there are people over 65.  For more go try USA Today and Wikipedia.


While Hispanics gave Bush an advantage in 2004 by giving him 40% of their vote, McCain will be disadvantaged by the fastest growing demographic in America.   Obama has a massive lead of 3:1 (63% to 23%) among Hispanics.


McCain is polling at 61% support among Evangelicals while Bush won 69%.  They aren’t going to Obama, who has the same 25% Kerry had in 2004, they’re simply deciding to sit this one out.  Why?  Many of their leaders want to disengage from American politics while others are under the influence of a right wing media that has historically despised Senator McCain.

Rush Limbaugh

America’s second most listened to talk show host (all hail Howard) thinks McCain sucks and hasn’t and will not motivate his listeners to vote for him.  In fact, he often threatens to work against McCain if McCain doesn’t veer more towards the right.

Read this transcript from his show:
RUSH: Because [the Republican Party] thinks that they own us, in the most crucial of earlier decisions, McCain is misjudging us. He feels he can pick whoever he wants, pro-choice Democrat running mate, and that everybody’s just going to march with him. But he figures wrong.  This is going to be a close election, and it’s not going to take a lot of people sitting on their hands to lose an important state or two.

CALLER: Mmm-hmm.

RUSH:  Now, Obama is out there firing up his base.  McCain is trying to deflate people like you.

CALLER:  He’s angering us, and I wasn’t going to vote for him. I was just not going to mark anything, but then when he pulled this — and I think, Rush, I really think — and I know you’ve done so much to get the word out. I really think that if he puts on a good, strong conservative, he has a pretty good chance of getting elected. But if he doesn’t, then the Republicans are going to say, “What’s the difference between him and B. Hussein Obama?”  And they either won’t vote or I don’t know, and it’s really scary and I’m worried about it.  I don’t like McCain; I never have liked him.

Bush’s victory was consistent with years of right wing media narration.  Those same people have been skewering McCain for a decade.  Now if they wanted to do an about face and support McCain, they would risk alienating their own audiences.


Ron Paul’s revolution is continuing via Bob Barr, a former popular Republican who turned to the Libertarian party and was polling at 6%. Unlike Nader who was a simply protest vote in 2000 and 2004, Barr and Paul, while not officially linked, are both aiming to realign the Republican party around an authentic small government platform.  Paul and his followers are vigorously organizing the “Campaign for Liberty” which will create a constituency that could support a real libertarian third party or could begin to realign the Republican party.   Paul has frequently stated he won’t support McCain unless McCain fundamentally changes his platform.  There will be no better way for the libertarians to flex their political muscle than resisting a McCain’s presidency.

Real Clear Politics Electoral Projections

As I see it, McCain is disadvantaged by national political trends, he lacks a competitive ground organization, he isn’t dominating the independent vote, he has an age demographic problem, he has a latino problem, an African American problem, an Evangelical problem and isn’t garnering support from right wing media celebrities.  Finally, there is a large and growing consistency within his party that would prefer to lose this election and return the Republican party to a small government platform than continue with business as usual.

Least we forget, the media is a business and they would prefer to have a ‘horse race’ political campaign going than inform Americans of the massive demographic hurtles McCain faces.  They would also prefer to report on national poll numbers that represent the insignificant popular vote than look at state by state numbers that clearly show an Obama advantage.  Take a moment to go through Real Clear Politics electoral college and see for yourself.

Obama Willing to Compromise on Oil Drilling

So Barack Obama just reversed his hard line stance against offshore drilling. I genuinely hate offshore drilling.  It’s advocates say it does three things: lower the price of oil, promote US energy security and buy us time for alternative fuels. BS.

First, oil companies are the only one’s who will benefit from expanded drilling because they’ll make billions selling the new oil into a marketplace that fluctuates like the emotions of a teenager.  The oil won’t affect gas prices for a decade and who knows where they’ll be in so many years.  Oil drilling promotes energy security like buying another beer promotes a responsible drinking habit.  It won’t ‘buy us time’ for alternative fuels, it will buy oil more time to dominate our economy. Everyone knows we’re addicted to oil, and everyone knows the best way to end an addiction is to stop using the product.

Despite my dislike for off-shore drilling, I’m not infuriated by Obama’s shift. He says: “If, in order to get [a comprehensive energy bill] passed, we have to compromise in terms of a careful, well thought out drilling strategy that was carefully circumscribed to avoid significant environmental damage – I don’t want to be so rigid that we can’t get something done.”

When Obama says he’s a different kind of politician, people haven’t really investigated what that means. It means Obama is a compromiser and a deal maker, not an ideologue and not heavily opinionated. While to many this “flip-flop” seems like a display of weakness or political pandering, I think it shows that he has his priorities straight. Right now, this nation’s first objective should be a strong, consistent, well-supported energy policy with ambitious but achievable objectives. Bipartisan support is essential for an effective plan. If the Republicans and 70% of Americans support drilling for more oil, even if that support is manufactured by the oil companies pr strategies, then Obama is willing to compromise to make sure the bigger objective is achieved.

Unconventional politics is compromising with your adversary even when you have an advantage. That is the way long term solutions are created. Unfortunately, many Democrats are having buyer’s remorse. They see a strong Obama and a strong Democratic party, and they want to shove policies down Republicans’ throats. That’s conventional politics and the path to more ineffective government. Resist that urge, compromise and make real progress. An ambitious national energy policy is more important than a few additional oil rigs in the Gulf.

NYTimes a Mouthpiece Advocating Disastrous Afghan Narco Policy

This week’s NYTimes Sunday Magazine had a silly/destructive article titled “Is Afghanistan a Narco State?”  Quick answer: obviously yes.  It was written by Thomas Schweich, a professor at Wash U and a drug warrior extraordinaire who seems to believe that advancing America’s failed drug war policies in Afghanistan is more important than stabilizing that troubled nation.  Shweich is another delusional  drug warrior and his presence in the NYTimes shows, once again, that the newspaper of record is asleep at the wheel.

This poorly argued and illogical article should never have made it to the Times.Schweich five pages are summed up when he complains how “an odd cabal of timorous (nervous) Europeans, myopic (lack of imagination) media outlets, corrupt Afghanis (including nearly everyone in the current Afghan government), blinkered (?) Pentagon officers, politically motivated Democrats and the Taliban were preventing the implementation of an effective counterdrug program.”  It’s true: everyone is against his plan to implement an aerial eradication program to destroy Afghan poppis.  But why?  First, it’s important to note that when he says ‘effective counterdrug program’ he is using the $5 billion Columbia eradication program as a benchmark of success.  The same day this article was published the NYTimes also published this interesting article that deems the Columbian eradication program a failure. Second, you can ask any New York hipster about the price of blow on the street and they’ll smile very big.  More surprising than his faith in his silly/destructive program is his near comic confusion as to why all these forces won’t allow him to use planes to spray herbicide over thousands of areas of Afghani farms.

To him, the calculation is simple:
Less poppy = less opium = less money for the Taliban and fewer drugs on the street.  Unfortunately the world is slightly more complex.

The Army hates his plan because they know that:
American led destruction of Afghan property = angry Afghans = more Taliban sympathizers = more dead American soldiers and a more difficult war.

Economists hate his plan because they know that:
Less Afghan poppy = unmet demand for opium = more south Asian poppy = no change on the street.

Clearly Schweich isn’t familiar with that economic reasoning because he was surprised when the South Asia Office in the Pentagon ‘made an about face’ and resisted his aerial eradication program.  Obviously, they didn’t want to watch their hard work evaporate as the poppy crop rushed back into their area of responsibility.

I’d like to leave the reader with the following undisputed information.  The Netherlands, like many developed nations, had a growing number of heroine addicts.  Instead of increasing the jail time for addicts or venturing around the word trying to kill other people’s crops, they began selling heroine themselves and even helped addicts administer the potentially lethal drug.   The number of addicts has been going down ever since.  The Dutch realized that if addicts get their fix from health care professional instead of back alley drug dealers, addicts are many many times more likely to be convinced to enter treatment.  They have the best of both worlds: less heroine addicts and less taxpayer expense.  That policy is now being used in British Columbia, Switzerland and Germany.

Finding English language mainstream media information about such programs is difficult but the NYTimes mentions them here, the alternative press here and the medical press here.

At the end of his article, Schweich proposes a ‘simple plan’ to eliminate heroine productions in Afghanistan:
1. Force Karzai to have a zero tolerance policy.  (Everyone paying attention knows this will lead to Karzai’s defeat in the next election to a candidate who resists US destruction of his constituents’ property.)
2. ‘Enable force-eradication.’  (This would entail the Afghan army spending its resources and risking their lives to destroy the crops of their fellow countrymen.)
3. Increase the amount of DEA in Kabul. (Shocker.)
4. Fund development and education projects.  (I advocate this one.  Smoking opium is a sin in Islam and the culture should prevent more farmers from planting it.)
5. Ask the allies to help.  (The allies hate US drug policy so I won’t hold my breadth.)

I have a simpler plan.
1. Treat Afghani opiates like we treat the multinational pharmaceutical companies’ opiates (OxyCodone, Vicodin, Codine and the hundreds of others).  Regulate it, tax it and follow the Dutch plan for distribution.

As soon as you regulate instead of criminalize drugs, the (violent) black market disappears.  The Taliban would lose their primary source of revenue and the Afghan people would respect us because we would be respecting them.  Of course, Thomas Schweich would prefer the US government legislating international morality (and legislating it ineffectively) instead of winning the war in Afghanistan.  He needs a little perspective.

I suggest reading the article on Colombian eradication of cocoa.  It shows, once again, that the black market is creating violence in Columbia and, now that FARC is on the decline, smaller groups are filling the void with their own drug-money-fueled armies.  It’s a sad state of affairs.

Graphing Democracy in 3D

We spend a lot of time talking about democracy but very little time actually defining it.  Democracy comes from the Greek words ‘demos’ (people) and ‘kratos’ (power.)  For many centuries after the collapse of the Athenian democracy and the Greek and Roman Republics, democracy (people power) was synonymous with mob rule, chaos and insecurity.  Many assumed that a majority rule democracy would oppress minorities.  This fear was one of the elements that encouraged America’s founding fathers to institute the electoral college and create the Senate.

Due to widespread overuse and misinterpretation, many political scientists prefer the term polyarchy, which means ‘many rule’ over the term democracy.  ‘Polyarchy’ is the title of a seminal political science book by Robert Dahl.  In this book, Dahl proposes that all governments have two variables – competitiveness and inclusiveness – and can be placed on a graph with those two axis.

Competitiveness asks who can compete for political office. Robert Dahl's polyarchy graph from 1971 America’s competitiveness is much lower than Israel’s because America’s two mainstream political parties effectively prevent people with diverse perspectives from running for office while Israel’s multi-party coalition system enables almost anyone to run.

Inclusiveness asks who can vote. America does much better than Israel here because all American citizens can vote while only Israeli citizens can vote – excluding the non-citizen Palestinians who live on Israeli occupied lands.

Dahl’s definition of polyarchy is good, but not complete.  His graph doesn’t account for the most powerful force in politics:  information distribution.  Those who control access to information have tremendous political power.  They can amplify certain elements within society and silence others.  They can create the illusion of competitiveness and inclusiveness, amplify certain social elements while silencing others, and create false narratives.  Information is power and it must be included in Dahl’s analysis, but how?

Three important questions arise when thinking about information: who can create it, how is it distributed and how can it be applied.  The first question is technical: does the population have access to information creation tools?  The second is technical/cultural: who has the technology to distribute it and the cultural capital  needed to get people to pay attention?  The third is entirely cultural: what can individuals, communities and organizations do with the information they process?

Transparency is the key component that addresses all of these questions as one.  Transparency requires everyone have the ability to create, distribute and use information.  There is no barrier between a totally transparent government and the society it serves.  In that instance, government and society become one.  Institutions are a third element in the transparency matrix.  Their existence ensures that a totally transparent government will never exist.  However, by intelligently using network technologies, we can get close.

When transparency is added as the third dimension to Dalh’s polyarchy graph,  the possibility a relationship between competitiveness and inclusiveness arises within a 3 dimensional space.  This possibility becomes reality in the graph z=x^3 + y^3.

3D Graph of Polyarchy (democracy)
3D Graph of Polyarchy (democracy)

In this graph, a positively transparent society is placed into the top left area of  polyarchy while a negatively transparent society (one in which information is used to create false realities) brings you towards the bottom right area of authoritarianism.  A society that is inclusive but not competitive has a negative transparency because a lot of people are supporting a poor selection of leaders so false realities is constructed to help people view this situation as acceptable.  A society that is competitive but not inclusive is highly transparent because each included individual receives an unusually high return on their vote.   In the real world, a highly inclusive but minimally competitive government like the Soviet Union had a vast propaganda machine while the highly competitive but relatively non-inclusive post-revolution America had a thriving, decentralized information distribution businesses.

The next step is clear: we need to solve for transparency.  Given two variables we could, theoretically, plot societies on the x^3+Y^3 plane and even watch as they move across it over time.  The implications for this would be tremendous.  Imagine if America adopted a foreign policy of transparency whose only mission was to facilitate the creation of transparent national governments.  I think this is precisely the type of metric we need to create a global coalition of friendly, democratic and free nations.

Where are the Solutions to the Drug War?

The “War on Drugs” is a term that encapsulates all of the drug prohibition policies of the US. It’s a horrible policy.

First, there is no statistical evidence that says putting people in jail for drugs reduces the total number of drug users. In fact, residents of Amsterdam smoke less than half as much weed as Americans do despite the fact that you can buy the drug in stores. Drug use rates respond to shifts in culture, not criminal policies.

Second, there’s tons of statistical evidence that show that the societal harm caused by drug criminalization is extremely high.

So if criminalization doesn’t reduce drug use within the population but it does create more societal problems, why does it continue?

Who cares! Drug policy warriors love to talk about all the problems. We need to seek solutions.

The most effective drug treatment programs convince drug addicts (people who have decided they’d rather use drugs and die than live a sober life) that they should want to live; that they can help each other survive and educate people so other don’t make the same mistakes.

The most effective way to keep kids away from drugs, a venture worthy of government resources, is to tell them true stories about drug use and addiction. Meeting a person who has destroyed his own life and the lives of those that love him because of the slippery slope of drug use is much more effective than ads that suggest that if you smoke weed, you might shoot your best friend in the face.

So… a solution: Instead of sending drug addicts to prison, send them to rehabilitation and to schools to talk to kids about drug use.

What sounds crazier?

1. Sending drug addicts to schools to talk to kids about drug use?

2. Incarcerating 750,000 non-violent drug offenders every year?

This isn’t a full scale drug policy solution, but it’s a step in the right direction.

The world is not insane. Balances may be hidden but they do exist. We need to seek them. We need to find solutions. Instead of talking about all the very real socio-economic correlations between drug arrests and economic opportunity let’s talk about solutions. Instead of talking about the prison-industrial complex let’s talk about solutions. Instead of complaining about how the mainstream media has failed us all, let’s come up with solutions.

When John Lennon said: “There are no problems, only solutions” he meant that discussing problems doesn’t fix them. Solutions exist. Let’s create them, then publicize them, then implement them.

The drug war will be the next civil rights issue.

It’s Going Down in Zimbabwe

Today I got an email from a friend in Mozembique with an attachment from Zimbabweans telling the story of how Robert Mugabe’s party, the Zimbabwe African National Union – Patriotic Front (ZANU-PF) uses violence against civilians to ensure another term in office. I’ve posted excepts from the article at the bottom of the post but first, a very brief explanation of the trouble in Zimbabwe:

Zimbabwe was in great shape a decade ago. It had a literacy rating in the 90s, was the bread basket of sub-Saharan Africa, had an effective health care system and solid economic fundamentals. Then something happened: leader Robert Mugabe, the hero who liberated the nation from oppressive white rule in 1980s and declared himself president, has reversed all those positive trends. The last decade of Zimbabwean history is awash in everything that typifies an internally destructive regime. Massive corruption has eroded internal economic freedoms, state sponsored violence is routinely used to accomplish political objectives and those opposed to the government are ending up beaten or dead.

Zimbabwe still has elections and despite all the efforts used to subvert the election by Mugabe and his ruling ZANU-PF party, the opposition actually won. Of course, a win is only a win if you can take power afterwards. Mugabe isn’t ready to give it up and since the ‘official’ vote count has the opposition leader, Moran Tsvangirai, missing the 50% needed to win outright, there is going to be a run off election. However, before the run off election, the state sponsored violence is beginning again, and this time it’s even more acute.

The Email

“Enclosed I am sending the pictures and true stories of Police brutality in Zimbabwe. Honestly, we need to pray if we can, we need to write something if we can, we need to demonstrate if we can, we need to raise up our voices if we are to be heard, we need to challenge our SADC (Southern African Development Community) governments to do something. We really need to…………………

PS. the pictures are shocking be ready.”

The Attachment

Operation Mavhoterapapi (how did you vote) – Tapiwa Mubwanda’s story

April 16, 2008MDC Supporter Murdered by ZANU-PF

“We are having a very terrible problem now. As we finished the election Zanu PF has come up with a strategy that they are calling Operation Mavhotera Papi, They are going around and they have got all the election statistics, and they are identifying the strongholds of MDC, and they are doing everything to destroy MDC membership so if there is ever to be a re-run, they want to make sure they have destroyed the party. Our polling agents in the rural areas they are staying in the bush, our prominent supporters who are identified by Zanu PF are sleeping in the bush in groups. “The strategy is clear, they are always talking about a re-run and they are saying they want to destroy MDC there, They are taking peoples IDs and throwing them away, and beating people. We have nursed a lot of people who have injuries. “They identified him (Tapiwa Mubwanda) without wasting time, they rushed to him and they gave him no chance, They stabbed him with a very long sword, in his ribs. Straight away he fell on the ground and within five minutes he was no more.”

“In the farming community where there are some resettlements, whoever is identified as an MDC supporter or election agent is being beaten up, victimised, belongings thrown out of their houses, and they are just desperate. Peoples lives are in danger here in Mashonaland West now.”

The following is testimony from Tapiwa’s widow.Tapiwa's Widow

“We were on our way from Masikote. They grabbed my husband and said you are the MDC people I want to fix you today. I ran away because I wanted to take my child to a safe place because I realised that if I stayed they were going to kill me. Then I had to go back and see what was happening to my husband. When I got back my husband was lying down, bleeding from the mouth, blood on the stomach, I removed my blouse and put it on his stomach to try and stop the bleeding and make him better.”

Another story from a 22 year old male from Musaruro Village Mudzi.
“The ZPF youth came to my shop on Friday 11 April 2008 at 9pm, broke the door down and dragged me out of the building. They said “you are an MDC member”. They took all the groceries from my shop then burned grass on both my hands. After that they beat my hands and back with wooden poles. I went to Kotwa rural district hospital and they gave me 2
paracetamol – they had nothing else.”
12 April 2008.

The violence continued yesterday. Over 500 farm workers displaced in Mutasa South and Chipinge (Tanganda and Southdown Holdings) following invasions by so called war veterans. A passenger on a bus reported seeing a man being hung by his hands from a tree while a group was beating him at Corner Store, between Muhrewa and Mutoko – this took place at approximately 4 pm Sunday 13 April 2008. Frans Joubert, a Chipinge farmer has been detained in Chipinge Police cells since Friday for allegedly “insulting Pres. Mugabe”. He is being denied access to legal representation and relatives. It has been reported that a teacher in Mudzi has also been murdered and 8 women have been abducted. We are awaiting verification of this report. The women shown in the images above were viciously beaten and have sustained deep tissue bruising of the buttocks. All were admitted to hospital. These attacks took place on Friday night, April 11, 2008.

This kraal head from Zimuto, Masvingo, was accused of getting people to vote for MDC. He was stoned and beaten with logs. His lip was split, he lost two teeth, and he sustained fractured ribs. His wife is 50 years and was beaten viciously on her right leg. In addition to these pictures and reports are the following incidents:
The MDC Secretary for Ward 1 Zimuto Masvinga, who is 36 years old, was attacked on Tuesday in Baradzi Village, Masvingo. ZPF youth broke his door down and dragged him outside insisting that he take them to all the other MDC members houses. He refused to comply so was beaten with iron bars and logs of wood. He slept the night in the bush and then found his way to medical facility. The thugs referred to their actions as Operation Mavhoterapapi – “where you put your X”. The Mudzi/Mutoko area is particularly bad, with homes being burned. One man had his home ransacked, and his chickens and goats burned alive. He and his family have left fearing for their lives.
We have also received information that one white farmer in Chipinge is in police cells (lawyers
being denied access). And that 55 farmworker families have been displaced from Tanganda
and Southdown holdings and are in need of urgent assistance. There are also a number of injured people who have been beaten with logs requiring medical treatment. The local Doctor has been displaced. The situation is reported to be out of control. Look at the way our brothers and sisters are being treated in Zimbabwe! God forbid!

The article is much longer and the pictures much more graphic. I don’t particularly like these types of posts but someone needs to hear these people’s story.

What’s America doing to help?

Rice said: “We’ve tried to make a case … that there needed to be free and fair elections in Zimbabwe as much as it was possible. It’s difficult since really no international observation was allowed.”

So what did you do about that Condi?

“The State Department said Friday the U.S. would field almost a dozen poll watchers for the elections and would report afterward on the electoral process and the results.”

Almost a dozen…

Well, maybe the international community can at least stop the shipment of Chinese weapons ordered by Mugabe to use on his own people.

Oh… nevermimd

Darfur: A US-China Proxy Battle for Oil

Confirmed Oil Reserves, Pipeline and Conflict.

Summary: There is oil in Darfur. The Sudanese government is using the same tactics to evict millions of Darfuri as they used in the South a decade ago. They are using Chinese money to finance their operations. The US is attempting to create international pressure against the Al-Bashir government by calling Darfur a ‘genocide.’ The US is also financing the Chadian government to the west of Sudan. The Chadian government is financing Dafuri rebels. The Chinese and the US are fighting a proxy battle for Darfur, an area with potentially vast oil reserves, at the expense of millions of Darfuris.

In 2005, Reuters published an article entitled: Oil Discover adds new twist to Darfur.

“Sudan announced in April that its ABCO corporation… had begun drilling for oil in Darfur, where preliminary studies showed there were “abundant” quantities of oil. The news has prompted some humanitarian experts to wonder whether oil could be guiding Khartoum’s actions in Darfur, where a scorched-earth policy against rebels’ communities has left tens of thousands dead and forced at least 2 million from their homes.”

This is one of two mainstream media articles I found that mention Oil and Darfur in the same sentence. The other was in this BBC article. Once again, the mainstream press has neglected to inform us of WTF is going on. Darfur is, in fact, another narrative consistent with the rest of Sudanese oil history.

In 1974, Chevron was granted large oil concessions in southern Sudan. They discovered oil in that region in 1978 and began developing the fields. Unfortunately for Chevron and the ruling elite in Khartoum, the southern Sudanese weren’t willing to give away their oil wealth. In 1984, rebels from the south attacked a Chevron facility and the company suspended operations. This all happened within the context of a number of rebel groups in the south using violence to pressure the central government to give them more autonomy. In 1992, Chevron sold their oil operations to a Sudanese corporation.

The central government outsourced much of the conflict to militia groups in the south just as they have with the Janjaweed in Darfur. They financed a lot of this conflict with money from Chinese, Canadian and Swiss oil companies. Recently, the Chinese have purchased most of the oil rights in Sudan from other companies.

The Human Rights Watch report titled: Sudan: Oil Companies Complicit in Rights Abuses, published on November 25, 2003, explains the tactics used by the government in the south. The following is from a HRW press release publicizing that report:

“In addition to its regular army, the government has deployed militant Islamist militias to prosecute the war, and has armed southern factions in a policy of ethnic manipulation and destabilization… The Sudanese government has used the oil money in conducting scorched-earth campaigns to drive hundreds of thousands of farmers and pastoralists from their homes atop the oil fields. These civilians have not been compensated nor relocated peacefully-far from it. Instead, government forces have looted their cattle and grain, and destroyed their homes and villages, killed and injured their relatives, and even prevented emergency relief agencies from bringing any assistance to them.”

This is a report from Southern Sudan! Not Darfur! They are using the same tactics but no one is talking about why.

The probability of oil in the Darfur region is high because proven reserves exist immediately south and west of Darfur. Pipelines have also been built to bring oil from the region to the coast. The presence of oil in Darfur would also explain why the Sudanese government takes the risk of enraging the international community by utilizing difficult to control militias to terrorize their own people. America is mounting an international campaign to label Darfur a ‘genocide’ because they seek to oust the pro-China, Al-Bashir administration.

American relations with the the al-Bashir administration were doomed from the start because America had supported the former Sudanese administrations that had been overthrown by Al-Bashir in June of 1989. Al-Bashir strengthened the Islamic foundation of Sudan, enacting Sharia law and, over time, realigned Sudanese economic development behind Chinese rather than American interests. The State Department also alleges that the Sudanese government has a relationship with Al-Qaeda13 and other fundamentalist Islamic organizations so it is clear that al-Bashir’s administration will never be subservient to American interests.

The Bush administration wants regime change in Sudan more than they want peace in Darfur and they’re putting their money where their mouth is.

The US relationship with Chad to the west of Darfur is almost never reported by the mainstream media. The US supports the Chadian government (they have oil) and Chad is financing rebel groups in Darfur who are fighting all the way to Khartoum. In fact, on May 12, a rebel group called the JEM with connections to Chad invaded Khartoum. This is a massive story because its the first time Darfuri rebels brought the battle to the capital but since it doesn’t fit with the mainstream media narrative of defenseless Darfuris being targeted indiscriminately by Arabs, no one is talking much about it.

The Chinese and the US are fighting a proxy battle for oil at the expense of millions of Darfuris. If we want to stop the conflict in Darfur, we need to hear the real story. The mainstream media, once again, has created a circus out of Darfur instead of contextualizing the conflict.

For the best report I’ve even seen on Darfur, check out VBS TV’s report entitled Inside Sudan.

Inside Sudan from VBS

Oil Around Darfur

The following are my sources:
Rolandsen, Oystein W. African Guerillas: The Jajawiid and Government Militias. London: Lynne Rienner. 2007
UN Sudan NIG: The History And Origins Of The Current Conflict In Darfur
Washington Post: Moon, Dan Ki. A Climate Culprit In Darfur. Saturday, June 16, 2007; Page A15
Annan welcomes extension of African Union mission in Darfur
Reuters: Oil discovery adds new twist to Darfur tragedy
Vice Media
BBC: Head-to-head: Darfur situation
Human Rights Watch
New York Times: Scorched-Earth Strategy Returns to Darfur. Published: March 2, 2008.

Patterns of Global Terrorism: 1998 Overview of State-Sponsored Terrorism
Washington Post: U.S. Calls Killings In Sudan Genocide: Khartoum and Arab Militias Are Responsible, Powell
Says. Friday, September 10, 2004; Page A01