Blog on the Run: Reloaded

Saturday, May 22, 2010 10:32 pm

Why peace ain’t coming anytime soon

Filed under: Sad — Lex @ 10:32 pm
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Jeffrey Gettleman on war without end in Africa:

There is a very simple reason why some of Africa’s bloodiest, most brutal wars never seem to end: They are not really wars. Not in the traditional sense, at least. The combatants don’t have much of an ideology; they don’t have clear goals. They couldn’t care less about taking over capitals or major cities — in fact, they prefer the deep bush, where it is far easier to commit crimes. Today’s rebels seem especially uninterested in winning converts, content instead to steal other people’s children, stick Kalashnikovs or axes in their hands, and make them do the killing. …

If you’d like to call this war, fine. But what is spreading across Africa like a viral pandemic is actually just opportunistic, heavily armed banditry. …

Most of today’s African fighters are not rebels with a cause; they’re predators. That’s why we see stunning atrocities like eastern Congo’s rape epidemic, where armed groups in recent years have sexually assaulted hundreds of thousands of women, often so sadistically that the victims are left incontinent for life. What is the military or political objective of ramming an assault rifle inside a woman and pulling the trigger? Terror has become an end, not just a means. …

Even if you could coax these men out of their jungle lairs and get them to the negotiating table, there is very little to offer them. They don’t want ministries or tracts of land to govern. Their armies are often traumatized children, with experience and skills (if you can call them that) totally unsuited for civilian life. All they want is cash, guns, and a license to rampage. And they’ve already got all three. How do you negotiate with that?

The short answer is you don’t.

The depressing truth is that many of these conflicts now are of the type that will not be settled by negotiation nor won militarily. They will end when, and only when, those leading them are assassinated. Not only is there evidence that nothing else will work, there’s also evidence — in the case of such criminals as Jonas Savimbi — that this really will work.

Societies governed by the rule of law — and we still like to think of ourselves as one, despite the evidence to the contrary — are reluctant to embrace summary execution, not only for moral reasons but also for practical ones, potential blowback not being the least. But these “wars” may be a rare instance in which the ends really do justify the means.

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Tuesday, November 11, 2008 7:35 pm

“I have just returned from hell.”

Filed under: Sad — Lex @ 7:35 pm
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So writes playwright Eve (“The Vagina Monologues”) Ensler of her experience interviewing victims of the most brutal kinds of sexual assault in the Congo, and the doctor who tries to heal them, insomuch as that is possible. And this piece is in Glamour, of all places.

Go read, but be warned: This will stay with you.

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