Sunday, July 28, 2013

John Kerry refuses to name U.S. ally and military partner Rwanda as the aggressor behind M23

John Kerry led a UN Security Council session on the Great Lakes Region of Africa on 07.25.2013, without naming Rwanda as the aggressor behind M23.

Congolese refugees line up to fill water buckets.  The Congo wars and ongoing conflict have, since the mid-1990s, cost over six million lives and created millions of refugees, over two million of them within Congo's own borders, in Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) camps.

KPFA Radio Transcript:  

KPFA Evening News Anchor Cameron Jones: On Monday this week, Human Rights Watch released a news report saying that Rwanda remains behind the M23 militia in the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo and that M23 is guilty of a new list of atrocities including the extrajudicial execution of at least 44 people and the rape of at least 61 women and girls. The report was published by major media outlets all over the world, and on the following day, the U.S. State Department spokeswoman Jan Paski told press that State was calling upon Rwanda to immediately end any support to M23, and withdraw its military personnel from eastern Congo. KPFA’s Ann Garrison has more. 

KPFA/Ann Garrison: Two days after the State Department’s spokeswoman called on Rwanda to stop supporting M23, with reference to the Human Rights Watch report, Secretary of State John Kerry led a UN Security Council special session on Congo and the Great Lakes Region. Kerry spoke for over 16 minutes and referred to the report but did not identify Rwanda as the aggressor. All other parties who spoke in turn followed his lead. Many referred to the report, which does name Rwanda, as the aggressor behind M23, but did not name Rwanda themselves. Loyola University Professor of International Relations Brian Endless, speaking from Chicago, had this to say about why. 

Brian Endless: Speaking about it in the Security Council . . . John Kerry in particular standing up and making a statement saying that Rwanda is involved here . . . would take this to a new level and make this a central issue on the international stage, and I think that's something that the U.S. and other major powers don't wanta do at this point in time. This is not something that's important to the people in power, and whether that's government power, or business power, or military power or the intelligence community, the vested interests that drive the country and that drive other countries in the world have no reason to change the status quo right now. This is one of those inconvenient truths that's out there. Six million. . . I think seven million is probably a safe estimate at this point. . . people have died in this conflict since the mid-1990s But, no one wants to talk about it. In part, in the case of Rwanda, because the Kagame government was the horse we backed after the genocide, we, the U.S., would get some political pie in the face, if we backed off of that now.

KPFA/Ann Garrison: On Friday, the day after the Security Council session on Congo and the Great Lakes Region, the UN awarded $400 million in aid, though even the UN investigators have suggested that aid to Rwanda frees up resources that continue to fuel its war in Congo. 

For Pacifica, KPFA, and AfrobeatRadio, I'm Ann Garrison. 

Monday, July 22, 2013

Democratization, Catalyst for War in Congo?

'Democracy is the nurse of eloquence, because, when the multitude have the power, persuasion is the only way to govern them' - John Witherspoon, Lectures on Moral Philosophy, Lecture 12
Many have undertaken to draw up an account of the seemingly endless m23 war in the eastern Kivu province of the Democratic Republic of Congo (former Zaïre). Conflicting accounts from bloggers, refugees, aidworkers, journalists and researchers make it one of the most interesting puzzles in (African) politics today. With this in mind, since I myself have carefully investigated everything from the beginning, I too decided to write an orderly account that starts by focusing on the important role of the American Enterprise Institute.

During an October 24 2007 hearing Mauro De Lorenzo, a Fellow of the Foreign and Defense Policy Studies of the American Enterprise Institute, did everything he could to convince the US Senate that 'every effort should be made to discourage the Congolese government and UN forces from pursuing a military solution'. He did his best to promote Laurent Nkunda as defender of his 'community' and claimed Nkunda's force received no support, no funding and no soldiers from Rwanda. All were supposedly generated 'internally'.

This fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, who studied the Banyamulenge for his doctoral dissertation at the University of Oxford, was making up facts to fit a narrative that suited his understanding of the conflict in Congo and avoided triggering a debate on withholding aid to Rwanda as stipulated in the 2006 Congo Act. Whatever his motivation to make up facts (facts he could not have knowledge of), what we do know is that he works since 2007 as Consultant for the Rwandan Presidential Advisory Team. This is obviously a conflict of interest.

Last year Steve Hege, lead author of a report on Congo by the UN Group of Experts, said in a testimony to the House Foreign Affairs Committee, that the de facto chain of command of a remnant of Laurent Nkunda's rebel group, which now calls itself m23, culminates in the Minister of Defense of Rwanda. Instead of discrediting the evidence, the Rwanda government started a character assassination campaign against the UN Group of Experts and the lead author of it's report, Steve Hege. Kigali's campaign to discredit the report which argued that Congo's problems had nothing to do with it's meddling culminated in a conference on governance and security in the great lakes region at the beginning of november 2012 at which, according to an account, De Lorenzo 'represented the United States'. Despite the fact that Rwanda could not refute the evidence, Mauro DeLorenzo claimed at the end of november 2012 in a tweet to Nicholas Kristof that Paul Kagame doesn't support the war in Congo. He eagerly participated in Rwanda's campaign against Human Rights Watch, linking (march 2013) to a report that was published abusing the name of a dead American diplomat tweeting: 'Devastating analysis of HRW's conduct in Rwanda by retired U.S. diplomat Richard Johnson'.

November 30 2008, less then a year before Rwanda's Green Party's unsuccesfull attempt to register it's party, De Lorenzo explained why he thinks 'the West' should prefer Kagame's 'relative liberal autocracy' over 'the rapid imposition, from outside, of the structures and mechanisms of multiparty democracy':
"Look carefully at what happened in Rwanda, Zaire, and Burundi, 1990 to 1994," he says. "In each case, the rapid imposition, from outside, of the structures and mechanisms of multiparty democracy leads directly to the unprecedented cataclysm that subsequently engulfed each place. People here [in America] forget or never knew; those who lived through it learned some lasting lessons."
Rapidly imposing multiparty democracy was indeed one of the catalysts of the conflicts in the region. It helped the Rwandan Patriotic Front recruit Banyamulenge in Kivu. It provided cover for the Rwandan Patriotic front's fight fight talk talk strategy leading up to the genocide in 1994. To a certain extent we could indeed say that Mobutu was forced by the winds of perstroïka blowing in eastern Europe, to try multiparty democracy as he claimed in his famous speech april 24 1990. In addition, the apartheid struggle in South Africa fueled this push for multiparty democracy. Yoweri Museveni's statement at the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region in 2011 gives a fairly good idea of how these narratives reinforced eachother at the time:
'The President said that when the independence of the DRC was disrupted by the schemes of imperialists, the East African countries and Congo Brazzaville, took the correct stand by resisting those schemes and Africa assisted the people of the DRC to get rid of the puppet regime of Mobutu.'
Such demagoguery confirms John Witherspoon's point in Lecture 12 on Moral Philosophy:
'pure democracy cannot subsist long, nor be carried far into the departments of state- it is very subject to caprice and the madness of popular rage. They are also ver yapt to chouse a favourite, and vest him with such power as overtrhows their own libert,- examples, Athens and Rome.'
You would think that the first lesson anyone would learn from this is that pushing for negotiations beween the Congolese government and a rebel army commanded by the Minister of Defense of Rwanda is a really bad idea.

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Lexi Herr Should Study Munyenyezi Case Sometime

In a blogpost july 10th Lexi Herr, a doctoral candidate at the Strassler Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies, Clark University, compares Beatrice Munyenyezi to Nazi perpetrators who came to the States after World War II claiming there are similarities. No doubt 'many Holocaust perpetrators lived in the US for decades before their crimes were uncovered. So no, Images of Munyenyezi as a mother, don't prove she is innocent.

And if Lexi Herr had taken the time to follow the procedings in the trial and the mistrial she would have noticed that the defense strategy was not based on 'images of Munyenyezi as a mother' but on the question wether the witnesses against her were telling the truth as her attorneys stated the first day of trial, february 23 2012
"Munyenyezi, who is charged with lying on immigration papers about the role she played in the 1994 genocide, took no part in the violence. Witnesses who claim otherwise are lying - either for self-gain or because of pressure exerted by the Rwandan government. They come from a culture where the government . . . has used the genocide as a tool of oppression,"
 After a mistrial and retrial the Concord Monitor, which did an excellent job covering the proceedings, wrote in a editorial february 28 2013:
'We are not convinced beyond a reasonable doubt that Manchester resident Beatrice Munyenyezi received justice'
'The appeal is a long shot, but it’s one for justice’s sake we hope Munyenyezi wins. Unlike the jurors, we’re not convinced the prosecutors made their case.'
 If Lexi Herr would have wanted to do justice to the proceedings in the Beatrice Munyenyezi case she would have made an attempt to answer some of the serious questions that remain unanswered to this day (see editorial Concord Monitor):

Why did the prosecution use a slate of unbelievable witnesses in the first trial (that ended in a hung jury)

Why did the prosecution return (in retrial) with drastically reduced allegations of Munyenyezi’s actions?

Why did they return (in retrial) with an entirely new cast of Rwandan?

Why, during proceedings and investigations (against her husband and mother-in-law) spanning some 16 years, did her name not come up? 

Why were no charges filed against her during that time?

Why did the Rwandan Ambassador immediately issued a farcical call for Munyenyezi’s summary extradition to Rwanda after the retrial? Concord Monitor argues: 'Doing so would violate her rights under U.S. law and, since she has never been charged with a crime under Rwandan law, she can’t be extradited. It also suggests that politics played a role in the trial’s outcome'
The highly suspicious timing of her arrest, which refocused attention away from Paul Kagame's jailing of opposition party UDF-Inkingi leader Victoire Ingabire and her American Lawyer Peter Erlinder, the assassination attempt on an exiled Rwandan general in South Africa and the subsequent assassination of a Rwandan journalist one day before Munyenyezi's arrest.

None of these questions have been answered sofar.

To answer none of these legitimate questions, while happily comparing her to NAZI's, and suggest Beatrice Munyenyezi's defense was her image as a mother betrays lazyness and insults the intelligence of her readers. 

Is that what is taught at Clark University Strassler Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies?

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Leo Strauss 'Solving' Problem of the Vulgar & the Learned

Victor Gourevitch, who is the William Griffin Professor (emeritus) of Philosophy and a student of Leo Strauss and translated Jean-Jacques Rousseau into English, claimed last year “I don’t know how I fit into this program; Rousseau was a conservative, not a revolutionary.”. In the same piece Gourevitch sheds light on his understanding of this supposed 'conservatism' of Rousseau:
“Rousseau thought that the ideal form of government was a democracy of the aristocracy. He would be opposed to all trends in liberal thought today: multiculturalism, feminism, political correctness . . . ”
This 'democracy of the aristocracy' reminds us immediately of Leo Strauss's book On Tyranny edited by Victor Gourevitch in which Strauss referred to the right of the superior to rule as "the tyrannical teaching" of his beloved ancients.
Stephen B. Smith, Alfred Cowles Professor of Political Science at Yale University, points out how important Leo Strauss was in reviving serious interest in Rousseau:
'At a time when Rousseau was dismissed as either a crank outside the philosophical canon or as a dangerous obscurantist responsible for the radical politics of the French Revolution, Strauss helped to revive a serious interest in his philosophical thought'
 Leo Strauss begins his book City and Man with this phrase:
'Its is not self-forgetting and painloving antiquarianism nor self-forgetting and intoxicating romanticism which induces us to turn with passionate interest, with unqualified willingness to learn, toward the political thought of classical antiquity. We are impelled to so by the crisis of our time, the crisis of the West.'

If we believe Shadia B. Drury, Leo Strauss's goal has been the antithetical opposite of reconciling the vulgar and the learned (the central problem of Scottish philosophy, Davie 1976):
'Shadia B. Drury claims in her book on Leo  Strauss is not as obscure or as esoteric as his admirers pretend. There are certain incontestable themes in his work. The most fundamental theme is the distinction between the ancients and the moderns - a distinction that informs all his work. According to Strauss, ancient philosophers (such as Plato) were wise and wily, but modern philosophers (such as Locke and other liberals) were foolish and vulgar. The wise ancients thought that the unwashed masses were not fit for either truth or liberty'
Peter Minowitz wrote the book Straussohobia to attack Drury's understanding of Leo Strauss's work. Peter Minowitz is associate professor of political science at Santa Clara University and author of Profits, Priests, and Princes: Adam Smith’s Emancipation of Economics from Politics and Religion. Would be useful, in this context, to compare his views on Adam Smith with those of Flavio Comim who wrote The Scottish Tradition in Economics and the Role of Common Sense in Adam Smith's Though.  In an interview on his book Peter Minowitz claims:
'He (Leo Strauss) also underscores the classical view that the best feasible regime is an aristocracy characterized by the rule of law (recall his praise for “the cause of constitutionalism”).'
Maarten Muns has this chilling Strauss quote:
'It would be absurd to hamper the free flow of wisdom by any regulations; hence the rule of the wise must be absolute rule. The unwise multitude must recognise the wise as wise and obey them freely because of their wisdom'

Leo Strauss sees the Platonic model as an Utopia(!) but claims the best solution is:
'an aristocracy which is strengthened and protected by the admixture of monarchic and democratic institutions'

This sounds a lot like the Rousseau interpretation of Victor Gourevitch.

Leo Strauss's definition of Freedom:
'Civilization needs religion in order to flourish, but philosophy presupposes complete freedom from the restraints that religion must necessarily impose on thought'
Clearly antithetical to John Witherspoon's on liberty:
"There is not a single instance in history," declared Rev. John Witherspoon in 1776, "in which civil liberty was lost, and religious liberty preserved entire. If therefore we yield up our temporal property, we at the same time deliver the conscience into bondage."
Maarten Muns concludes (free translation from Dutch) 'Strauss was without doubt a conservative thinker who didn't have much respect for democracy'.

In my view his 'solution' for the central problem of Scottish philosophy (reconciling the vulgar and the learned) is clearly inferior to the aim for thoughtleadership of Princeton during the 18th century.
The central idea of Straussians of 'returning to the source of western civilisation' as summarized by Irving Kristol clearly isn't compatible with Witherspoon's approach to the classics:
'he (Leo Strauss) turns one's intellectual universe upside down. Suddenly one realized that one had been looking at the history of WEstern political thought the wrong end of the telescope'
 The claim that reason and revelation are incompatible and the tensions between the classics and the moderns clash fundamentally with what John Witherspoon teaches in his lectures on eloquence and moral philosophy:
'Those who sought a return to the classics wanted colleges to return to their traditional role of instilling the classical knowledge essential to a scholarly gentleman, while Witherspoon was more committed to the ideal of the college graduate as a public leader who was prepared to speak to the political problems of contemporary life.'
Witherspoon rejects the closely related assumption that an enlightened individual can understand what is best for society because his Calvinism led him to view human understanding as itself highly fallible.'
This whole idea of 'returning to the source of western civilisation' both ignores/ minimzes the Madness of Mankind and is at the same time antithetical to the gospel, as summarized in the conclusion of Samuel Finley's sermon:
'let it ever be a small matter to be judged weak and foolish to a mad world, provided allways that you are wise to salvation'
Robert Hunt comes to similar conclusions.

Monday, July 1, 2013

David Hume's Antropologie Afgewezen Door Klaas Schiler

Bij het lezen van de subtitel 'The philosopher Edmund Burke reminds us of the threat to society from rampant individualism' van een artikel over Edmund Burke van Jesse Norman in The Telegraph moest ik denken aan mijn blogpost Mondigheid en de Reformatorie van het Neocalvinistische Denken. Daarin verwijs ik naar een quote van Klaas Schilder waarin hij de visie op de mens van David Hume afwijst:
'Wie slaat hooger u aan, Hume, de scepticus, die u, o mensch, een veel te zwak schepsel vond 116), dan dat een misdrijf van hem zùlk een straf zou verdienen, — òf de bijbel, die u een sterke noemt en een tot eeuwigheid uit den Eeuwige geborene?'
Daarbij wordt verwezen naar het scepticisme van David Hume, een proefschrift filosofie (Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam) uit 1916 van de hand van Esaias Engelbertus van Rooyen.

Zowel Thomas Reid en Klaas Schilder hebben zich dus met David Hume's scepticisme beziggehouden. Interessant.

Als je sommige Engelse politici zou geloven begint het 'moderne conservatisme' bij Edmund Burke, hoewel MEP Daniel Hannan in ieder geval verwijst naar de geschiedenis van de Whigs die teruggaat tot de 17de eeuw. Het lijkt vooral een poging om het probleem dat centraal stond in de Schotse Verlichting te omzeilen, namelijk:
 'the problem of reconciling the vulgar and the learned'
De liefde Edmund voor Burke lijkt vooral bedoeld om de aandacht af te leiden van het thoughtleadership van Princeton aan het eind van de 18de eeuw.