Update: 3/8/12. The slaughter continues in Syria. It’s completely mysterious why any sensible person puts any faith in the UN. Recently, that hapless organization has given the butcher Assad more time to murder his fellow citizens. At the heart of the problem is the assumption underlying the very existence of the UN that all members are kind of nice, more or less imperfect versions of Finland. This is revolting.
A second assumption is that the UN is ineffectual but our only option. As the successful recent intervention in Libya, that is simply not true.
According to certain isolationists who call themselves “libertarian” ( and who will maintain that they are in no way isolationists) much or most of the political horrors one observes in the developing world can be blamed on colonialism. Thus, the ongoing massacre in Syria would be owed to the French mandate over that country exercised between 1919 and 1946. Using some fairly mysterious logic the said isolationists use the alleged past sins of colonialisms to oppose any Western intervention in Syria that would seek to undermine the Assad, Baath regime ‘s ability to slaughter the civilian population.
As if to underscore the brilliance of this analysis, Afghanistan peacefully elected a new president yesterday in a hotly contested election. The transfer of power was accomplished without any disturbance. As everyone knows, Afghanistan was never colonized, never submitted to a foreign yoke.
In the meantime, in the former French colony of Senegal in West Africa, rival groups keep slaughtering one another in an effort to achieve domination by force of arms where the custom of holding elections never did take root. The French colonized Senegal in depth from the late 18th century until 1962. The French colonization was so deep that some Senegalese were voting in French elections – in a simulacrum of democracy – starting in 1850. Deep colonization there as elsewhere and more than one hundred and fifty years of complete domination by a colonial power led to a horribly distorted society.
Wait a minute, wait a minute! Wrong again. It’s in Senegal that there was a peaceful democratic transfer of power yesterday and it’s in colonialistically virginal Afghanistan that the citizens keep assassinating one another. I will be damned! Got it backward!
PS Both countries are near 100% Muslim, both Sunni.
Update 3/28/12: A Senegalese person I know well tells me that there were 11 people killed in the demonstrations against the outgoing president. Presumably they would have been killed by violent actions by the police. If this were true, it would be contrary to the relatively peaceful image I give of the recent power transition in Senegal.
I am skeptical for two reasons: 1 Human Rights Watch silence. I have always found this organization to be alert and its reports trustworthy.
2 The second reason for my skepticism is my Senegalese acquaintance failure to give specific references in support of her assertions. She mentioned imprecisely several press organs, including a branch of Le Monde. I Googled it and found in it a report that immediately triggered my sense of disbelief. The item mentioned several deaths caused by police actions, including shooting “blank bullets” (“balles a blanc”). First, there is no such thing (bullet?). Then, when you shoot blanks at people nothing comes out of the gun barrel. It’s hard to see how it can hurt anyone.
Small details like this matter. Either people know what they are talking about or they don’t. That Le Monde correspondent does not and Le Monde editors don’t care enough to do something about it. They don’t deserve my attention.
I asked my Senegalese acquaintance to give me more precise references. Some readers might. I will update this piece as needed.