the important and the not-so-important, horribly conflated.

4 JAN 2011

In as seen by a liberal vegetarian english major in medschool with a subscription to the NYT on January 4, 2011 at 9:51 pm

Sorry for the break in posts… Happy New Year!

There are two presidents, still, in the Ivory Coast. The elected one, Alassane Ouattra, continues to watch diplomatic envoys shuffle in and out of discussions with the former one, Laurent Gbagbo. Gbagbo considers his divine right to the presidential palace as “non-negotiable” and sends roaming militias out to harass UN peacekeeping forces. Ivorians left watching this multi-state spectacle, and Gbagbo’s nationalistic rhetoric on state TV, must wonder if their sovereignty, as expressed in December’s election, has been ignored by both sides. Gbagbo could always just form a personally-selected 5 member court to reverse what UN elections observers confirmed—as Hamid Karzai has done in Afghanistan. Not content with the last parliamentary election, Karzai and the ethnic Pashtun majority he represents are trying to gain seats through judicial decree. It’s easy to write this development off, as most hawks do, as another example of a crazy tribal country that needs a continuing American presence to get anything done. But a more subtle reading reveals a different and perhaps more serious divide emerging in this embattled country: in the (relatively) safe cocoon of Kabul, the thinking of the capital’s politicians and  gov’t apparatchiks has become severed almost completely from the daily fears and struggles and violence faced by their constituents. Developing public faith in government can not, and should not, come from an occupying force. // President Obama looks like he may use a signing statement to get around congressional restrictions on Gitmo detainee transfers. Congress voted in Dec. to defund any attempt to move enemy combatants to US courts or prisons (= Habeus corpus only for those who can pay for their own plane ticket and prison accommodations). The restrictions were part of a larger Military spending bill—past iterations of which helped fund the production of the queer-baiting videos of (now former) Capt. Owen Honors.


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