Sunday, September 3rd, 2006

From Energy Bulletin comes this:

Strategic Competition for the Continent of Africa (PDF)
Lieutenant Colonel Gregory C. Kane, United States Army War College
The United States is unarguably the pre-eminent nation in the world. Our economic
strength provides for a high quality of life for most of our citizens, large sums of capital for public and private investment, and the ability to field a highly capable and technically advanced military force. At the same time, the United States has become the largest debtor nation; currently some $7 trillion, has under-funded future governmental obligations, and has worldwide security commitments that stretch our military to the breaking point. In order to meet our future security requirements and sustain our pre-eminent military position, the United States must pursue a
foreign policy that ensures continued economic growth – without which, the government will be forced to reduce our commitments, cede resolution of issues to regional powers, or significantly reduce domestic governmental spending, currently politically unpalatable. And to secure growth, the United States needs to maintain access to natural resources and markets for American products. The largest underdeveloped market remaining in the world is the continent of Africa. We are not alone however, in that competition for Africa. China, a growing economic and diplomatic force in the world, has been aggressively pursuing economic goals on the continent and parlaying those economic ties into diplomatic clout. The competition for Africa has strategic implications for whichever country fails to establish or sustain access to that market.

From Aurgasm we can listen to Toumani Diabete’s Symmetric Orchestra.
From the liner notes:

The Symmetric Orchestra reflects the spirit of Mali’s new democracy since 1992— a spirit of equality, and creativity. There’s a public in Mali today that loves traditional music — griot music — but not the griot milieu. With the Symmetric, they feel free to enjoy this music without the obligations of tradition. And this gives us the freedom to present the tradition in new ways.

There are two beautiful songs to listen to if you follow the link:

Symmetric Orchestra – Mamdou Diaby
Symmetric Orchestra – Africa-Challenge

Like many patriotic Americans Lt. Ehren Watada enlisted after September 11, desiring to serve his country and fight our enemies. Like many patriotic Americans Lt. Watada was betrayed by an administration that was never interested in fighting our real enemies, but rather in pursuing its own aggressive war of choice. He is currently refusing to serve in Iraq because it is an illegal war. He had a hearing on August 17, which resulted in a recommendation for court martial. At the hearing he had an impressive group of defense witnesses:

Approximately three hours of the four-hour hearing were devoted to testimony by former United Nations Undersecretary Denis Halliday, Army Colonel Ann Wright (ret.), who resigned in March 2003 to protest the invasion of Iraq, and University of Illinois Professor Francis Boyle, an international law expert.

The defense submitted documents into evidence including an amicus brief filled by the American Civil Liberties Union, the Charter of the United Nations, The War Crimes Act, a German high court ruling in favor of a soldier who refused to participate in the Iraq war, and letters of support from organizations and prominent individuals, including Representative Neil Abercrombie of Hawaii.

There is an interview with Lt. Watada here, in which he says:

Despite conflicting loyalties, I am fighting for the allegiance to which I swore an oath to uphold and defend — the Constitutional laws and principles of democracy. My decision brings honor to veteran JAs (Japanese Americans.) Instead of perpetuating war crimes and a war of aggression, I am actively trying to put a stop to it. Instead of being the “quiet, obedient Japanese,” I am fulfilling my oath to protect my soldiers and this country from our government. This is all at great expense — when the easier, safer path would have been to do my tour in Iraq.
. . .
When I volunteered after 9/11 to serve my country I knew I would have to follow orders — sometimes without rhyme or reason. I would have to be obedient and respectful to authority. Never did I believe I would have to follow orders that were contrary to my moral beliefs and illegal. Moreover, never could I have conceived that my trust in leadership would be shattered because of their deception used to wage this war.
. . .
I knew joining the Army, whether it was fighting in a foreign war or now fighting for the rights of soldiers, meant sacrifice. In combat, you may lose a limb, bodily functions, or your life. Speaking out against an authoritarian government and refusing to obey their unlawful orders may mean loss of liberty and other less than pleasant things. These are both sacrifices and commitments made to the American people as an American soldier. I gave my life to protect freedom and democracy — a sacrifice I am willing to make by doing the right thing.

In a way I’m already free. Physically they can lock me up, throw away the key, leave me to rot and contemplate my “crimes.” For a long time I was in turmoil. I felt compelled to fulfill the terms of my contract despite what I knew to be utterly wrong. Only when I realized that I served not men and institutions but the people of this country, did I believe there was another answer. That choice was to do what is right and just.

Supporters of Lt. Watada have a page with information and opportunities to support his stand here.