Posts Tagged ‘Sudan’
December 24th, 2009 at 11:37 am
Negotiating to Lose on Climate Change

One of the fundamental rules of negotiating is being able and willing to walk away without a deal. Apparently, during the make-or-break round of the Copenhagen climate conference only China remembered the rule. Of course, the “deal” it secured with Western countries was far less than Obama, Brown, Merkel, etc. wanted – but that was the point.

To be sure, Western leaders desperately wanted a deal, and kept larding on concessions. Take out previously agreed to emissions targets? Okay. Remove specific reduction deadlines? Fine. How about eliminating independent verification of compliance? Yes. Like a “moderate” Democratic Senator holding out for the sweetest deal possible, China played the world for stooges, and won.

China not only didn’t need a deal – it didn’t want one. But if the “international community” was going to insist on “something” to show for the two-week confab, China was happy to give next to nothing and make it look like the West failed to be serious. For eco-philes the dismal end to “Hopenhagen” shouldn’t be that surprising considering China’s position, though for some it is:

Why did China, in the words of a UK-based analyst who also spent hours in heads of state meetings, “not only reject targets for itself, but also refuse to allow any other country to take on binding targets?” The analyst, who has attended climate conferences for more than 15 years, concludes that China wants to weaken the climate regulation regime now “in order to avoid the risk that it might be called on to be more ambitious in a few years’ time”.

When considered in the context of China’s overall approach to foreign policy, the country’s obstructionism is not novel. Whether it’s protecting Iran from sanctions, propping up North Korea, or bankrolling Sudan, China is not a nation promising the kind of multi-lateral hope and change global government types are waiting for. For America haters everywhere, China’s rise to power does not portend a kinder, gentler world.

October 21st, 2009 at 9:33 am
Peace at Any Price

Bret Stephens of the Wall Street Journal posted a great piece comparing (or rather, contrasting) President Barack Obama’s words and record on human rights. From President Obama’s recent decision to cancel an appearance at the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall to his extending money-laden olive branches to Sudan and Burma, the candidate of hope and change is summing up to be depressingly less than foreign democracy advocates anticipated.

Remember the White House’s timidity during the riots and retaliations in Iran earlier this year? There were people agitating for freedom while an American president worried what world opinion would think. Apparently, President Obama made the “right” decision, since his version of “engagement” garnered him a Nobel Peace Prize. It’s too bad that – so far – he’s more interested in securing peace with governments than peace for the people they allegedly serve.

October 19th, 2009 at 3:20 pm
Two Policies, One Principle?

Talk about mixed messages. Yesterday, top White House advisor David Axelrod warned Goldman Sachs for having the audacity to link pay for performance during a recession. The end-of-year compensation is apparently “offensive” in a time of recession. Moreover, Wall Street needs to “stand down” its opposition to further regulation of the financial industry because the government needs to “move forward” on “reforms.”

Today, President Barack Obama announces a “shift” in policy towards the government of Sudan. In the past, the President described Omar al-Bashir’s administration as genocidal. Now, in an effort to ransom better treatment for the millions terrorized by al-Bashir’s partisans, Obama offers “incentives” (i.e. money) hoping it will spur a change of behavior.

How curious. On the one hand, the Obama foreign policy team thinks money is a better motivator than economic coercion or military force. On the other hand, the Obama domestic policy team thinks coercive regulatory policies and voluntary denial of bonuses are better ways to incentivize performance than offering big pay-days to top flight financial talent. Hmmm…

One searches for the critical distinction to make sense of these seemingly contradictory approaches. Could the best explanation be that with Sudan the White House determines the who, what, when, where, and why of using money as an incentive, while in the case of Goldman Sachs someone other than the government is making the decisions?  If you could pick only one instance to use money as an enticement, should it be for the people that systematically rape, maim, and murder their neighbors?