Huge underground lake found

The BBC reports that a huge underground lake has been found in Sudan’s Darfur region, which scientists believe “could help end the conflict in the arid region”.

Presumably it is non-renewable fossil water, like the Nubian Sandstone Aquifer System.

Why this should help bring about peace, rather that provide another example of the natural resource curse, it not clear.

There is not much water in Dafur. The is no oil in Somalia. If the Chinese state oil company, CNOOC, succeeds in finding oil in Somalia, will that bring about peace in Somalia?

What happens to any system depends not only on the inputs to the system, but also on the state of the system. Just adding an input, be it water or oil, is no guarantee that peace will be the result. The scientists quoted by BBC seem to have an overly simplistic model in mind.

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The glory of war

What do Harvard’s new president Drew Gilpin Faust and the War Nerd have in common?

In an article published in 2004 in the journal Civil War History, Faust explores the place of war in American politics and culture today. War, she writes, “offers an authenticity and intensity of experience” missing elsewhere in modern society. It provides “a moment of truth,” when soldiers and civilians alike “have to define their deeply held priorities and act on them.” [Source: Jon Wiener].

Both Faust and War Nerd realize that war is a force that gives us meaning.

Wolfowitz in the World Bank

After Paul Wolfowitz had become an embarrassment to the Bush administration, he was shunted over to the World Bank.

From Bloomberg,

Dec. 12 (Bloomberg) — World Bank President Paul Wolfowitz faces mounting criticism from directors of the international lending organization who say he relies on a coterie of political advisers with little expertise in development while driving away seasoned managers. Half of the bank’s 29 highest-level executives have departed since Wolfowitz, the former U.S. deputy Defense secretary and an architect of President George W. Bush’s invasion of Iraq, took office in June 2005…

Wolfowitz, 62, “has placed considerably more trust in a small group of outsiders from the Republican Party than in the seasoned experts in the bank,” said Alison Cave, head of the World Bank staff association, which represents more than 13,000 employees.

“The changes under Wolfowitz are unprecedented in the calculated manner in which inexperienced or ideological replacements are being placed in senior positions,” said Kapur, a professor at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia…

Wolfowitz is reverting to form. It’s déjà vu all over again.

War in The Horn of Africa

Background article in the New York Times on Ethiopia, Many in Ethiopia See Premier’s Talk of War As Ploy to Tighten Grip,

“…Meles is using the conflict to distract people from a vast array of internal problems and to justify further repression of opposition groups, including ethnic Somalis in Ethiopia.”

The U.S. Council on Foreign Relations on Proxy War in Africa’s Horn,

Ethiopia “may drag Washington into a conflict that will be framed in many parts of the Muslim world as another U.S.-sponsored attack on Islam.”

Matt Bryden on Washington’s Self-Defeating Somalia Policy,

“Washington’s new Somalia policy is not just self-defeating: it is inflammatory…

The apparent determination of the United States to approach Somalia as a new front in the Global War on Terror is well along the path to becoming a self-fulfilling policy.”

Stumbling towards genocide in Somalia

First we learn that U.S.

General John Abizaid, the head of the United States Central Command, held talks with Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi on local and international efforts to combat terrorism, state media said on Tuesday.

The talks came as Ethiopia faced accusations of deploying its troops inside Somalia to protect the country’s fledgling interim government from an increasingly powerful Islamic militia.

The pair held talks “on national and international issues, especially on ongoing efforts in fighting terrorism”, state-run Ethiopia News Agency said in a statement.

Second, we get inflammatory rhetoric about Somalia from a U.S. Assistant Secretary of State,

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Free Trade and War

A recent report says that U.S. nuclear weapons are more stable than expected. They are obviously high quality weapons. So why doesn’t the U.S. use its comparative advantage in the production of nuclear weapons and export them? To Iran, for example. Iran is busy building nuclear weapons at inflated prices and inferior quality. Iran, in return, could sell oil to the U.S.

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Islamists in Somalia

If you lived in Mogadishu in recent years before the Islamic Courts took over, your daughters and your property weren’t save. If you complained about your daughters being taken away by gunmen, you would get shot in front of them. People got fed up, and rallied around the Islamic Courts, who got rid of the warlords and reestablished law and order.

The judges of the Islamic Courts and their supporters are the good guys, so far. Continue reading