In Darfur, demonstrate justice, don't deliberate over it
Thank you for the excellent March 17 article "Africa to world: we can handle war justice ourselves." I offer a few more ideas. First, justice presupposes the arrest of perpetrators and the cessation of crimes. In Darfur especially, concern for justice can only be spoken of politely as a farsighted vision. World intervention is long overdue to prevent further genocide of Darfurians by Sudan's government-assisted Janjaweed. Justice and politics can be sorted out afterward.
The world ought not paralyze itself into continued inaction, engaging in philosophical argument over "punitive" versus "reconciliatory" manners of justice. There can be no justice of either kind in Darfur until the will of the world terminates the genocide.
I just read Cathryn J. Prince's March 10 Opinion piece "Tough-talking Bolton: just what the UN needs." As an example of why President Bush and his appointee John Bolton are entitled to belittle and disrespect the UN, Ms. Prince offers this rationalization: "Respect needs to be earned. And, since Kofi Annan became secretary-general, the world body has been a breeding ground for scandal and ineptitude and has not earned that respect.... On Mr. Annan's watch, peacekeepers have been involved in sexual and physical abuse ... of people they were charged with protecting."
I couldn't help wondering why that same rationalization wasn't used by Prince against Mr. Bush himself. Under Bush's watch, peacekeepers (aka soldiers) have been involved in sexual and physical abuse of prisoners in Guantánamo and in Iraq - people they were charged with protecting.
I'm not sure I see the difference.
Yes, the UN has many faults and needs greater reform. Yet when Ms. Prince uses the example of Rwanda to say "UN peacekeepers are useless in preventing the slaughter of innocents," I feel sad and frustrated.
The UN commander Roméo Dallaire worked heroically in impossible circumstances to save as many people as he could. Mr. Dallaire has said that if he'd been given three or four thousand troops, instead of the 300 that remained, he could have stopped the genocide in its tracks.
From this, I conclude that if we strengthen the UN in these situations, instead of criticizing it, vastly more could be achieved. A recent poll in 23 countries, conducted by the BBC, found that majorities in 22 of them - including the US - want the UN strengthened.
I agree with those people.
Regarding the March 18 article "Is that a spreadsheet on your screen - or solitaire?": I work in the private sector and our company's rules are rather relaxed - but that's because employees often clean out their e-mail, deal with high-priority issues, and respond to customers from home after hours. All in all, we put in at least 40 hours, usually more, so our supervisors do not begrudge us the occasional break.
But a better solution would be to hold managers and supervisors accountable for their employees' productivity. As long as the work gets done with as few laggards on the payroll as possible, solitaire is the least of our problems.
I thought solitaire had been installed on office computers to keep workers from losing their minds while they are on terminal hold while being transferred to someone's voice mail.
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