Tuesday, January 29, 2008

The Kenyan Crisis Must Not Be Allowed to Escalate

I've been at The Telegraph this afternoon recording this week's HEFFER CONFRONTED, which will be shown on Thursday. Don't miss it. It's, er, sparky.

I've just seen some terrifying pictures which have come in to The Telegraph on the terrible riots and murders in Kenya. Several were too gruesome for a newspaper to publish. As I have written before, this crisis has terrible echoes of the Rwandan genocide, as inter-tribal killings escalate. The two rival leaders, Odinga and Kibaki, seem not to realise that they stand on the edge of a precipice called genocide. If they can't see it for themselves, the international community needs to make its presence felt. Bill Clinton said that not intervening in Rwanda was the greatest mistake of his Presidency (apart from not paying Monica's dry cleaning bill, of course). Let's hope that the international community ensures that history doesn't repeat itself.

And to those who say it's nothing to do with us, let them just get on with it, I take it you've never been to a concentration camp, and have never been to the genocide memorial near Butare in Rwanda where 50,000 corpes are buried. If you had, you wouldn't take an isolationist stance. You'd want to try to do something about it.

48 comments:

a modest proposal said...

It's ironic that while we Britons are expected to welcome with open arms any ethnic group who comes to Britain, many of these ethnic groups not only dislike each other, but often have a murderous hatred of each other.

Perhaps they need to be browbeaten with political correctness like we have been then they'd all have to learn to get along together?

Man in a Shed said...

What is truly frightening is that this has shades of many other inter-communal conflicts (Rwanda is of course the obvious example). Once people start thinking as ethnic groups and feel threatened there appears to be no limit on what they might do. (Let us not be so arrogant as to think we are above it.)

This has happened in Europe recently in the Balkans with neighbours murdering each other. Or for example in the murder of protestants in France ( where some credit industrialised murder having first been developed ). In England the murder of a large group of Jews at York castle again had shades of this. And lets not start on the true horror handed out between shia and sunni Muslims to each other in Iraq.

There is an underlying principle here and we would all do well to soberly consider it. I would suggest it is important that ethnic grievances are not ignored or steeped under the carpet. We must prevent the living in parallel worlds of groups of people in the UK and certainly ensure there is only one common law and justice for all people who live here.

Johnny Norfolk said...

These countries should be left to sort themselves out. Its hard I know but it is the only way.

South Africa will be next. You cannot speed up a countries progress they have to learn for themselves as we did.

Or we take them over and run them as we did in the days of Empire

Unsworth said...

Yes, well the question is Who will intervene. We do not have an Army as a result of Brown and Browne's activities. Such remaining troops as we do have are currently in sandy places. Those who are in the UK are in the process of RnR or preparing to go to sandy places. The Navy has shown itself to be woefully inept in so many different ways. And it's hardly likely that the Royal Air Force will be able to bomb them back to peace, is it?

Why don't we send Miliband? I would have thought that a man of his stature and ability must be the equivalent of at least a couple of armoured brigades. Surely he'll be able to resolve all these troubles with a speech or two?

Jeremy Jacobs said...

Agreed Iain, but I can't see Broon sending troops in can you?

calais said...

When two population groups that live intermingled in the same areas decide they can no longer tolerate the existence of the other, sweet reason offered from outsiders is worthless (except possibly to assuage the consciences of the outsiders).

The only effective responses are to either back one side over the other (cf the French in Rwanda) or almost instantly invade the place and take over its administration. We have proven, for over 50years and to just about everyones satisfaction, that we are now totally crap at that.

I say we sell our UN vote to the Chinese for as much as we can get.

They can have a UN Mandate over all of Kenya.

They can then asset strip the place down to the bedrock, shoot anyone and everyone who needs shooting and, over the next 25yrs, make the survivors richer than they ever dreamt of with unrestricted 19c Capitalism.

Job Done ...and we made a profit.

judith said...

Why are Zimbabwe and Kenya allowed to remain in the Commonwealth?

Anonymous said...

"And to those who say it's nothing to do with us ...I take it you've never been to a concentration camp, and have never been to the genocide memorial near Butare in Rwanda where 50,000 corpes are buried. If you had, you wouldn't take an isolationist stance."

That is simplistic and frankly insulting.

We haven't stopped counting the dead from our last foreign adventure yet.

Chris Paul said...

I don't think the situation in Kenya - terrible though it is - bears comparison to Rwanda.

My erstwhile lodger the runner Tarus Elly is from the Eldoret hinterland, 7 miles from the burnt church. His brother in law is still I believe sheltering in a police station with Tarus' nephew while his sister has his neice at home.

They are different tribes as, rather like in many parts of Iraq, there is a lot of mixing and the whole tribal thing is being over stated and whipped up by "colonial anthropologists".

A large part of it is gangland criminality and old scores being settled (including from 1992 when Moi - from neither of the supposedly key tribes - oversaw, some say orchestrated rather similar troubles) and we see the very poor fighting for turf and very scarce resources.

Essentially I feel Kibaki is a rich-get-richer merchant of legendary self-serving corruption whereas Odinga (who is also a rich man) is somethingly social democratic or democratic socialist with a cleaner history. My view is that Kenya desperately needs the latter approach at this point in its development - and forever.

Nothing must leak out of the public finances into rich men's pockets.

Soon after Tarus arrived in England we went to a local fun day and ran into Tony Lloyd MP. Tarus was absolutely amazed that he was so down to earth, no airs and graces, no entourage, no fleet of Mercs, and no reticence about dealing direct with constituents and no distance from the reality of their lives in Manchester Central.

In the five weeks of this unrest and violence in Kenya up to 50% more people have been killed in gun violence in the United States of America (1200) than have been killed in Kenya (800).

Kofi Annan made a pretty good address today I think. Albeit 90 minutes later than scheduled. Although putting being Kenyan ahead of being Human didn't quite work for me.

Amusing - in the midst of the tragedy - that the Speaker of the Assembly called him a "Senior Citizen" when he surely meant to say "Elder".

45govt said...

No, I wouldn't - it never works, a bit like gun conrol really.
The only thing that would work is recolonisation, and that's not on is it?
Sorry, they'll just have to sort it out themselves with the help of blue-tinted twat Bono, and the hygiene challenged Geldof. Seems harsh that they have them to add to their own woes.

Raedwald said...

Are Kenyan lives worth the bones of a single British Grenadier?

It sounds rough, but when African factions get the pangas out, it's time to stand back, let them fight eachother to a standstill, and then move in to offer the winner our enduring support, trade contracts, arms deals, etc.

Cinnamon said...

We face the same sad future here within 30 years, and to some extend, it's already happening on a low level (but just as bloody and brutal) on our streets here at home.

Note that we cannot keep our own country safe (and the Home Office minister admits it) so, what could we possibly achieve in Kenia? Inflict Blunkett's bobbies on them? Hand out ASBOS? Send our judges over there so they can bail them all?

Seriously, it's all fine and dandy to say 'we must do something' -- but 1) there isn't something we can actually do, 2) if we were to try, we would be committing more 'war crimes' 3) Have you considered writing to the Chinese or Russian embassy and ask them what they intend to 'do about Kenia'? Because both those countries have huge armies that are currently not doing very much.

Anonymous said...

We should note that BBC and BBC world service have banned the word 'tribal' when reporting this. It is, appparently, inter-ethnic violence. I can't imagine how much ethnic variation there is in Kenya.

verity said...

I agree with the general tenor here. We are not their keepers. We've done everything to help them develop and that they stay at a certain level is something to do with evolution, not the UK treasury.

As others have suggested, after 50 years of wealth in the form of aid pouring into a country that should have long ago made itself wealthy,I don't think there's anything more we can, or should, do.

Why is it always the Anglophone (admittedly, on a few occasions, the Francophone)countries that volunteer their taxpayers' money to save these people from themselves? India, Argentina, Mongolia, Viet Nam, Saudi Arabia, Indonesia seem to be able to contemplate the situation with equanimity.

As Calais hinted above, when it begins to threaten their interests, the Chinese will go in and sort it out and we will, I hope, turn a blind eye.

dearieme said...

Barack'll fix it.

jd said...

Sorry Iain, it's easy to cry 'something must be done!' when it's not you who's going to be in the firing line.

Personally, I tend to like PJ O'Rourke's view on overseas military adventuring - if we're going to dive in it must be (1) in our strategic interest; (2) have some moral/ethical underpinning; AND (3) we must actually be realistically able to achieve something.

You might be able to argue 2, but 3is dubious, and we sure as hell have no strategic interest there.

Simon Lamb said...

Recent history should teach the West some humility before attempting to intervene in distant conflicts - Somalia being the most proximate to Kenya.
Even the dimmest Kenyan MP must have realised they have to work together to avoid the approaching abyss.
It is depressing to realise that the Hobbesian 'state of nature' is so close to the surface in a country that has been assumed to be one of the most stable in the developing world. And to think Kibaki was seen as a saviour 5 years ago!

verity said...

JD - I regard everything that PJ has ever written as gospel. I think his best book of all time is 'Eat The Rich' and I advise everyone who thinks "something must be done" to read it.

45govt said...

Not a good day for sweet reason
a la Mrs Dale today, is it.
Thank heavens there still seems to be a number of sensible non PC people in Britain - but one has to wonder why FFS.

verity said...

Even if one reads nothing else in 'Eat The Rich' one should read the chapter on Tanzania: "How to Make Nothing out of Everything".

Then the following chapter on Hong Kong: "How to Make Everything out of Nothing".

There is no excuse for countries as fertile and mineral-laden as those in Africa for having the begging bowl out after 50 years. Look at Hong Kong, whose wealth on its tiny, tiny island is so great it has flooded over into the whole of Guandong province in China. Hong Kong is the world's capital for Rolls Royce ownership. And they do not have one - single - natural - resource. With the exception of brains,ingenuity and energy. Same with Singapore. Not one natural resource, except brains and energy. They don't even have water! They have to import it in big pipes over the Straits of Malacca from Malaysia.

I'm sorry that people are suffering in Kenya, but they have tolerated thieves and dictators and "tribal elders" whatever the hell that's supposed to be 50 years and it was their choice to do so.

Peter said...

They screamed and shrieked for independence. And got it fifty years ago. When I did a tour of VSO in Zambia the older ones begged for a return of Colonial rule to restore the mess their leaders had made of it. No sorry I did not build concentration camps and I am not supporting tribalism or animism which motivates Africa. Africans cannot govern themselves now and never will so either reclaim the title of Bwana or shut up and get on with deporting the African crime lords from Ethiopia and Somalia who are polluting our nation. If Zimbabwe had oil Mugabe would be dead. Simple. And our current foreign Office is historically illiterate so find something else to wring your hands about old bean.

Jimbo said...

Iain….. I am not a Tory.

You however are the leading blogger in the political arena.. That is why I come here. Your input to the various debates is excellent… much better that you friend Guido who is far too caustic for anyone with a brain cell.

But putting your head in the sand is not the answer; I did actually think you were better.

The lead is Conman Conway…NOT Beckett, Kenya or Thorpe….Be a Man

Anonymous said...

"Kenya must not be allowed to escalate "

What are you going on about?

They are independent(wanted to be )
control their own affairs ,and nowt to do with us

confused, patronising crap

permanentexpat said...

"And to those who say it's nothing to do with us, let them just get on with it, I take it you've never been to a concentration camp."

Some of us have actually been to concentration camps, Iain.

I am with the general tenor of the comment: They have to sort themselves out.

And I have a 'dare' for you: Please publish in your blog the total amount of money ($$$) given to ALL our former African Colonies since their respective independences. Your readers will then have some idea of the terrible neglect we have shown.

permanentexpat.

strapworld said...

anonymous 10.55 is spot on. Iain you sound like a latter day colonist.

They kicked us out they should be allowed to sort themselves out.

What IS sad is the ghetto's the majority live in after all the billions poured into African Countries (Kenya included) over many many years.

Which African country is a success story?

Tony Makara said...

I am generally opposed to countries interfering in the internal events of other countries. However, with two exceptions. I believe intervention is justified when a country faces a humanitarian crisis and when the people of that country are facing genocide. If action isn't taken to restore order in Kenya both conditions will surely follow. This of course is easier said than done, but to allow another Rwanda would be shameful.

Abdul-Rahim said...

What has the Conservative party done to help promote reconciliation and understanding? Did Cameron even issue a statement condemning the violence?

Yak40 said...

Europe couldn't even straighten out the Balkans a few years ago, it's still a powder keg and troops are still there.

Given that, what does anyone suggest EU or UK (not yet the same thing but not much longer now) do in Africa ?

Send troops and have the UN screeching "colonialism".

Same problem as Zimbabwe tho' that hasn't erupted in violence (yet). SA coming soon too.

Chris Paul drags US gun crime into it so I'll just say that the majority of that is committed in, guess what, minority areas, killing each other. Surprise.

verity said...

abdul-rahim - What duty do we have to "promote understanding"?

Explain your thoughts.

These people have lived on their own continent for millions of years. Promoting "understanding" may be a task better left to them.

While these areas were under colonial power, with colonial rules and laws and strictures and methodolodgy, they got on very well. They prospered.

Then they fell back into tribalism and thinking they could now do it all by themselves, demanded independence, got it, got 50 years of billions of pounds of aid and ... oh, wait a minute! ... on the agriculturally and minerally richest continent on earth, they failed.

It beggars belief.

If I were choosing, I'd go and live in titchy, tiny Hong Kong with no vast (or any) areas of agriculture, no diamonds, uranium or other minerals much desired by the West, but heady, twenty-four hours a day with free enterprise and creative thinking and feel myself bloody lucky.

verity said...

Abul Rahmin: "Did Cameron even issue a statement condemning the violence?"

Why should he? We wouldn't want to be colonialist and interfere with the well-managed affairs of independent African nations.

God, what an awful new banner, which is the old banner with your old photo and something that looks as though it heads up a bank or a building society. I've never seen anything so trite in my life.

I'm not sure I want to appear on something so naff.

another permanent expat said...

Had the elections been seen to be free and fair, this situation would probably not have arisen. But there was the usual jiggery-pokery and we now see the results of decent people feeling short changed.

Having lived in Africa for the better part of 10 years, although I no longer do so, I agree with others here - let them sort themselves out. Same goes for Iraq. We can deal with the eventual winners in due course.

another permanent expat said...

Had the elections been seen to be free and fair, the current situation would not have arisen. But the usual African jiggery-pokery was clearly in evidence and we now see the results of decent law abiding people feeling cheated and short changed.

Having lived in Africa for around 10 years, although I no longer do so, I agree with others here - let them sort themselves out. Same goes for Iraq. We can deal with the eventual winners in due course.

Andrew C said...

Not being a military man, I have no idea whether sending in troops would work. My guess is that you'd need a massive force and that it would have to be prepared to kill Kenyans if necessary. European or American soldiers Kenyans?

The situation in Kenya is truly horrendous. I have friends in Tanzania who are terrified about the possibility of a Rwanda-like melt down.

One of the primary causes of this is that the 'big men' who gain power in Africa have no regard whatsoever for their people. They literally become addicted to money and once in power have unfettered access to an endless supply of their drug. Kibaki sees what Mugabe has achieved by allowing chaos to reign in Zimbabwe and therefore has every incentive to accelerate, rather than halt, the breakdown.

To be honest, I see no solution to this. The UN (dominated, as it is, by people who would rather like to be in Kibaki's position) is impotent and, for exactly the same reasons, other African nations are unlikely to intervene.

In Britain we had a more evenly balanced power structure - Magna Carta and the 1688 Bill of Rights, backed by a powerful parliament, ensured that no one like Kibaki could emerge.

Kibaki and his like are more like mafia gangsters than rulers. All those at the top of the tree are in their pockets.

Sorry to witter on, but this is a very complex situation and I've only scraped the surface!

Anonymous said...

While the great and the good muse about tribal conflict in far away places, some of us are more concerned with the structural foundations now laid in England for civil war within the next few decades.

The social experiment known as 'multiculturalism' has, since the end of WW2 spawned a number of strongly growing ghettos built around ideology incompatible with mainstream society.

Worse still, this ideology is taking hold in many countries across the planet.

Worse still, the fertility rate of the self segregating section of the population that wish to cut themselves off from the evils of mainstream society runs at over 5 children per couple.

Worse still, - the self segregating , growing, ghettos aren't isolated from the source of this poionous ideology. Thanks to modern technology: the internet, satellite tv, international calls and airliners, and thanks to fears by the authorities in our country that they have no business 'interfering' with honour killings, forced marriages, female genital mutilation and threats of violence for 'cultural' reasons.

Never mind the rest of the world.... trouble here at home is fomenting.

When is a major party going to start doing something about it?

Paddy Briggs said...

Iain

Yes – spot on. This is real politics – politics that matters and, incidentally, the type of issue that brings many decent people into politics in the first place. Johnny Norfolk’s and raedwald’s posts were vile (and Verity’s beneath contempt as usual) , but not untypical of the type of reaction that you find in the grass roots amongst the ignorant and the uncaring. Fortunately I doubt that any serious politician of any Party would agree with them. Britain has a duty of care to Kenya (it has to Zimbabwe as well, but that’s another story). Having said that I do think that the right way forward is to work in partnership with the UN and the EU to try and broker a formula to help. Individual nations rarely succeed (cf Norway in Sri Lanka) these days, but international agencies may be more successful.

simon said...

WHO CARES!!! If they want to act like primitives let 'em get on with it. The only thing i'd like to know from a Kenyan is what exactly does 'ungawa' mean? Handy to know when watching Tarzan or Smokey and the Bandit 2.

Anonymous said...

Man in a Shed said...

"Once people start thinking as ethnic groups and feel threatened there appears to be no limit on what they might do. (Let us not be so arrogant as to think we are above it.)"

We're not above it and we will be doing the same in two or three decades. Inevitable, after the Thatcher-Blair years.

neil craig said...

The Ruanda comparison is not strong. Kenya has had a relatively stable relatively democratic regime since independence. Ruanda had been run on racial grounds since Belguim left - indeed the massacre Clinton refers to was merely the latest of several, nor indeed are the good democrats running the place necessarily any better than the evil killers they displaced. The media is silent on the fact that the killing was started by somebody, almost certainly the good democrats, shooting down the President's plane. The earlier ones went essentially unreported in the western media because downloading satellite phots wasn't so easy & without pictures there is no story.

Doesn't mean it hasn't been nasty in Kenya lately but accuracy & sense of proportion are needed.

Anonymous said...

To Paddy Briggs

You are wrong . Other than as humans inhabiting the same planet which is a very vague qualification , we have absolutely no duty of care to Kenya .

This is an ideal situation for the UN to get itself involved in and monitor etc .
Thats as far as it goes .

Or are you personally volunteering ?

permanentexpat said...

Paddy Briggs obviously lives in cloud-cuckoo land.....
....or on another planet. Uranus?

verity said...

Troll One-Worlder Paddy Briggs refers to me as "ignorant and uncaring" and I resent it. I am not ignorant. And he believes "the right way forward" is to work "in partnership with the UN and the EU". How's life up there on Planet Zog, Mr Briggs?

We have conflicts in our own country to worry about and unless there is a large shovelling out of people whose beliefs and crackpot religion are inimicable to advanced Western thought and civil behaviour, we will be going through the same thing on our own streets.

Pete said...

Nato's intervention by force in the Balkans saved half a million lives, so in principle I believe we are right to act where we can perceive a successful outcome. Impossible/not worth it in this case - the scale of the thing is too small, and we wouldn't have any support from nearby African nations. I believe we're doing all we should, and I certainly don't believe we should wash our hands on principle of the suffering of innocent people.

By the way, if a "one-worlder" believes there is only one world, why is that such a pejorative? There is only one that humans inhabit, isn't there?

permanentexpat said...

I post this (albeit dated) snippet because there's no feedback from Iain on the billions of wasted aid.

"Africa’s begging bowl leaks horribly. In August 2004, an African Union report claimed that Africa loses an estimated $148 billion annually to corrupt practices, a figure which represents 25 percent of the continent’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP). Two years earlier at an African civic groups meeting in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, Nigeria’s President, Olusegun Obasanjo, claimed that “corrupt African leaders have stolen at least $140 billion (£95 billion) from their people in the decades since independence” (The London Independent, June 14, 2002. Web posted at www.independent.co.uk). But these are gross underestimates. According to one UN estimate, $200 billion or 90 percent of the sub-Saharan part of the continent’s gross domestic product was shipped to foreign banks in 1991 alone."

....and so it continues to go, Mr. Briggs.
It is not we who should be ashamed but those who receive the aid.

ranter said...

Send in ‘The Met’ – they have some first class leaders, errm managers is probably the better word who could consult widely with the main factions and then draw up a training plan incorporating all the best from the implementation of the MPS Diversity Strategy, better still send the whole bloody Diversity Directorate out there and they might so something useful for once in their respective lives. It’s that or let the entire Kenyan population come over here – there’s still a bit of room left here in Kent!

verity said...

Pete - You don't seem to understand the phrase.

Arden Forester said...

This is an absolute tragey. I have not heard anything from the Government, or even the opposition parties. It is a travesty that a country that was seen as being a showcase for Africa has descended into such violence. There is no justification for it, not even a rigged election. Let's hope Kofi Annan can bring some sense to the country.

Wrinkled Weasel said...

We are constantly made to feel guilty about colonialism but here is another example of a country that has since reverted to tribal savagery.

Colonisation of Africa merely halted the natural evolution of the indigenous people, just as the Roman Empire did to us, and so yes, we are indirectly to blame. What happened in Briain? Britons reverted to savagery after 410 AD with 600 years of tribal warfare and effectively wiped away Roman civilisation in this country.

The same is happening in Africa and frankly, intervention is not going to solve it and neither is uncontrolled migration into Europe, by people with poor hygeine standards, who believe in Witchcraft, no birth control and eating vegetables to prevent HIV.

Anonymous said...

Wrinkled Weasel said...

"Colonisation of Africa merely halted the natural evolution of the indigenous people, just as the Roman Empire did to us, and so yes, we are indirectly to blame. What happened in Briain? Britons reverted to savagery after 410 AD with 600 years of tribal warfare and effectively wiped away Roman civilisation in this country."

Tosh.

What happened after the Roman withdrawal was that Britons struggled to maintain Roman civilisation despite barbarian invasions by Germans and Vikings.

By 1066 they had largely succeeded with Britain being the most prosperous and democratic place in Europe. Then the Normans came and, after getting lucky at Hastings, ruined it.

The aftermath of the British empire in Africa is rather different as the main struggle is to steal more 'aid' than anyone else.