In Africa south of the Sahara, the despots know how to remain in power: arrest anyone who washes videos of the protests in Tunisia and Egypt; rig the elections: or if you lose, refuse to give up the office of “President for Life.”
In Zimbabwe, several people, students, trade unionists, and political activists gathered to watch videos of the protests going on in Africa north of the Sahara were arrested by President Mugabe’s police. The meeting was illegal because apparently the videos might have motivated the participants to overthrow the legal government of Zimbabwe (in other words, no body was gonna get rid of Mugabe like they got rid of the tyrants in Tunisia and Egypt). A law professor at the University of Zimbabwe who was arrested with his students alleged he was tortured.
In Uganda, the ruler for 25 years, President Museveni, won another five year term. How does he do it? Buy votes, establish personal patronage networks, and make sure you reward the military officers, cabinet members, and ministers in your government so that will not kill the goose that lays the golden eggs. In other words, keep enough people happy and they won’t see you as a tyrant but as a benefactor.
If all else fails, do as the president of the Ivory Coast in West Africa is doing: if you loose the presidential election, simply refuse to give up the presidency.
The dudes in North Africa could take a few lessons from those south of the Sahara.
During the war in Iraq, we never read any negative reports on the progress of the war. I suppose that in wars, it is the natural reaction of the administration to report only good news—the military is always progressing in its drive to defeat the enemy.
The Obama administration is no different. In the report recently released to the public, it claims progress is being made. However, certain of the President’s words should raise red flags. He said that progress hasn’t “come fast enough,” and the report describes the progress as fragile. The timeline for withdrawing troops next summer is on track.
Some reasons why we should leave as soon as possible: The President of Afghanistan is a crook, and runs a government based on corruption.
The Afghan people do not trust government, any government.
The Taliban and al Qaeda continue to have a safe haven in Pakistan.
Most of all, we can’t do what England and Russia failed to do: make Afghanistan a western-style nation.
As an ex-navy man, I’ve thought a lot about whether gays should be allowed to serve their country in the military. It was an open secret that one or two men on the ship I was on were gay in the mid-1950s. None of us resented the men. They did their jobs and did them well.
The don’t ask, don’t tell rule doesn’t always work. For instance, if someone sees a person who is off duty engaging in sexual activity with another person of the same sex and tells the commanding officer, the commanding officer calls the offender into his office and asks him if it is true. Now, technically, the commanding officer shouldn’t ask, and the offender shouldn’t have to answer. But he or she had better answer or be charged with insubordination.
Why doesn’t the rule apply to a witness?
I don’t like the situation of gays in the military being compared to the situation of African Americans in segregated units before President Truman ordered integration. We African Americans were allowed to serve (except, of course, for gays) but in segregated units. Today gays are barred from serving.
However, the same excused used to keep the military segregated is being used today by those who don’t like the idea of gays serving their country: it will negatively affect unit cohesion.
No one has presented any evidence that this is true. In fact, evidence from foreign militaries suggests it is a false assumption.
We must take advantage of the talents of the young gay men and women who want to serve their country in the military.
Strike the don’t ask, don’t tell rule from the books.