A new nation

After years of civil war and genocide, in which the Arab Muslims of the north brutalized the African Christians of the south, a new nation has been born.  In accord with an armistice agreement, the people of southern Sudan voted for secession.  With 99.57% of the vote.

The new country, South Sudan, is set for sovereignty within six months.  It will be one of the poorest nations on earth.  And yet it sits atop vast amounts of oil.  By terms of the agreement, the oil wealth has to be shared with the north, but it needs to be developed first.

This is a country that’s worth pulling for.  And praying for.

It’s official: South Sudan set to secede with a 99.57 percent vote – CSMonitor.com.

About Gene Veith

Professor of Literature at Patrick Henry College, the Director of the Cranach Institute at Concordia Theological Seminary, a columnist for World Magazine and TableTalk, and the author of 18 books on different facets of Christianity & Culture.

  • Cincinnatus

    Honest question: Why is this a nation worth “pulling for”? Like de Maistre, I am skeptical of this thing called “constitution-making”–there is all too much humanity in that business. Is there evidence that the southern Sudanese are any more competent to construct and manage a state than their northern oppressors? Is a landlocked, impoverished, dessicated piece of desert whose populace has no experience whatsoever governing itself a viable prospect?

  • Cincinnatus

    Honest question: Why is this a nation worth “pulling for”? Like de Maistre, I am skeptical of this thing called “constitution-making”–there is all too much humanity in that business. Is there evidence that the southern Sudanese are any more competent to construct and manage a state than their northern oppressors? Is a landlocked, impoverished, dessicated piece of desert whose populace has no experience whatsoever governing itself a viable prospect?

  • Bryan Lindemood

    Two members of my congregation are there in Juba, as I type this. They have worked and studied for years for this moment along with many of their Sudanese brothers and sisters. Keep them in your prayers during this hopeful, yet, very challenging time.

  • Bryan Lindemood

    Two members of my congregation are there in Juba, as I type this. They have worked and studied for years for this moment along with many of their Sudanese brothers and sisters. Keep them in your prayers during this hopeful, yet, very challenging time.

  • kerner

    Well Cincinnatus, you answered my question before I asked it. By “pulling for”, does that mean spending money to help it get on its feet…while simultaneously reaping profits that keep us in our position as a global super power?

    So, if helping our neighbor means extending the “American Empire”, I guess our neighbor will have to dangle…or wait for some new bully to push it around.

  • kerner

    Well Cincinnatus, you answered my question before I asked it. By “pulling for”, does that mean spending money to help it get on its feet…while simultaneously reaping profits that keep us in our position as a global super power?

    So, if helping our neighbor means extending the “American Empire”, I guess our neighbor will have to dangle…or wait for some new bully to push it around.

  • http://www.bikebubba.blogspot.com Bike Bubba

    Definitely worth praying for–especially that South Sudan doesn’t fall into the same tribal/religious wars that have plagued it when ruled from Khartoum.

  • http://www.bikebubba.blogspot.com Bike Bubba

    Definitely worth praying for–especially that South Sudan doesn’t fall into the same tribal/religious wars that have plagued it when ruled from Khartoum.

  • DonS

    Cincinnatus & Kerner, my take from Dr. Veith’s comment is simply, that it is worth “pulling for”. As in “rooting for”, and “praying for”, as he said. I, for one, would like to see its nascent leadership lead well, and justly, and I will be “pulling for” that. I am indeed glad that the Christians of South Sudan do not have to continue under Muslim governance.

  • DonS

    Cincinnatus & Kerner, my take from Dr. Veith’s comment is simply, that it is worth “pulling for”. As in “rooting for”, and “praying for”, as he said. I, for one, would like to see its nascent leadership lead well, and justly, and I will be “pulling for” that. I am indeed glad that the Christians of South Sudan do not have to continue under Muslim governance.

  • Kirk

    Woo! This is my jam! I’m on the Sudan Desk at USAID and the referendum was probably the big event of 2011, for me (got it out of the way quick). But, to echo Veith, Bike and Don, this country needs prayer. In fact, divine intervention is about all that can keep it from devolving into an internal civil war.

    We have some anecdotes and facts that we like to relate to help put a perspective on the level of development in the South. It’s about the size of Texas (or France) and it currently has around 40 miles of paved roads, pretty much all in Juba. Most of the roads are dirt and in very, very bad condition. For example, when I was over there in October, we drove about 90 miles out of Juba to a small town near the Uganda border. It took us around 5 hours to get there. On one of the more rustic roads, potholes (if you can call them that) were around 4 feet deep and 8 feet across. Very slow going.

    One of our other stories is about agricultural development. Most S. Sudanese are subsistence farmers, growing maize, mangoes and sorghum. S. Sudan as extremely rich soil, so we thought it wise to expand farmer’s capacity to till and considered bringing them tractors. The problem is that most people in the South can’t drive and there are virtually no parts or mechanics. So, instead we brought them ox-plows. This may not sound like much, but it increased the amount of land one man could till in a day by about 4x, which is huge. These people literally have nothing and have never had anything. They live pretty much the same way they did 400 years ago.

    From a political standpoint, the situation is just as grim. The region is plagued by tribal differences and killing has been a way of life for generations. Right now, the largest tribe, the Dinka, are broadly in control. The president, Salva Kiir, is Dinka and his predecessor during the wars, John Garang, was also Dinka. The VP, Riek Machar, however, is Nuer. He has ambitions to be president, some day, but it’s doubtful that a Dinka would suffer a Nuer to rule him. The worry is that Machar will be beaten in the next election then separate off with his Nuer followers and go to war with the Dinka majority. Machar did just this during the rebellion and committed the Bor massacre, an event that many consider genocide. This is all not to mention the general tribal instabilities of the more rural areas and the intra-tribal cattle raids and disputes. Plus, there are the Misseriya, an Arab tribe living in the south that generally doesn’t get along with the Africans, the Lord’s Resistance army being driven from Uganda to S. Sudan, continued political interference from the North and Libya, terrorism from Somalia, a 15% literacy rate, etc etc.

    Sudan does have a lot going for it though. Huge amounts of oil, some of the best soil on earth, gold, diamonds, the Nile. It could do very well for itself in the long run if it can survive its first few generations of democracy. Definitely pray.

  • Kirk

    Woo! This is my jam! I’m on the Sudan Desk at USAID and the referendum was probably the big event of 2011, for me (got it out of the way quick). But, to echo Veith, Bike and Don, this country needs prayer. In fact, divine intervention is about all that can keep it from devolving into an internal civil war.

    We have some anecdotes and facts that we like to relate to help put a perspective on the level of development in the South. It’s about the size of Texas (or France) and it currently has around 40 miles of paved roads, pretty much all in Juba. Most of the roads are dirt and in very, very bad condition. For example, when I was over there in October, we drove about 90 miles out of Juba to a small town near the Uganda border. It took us around 5 hours to get there. On one of the more rustic roads, potholes (if you can call them that) were around 4 feet deep and 8 feet across. Very slow going.

    One of our other stories is about agricultural development. Most S. Sudanese are subsistence farmers, growing maize, mangoes and sorghum. S. Sudan as extremely rich soil, so we thought it wise to expand farmer’s capacity to till and considered bringing them tractors. The problem is that most people in the South can’t drive and there are virtually no parts or mechanics. So, instead we brought them ox-plows. This may not sound like much, but it increased the amount of land one man could till in a day by about 4x, which is huge. These people literally have nothing and have never had anything. They live pretty much the same way they did 400 years ago.

    From a political standpoint, the situation is just as grim. The region is plagued by tribal differences and killing has been a way of life for generations. Right now, the largest tribe, the Dinka, are broadly in control. The president, Salva Kiir, is Dinka and his predecessor during the wars, John Garang, was also Dinka. The VP, Riek Machar, however, is Nuer. He has ambitions to be president, some day, but it’s doubtful that a Dinka would suffer a Nuer to rule him. The worry is that Machar will be beaten in the next election then separate off with his Nuer followers and go to war with the Dinka majority. Machar did just this during the rebellion and committed the Bor massacre, an event that many consider genocide. This is all not to mention the general tribal instabilities of the more rural areas and the intra-tribal cattle raids and disputes. Plus, there are the Misseriya, an Arab tribe living in the south that generally doesn’t get along with the Africans, the Lord’s Resistance army being driven from Uganda to S. Sudan, continued political interference from the North and Libya, terrorism from Somalia, a 15% literacy rate, etc etc.

    Sudan does have a lot going for it though. Huge amounts of oil, some of the best soil on earth, gold, diamonds, the Nile. It could do very well for itself in the long run if it can survive its first few generations of democracy. Definitely pray.

  • Porcell

    Yes, Spouth Sudan is certainly worth pulling and praying for. It is a predominantly Christian African nation that will be breaking from radical Muslim rule, giving it a decent advantage.

    Unfortunately it is a landlocked area that has substantial oil; it is well known that such areas become overly dependent on this resource, neglecting commerce, agriculture, and manufacturing.

    Cincinnatus, these people would be better off following deTocqueville and Adam Smith than deMaistre, a ridiculously conservative aristocrat who favored a return to discredited monarchy. The last thing Africans, with their tribal traditions need, is some sort of monarchist rule.

  • Porcell

    Yes, Spouth Sudan is certainly worth pulling and praying for. It is a predominantly Christian African nation that will be breaking from radical Muslim rule, giving it a decent advantage.

    Unfortunately it is a landlocked area that has substantial oil; it is well known that such areas become overly dependent on this resource, neglecting commerce, agriculture, and manufacturing.

    Cincinnatus, these people would be better off following deTocqueville and Adam Smith than deMaistre, a ridiculously conservative aristocrat who favored a return to discredited monarchy. The last thing Africans, with their tribal traditions need, is some sort of monarchist rule.

  • Bryan Lindemood

    Kirk, Thanks. Lot’s of great information. The folks I serve are from Akobo in Jong Lei State. You reflect many of my own apprehensions about South Sudan. Amen to prayer and the limitations men (and tribes) are willing to place over their pride through good government.

  • Bryan Lindemood

    Kirk, Thanks. Lot’s of great information. The folks I serve are from Akobo in Jong Lei State. You reflect many of my own apprehensions about South Sudan. Amen to prayer and the limitations men (and tribes) are willing to place over their pride through good government.

  • Cincinnatus

    Porcell@7: When did I say anyone should “follow” de Maistre (who actually was not a monarchist)? All I said was that, like de Maistre, I am skeptical of constitution-making in general, and I wonder–or fear, rather–whether south Sudan might be jumping out of the pot and into the fire. I am also not certain what sort of “constitution” is best suited for this people/nation. Is it democratic? I am not qualified to say, but I am not optimistic, and, unlike Kirk (whose factual information is quite helpful, by the way!), I don’t see a reason for the default to be democracy–as in, to paraphrase Kirk, “if they can succeed at democracy for a few generations, everything will be ok.” Really?

    Also, why, again, is this a nation worth pulling for? Because some Christians live there? Because they are not Muslim? Because they might favor the United States? Because they might be inclined to sell us their oil and permit American investment?

  • Cincinnatus

    Porcell@7: When did I say anyone should “follow” de Maistre (who actually was not a monarchist)? All I said was that, like de Maistre, I am skeptical of constitution-making in general, and I wonder–or fear, rather–whether south Sudan might be jumping out of the pot and into the fire. I am also not certain what sort of “constitution” is best suited for this people/nation. Is it democratic? I am not qualified to say, but I am not optimistic, and, unlike Kirk (whose factual information is quite helpful, by the way!), I don’t see a reason for the default to be democracy–as in, to paraphrase Kirk, “if they can succeed at democracy for a few generations, everything will be ok.” Really?

    Also, why, again, is this a nation worth pulling for? Because some Christians live there? Because they are not Muslim? Because they might favor the United States? Because they might be inclined to sell us their oil and permit American investment?

  • Porcell

    The basic reason would be to simply wish a small, new nation well. As to U.S. interests, it’s too small to be of any great interest, though I hope we can find some economic aid for it. Compared to, say, Iraq or Egypt, it is a cipher.

  • Porcell

    The basic reason would be to simply wish a small, new nation well. As to U.S. interests, it’s too small to be of any great interest, though I hope we can find some economic aid for it. Compared to, say, Iraq or Egypt, it is a cipher.

  • Porcell

    Cincinnatus: When did I say anyone should “follow” de Maistre (who actually was not a monarchist)?

    My understanding is that in reaction to the French Revolution deMaistre wished to restore a divinely sanctioned hereditary monarchy and for the state establishment of the Catholic Church with the indirect authority of the Pope over state matters.

    Kirk is quite right that the key issue for southern Sudan is establishing an effective democratic government. For them, deMaistre would be irrelevant ancient history. They well know that the most vibrant and successful modern states have democratic governments.

    [While I’m trying to give deJuvenal a fair shake, deMaistre is beyond the pale. In my view, of these thoughtful aristocrats, de Tocqueville is the one with the best insight and wisdom. }

  • Porcell

    Cincinnatus: When did I say anyone should “follow” de Maistre (who actually was not a monarchist)?

    My understanding is that in reaction to the French Revolution deMaistre wished to restore a divinely sanctioned hereditary monarchy and for the state establishment of the Catholic Church with the indirect authority of the Pope over state matters.

    Kirk is quite right that the key issue for southern Sudan is establishing an effective democratic government. For them, deMaistre would be irrelevant ancient history. They well know that the most vibrant and successful modern states have democratic governments.

    [While I’m trying to give deJuvenal a fair shake, deMaistre is beyond the pale. In my view, of these thoughtful aristocrats, de Tocqueville is the one with the best insight and wisdom. }

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Porcell called South Sudan (@7) “a predominantly Christian African nation”, but I’m finding conflicting information on that.

    The CIA World Fact Book (which only has an entry on Sudan, of course) lists Sudan’s religious demographics as “Sunni Muslim 70% (in north), Christian 5% (mostly in south and Khartoum), indigenous beliefs 25%”. I’m having a hard time imagining that those numbers lend themselves to any Christian majority, even in the south. Are those numbers outdated?

    Kirk, any chance you have some good facts on this?

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Porcell called South Sudan (@7) “a predominantly Christian African nation”, but I’m finding conflicting information on that.

    The CIA World Fact Book (which only has an entry on Sudan, of course) lists Sudan’s religious demographics as “Sunni Muslim 70% (in north), Christian 5% (mostly in south and Khartoum), indigenous beliefs 25%”. I’m having a hard time imagining that those numbers lend themselves to any Christian majority, even in the south. Are those numbers outdated?

    Kirk, any chance you have some good facts on this?

  • Cincinnatus

    While I only cited Joseph de Maistre tangentially above, Porcell, you’ve made him important to the question at hand. First, I agree that Tocqueville is generally a more fruitful and interesting theorist in general, but that is neither here nor there. Tocqueville’s insight is in providing an account of the institutions and practices necessary for democracy to flourish in liberty rather than descending into servitude. Incidentally, these institutions cannot simply be “constructed” or given to someone. They must develop organically, and it takes lots of time and practice. It is a heritage and tradition, not a list of rules that can be assumed willy-nilly. Second, and relatedly, one of de Maistre’s most important insights is that the “constitution” of a people is something that cannot simply be “made” or “written”; it is, rather, “given” to a people (by God or by history, as you like it), as it were, and it must be appropriate to their habits, customs, manners, and capabilities. Some people are fit for democracy, some not; a king is better for some, and some not; some are fit to be free, some not (at any given moment; his thesis isn’t one of perpetual historical determinism). So yes: de Maistre favored a monarchy and a Pope–for France. He is on record acknowledging the complete propriety of a constitutional monarchy for England and a republic for America. Would he assent to the propriety of “democracy” for southern Sudan? (probably not: they have no experience with self-government, with responsible leadership, with representation, with ordered liberty, with secondary associations, with civil association, and all the other things Tocqueville notes as necessary prerequisites for democracy.)

    My worry is that people like Kirk–and the agency for which he works–treat democracy as a blunt instrument that is appropriate for any political problem and every people. If one only uses a hammer, everything looks like a nail, etc. But of what benefit will some ambiguous conception of “democracy” be to these people? I can assure you that they are incapable of simply “starting” a democracy. How many millions and billions are we, the United States, going to have to dump into a remote corner of the African desert so that we can momentarily pat ourselves on the back, congratulating ourselves for establishing “democracy”–until the next despot assumes control, of course? To what end?

    As with the Iraq war, this seems another time where some serious honesty is needed. Why are we doing this? Out of the goodness of our hearts? How nice, but we can’t afford it. For oil? Well, say so.

  • Cincinnatus

    While I only cited Joseph de Maistre tangentially above, Porcell, you’ve made him important to the question at hand. First, I agree that Tocqueville is generally a more fruitful and interesting theorist in general, but that is neither here nor there. Tocqueville’s insight is in providing an account of the institutions and practices necessary for democracy to flourish in liberty rather than descending into servitude. Incidentally, these institutions cannot simply be “constructed” or given to someone. They must develop organically, and it takes lots of time and practice. It is a heritage and tradition, not a list of rules that can be assumed willy-nilly. Second, and relatedly, one of de Maistre’s most important insights is that the “constitution” of a people is something that cannot simply be “made” or “written”; it is, rather, “given” to a people (by God or by history, as you like it), as it were, and it must be appropriate to their habits, customs, manners, and capabilities. Some people are fit for democracy, some not; a king is better for some, and some not; some are fit to be free, some not (at any given moment; his thesis isn’t one of perpetual historical determinism). So yes: de Maistre favored a monarchy and a Pope–for France. He is on record acknowledging the complete propriety of a constitutional monarchy for England and a republic for America. Would he assent to the propriety of “democracy” for southern Sudan? (probably not: they have no experience with self-government, with responsible leadership, with representation, with ordered liberty, with secondary associations, with civil association, and all the other things Tocqueville notes as necessary prerequisites for democracy.)

    My worry is that people like Kirk–and the agency for which he works–treat democracy as a blunt instrument that is appropriate for any political problem and every people. If one only uses a hammer, everything looks like a nail, etc. But of what benefit will some ambiguous conception of “democracy” be to these people? I can assure you that they are incapable of simply “starting” a democracy. How many millions and billions are we, the United States, going to have to dump into a remote corner of the African desert so that we can momentarily pat ourselves on the back, congratulating ourselves for establishing “democracy”–until the next despot assumes control, of course? To what end?

    As with the Iraq war, this seems another time where some serious honesty is needed. Why are we doing this? Out of the goodness of our hearts? How nice, but we can’t afford it. For oil? Well, say so.

  • Porcell

    Todd, the Wiki article on South Sudan states:

    Southern Sudan’s population is predominantly Christian.[24] Amongst Christians, most are Catholic and Anglican, though other denominations are also active, and animist beliefs are often blended with Christian beliefs. In recent years Christian churches have grown, often as a sign of resistance to the Arab-Muslim north [25]; this however is typically characterized as racism, rather than religious persecution, between the predominantly Arab North and the non-Arab/”African” South.[26][27][28][29]. Animism is also practised in the region.

    The source for this is a BBC article.

  • Porcell

    Todd, the Wiki article on South Sudan states:

    Southern Sudan’s population is predominantly Christian.[24] Amongst Christians, most are Catholic and Anglican, though other denominations are also active, and animist beliefs are often blended with Christian beliefs. In recent years Christian churches have grown, often as a sign of resistance to the Arab-Muslim north [25]; this however is typically characterized as racism, rather than religious persecution, between the predominantly Arab North and the non-Arab/”African” South.[26][27][28][29]. Animism is also practised in the region.

    The source for this is a BBC article.

  • Porcell

    Cincinnatus, at 13, I basically agree with you and deMaistre that at best written constitutions are mere parchment rules; in the final analysis the people get the governments they deserve, according to their real virtue, or lack of it.

    Just now the American people are suffering under an administrative, entitlement state that basically they apparently want, though there are some recent signs that they are waking up to the iniquity of this.

  • Porcell

    Cincinnatus, at 13, I basically agree with you and deMaistre that at best written constitutions are mere parchment rules; in the final analysis the people get the governments they deserve, according to their real virtue, or lack of it.

    Just now the American people are suffering under an administrative, entitlement state that basically they apparently want, though there are some recent signs that they are waking up to the iniquity of this.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Porcell (@14), the BBC article that is the apparent source of that Wikipedia claim has this to say about Christianity in South Sudan:

    The revered South Sudanese leader died in a plane crash just days after signing the January 2005 peace agreement ending more than 20 years of conflict between the black Christian-dominated south and the mainly Arab Muslim north.

    That is all.

    Forgive me, but (1) that’s hardly good evidence, especially when compared to the CIA World Fact Book, and (2) “dominated” can have several meanings, only one of which implies strict numerical majority.

    So, again, if anyone has any actual numbers on the matter, I’d like to see them. But an ambiguous, passing mention in a news article isn’t going to cut it.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Porcell (@14), the BBC article that is the apparent source of that Wikipedia claim has this to say about Christianity in South Sudan:

    The revered South Sudanese leader died in a plane crash just days after signing the January 2005 peace agreement ending more than 20 years of conflict between the black Christian-dominated south and the mainly Arab Muslim north.

    That is all.

    Forgive me, but (1) that’s hardly good evidence, especially when compared to the CIA World Fact Book, and (2) “dominated” can have several meanings, only one of which implies strict numerical majority.

    So, again, if anyone has any actual numbers on the matter, I’d like to see them. But an ambiguous, passing mention in a news article isn’t going to cut it.

  • Kirk

    @tODD and Porcell

  • Kirk

    @tODD and Porcell

  • Kirk

    It’s hard to gauge exactly, but I’d say that majority of Southerners would at least claim to be Christian. Much of their belief is superstitious and directly tied to traditional animism (example, Riek Machar, the VP, is a Christian but is widely believed to be inhabited by a hereditary spirit that makes him a prophet). People get distinctly less Christian as you leave urban centers, too. I know that’s a complex answer to a simple question, but there it is.

  • Kirk

    It’s hard to gauge exactly, but I’d say that majority of Southerners would at least claim to be Christian. Much of their belief is superstitious and directly tied to traditional animism (example, Riek Machar, the VP, is a Christian but is widely believed to be inhabited by a hereditary spirit that makes him a prophet). People get distinctly less Christian as you leave urban centers, too. I know that’s a complex answer to a simple question, but there it is.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Kirk (@18), I think “it’s hard to say” is a fine answer to that question, so thanks. It also jibes with what little else I’ve found on the topic, including this Library of Congress Country Study (which insists I not bookmark it, as it will disappear soon; caveat lector).

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Kirk (@18), I think “it’s hard to say” is a fine answer to that question, so thanks. It also jibes with what little else I’ve found on the topic, including this Library of Congress Country Study (which insists I not bookmark it, as it will disappear soon; caveat lector).

  • LAJ

    Let’s pray for peace in this new nation so that Christianity may flourish and animism and warfare cease.

  • LAJ

    Let’s pray for peace in this new nation so that Christianity may flourish and animism and warfare cease.

  • kerner

    Gee. Nobody has answered my question. Everybody seems to agree that South Sudan is not a particularly organized place. Its people, though many are nominally Christian, inlude a sizeable majority that are illiterate, superstitious, tribal and technologically primitive.

    Are these the sort of people, Cincinnatus, who you say don’t deserve” democracy yet? Just asking. Really.

    But if the South Sudanese aren’t ready to organize a government with individual rights and some sort of democratic structure, what, if anuthing should we, or anybody for that matter, do about it?

    Should we just let the Arabs take them over again? Should we expect bloody tribal warfare to be the norm for the next few decades? Should we stand by while, somebody else (the Chinese, for example) moves in to mine the South Sudanese mineral wealth? The Chinese, by the way, will take the wealth, but will NOT care how many people kill each other while they do it. Should we encourage the UN to try to run things?

    It’s all very well to pray for Soputh Sudan, but God provides our daily bread through the vocations of human beings. Is organizing South Sudan anybody’s vocation? And if so, whose?

  • kerner

    Gee. Nobody has answered my question. Everybody seems to agree that South Sudan is not a particularly organized place. Its people, though many are nominally Christian, inlude a sizeable majority that are illiterate, superstitious, tribal and technologically primitive.

    Are these the sort of people, Cincinnatus, who you say don’t deserve” democracy yet? Just asking. Really.

    But if the South Sudanese aren’t ready to organize a government with individual rights and some sort of democratic structure, what, if anuthing should we, or anybody for that matter, do about it?

    Should we just let the Arabs take them over again? Should we expect bloody tribal warfare to be the norm for the next few decades? Should we stand by while, somebody else (the Chinese, for example) moves in to mine the South Sudanese mineral wealth? The Chinese, by the way, will take the wealth, but will NOT care how many people kill each other while they do it. Should we encourage the UN to try to run things?

    It’s all very well to pray for Soputh Sudan, but God provides our daily bread through the vocations of human beings. Is organizing South Sudan anybody’s vocation? And if so, whose?

  • kerner

    Cincinnatus:

    “Is a landlocked, impoverished dessicated piece of desert whose populace has no experience in governing itself a viable prospect?”

    Let me put this another way. Your question above is a good, serious and thoughtful question. Lets assume that the answer is that South Sudan is not a very viable prospect at all. But that answer gives rise to another question:

    If self governance for South Sudan is not a viable prospect, how should it be governed? I know your answer is likely to be, “Not by the United States”. And I can respect your position. But asserting the negative does not provide an affirmative answer.

    If the South Sudanese are not up to self governance, and we should not become involved, how should the South Sudan be governed, and by whom?

  • kerner

    Cincinnatus:

    “Is a landlocked, impoverished dessicated piece of desert whose populace has no experience in governing itself a viable prospect?”

    Let me put this another way. Your question above is a good, serious and thoughtful question. Lets assume that the answer is that South Sudan is not a very viable prospect at all. But that answer gives rise to another question:

    If self governance for South Sudan is not a viable prospect, how should it be governed? I know your answer is likely to be, “Not by the United States”. And I can respect your position. But asserting the negative does not provide an affirmative answer.

    If the South Sudanese are not up to self governance, and we should not become involved, how should the South Sudan be governed, and by whom?

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Kerner (@21), may I recommend to you Ross Douthat’s latest column, The Devil We Know? I think it provides a well reasoned, if simultaneously useless, answer to your questions about Sudan. Key section:

    But history makes fools of us all. We make deals with dictators, and reap the whirlwind of terrorism. We promote democracy, and watch Islamists gain power from Iraq to Palestine. We leap into humanitarian interventions, and get bloodied in Somalia. We stay out, and watch genocide engulf Rwanda. We intervene in Afghanistan and then depart, and watch the Taliban take over. We intervene in Afghanistan and stay, and end up trapped there, with no end in sight.

    Sooner or later, the theories always fail. The world is too complicated for them, and too tragic. History has its upward arcs, but most crises require weighing unknowns against unknowns, and choosing between competing evils.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Kerner (@21), may I recommend to you Ross Douthat’s latest column, The Devil We Know? I think it provides a well reasoned, if simultaneously useless, answer to your questions about Sudan. Key section:

    But history makes fools of us all. We make deals with dictators, and reap the whirlwind of terrorism. We promote democracy, and watch Islamists gain power from Iraq to Palestine. We leap into humanitarian interventions, and get bloodied in Somalia. We stay out, and watch genocide engulf Rwanda. We intervene in Afghanistan and then depart, and watch the Taliban take over. We intervene in Afghanistan and stay, and end up trapped there, with no end in sight.

    Sooner or later, the theories always fail. The world is too complicated for them, and too tragic. History has its upward arcs, but most crises require weighing unknowns against unknowns, and choosing between competing evils.

  • Cincinnatus

    kerner: Of course, you ask the fundamental question(s) here, and the one(s) I think that I, too, have been asking.

    As for your questions specifically directed to me, I will answer:

    -If I said that I don’t think south Sudan “deserves” democracy, I didn’t mean that in a sense that connotes a hierarchy of better and worse, as if democracy is “better” and only certain chosen nations are “good” enough for it. In fact, I’m not really a fan of democracy at all, as you’ve probably noticed in past discussions. I would rather phrase my argument thusly: south Sudan (probably) isn’t suited for democracy, and only certain nations exhibit the habits, conditions, and institutions necessary for the flourishing of democracy.

    -You next ask @22 “how Sudan should be governed,” noting that thus far I’ve only contributed the perhaps unhelpful suggestion of “not by the United States.” Fair enough. First, note that by “self-governance” I did not necessary mean that south Sudan shouldn’t be a separate nation; rather, I meant “self-governing”–as in, the capacity of the citizens to control their own appetites, passions, factions, etc., in a way that would make the liberties afforded by democracy sustainable. I am being bold enough to presume that they do not, as such things require a long heritage of the rule of law, constitutionalism, associational life, and other prerequisites for democracy and ordered liberty.

    Second, and more to the point, I don’t think it is for anyone, in a policy-making decision or otherwise, to make a judgment as to who should govern south Sudan. Nations earn liberty, and they develop organically. Any attempt to build, create, or implement a nation are, as history has proven over and over again, is doomed to fail. But the point is moot: Kirk’s agency, USAID, has made a gigantic point of making sure Sudan could hold its referendum, and has promised to invest an unspecified sum in nation-building and in ensuring that these people can have their precious democracy. Aside from the fact that such an experiment will almost inevitably fail, why are we doing this? Self-determination of nations–that principle that has caused far more harm in to the globe than its previous alternatives? Because democracy is cool? Because they have oil? Because they provide a strategic location to keep tabs on terrorist activity in what is now north Sudan? Any way you slice it, this new “nation” is going to be yet another client state of the United States, and like all other client states, I can guarantee that it’s going to be far more trouble than it’s worth (Iran, Iraq, Egypt, etc., anyone?).

    In the end, this isn’t our problem. As Franklin said of us, we’ll have a republic if we can keep it. We haven’t really. Why do we think a bunch of unpracticed Africans who are more accustomed to tribal/warlord governance than anything else are going to do any better?

    But I probably rail against the wind: empires want stability, and if this empire thinks south Sudan will further that goal somehow, then yet another adventure in the desert (not necessarily military) seems inevitable.

  • Cincinnatus

    kerner: Of course, you ask the fundamental question(s) here, and the one(s) I think that I, too, have been asking.

    As for your questions specifically directed to me, I will answer:

    -If I said that I don’t think south Sudan “deserves” democracy, I didn’t mean that in a sense that connotes a hierarchy of better and worse, as if democracy is “better” and only certain chosen nations are “good” enough for it. In fact, I’m not really a fan of democracy at all, as you’ve probably noticed in past discussions. I would rather phrase my argument thusly: south Sudan (probably) isn’t suited for democracy, and only certain nations exhibit the habits, conditions, and institutions necessary for the flourishing of democracy.

    -You next ask @22 “how Sudan should be governed,” noting that thus far I’ve only contributed the perhaps unhelpful suggestion of “not by the United States.” Fair enough. First, note that by “self-governance” I did not necessary mean that south Sudan shouldn’t be a separate nation; rather, I meant “self-governing”–as in, the capacity of the citizens to control their own appetites, passions, factions, etc., in a way that would make the liberties afforded by democracy sustainable. I am being bold enough to presume that they do not, as such things require a long heritage of the rule of law, constitutionalism, associational life, and other prerequisites for democracy and ordered liberty.

    Second, and more to the point, I don’t think it is for anyone, in a policy-making decision or otherwise, to make a judgment as to who should govern south Sudan. Nations earn liberty, and they develop organically. Any attempt to build, create, or implement a nation are, as history has proven over and over again, is doomed to fail. But the point is moot: Kirk’s agency, USAID, has made a gigantic point of making sure Sudan could hold its referendum, and has promised to invest an unspecified sum in nation-building and in ensuring that these people can have their precious democracy. Aside from the fact that such an experiment will almost inevitably fail, why are we doing this? Self-determination of nations–that principle that has caused far more harm in to the globe than its previous alternatives? Because democracy is cool? Because they have oil? Because they provide a strategic location to keep tabs on terrorist activity in what is now north Sudan? Any way you slice it, this new “nation” is going to be yet another client state of the United States, and like all other client states, I can guarantee that it’s going to be far more trouble than it’s worth (Iran, Iraq, Egypt, etc., anyone?).

    In the end, this isn’t our problem. As Franklin said of us, we’ll have a republic if we can keep it. We haven’t really. Why do we think a bunch of unpracticed Africans who are more accustomed to tribal/warlord governance than anything else are going to do any better?

    But I probably rail against the wind: empires want stability, and if this empire thinks south Sudan will further that goal somehow, then yet another adventure in the desert (not necessarily military) seems inevitable.

  • http:theobservationtree.blogspot.com Louis

    Todd – why did you say diamonds occur in Southern Sudan? There are very minor alluvial deposists in the neighbouring Central African Republic, but that’s it. With the exception of the aluuvial/marine diamonds of the Namibian/South African coastlines, the majority of the world’s (significant) economic diamond deposists are found in kimberlites (and lamproites), ancient maar volcanoes, that intruded on even more ancient (archean) contients, now called cratons. Souther Sudan sits slight off a small sraton in Central Africa, so no real chance of a major economic diamond discovery…

  • http:theobservationtree.blogspot.com Louis

    Todd – why did you say diamonds occur in Southern Sudan? There are very minor alluvial deposists in the neighbouring Central African Republic, but that’s it. With the exception of the aluuvial/marine diamonds of the Namibian/South African coastlines, the majority of the world’s (significant) economic diamond deposists are found in kimberlites (and lamproites), ancient maar volcanoes, that intruded on even more ancient (archean) contients, now called cratons. Souther Sudan sits slight off a small sraton in Central Africa, so no real chance of a major economic diamond discovery…

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Louis (@25), is there any chance your comment is addressed to Kirk (@6)?

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Louis (@25), is there any chance your comment is addressed to Kirk (@6)?

  • http:theobservationtree.blogspot.com Louis

    Yes

  • http:theobservationtree.blogspot.com Louis

    Yes

  • Joe

    Sorry the blizzard has kept me digging until now. But I wonder if Kirk wouldn’t mind addressing the issue of why democracy? Is it not enough to find a governing structure that secures the population’s basic rights and provides stability? You are legitimately concerned that the very first election could devolve into civil war (with the potential for genocide). If that is the case, then isn’t it incredibly foolish to push forward with democracy?

    Why not find a better solution? Lebanon’s constitution worked very well for quite sometime. It allocated a number of and specific governmental posts for each majority religious/ethnic group. This forced them to work together to get anything accomplished and it prevented them from sabotaging the work of gov’t so they could run for president (because they couldn’t). This arraignment worked for a pretty long period with a Maronite Christian president, Shiite Muslim its speaker of the parliament, Sunni Muslim PM, and a Greek Orthodox the deputy speaker of parliament.

    Won’t some sort of a similar arraignment – gov’t posts allocated by tribe, etc. make much more sense then the mob rule will like to pretend is so great.

  • Joe

    Sorry the blizzard has kept me digging until now. But I wonder if Kirk wouldn’t mind addressing the issue of why democracy? Is it not enough to find a governing structure that secures the population’s basic rights and provides stability? You are legitimately concerned that the very first election could devolve into civil war (with the potential for genocide). If that is the case, then isn’t it incredibly foolish to push forward with democracy?

    Why not find a better solution? Lebanon’s constitution worked very well for quite sometime. It allocated a number of and specific governmental posts for each majority religious/ethnic group. This forced them to work together to get anything accomplished and it prevented them from sabotaging the work of gov’t so they could run for president (because they couldn’t). This arraignment worked for a pretty long period with a Maronite Christian president, Shiite Muslim its speaker of the parliament, Sunni Muslim PM, and a Greek Orthodox the deputy speaker of parliament.

    Won’t some sort of a similar arraignment – gov’t posts allocated by tribe, etc. make much more sense then the mob rule will like to pretend is so great.

  • kirk

    @Joe

    We choose democracy because it’s the kind of government we know how to build. Keep in mind, we’re not coming into S. Sudan, toppling an existing government and then forcing a new system on them against their will, like in Iraq or Afghanistan. We’re coming into a country that’s completely inexperienced in governing itself (except via rebel commander) and trying to assist in building a system that works in some degree. Democracy is obviously what we have the most experience with and its what we feel hasbeen the most successful and free form of government the world has ever known. Hence, we promote it. But, everything we do in S. Sudan is with their consent and cooperation. Sudan is an independent nation that the United States has no direct control over, again, unlike Iraq or Afghanistan. We consult with government representatives and advise democracy, but ultimately have to go along with what the Sudanese want to do. Their decisions are, of course, influenced by our funding because they won’t get it if they stray too far from what we want.

    As to your Lebanon suggestion, that’s sort of what is happening, except it’s more organic. We promote representative democracy which means that different tribes will be elected to office, just like people from different states are elected in the US. Representation isn’t static, like in Lebanon, but, at least in the legislature, posts are divided up. As for executive posts, that’s at the prerogative of the president. A wise leader would have an ethnically diverse set of ministers, but we’ll have to wait and see what actually happens.

    I don’t think, however, that ethnic divisions would work in Sudan. Lebanon had major and fairly even societal divisions. Sudan has dozens and dozens of tribes and the largest tribe, the Dinka, accounts for less than 20% of the population. You’d need a lot of posts do divide up.

    But if you want a really good reason for what we choose democracy, you need only to look at our alternatives:

    Autocracy? It might be more stable than democracy in the near term, and it might be what democracy devolves into, but it’s contrary to our ethos to promote dictatorship and I have trouble recalling the last benevolent African strong man. If anything, tyranny has worked worse in Africa than democracy.

    Abandon them? Again, our involvement may lead to nothing, in the end, but abandonment means serious insecurity which means further regional destabilization, which means terrorists, like Al Shabbab and Al Queda (which operated out of Sudan in the ’90s) have a nice little haven.

    Leave them to the north? 4 million have already died from war with the north. The though is unconscionable, even in an amoralistic IR sense.

    Basically it boils down to “what else can we do?” and “if we’re going to do it, we’d better do everything we can to make it worthwhile.” I’m happy to hear alternatives, of course, but I don’t see many.

  • kirk

    @Joe

    We choose democracy because it’s the kind of government we know how to build. Keep in mind, we’re not coming into S. Sudan, toppling an existing government and then forcing a new system on them against their will, like in Iraq or Afghanistan. We’re coming into a country that’s completely inexperienced in governing itself (except via rebel commander) and trying to assist in building a system that works in some degree. Democracy is obviously what we have the most experience with and its what we feel hasbeen the most successful and free form of government the world has ever known. Hence, we promote it. But, everything we do in S. Sudan is with their consent and cooperation. Sudan is an independent nation that the United States has no direct control over, again, unlike Iraq or Afghanistan. We consult with government representatives and advise democracy, but ultimately have to go along with what the Sudanese want to do. Their decisions are, of course, influenced by our funding because they won’t get it if they stray too far from what we want.

    As to your Lebanon suggestion, that’s sort of what is happening, except it’s more organic. We promote representative democracy which means that different tribes will be elected to office, just like people from different states are elected in the US. Representation isn’t static, like in Lebanon, but, at least in the legislature, posts are divided up. As for executive posts, that’s at the prerogative of the president. A wise leader would have an ethnically diverse set of ministers, but we’ll have to wait and see what actually happens.

    I don’t think, however, that ethnic divisions would work in Sudan. Lebanon had major and fairly even societal divisions. Sudan has dozens and dozens of tribes and the largest tribe, the Dinka, accounts for less than 20% of the population. You’d need a lot of posts do divide up.

    But if you want a really good reason for what we choose democracy, you need only to look at our alternatives:

    Autocracy? It might be more stable than democracy in the near term, and it might be what democracy devolves into, but it’s contrary to our ethos to promote dictatorship and I have trouble recalling the last benevolent African strong man. If anything, tyranny has worked worse in Africa than democracy.

    Abandon them? Again, our involvement may lead to nothing, in the end, but abandonment means serious insecurity which means further regional destabilization, which means terrorists, like Al Shabbab and Al Queda (which operated out of Sudan in the ’90s) have a nice little haven.

    Leave them to the north? 4 million have already died from war with the north. The though is unconscionable, even in an amoralistic IR sense.

    Basically it boils down to “what else can we do?” and “if we’re going to do it, we’d better do everything we can to make it worthwhile.” I’m happy to hear alternatives, of course, but I don’t see many.

  • kirk

    @Louis,

    I seem to remember hearing about diamonds being found in Western Bahr el Ghazal, but I can’t seem to find any evidence of it online. Perhaps I’m mistaken.

  • kirk

    @Louis,

    I seem to remember hearing about diamonds being found in Western Bahr el Ghazal, but I can’t seem to find any evidence of it online. Perhaps I’m mistaken.

  • Joe

    Kirk – thanks for the response. The demographics certainly would make a full on Lebanon concept tricky. But you really seem to have boiled it down to a either/or. I hope that their is more creativity at USAID than that. :) There is much between dictator and democracy that could be employed.

  • Joe

    Kirk – thanks for the response. The demographics certainly would make a full on Lebanon concept tricky. But you really seem to have boiled it down to a either/or. I hope that their is more creativity at USAID than that. :) There is much between dictator and democracy that could be employed.

  • Kirk

    Well, classically there are only three forms of government, so “either or” isn’t far off from the truth. If it makes you feel better, S. Sudan is setting up a unicameral parliamentary system with ministries instead of agencies.

  • Kirk

    Well, classically there are only three forms of government, so “either or” isn’t far off from the truth. If it makes you feel better, S. Sudan is setting up a unicameral parliamentary system with ministries instead of agencies.

  • Pingback: Are you praying for Egypt? for Sudan? « Strengthened by Grace

  • Pingback: Are you praying for Egypt? for Sudan? « Strengthened by Grace


CLOSE | X

HIDE | X