The Spine

South Africa's Betrayal Of Its Past


 The United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change issued areport integrating its three previous ones and drawing deeper conclusions on what its scientists say will be, according to Elisabeth Rosenthal in Saturday's New York Times, inevitable meltdown of ice sheets and the elimination of many species.  This news from the U.N. is marked "urgent."One would have thought that conservatives who are always hysterical about eroding phenomena would instinctively grasp the significance of these disappearances.  But, since this connotes government intervention in the economies of nations and in acquired habits of advanced human communities, they dig in their heels and "just say no." The Bush administration is one of these recalcitrants.  Another is China.  What a pair!

Anyway, don't expect any urgent action on anything from the U.N.Warren Hoge has another important article in this morning's Timesabout the General Assembly muddling a resolution against rape "used by government and armed groups to achieve political and military objectives."  We know that this is a widespread phenomena in parts of Africa, even an epidemic, and common in other parts of the world.  But it was left to South Africa and Angola, "acting on behalf of the African Group, a 43-nation coalition" making its power felt in international organizations, to blunt the sharpness of the initial resolution.  Of course, it was South Africa's ambassador to the U.N. who did the dirty work: "The original U.S. draft appeared to concentrate on condemning rape when perpetrated for political and military purposes only.  We felt strongly that this would have created two categories of rape, that is, rape by military and rape by civilians."  He wanted to make "certain that there was no politicization of rape."The fact is that South Africa, drawing on and besmirching its moral capital of having defeated apartheid, is now the ally of tyrannies even more cruel, if less efficient, than the old regime.  The behavior of South Africa is a moral scandal.  This hypocritical act is just a sign, but a noxious sign, that it cares not for the suffering of its fellow Africans.

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