China’s Role in Darfur, and the Olympics

Freakonomics has an interesting post about how some NBA players – minor players, not NBA starts – have signed onto a letter saying China needs to get their act together in Darfur before the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing.

Boycott the Beijing Olympics?

On the other hand, a lot of people around the world harbor feelings of discomfort toward the newly muscular China. An interesting article by Howard Beck in today’s New York Times tells of Cleveland Cavaliers’ reserve Ira Newble, who read an article in USA Today about the violence and death in Darfur and decided to take action:

As I’ve learned more about the situation in Darfur, I’ve tried to figure out why the Bush Administration has been so reluctant to get involved in stopping the genocide they’ve admitted is going on for something like 18 months now. Colin Powell was the first to call it a genocide and he’s been gone for a quite a while now. The genocide has been going on for a LOT longer than that, but even the Bush administration has been willing to admit such atrocities are taking place for that long . . . without doing anything to stop them.

Watching the movie, The Devil Came on Horseback, really helped explain the politics effecting that region of the world and made clear to me why the US is being so passive in the face of well-documented genocidal acts. The motivation behind our pathetic by-standing can be summed up in one simple word that you’re all too familiar with: oil.

Oil is the reason we’re NOT invading Darfur to stop the genocide. Huh? Yes. That’s correct. But doesn’t the US invade countries who have oil (Iraq) or countries who have access to countries with oil so we can build pipelines across them (Afghanistan)? Yes. But this time it’s different.

We, as in, the US government, have decided that Sudan’s oil is China’s oil. China is the largest exporter of oil from Sudan and China supplies the genocidal maniacs in Sudan with their weapons. It’s an ugly ugly situation, but the US seems to have adopted a policy of allowing China to get away with whatever they want in Sudan in exchange for China leaving the US alone in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Nothing beats a little quid pro quo between world superpowers at the expense of hundreds of thousands of civilians lives in oil rich but otherwise devastatingly poor countries.

Google Gapminer

Check this out:

This tool shows the changes in life expectancy and per capita income by country over the past 30 years. Some countries steadily increase in both categories, like the United States. Others are more erratic.

1. China seems to have increase wealth more than health.

2. India seems to have increased health more than wealth.

3. South Africa’s life expectancy has dropped dramatically in the past decade. I imagine this is largely due to AIDS.

4. The effects of Genocide can be seen in the lower left corner when Rwanda bottoms out in the 1990s.