The title of my post today on my RevolutioNetwork Blog intentionally reads like a headline from The Onion; it's meant to highlight what Cody and I see as a bit of absurdity on the part of the Darfur Divestment crowd. The post is here for your reading pleasure.
Be sure to shoot me an email and leave your comments below. As always, the sticks-and-stones credo applies.
China invests its/our money; America accepts
"On both TheStreet.com and in the Financial Times, Cody Willard has been on the tear about divestment from Darfur, by activist targeting companies associated with the government in Sudan. He has some pretty valid points and he has sparked some heated discussion on Stockpickr.com. The discussion centers around pulling dollars out of a regime that supports genocide in the attempt to choke off oxygen to despotic elements.
Darfur cannot be compared to the horrors of Apartheid; it is a perverse hybrid of the systematic genocide of the Holocaust and the chaotic killing spree of the Khmer Rouge. Darfur is unlike anything ever witnessed by the world, where a central government has mobilized disparate elements to carry out its twisted plans and has endorsed vehicles such as rape and wholesale slaughter. Make no mistake, the attention level the world pays to Darfur is in no way connected to the level of depravity.
As a global community we are more connected than at any previous time in our history; this is not hyperbole and everyone reading (with the strange exception of Internet Luddites) will agree. The inherent entanglement that is felt by all of us no doubt extends to the arena of finance. Debt, private equity, derivatives, commodities, ETF's, hedge funds, high-powered money are all connected. It's as though the world of money was written by Paul Haggis. To advocate divestment without considering the consequences is the kind of linear thinking that will hopefully go out of vogue.
Everyone agrees who the real perpetrators of the genocide are; the Chinese government. Their support for the regime in Khartoum has been paramount in its effect of accelerating genocide. As a rising military power, China is quick to flex its prowess at any juncture. In Darfur there will soon be 300 CONFIRMED "multifunctional" Chinese troops, in addition to the reports of more troops guarding pipelines. Sound like the U.S. military 'observers' in Vietnam to anyone else? China is thirsty and Sudan has the quenching drink of oil.
It is impossible to separate the importance of the Chinese government from the American economy. Hiccups in Chinese regulation have translated to dips in our stock markets and we rely heavily on the purchase of American debt by China to maintain our low inflation and continuation of the D.C. pork diet. Certainly none of the well intentioned activists are suggesting that we refuse Chinese purchases of U.S. Treasuries, right?
If refusal of debt sales to a country supporting Genocide is extreme, then what about private interactions with China? Surely the government should legislate that the private sector must cut off financial ties with the Chinese. Shouldn't Blackstone be barred from accepting the Chinese government as a $3 Billion partner? If it is unethical for Warren Buffet to own PetroChina stock then it is wrong for anyone to buy Blackstone and for Blackstone itself to try to make money by interacting with the Chinese.
The logic of isolation, from the new breeds of Neville Chamberlains, who are OK with a situation getting worse before it gets better, is stunning. The Bush administration called Darfur a genocide TWO YEARS ago. What is stopping unilateral U.S. action against the Darfur genocide? A certain veto at the U.N security council by China, a fellow permanent member. None of the Darfur divestment activists are suggesting we abandon the U.N. and cut off access to its headquarters on the East River--instead they rightly say that the U.N. is a flawed, but potentially useful venue for sparking change and bringing overdue outrage over Darfur. We have seen the consequences of unilateral U.S. actions and how it fundamentally transforms processes to centers of hostility.
Making the leap as to how investment dollars catalyze a process of creating self-sustaining and virtuous cycles that destroy evil is not all that difficult. We have seen Capitalism create positive change before--just look another region once completely taken over by a genocidal regime---Western Europe."