Thinking about progress

In case you missed it, I put some snark-free thoughts about arming South Sudan onto the computer screen over at Think Progress.

Arming South Sudan with air defense systems would put them into deeper conflict with the North, not bring the two closer to peace. Further, South Sudan’s army still doesn’t have the requisite training to use and maintain an air defense system. That poses a distinct problem when it comes to distinguishing friendly aircraft from the North’s attack aircraft. In 2007, a UN panel of experts sent a report to the Security Council documenting the North’s use of attack aircraft painted to look like UN aircraft in bombing raids of Darfuri villages. Were the North to use this tactic in the South, it could put UN aircraft at risk.

David Sullivan, a policy analyst who—to borrow from Andrew Exum’s bag of tricks—I respect very much, responded for the Enough Project, an organization which promoted sending surface-to-air missiles to South Sudan, calling them a “less bad option.”

In a recent post for Think Progress, guest blogger Lauren Jenkins raises some salient concerns about the provision of air defense capabilities to the Government of Southern Sudan, an idea that Congressman Don Payne (D-NJ) proposed during last week’s hearing on Sudan. Given that Enough endorsed this approach in a press release that same day, it’s worth taking a moment to address some of these concerns.

Salient! That’s going on the resume. But I’m pretty sure “less bad” is still bad and bad is something of which South Sudan can’t afford much more.

This Week in New York

This week, along with many of the bloggers to whom I look for inspiration (i.e., they have ideas I like to steal), I’ll be in New York covering the Clinton Global Initiative Annual Meeting and various events around the United Nations General Assembly and the Summit on the Millennium Development Goals. I am, to say the least, very excited to have this opportunity.

To my dear readers, I hope you’ll forgive me for what I presume will be a spastic week of blogging ahead. Short ones, long ones, inane ones, well-reasoned ones—anything is possible. You may have come to expect long, drawn-out treatises on Why I’m Right And You’re Wrong, but this coming week may only entail a barrage of quick, insightful posts on Why Ashley Judd Is Wrong. (Is she A-list? I hope not. I don’t know that I’ve graduated all the way to A-list celebrities yet.)

Fair warning, though: if any panelist at any time uses the phrase “rape cellphone” or “rape laptop” to describe the mineral trade in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (it’s happened before,) I plan on leaving the conference immediately and heading to the nearest bar. The entries posted after such a hypothetical incident would, of course, be most entertainingly bleak and ranty just so some good could come out of a terrible, terrible situation. In fact, you may want to follow me on Twitter just in case it all goes to hell.

If there are international development or advocacy issues you think are due for targeting by the particular brand of ire and and condescension I bring to the table, please let me know. Issue areas on tap: Haiti, youth education, empowering women and girls, Ashley Judd, and whatever is happening in Dag Hammarskjold Plaza.