From the NY Times today:
Rebels who have stepped up attacks on Nigeria's oil industry in the last month said on Sunday they were considering a ceasefire appeal by U.S. presidential hopeful Barack Obama.What a concept! That you can actually start acting to solve some of the world's problems before you get elected. Instead of a gas tax holiday, how about a cease-fire in the oil wars?
Nigeria is where Shell Oil conspired with the military dictatorship a few years back to execute the great Ken Saro-Wiwa, the Martin Luther King of the people of the Niger Delta. A land cursed by great oil riches, political/economic corruption of, by, and for the multinational oil companies, brutal repression, crushing poverty and monumental environmental destruction. Since Saro-Wiwa's murder little has changed except that armed insurrection has found its legs, driving up oil prices worldwide.
Into this desperately sad context comes Barack Obama, without media attention, to whisper to the rebels that if they cool it for the next few months, there's hope. The audacity of it! Who does he think he is, anyway -- the next president?
Think about that other oil war. Obama's already said some of what he'll do there. It's not just about pulling the troops out. It's what he'll say to the Iranians, the Turks, the Sunnis, Shites and Kurds -- a lot more complicated than the equation in Nigeria no doubt.
But don't you think they'll all be listening up?
For so long we have offered the world nothing but more of the same stupidity and, yes, sometimes venality. The American deaf ear. Shock and awe. With us or against us. Gitmo and Abu Ghraib. The resident on vacation in Crawford again, and the crazies minding the store.
Just imagine how the world would listen up if an American president started making sense again. Starting making subtle appeals aimed at achievable goals. Said yes, we can clean up our own shit.
We don't have to imagine it. They are already listening. We don't have to ask them to pay attention. More is riding on this election for some of them than for most of us.