Voice

A duty to stay?

STRINGER/AFP

One country invades another to unseat a dangerous government. After the government's fall, the intervening country struggles to impose order but faces a growing refugee problem, animosity from local forces, and persistent violence. It soon tires of the commitment and begins making noises about getting its troops out. The United States in Iraq? Nope, Ethiopia in Somalia. As noted in this morning's Brief, the African Union and the United States are telling Ethiopia in no uncertain terms that they can't withdraw yet.

The US and the African Union have warned Ethiopia not to withdraw its troops from Somalia before peacekeepers are deployed to replace them. AU commission chief Alpha Oumar Konare says it would be a "catastrophe" if Ethiopia pulled out too soon.

Several years ago, international lawyers and activists developed the concept of a "responsibility to protect" vulnerable populations, often from the depredations or incapacity of their own governments. It may be time to start exploring whether and when those who have intervened have the responsibility to remain.

Passport

So, George W. Bush walks into a bar ...

It seems North Koreans love telling George W. Bush jokes. Or at least North Korean generals imagine that a little ribbing at the U.S. president's expense makes for a good ice-breaker with their South Korean counterparts. At a recent sit-down between North and South Korean military officials, one lieutenant general from north of the DMZ opened up the proceedings with the following:

I recently read a piece of political humour on the Internet called 'saving the president'," Lieutenant-General Kim Yong-chol was quoted as saying in pool reports from the talks.

He then retold the old yarn about Bush who goes out jogging one morning and, preoccupied with international affairs, fails to notice that a car is heading straight at him.

A group of schoolchildren pull the president away just in time, saving his life, and a grateful Bush offers them anything they want in the world as a reward.

"We want a place reserved for us at Arlington Memorial Cemetery," say the children.

"Why is that?" he asks.

"Because our parents will kill us if they find out what we've done."

Wow. With that kind of humor, it's hard to believe Kim Jong Il's haircut has escaped domestic ridicule for so long.