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Bolton: Mubarak's downfall would mean we'd have to bomb Iran

Think Progress's Alex Seitz-Wald catches former U.N. Ambassador John Bolton advocating for a military strike against Iran on Sean Hannity's show... because it's Tuesday I guess:

HANNITY: Do you think that the Israelis are going to have to strike — they are going to have to take action. … As you pointed out, El Baradei, you know, ran cover for the Iranians for all those years that he was with the IAEA. And, I just don’t think the Israelis have much longer to wait…they’re going to have to act in fairly short order.

BOLTON: I think that’s right. I don’t think there’s much time to act. And I think the fall of a Egyptian government committed to the peace agreement will almost certainly speed that timetable up.

Bolton made our "Worst Predictions" lists for 2009 and 2010 for predicting that various events were going to speed up the timetable and give the United States and Israel their last good chance to bomb Iran. He even moved the deadline twice in one day once. It's a very unpredictable timetable. 

Mario Tama/Getty Images

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Africa scholars: Ivory Coast moving toward civil war

The world's top academic experts on African affairs have a message: What's happening in the Ivory Coast isn't ethnic cleansing or genocide. But it is -- very rapidly -- moving toward civil war.

First, to back up slightly -- what is happening?  As the stand-off between incumbent President Laurent Gbagbo and election-winner Alassane Ouattara continues, violence is picking up. Pro-Gbagbo militias are said to be arresting, torturing, killing, and raping opponents (or percieved opponents.) The United Nations has put the death toll so far at more than 250. U.N. officials have also warned that there is a real possibility of war crimes, genocide, and other atrocities.

In a letter, originally published in French in Le Monde but now published in English here -- with many more signatories -- the academics push back hard against the emerging (but they say wrong) consensus that violence in Ivory Coast has any ethnic base: "We must insist that there is no evidence for any primal hatred between supposedly rival ethnic groups, nor for that matter between local populations and foreigners, between northerners and southerners, much less between Muslims and Christians."

Instead what's going on, they write, is a political power struggle.  "Ideology is undoubtedly not the key to understanding the ongoing crisis. The Gbagbo mafia is struggling first and foremost for power; for an exclusive hold on power, for the very enjoyment of power, with all its attendant material benefits."

As I've written before, these nuances in how we understand the ongoing situation matter immensly. Not because what's going on in Ivory Coast is any less serious than genocide or ethnic cleansing in terms of the attention or moral weight we should accord it -- but because the way one would address genocide, compared with a political crisis, is very different. Civil war, were it to begin again in Ivory Coast, would require a political solution -- a means to incorporate various demands and grievances into a settlement that requires concessions from and gives benefits to all sides. Genocide, by contrast, suggests there is only a perpetrator and a victim -- which means that the solution treats each side as such. This seemingly academic difference makes all the difference on the ground.