Ah, New York Times…

“Already, more than 300 Kenyans are dead, 70,000 have been driven from their homes and thousands have fled to neighboring countries.” This is part of an editorial in the New York Times entitled Ambition and Horror in Kenya (January 3, 2008).

First, some hand wringing: “It is particularly tragic to see this happening in a country that seemed finally to be on the path to a democratic and economically sound future.”

Then some advice: “Mr. Kibaki should renounce that official declaration and the embarrassingly swift swearing in that followed. He should then meet with his principal challenger, Raila Odinga, to discuss a possible vote recount, election re-run or other reasonable compromise.”

Followed by a suggestion for some “outside prodding.” “Urgent mediation by the leader of the African Union, John Kufuor, could help bring the two together before the violence gets worse.” 

And finally, a hopeful conclusion: “Mr. Kibaki and Mr. Odinga cannot ignore the chaos around them. No matter their personal ambitions and resentments, they must be brought together and pushed to come up with a solution that will calm their followers and restore Kenyans’ faith in their democratic system — before the damage becomes irreversible.”

Just a nod in passing to a troublesome detail: “Tribal resentments have long played a role in Kenyan politics.”

But that is a minor inconvenience in the NYT’s view of the world from very far away. Mr. Kibaki and Mr. Odinga are two bad boys who must be made to shake hands and persuaded to be reasonable by Mr. Kufuor before some more people die in the “vast and tribally mixed urban slums of Nairobi” where “rival militias have been waging open warfare.” 

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