Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Khartoum Karl

"I am the man with the toughest job in the world."

So said John Ukec Lueth Ukec, the Sudanese ambassador to the United States, toward the end of an hour-long diatribe at the National Press Club in Washington, D. C. today.

Apparently the ambassador, whom the Washington Post's Dana Milbank is calling "Khartoum Karl" in homage to Iraqi propagandist "Baghdad Bob," doesn't think the difficulty of his job has anything to do with the policies of the government he represents: "See how many people are dying in Darfur: None."

The ambassador has apparently been in Washington long enough to learn a trick from another propagandist named Karl: When the truth won't work, blame the Democrats. His explanation for President Bush's decision to impose new economic sanction's on Sudan? Pressure from Democrats in Congress. "The Democrats do not want Bush to go through with the success he has made in Sudan."

So what exactly is going on in Darfur? According to Khartoum Karl, the situation there bears some resemblance to the range wars in the Old West: "The farmers are being squeezed by the herders, just like you had here in the 18-something, when the cowboys were fighting . . . with the farmers over land for grazing."

Grasping at straws--or at least a bottle of Coke--Khartoum Karl issued a threat that was unprecedented in the history of diplomacy: He threatened to bring Coca Cola to its knees by cutting off Sudan's exports of gum arabic, a key ingredient in soft drinks. I'd like to say there was an audible gasp from the reporters in the room, but it was probably just the sound of the Coke bottle being opened.

Read Milbank's account of Ambassador Ukec's performance. He subjects it to the ridicule it deserves.

[Update: Milbank has video here.]