February 11, 2007
Death by Dollars
By NICHOLAS D. KRISTOF
The answer to both questions is complicated but may be yes, and that's one reason a divestment campaign is gaining strength around America and abroad. Six states (including California) have already begun divesting from companies active in Sudan, and legislation is pending in 23 more states, including New York.
More than 30 universities, beginning with Harvard in 2005, have sold certain Sudan-related investments. Five cities have divested, and New York is considering doing so. A bill before Congress would bar certain companies active in Sudan from receiving federalcontracts.
Let's start by acknowledging that divestment and economic sanctions generally fail.
Partly that's because Sudan's economy depends on foreign oil companies, giving the outside world leverage. And 70 percent of Sudan's oil revenue goes to weaponry, like bayonets used to gouge out people's eyes.
The oil companies in Sudan aren't American; the biggest players are Chinese companies. Pressure on them is also one way to get the attention of the Chinese government, which is Sudan's main protector in the U.N. Security Council.
So in this case pressure on a small number of foreign companies could help get Sudan's attention, and that of its protectors in China, without hurting ordinary people...
More than other money managers, Fidelity has resisted the pressure and clung firmly to Sudan-related investments. So Darfur campaigners are urging investors to avoid Fidelity mutual funds: more information is at www.FidelityOutofSudan.com .
The biggest U.S. investor in Class H shares of PetroChina, a Chinese oil concern whose parent company is active in Sudan, is Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway... [S]urely if Berkshire Hathaway and Fidelity mutual funds saw lucrative opportunities in selling bayonets to the janjaweed, they would balk at that.
Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the authors. Originally posted at http://zionism-israel.com/israel_news/2007/02/sudan-divestment-initiative-kristof.html. Please do link to these articles, quote from them and forward them by email to friends with this notice. Other uses require written permission of the author.