Here’s a “scary scenario”, courtesy of the Sudanese ambassador to Washington during his press conference in response to economic sanctions in response to the ongoing atrocity in Darfur.
… John Ukec Lueth Ukec, the Sudanese ambassador to Washington — held a news conference at the National Press Club yesterday to respond to President Bush’s new sanctions against his regime. In his hour-long presentation, he described a situation in his land that bore no relation to reality.
During the bulk of the press conference, the ambassador denied any deaths in Sudan, while contradicting himself that it was only collateral damage, comparable to U.S. actions in Iraq. Clearly, he’s reaching for anything. Continuing:
What’s more, the good and peaceful leaders of Sudan were prepared to retaliate massively: They would cut off shipments of the emulsifier gum arabic, thereby depriving the world of cola.
“I want you to know that the gum arabic which runs all the soft drinks all over the world, including the United States, mainly 80 percent is imported from my country,” the ambassador said after raising a bottle of Coca-Cola.
A reporter asked if Sudan was threatening to “stop the export of gum arabic and bring down the Western world.”
“I can stop that gum arabic and all of us will have lost this,” [the ambassador] warned anew, beckoning to the Coke bottle. “But I don’t want to go that way.”
I know nothing of soft drink ingredients, other than they consist mostly of sugar. I don’t understand the chemistry of why gum arabic is essential, or how it works. It doesn’t really matter. Should Sudan retaliate by prohibiting the export of gum arabic, I have a strong suspicion that Coca-Cola and Pepsi will figure out an alternative approach to making their soft drinks. Inevitably, his threat will fail to achieve his desired results.
That doesn’t mean he won’t achieve results. He will, but the citizens of Sudan who rely on gum arabic exports will be harmed. Their income and trade will shrink, exacerbating an already questionable situation. Dictators have a funny way of not caring about that. The U.S. will probably get the international blame for that, even though it will be clear where it should fall.