November 6, 2000
Will Gore go to Africa?
The forgotten continent is on the boil, again
back in Sierra Leone. Well thatís what they seem to be saying
on the government owned BBC,
as well as saying that Sierra Leone is heading
for peace talks. Of course the fact that Britain
has had a continuous military presence in Sierra Leone since
the weeklong (ho, ho) rescue
mission for British nationals earlier this year is not mentioned.
Part of the problem is that two of the participating countries in
this adventure, India and Jordan are pulling
out. The high salaries on offer for taking part in the United
Nations mission are no longer so attractive when having to deal
with local rebels and jungle diseases, and thatís even before they
look at their own side.
see the problem is those pesky Nigerians.
Unlike India or Jordan, or for that matter Britain, they perceive
a genuine strategic interest in stopping fratricidal civil war in
a nearby country. Indeed Nigeria knows a bit about fratricidal civil
war itself, with a civil war brewing up over the proposed imposition
Sharia law in some Muslim areas of the country. The Nigerian
army, while leading the forces of its neighbours in ECOWAS
(a West African version of NAFTA), actually held
the rebels at bay. More than can be said for the UN. Now these
uppity Nigerians, with their strategic interest and their half-decent
track record, want a bit of a say on running things. This is what
has forced the latest crisis in the UNís largest military operation.
The Indians have decided that if they are not going to be appreciated
then they are leaving, and the Jordanians have used the excuse to
go as well.
BRITISH ARE COMING
what does the British government do? Regular readers of my column
know that when I ask this rhetorical question that a really stupid
answer is sure to emerge, so I will try to be fair. They could announce
that they will be going as the UN force is falling apart, they could
continue the training commitment to the end of its life span and
leave, or they could send 500 troops and a naval flotilla. Now what
do you think they did? Reader, they took the stupid option. We now
have the situation where we have a failed UN mission, a government
that is a patchwork
quilt of criminal militias that could turn against us without
warning, a regional superpower aggrieved at our bravado and no strategic
interest. So naturally we had to go over there. After all
our six-month-old legacy of securing Sierra Leone was under threat.
What would Tony Blair and Robin Cook do at their meetings of foreign
leaders, especially with a new American President to impress?
how does this affect America? What exactly is happening on Tuesday?
There is a very real chance that there may be a new gang in charge.
Remember the last time that happened. 1992, and Clinton defeated
Bush. Bush was in a bit of a bind. All that campaigning done and
nothing to do now other than raise money for his presidential library.
Oh and act as commander in chief, which was handy as in Somalia
all these aid workers were being stopped from doing good and feeding
the hungry by these rapacious war lords. This was fortunate, as
Bush would not be around for long, and his erstwhile opponent Bill
Clinton would have to look after any mess. And what a mess. At the
time almost every one said how noble Bushís intervention was, and
then the body bags started coming back, but it wasnít Bush who was
being blamed but his successor.
course things arenít the same any more. Bill Clinton is now in the
White House, and is going to be retiring soon. There could be a
measuring up the White House curtains. His predecessor's son,
in fact. And the British could be finding themselves with an awful
bloody nose soon. And there are all these poor people in Sierra
Leone who need protection. But what am I saying? Clinton wouldnít
do something like that to make his successor look bad, would he?
Sierra Leone may be an embarrassment for Bush it would like, almost
every other trouble spot, be an infatuation for Al Gore. Unlike
Clinton who would see this as a political maneuver or Bush who would
see it (or his advisors would) as an embarrassment, Gore would see
this as part of Americaís civilising mission. Of course a military
mission to help the Brits out of a hole in Africa is not going to
be wildly popular with the American electorate, but can the same
be said of fighting Al? After all who will remember this in four
going to be problematic. The leader of the opposition has been
of treason, the opposition are trying to impeach
the President (for more than an inappropriate use of a cigar)
and almost all whites over forty are being threatened with genocide
trials. Now this would usually be a story of everyday corrupt
third world folks, but with a half-decent
economy going down the tubes. Sad and worrying, but not of great
effect to anyone without friends or relatives there. However, it
seems that Britain, having failed innumerable
times to do anything decent in former Rhodesia, is itching to
go in again. Before Sierra Leone there was serious talk of going
in to "rescue expatriates". In Sierra Leone, of course they went
in to "rescue expatriates", and are still there. In Zimbabwe, they
stopped before they went in. The electorate were intimidated (although
strangely not defrauded), (a few) whites were beaten up with (more
of) their black farm hands and successful commercial farms were
handed over to the President's supporters. Britain did not invade.
Why not? I'll be honest; I
was expecting an invasion. Despite Mugabe remaining his awful
self, the Brits stopped dropping heavy hints about rescuing expatriates
who were, if anything, in greater danger than before. However, Zimbabwe
was dropping hints about how they were finding their involvement
in Zaire to be too expensive, and so their non-cartelised diamond
mining (like Sierra Leone's). Now that Zimbabwe shows no sign
of withdrawing, are the expatriates going to need another rescue
mission? And will American troops be helping after November 7?
WE EVER BE OUT OF AFRICA?
a busy continent Africa is, these days. Fighting is flaring, again,
between the government
of Angola and the rebel UNITA movement. There has been a coup
in the Ivory
Coast. New democratic administrations are imposing
Islamic Sharia law in the Muslim provinces of Nigeria, prompting
Christians to riot. The government of Tanzania is busy rigging
ballots in the conquered territory of Zanzibar. In addition,
the President of America's oldest African colony, Liberia, is being
for everything including the weather among his neighbours.
THAN DRINK DRIVING
election is more important than a drink-driving
up by a desperate and unscrupulous government. This election
is about where American, and British, troops will be, probably
in twenty years time. I picked on Africa, as the continent where
America shows the least interest, even considering Somalia.
This may not be the case if Omnipresent
Al gets in.
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