Out of Africa
George Szamuely
New York Press


Last week, Secretary of State Madeleine Albright – who seems to get more idiotic each day – went before the UN Security Council to discuss a truly inane idea: dispatching U.S. troops into the jungles of darkest Africa. Apparently, U.S. troops could soon be stationed in the Democratic Republic of Congo as members of a UN peacekeeping mission.

There are few issues on which President Clinton has exhaled as much hot air as on Africa. Remember his lachrymose musings when he visited the continent two years ago? He began by announcing that slavery was "wrong": "Going back to the time before we were even a nation," he sniffed, "European Americans received the fruits of the slave trade." Then he apologized for the Cold War: Too often, we "dealt with countries in Africa…more on how they stood in the struggle between the United States and the Soviet Union than how they stood in the struggle for their own people’s aspirations to live up to the fullest of their God-given abilities." As if that were not enough, he apologized for having done nothing to stop the 1994 massacres in Rwanda: "It may seem strange to you here…but all over the world there were people like me sitting in offices...who did not fully appreciate the depth and the speed with which you were being engulfed by this unimaginable terror."

Thus began the administration’s Africa obsession. Clinton repeatedly referred to something called an "African renaissance." He raved about a new generation of leaders: "A decade ago, business was stifled," he rhapsodized. "Now Africans are embracing economic reform. Today from Ghana to Mozambique, from Cote d’Ivoire to Uganda, growing economies are fueling a transformation in Africa." Wherever he looked he saw "growing respect for tolerance, diversity and elemental human rights." Evidence? None whatsoever.

January 2000 has been Africa month at the UN. It was the idea of Richard Holbrooke, U.S. ambassador to the UN and currently president of the 15-member Security Council. "The simplest answer to why we are concentrating on Africa is because it is there," he explained recently. "I say that, with all respect, because so many people think that it isn’t... Africa’s problems, though undeniably daunting, must be addressed or else they will get worse." But Africa’s problems are forever "daunting," and forever must be "addressed" immediately. Why? Many countries face "daunting" problems. Russia, Pakistan, Mexico, Colombia, Afghanistan and Nepal come to mind. Yet no one suggests that "we" must drop everything to solve their problems immediately.

Africa alone demands the paternal colonial solution. What is so uniquely terrible about Africa’s crises? Yes, there is war between Ethiopia and Eritrea; civil wars rage in Sudan, Sierra Leone, Angola, Rwanda, Burundi, Namibia and Congo. These wars drag into other countries. Rwanda, Uganda, Zimbabwe, Namibia, Angola, Libya are slogging it out in the Congolese jungles. The war in Sudan has sucked in Ethiopia, Eritrea, Egypt and the U.S. Yet Africa is hardly unique. The fighting in Chechnya is quite nasty. As is the war between India and Pakistan over Kashmir, the irredentist struggles in Georgia, the terrorism in Sri Lanka and Afghanistan, not to mention the fighting engulfing the Indonesian archipelago. The wars in the Balkans have been as savage as any taking place in Africa. As in Africa they were largely sponsored by interested outside powers.

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Laws of Return

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Chinese Puzzle

That Was No Lady, That Was the Times

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Pat & The Pod

United Fundamentalist States

Let Them All Have Nukes!

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Puerto Rico Libre – and Good Riddance

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A World Safe for Kleptocracy

Proud To Be

All articles reprinted with permission from the New York Press

The worst possible fate for Africa would be U.S. intervention. Look no further than the hideous harridan’s speech at the UN Security Council last week. "The most disturbing aspect of the conflict," she explained, "has been the horrific abuse of fundamental human rights by all sides." How terrible! If only others could wage war like us: bomb like mad, then lie brazenly that no harm has been inflicted on anyone! "There is no rationale of past grievance," she droned on, "that excuses murder, torture, rape or other abuse. Here, today, together, we must vow to halt these crimes and to bring those who commit them to justice under due process of law." Thus the Clinton administration: anxious to intervene somewhere, it ratchets up its fraudulent moralizing rhetoric. There is to be yet another "international" tribunal where the United States calls all the shots.

Then there is Africa’s supposed poverty. Africa is indeed poor, but the last thing it needs is Western economic assistance. In the old days, Western governments poured in money. This served to enrich politicians and destroy local manufacturing and agriculture. The new panacea is international trade. Assistant Secretary of State Susan E. Rice talks of "accelerating Africa’s integration into the global economy." Albright waffles about a "new and forward-looking Africa...that is eager to participate fully in the world economy." Clinton urges the Senate to approve the African Growth and Opportunity Act, which would cut tariffs on African textiles: "Barriers to trade are barriers to opportunity for Africans working hard to catch up to the global economy and for Americans who want to work with them." This twaddle is the mantra of the Clinton administration.

Why would Africans want to take part in the "global economy"? Foreign investment destroys local initiative. Foreign manufactures destroy local manufactures. And why should the U.S. import cheap manufactures from Africa if it only serves to throw Americans out of work? Why is it good for us if U.S. corporations switch their operations to Africa, pay workers there 50 cents an hour and then import these products back home? If U.S. corporations want to make money in Africa – fine. But it should be made clear to them that they cannot import their products back into the U.S. Once again U.S. corporations and our humanitarian watchdogs are trying to sell us a bill of goods. We must say no to the latest variant of the "white man’s burden."

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