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.
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
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 peoples 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."
began the administrations 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 dIvoire 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
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 isnt...
Africas problems, though undeniably daunting, must
be addressed or else they will get worse." But Africas
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.
alone demands the paternal colonial solution. What is so
uniquely terrible about Africas 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.