Saturday, May 31, 2003
The Skeptic also notes this Zimbabwe roundup from Slate.

Friday, May 30, 2003
The Skeptic has a new post about the Congo where the situation appears to be getting worse and worse.

But never fear! The French are on the case:
The United Nations Security Council has unanimously given the go ahead for a French-led international force to restore order in north-east Democratic Republic of Congo.
More than 1,000 peacekeepers will be deployed to the gold-rich Ituri province to halt the ethnic fighting that has left more than 400 dead in recent weeks.

As much as I like to make fun of the French, they could actually play a really positive role here. In order to succeed they can't allow themselves to be paralyzed by the standard peacekeepers' rules of engagement that have proven so ineffective in the past. I'm afraid that it will take several tens of thousands of troops to secure such a large region. The sentiment looks good here, but I'm not yet convinced that anyone has the resolution to see it through.

UPDATE: Abiola weighs in with this:
How is this mess in the Congo to be resolved? I am convinced that the only real way out is to impose a United Nations mandate on the Congo, in the manner of the old League of Nations mandates, and to send in Western troops to forcibly occupy the country and disarm the various factions.

Those who are honest will acknowledge that the Congo simply isn't in any kind of state to govern itself, and that there is no point pretending that it is; but given the state of the Congo's neighbors, none of them are in any sort of shape to play the role of benovelent overlords either. All this points to one inescapable solution - the Western powers must take responsibility for the Congo, and that means more than just sending in a few soldiers to do a bit of firefighting, only to leave things to unravel again afterwards. If Iraq needs an interim American administration, as it surely does, why doesn't the Congo need something of the sort imposed from outside? The reality is that no Congolese government conceivable in the near future will have the power, the competence or the rectitude to do anything to better the lives of that country's citizens.

I think he's right, but no one (so far as I can tell) has made the necessary commitment. 1,000 peacekeepers isn't nearly enough to do the job that has to be done.

Here's NRO's Tom Walsh's take on the recently passed African AIDS bill:
So what does the bill actually deliver? It authorizes the United States to spend $15 billion over the next five years. It's true that $15 billion really isn't much when we compare it to a $350 billion tax cut, or a $400 billion Medicare drug benefit. But it is a quantum leap in terms of American funding, nearly tripling our current commitment. In fact, in 1999, our government spent only $154 million fighting AIDS. In 2004, this law will increase the number to $3 billion — almost a twenty-fold increase in just five years. Experts on the ground in Africa say this commitment will begin to turn the tide against this ruthless killer.

Right now, 30 million Africans are already infected, including 3 million under age 15. As Bush noted yesterday, 8,000 Africans die each day, and 14,000 are infected. The legislation would spend the lion's share of the money on drugs and other treatments for those suffering from AIDS. But substantial sums would also be directed to disease prevention, palliative care for the dying, and caring for millions of AIDS orphans.

You know, I'm skeptical of the government's ability to solve problems by increasing spending. And I'm skeptical of foreign aid handouts that generally end up in the coffers of corrupt third-world bureaucrats. And I'm really skeptical when we're sending $15 billion dollars who exactly is this money going to? I'm really not sure.

At any rate, the AIDS problem in Africa is serious, and I'm glad to see that it's getting some attention. I hope that the people who wrote, passed and will be enacting this legislation know what they're doing. Time will tell.

Without a doubt, Uganda has positioned itself as a key U.S. in East Africa...possibly our most important ally on the continent. Most recently, President Museveni has been Africa's most outspoken supporter of the War on Terrorists. Now there's this:
President Yoweri Museveni is to be honoured by US president George Bush in June as Africa Growth Opportunity Act (AGOA) marks its third year since it was signed into law by former US president Bill Clinton.

AGOA was enacted to allow products from select African countries to enter duty free and quota- free to the US market as a strategy to boost development in Africa.

Museveni will be honoured at the White House for the being the first African President to endorse AGOA and for his relentless campaign for the developed countries to open up and allow African products enter their markets as the only viable option for development on the continent.

But despite the accolades abroad, Museveni's egocentric politics remain a cause for worry at home:
For the President who has made so much historical contribution to Uganda and Africa, it would be sad for him to be remembered for hanging on and not knowing how to bow out when there is still some ovation left. For his sake and for Africa, the president must not bow to the machinations of those clamouring for constitutional amendments so that he can get another term. What he has not achieved in 20 years in office (by 2006), he would never achieve given eternity. There is plenty for him to do for Africa and the world after state house.

I don't really see Museveni morphing into another Mugabe. At the same time, Museveni has never made a secret of the fact that he believes he can run Uganda better than anyone. Museveni may very well step down when his term expires, but he certainly won't want to.

According to the BBC, the Ghana government will give up its share in Ashanti Goldfields, thereby removing a major barrier to AngloGold's recent takeover bid. So much for nationalism, I guess.

Thursday, May 29, 2003
Looks like the Zimbabwean opposition is finally ready for their "final push":
The main opposition party has urged Zimbabweans to "rise up in their millions" against President Robert Mugabe next week.
The Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) has called a week-long strike so people can take part in prayer meetings and "democracy marches".

I somehow doubt that a week-long strike will be enough to dislodge Mugabe. On the other hand, Mugabe's grip on power continues to look weaker and weaker, even within his own party. My guess is we'll be seeing a lot more stories like this one:
Mugabe said he was aware that some of his party's top officials were seeking divine intervention to succeed him.

"I am aware of what is happening. Some top leaders are consulting ancestral spirits and traditional healers to enhance their political fortunes," he said. "But it's not about ancestral spirits, it's about unity and people's wishes."

Yep. Unity and people's wishes. Mugabe has abused both and that's why his days in power are numbered. I think some of the second-tier people in ZANU are realizing that the longer Mugabe sticks around, the more he poisons the well for the next generation of ZANU. Most won't be willing to sacrifice their future careers for Mugabe's ego and a "revolution" that they don't completely buy into anyway. A successful strike by the opposition might be just the opportunity they're looking for to ditch Mugabe.

Maybe it will work.

UPDATE: And if, for some strange reason, you had deluded yourself into thinking that Mugabe might go quietly, there are already reports that Mugabe is readying his beaters, rapers and killers for next week's strike. (Via Instapundit.)

Head Heeb notes that there is now a blog dedicated entirely to Nigerian scam emails.


Wednesday, May 28, 2003
Well, we heard a lot during the 90's about how much Clinton "cared" about Africa... Well, Bush might not care as much, but his policies toward Africa are a heck of a lot better than Clinton's. And according to the skeptic, some people are even taking note.

September 11 and the War on Terror continue to change America's relationships with nearly every country. Africa might be seeing more of this than some other regions (with the possible exception of the Axis of Weasels). In particular, we have a new understanding that it really does matter what happens in small poor countries like Afghanistan (or Somalia or Liberia). At the same time, the importance of supporting young democracies -- politically, militarily, and economically -- has come to the fore.

We're seeing the new Africa policy play out in a variety of ways -- notably the African AIDS bill, the expansion of the African Growth and Opportunity Act, and the staging of joint anti-terrorism excercises with East African defense forces.

Obviously, the current changes won't be to everyone's benefit. Like France and Germany, Nigeria and South Africa are no longer seen as reliable allies. On the flip-side, it looks like the Bush administration will continue to focus on strengthening ties to the East African Anglosphere (Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania) as well as developing ties with more recent allies like Djibouti, Ethiopia and Eritrea.

And speaking of thug heads of state, the "president" of Togo has tossed his hat into the political ring yet again:
Togo's last presidential race, in 1998, ended when Eyadema canceled ballot-counting and declared himself winner. Amnesty International says political violence by security forces and others killed hundreds during and after the vote.

Growing unrest led Eyadema to agree to democratic reforms in exchange for being allowed to complete his current term. "I will not stay even one extra day," he pledged then.

In recent months, however, the Eyadema-allied legislature amended the constitution so he could run again. Eyadema declared his candidacy, saying Togo needed stability to avoid the kind of civil wars roiling West Africa's Ivory Coast and Liberia.

Togo is essentially ruled by one man. Eyadema has built a police state where rival politicians are jailed, beaten and banished. The media are not allowed to criticize the government. The parliament is simply a rubber stamp. Now explain to me how Togo's problems can be blamed on "the opposition."


Things are really reaching a crisis point when these kinds of ideas can be expressed openly in the NY Times:
Today, a mixture of self-interest and historic ties compels the British and French to re-engage in their former colonies. Perhaps they and the other traditional power in West Africa, the United States, should follow the lead of the 19th-century imperialists and sit down to bargain again. Only this time the object should not be to divide the spoils but to bring a measure of peace to this ravaged place.

The current peace in Sierra Leone is due to the UK's political, military and economic commitment. The same commitment from France will be required if peace is to be restored in Ivory Coast. The US has mostly chosen to ignore the events of the last ten years in Liberia, but in light of Taylor's destabilizing influence in West Africa, the constant threat that he poses to his neighbors, the crimes that he has committed against the Liberian people and his ever increasing ties to international terrorist organizations, inaction on the part of the US becomes harder and harder to justify. There is no doubt of Taylor's ambition to become the terror master of West Africa; in fact, he's well on his way. I hope someone in Washington is paying attention.

Well, it looks like the body of Sam Bockarie still has not been presented to the Sierra Leone war crimes court. This seems to imply that either the circumstances of Bockarie's death are being covered up or that the death was faked altogether. In either case, it's fishy; and you can bet that Charles Taylor is right in the middle of it.

Okay, finals are done, so that's certainly a relief.

Monday, May 26, 2003
Sorry things have been so slow here lately. It's finals week, so I've had other things on my mind. It'll be back to normal in a few more days.

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