Thursday, June 12, 2003
This article about Liberia is more than a week old, but it's still worth posting because it's a good example of why, in my opinion, the UN is so often ineffective:
United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan says in his latest report on the dire situation in Liberia that clearly the single most burning issue, on which Liberians all agree, is the need for a binding ceasefire to stop the bloodshed and facilitate a peaceful resolution of the conflict in that country.
Ceasefire? Peaceful resolution? What the...?
Those are good ideas, I suppose, but a prerequisite to negotiating such agreements is a trustworthy party with whom to negotiate. There will be no lasting ceasefire and no peaceful resolution as long as Charles Taylor is in power and it's quite clear that Taylor is unwilling to leave peacefully. The idea that the UN can shame Taylor into accepting some kind of negotiated peace in which he has to share power with the rebels is completely ridiculous.
I'm sure that Taylor must laugh when he reads these statements from the UN. Apparently, the UN is content to condemn, but Taylor can't be removed by finger-wagging -- only by the force of arms.
Here's another update on the Somaliland election of two months ago, the outcome of which appears to finally be settled.
Amazing...I think it takes a certain kind of audacity for Charles Taylor to say things like this:
"Peace in Liberia is dependent and hangs upon that particular situation [the indictment]. It has to be removed," Taylor told a hastily arranged news conference
Yeah...what a liar. It's become almost cliche for African dictators to justify their tyranny with the rhetoric of African nationalism. It's exactly the game that Mugabe has been playing for years. Of course, I expect nothing less from bastards like Taylor and Mugabe, but one would think that the leaders of respectable African countries would be at least slightly offended.
Then again, maybe not.
Wednesday, June 11, 2003
Instapundit's comments on the French evacuation of westerners in Liberia:
Typical colonialist response: get the white folks out, and let the natives go hang. Literally, I'm afraid, in this case.
Yep. Seems like this is pretty much the same thing the French did in Ivory Coast, too.
Uganda's President Museveni is visiting Washington this week:
The White House used Mr. Bush's meeting with Mr. Museveni to showcase a central part of the president's agenda, a $15 billion bill that Congress approved last month to fight AIDS on the global level. Mr. Bush is hoping to use the bill to highlight what his advisers say is the human side of his administration's foreign policy.
The current relationship between the US and Uganda seems about right to me: Enough distance to offer criticism, but close enough to be listened to. Hopefully President Bush will be looking to build some similar relationships on his African tour next month.
In the continuing discussion about recolonization/re-engagment, here are some more comments:
Do parts of Africa need to be taken over by outside powers just to impose order and government? If not, will their destabilization leak over to the rest of the world? God, I hope not. I don't think it can be done. It's too goddamn big. Simply throwing money out there doesn't seem right to me. Humanitarian aid is a great idea, when it gets to the right people. Who do we make the checks out to? Who do we give the food to? How do we make sure it isn't stolen to feed rebel troops? Who are the rebels? These are countries known for rapidly shifting governments and corrupt politicians. Sending donations and avoiding the purchase of conflict diamonds has the feel of soccer moms holding a bake sale to free political prisoners. It just doesn't seem enough.
There are a lot of good questions here, but the answers aren't immediately evident (to me, at least). Regardless of your opinions about the legacy of colonialism, it seems clear that things have gone very, very wrong in Africa since independence.
It would be foolish to underestimate the difficulty and complexity of any colonization effort in Africa. Likewise, it's difficult to estimate what good such an intervention could hope to accomplish. I'd like to see some more discussion of different ways to extend the benefits of democracy and freedom to Africa, short of outright colonization. Signing free trade agreements with African democracies seems like a good start to me. Also, why not give security guarantees to allied African democracies to protect them from regional threats? Didn't similar security guarantees in Europe help to pave the way for foreign investment and rebuilding after WWII?
There's a rather left-of-center discussion of African security issues over at Diplomatica.
Tuesday, June 10, 2003
It looks like the coup in Mauritania has been put down. (No doubt many in Washington are breathing sighs of relief.) If this article is to be believed, the coup leaders were a group of Islamists in the military who were angry about the Mauritanian government's friendly relations with Israel.
This article only confirms my fears about the French mission in Congo:
The French intervention on behalf of the UN in Congo will be short-lived and localised and will have a negligible impact on tribal conflict, according to a French military briefing paper obtained by the Guardian.
This is not reassuring.
(Via Best of the Web.)
With the UK presence in Sierra Leone, the French stabilizing Ivory Coast and Congo, and the possibility of some sort of international force being sent to Liberia there has been quite a bit of discussion about a Western re-engagement (some might say recolonization) in Africa.
Such an idea has been taboo for quite a while, but Theodore Dalrymple has a great discussion of colonialism (pros and cons) in yesterday's OpinionJournal:
African nationalism was a struggle as much for power and privilege as it was for freedom, though it co-opted the language of freedom for obvious political advantage. In the matter of freedom, even Rhodesia--certainly no haven of free speech--was superior to its successor state, Zimbabwe. I still have in my library the oppositionist pamphlets and Marxist analyses of the vexed land question in Rhodesia that I bought there when Ian Smith was premier. Such thoroughgoing criticism of the rule of Robert Mugabe would be inconceivable--or else fraught with much greater dangers than opposition authors experienced under Mr. Smith. And indeed, in all but one or two African states, the accession to independence brought no advance in intellectual freedom but rather, in many cases, a tyranny incomparably worse than the preceding colonial regimes.
He has a lot to say about the promises and pitfalls of colonialism as well as the successes and failures of post-colonial African governments. He also challenges quite a few of the common myths about colonialism and its legacy. In the end, I'd say he's rather pessimistic about the prospects for another African intervention.
I also thought this was interesting:
[U]sually, Africans feel constrained to disguise from Europeans their most visceral beliefs, for which they know the Europeans usually feel contempt, as primitive and superstitious. And so, in dealing with outsiders, Africans feel obliged to play an elaborate charade, denying their deepest beliefs in an attempt to obtain the outsider's minimal respect. In deceiving others, in keeping their inner selves hidden, they are equalizing the disparity of power. The weak are not powerless: They have the power, for instance, to gull the outsider.
Richard Wright discussed something similar in Black Power and I've experienced the same thing myself on quite a few occasions. I don't claim to understand it, but this seems like as reasonable an explanation as I've seen.
(Link courtesy of Joe Katzman at Winds of Change.)
Monday, June 09, 2003
Winds of Change has another HUGE and excellent post about Congo. I won't even excerpt it because you should read the whole thing.
Sunday, June 08, 2003
The African Development Bank is predicting 3.6% growth (on average) for African countries this year. While an improvement over last year's performance, the bank says this is still well below the 7% growth that would be required to reduce poverty (due to factors like population growth and inflation, I suppose).
Incidentally, Bozize is making a lot of promises about a return to democratic rule by 2005, but I'll believe it when I see it.
I haven't posted an update on post-coup CAR in quite a while. As you might remember, Francois Bozize led a coup in March which deposed then-President Patasse. The coup was apparently backed by Chad and (in my opinion) Libya.
Anyway, after all that talk in the African Union about how everyone was going to support good government and that African leaders weren't going to accept government by coup anymore...well, it looks like all of that was just so much hot air. Here's what the Central African Monetary and Economic Union had to say:
"The heads of state... have decided to officially recognise the new authorities in the CAR," the group said in a statement following the summit.
My guess is that the whole African Union won't be far behind in recognizing Bozize. Looks like Patasse is out of luck.
Head Heeb has an excellent (and optimistic) post on Rwanda's new constitution. The constitution paves the way for elections later this year, Rwanda's first since the 1994 genocide. Interesting note: The new constitution designates English as one of the three official languages.
Another LRA attack in Uganda has killed 13 civilians. Museveni is trying to quiet all the talk about a possible third term and refocus the country on defeating the LRA:
On security, Museveni said prospects for ending the 17-year rebellion in northern Uganda have never been better. He said over the last year, the UPDF killed 3,496 LRA bandits, rescued 6,800 children and other captives.
It's a messy situation. The latest attempt to defeat the LRA has been mostly a failure. But since peace talks with LRA are useless, Museveni doesn't really have any other choices.
The BBC is reporting an attempted coup in Mauritania. The government initially said that things were under control, but reports now say that the president has been "forced out," whatever that means. Mauritania was one of the few Arabic/Islamic countries that had relations with Israel, so the installation of a more extremist government there could be a serious problem.
This will probably take several days at least to sort out.
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