Now, Bush turned his attention to the "last" place evil had to hide, the African Continent. An argument emanated not from the Left, but from the New Conservatives, who said that the U.S. had no pressing interests there. Africa offered a real problem. As of 2003, there appeared to be a real question whether blacks were capable of ruling themselves. The question itself had all the earmarks of pure racism, except for the small problem that it appeared to be true that they.
Many had questioned, at various times, whether the natives of the South Pacific, the Orient, the Middle East and Latin America could rule themselves. While many problems still existed in these parts of the world, and true Jeffersonian Democracy had yet to spring from their loins, there were hopeful signs.
The Philippines is a Democracy. Singapore is more of an autocracy. Taiwan and Hong Kong are the Democratic engines that will change China. South Korea and Japan are Democracies. The Middle East has little Democracy, but Israel is, Palestine may someday be, and so will Iraq. In Latin America, drugs, crime and poverty threaten Democratic structures, but these are Christian countries, and this means that at their heart there is a basic morality that gives hope for freedom.
But Africa, in the view of many, is hopeless. For 200 years, white missionaries and social workers described an upbeat population of peaceful, dancing natives. This was not an untrue characterization, but amid this National Geographic scene was a darker world of tribal wars, ethnic and religious rivalries, unheard-of savagery and cannibalism. White apologists tried to call this a "cultural" thing, which was moral relativism run amok. Murder, rape, pillage and flesh-eating were no more "culturally right" in Africa than cutting the hearts out of living virgins had been in the Aztec world.
When European countries colonized much of Africa, there was hope. The whites brought violence, disease and racism, yes, but they also spread Christianity, built hospitals, established economies, modernized the populace, created cities out of the bush, and led Africans from a backwards culture to a hopeful future.
With the decline of the British Empire and the spread of independence spurred by Gandhi and Allied victory in World War II, liberalism called for African autonomy. The black citizens of the continent rightly wanted to rule themselves, and the colonies were disbanded. The Cold War, however, turned Africa into a battleground, and the losers were the native populace. They found themselves used as pawns in the chess game between freedom and Communism.
In Uganda, Idi Amin murdered 300,000 people in the 1970s, and engaged in cannibalism himself. His was an obvious case, but one that represented a new negativity with respect to Africa. Could it ever be free? Could Democracy ever take hold there? Most whites thought that it was a tough nut to crack, while liberals closed their eyes, pretending the blacks were "ruling" themselves. If they did not talk about the genocide, then it did not happen, right? Well, it did happen.
Everything came to a head in South Africa, and to a lesser extent in Rhodesia, towards the end of the Reagan Administration and the beginning of the first Bush's. South Africa was a white-run country of majestic beauty, incredible natural resources, and a thriving economy. White South African women were said to be among the most beautiful in the world. The ruling whites had fought hard for their piece of the world. The British had battled the Zulu's in legendary fashion, the Boar War had been a particularly bloody campaign, and settlers had struggled to defend their rural lands in the same manner as whites fending of marauding bands of Indian savages in the Old West. An uneasy balance existed between the Dutch Afrikaners and the British descendants that made up South Africa.
Apartheid, of course, separated the blacks from the whites. This policy shocked the liberal West. The only problem with the dynamic was that the average black living under Apartheid lived a much safer and better life than the average black living under black African rule. During a time when American blacks were demanding reparations for slavery, some smart alecks suggested that they should pay America for having brought their ancestors to the U.S., thus saving them from living under war, torture, AIDS and misery in a black-ruled African "nation."
While the general premise that blacks living under whites were better off than they were living under blacks was true, it still lacked the ideal of freedom that yearns in the human breast. South Africa and Rhodesia were turned over to their majority black populations, and in the 1990s two prosperous countries became virtually lawless; reprisals, murders, kidnappings, rampant crime, drug use, illegitimacy, AIDS, despotism and all form of human indecency now dominate the landscape. There are still whites holding on in South Africa and Rhodesia, but their days are numbered. Once turned over to the blacks, these countries went into the toilet. This statements reeks with apparent racism. This does not change it from being the simple Truth.
White colonialization was the last vestige of order in Africa. In the 1990s, with these cornerstones of security dismantled, the continent became the devil's playground. Genocide in Rwanda claimed more than a million lives in 1994, but Clinton had ignored it, even making a point to avoid use of the word "genocide" so as to keep the "situation" under the radar. AIDS, which had originated in Africa, spread like wildfire. An ignorant, uneducated public had no idea how to fight the disease. Africa had failed its test. It could not handle modernity. Its long history of tribal violence, once confined to small geographic areas, now had the ability to travel by plane, train and automobile, by gun and bomb, to all corners of Africa.
Nobody else was willing to do much about it. France, to its credit, had people in Africa. The U.N., to its credit, had peacekeepers. But these "forces" were symbolic and failed to address the real problems. Only the United States has the ability to take on this kind of challenge, and in so doing an entirely new paradigm shift would be required. There exists in Africa very little in the way of "American interests." The real interests are moral. If America actually is God's country, then it has the moral obligation to help even where there is no obvious benefit to the help. It is a national example of what some people might call random acts of kindness.
Bush knew that his predecessor had passed on Rwanda, and had been criticized for it. As his Presidency took form, genocide began to occur in the Congo, and civil war was tearing Liberia apart. Having scattered Al Qaeda, sent bin Laden into hiding, liberated Afghanistan and Iraq, sent the Hussein brothers to the infernal regions, and placed Saddam in a box, Bush now had the power, the political capital and - more than anything - the optimism to address Africa. Bush believed that Africa was not hopeless. The future in Africa might not be Democracy. Perhaps some form of autocracy, or neo-colonialism would be required, but Bush believed that the people of Africa have potential and should not be left twisting in the international winds forever.
He also knew that Fundamentalist Islam lives and breeds in Africa. Bin Laden's first big strike against the West had been in Somalia, and Sudan was another danger spot. Southern Sudan had been a rich source of gold, slaves, and ivory for the Arab merchants of the north, who exploited a country tragically torn by the civil war between Arab-dominated northern and the diverse black African tribal populations of the south. Sudan, the largest country in Africa, was engaged in the worst ongoing humanitarian disaster on the continent by the time Bush became President. 2 million civilians died in civil war and 4 to 5 million were displaced. Famine, slave raids, bombing and other gross human rights violations occurred there on a massive scale. Muslim persecution of Christians took on a flavor that reminded missionaries who saw it of the Holocaust. For upwards of 50 years, a Sudan Muslim government has committed genocide.
The "Lost Boys' of Sudan" was reported on 60 minutes II. The following quotes describe their situation, from the perspective of one of the Sudanese people"
"Many lost boys died from starvation, thirst, wild animals like lions which preyed on them. Some drowned in swollen rivers of the South, others eaten by crocodiles as are forced to cross the river, hunger and diseases and many other things.
"Lack of parents and home make the lost boys wondering for where to live and who to care for them. Most of the children lived as orphans…some of them were shot dead by the Muslim government who used to attack the village, and kill adult and taking girls and boys as slaves.
"All the southern women mourned for their lost boys day and night. They also pray for orphans who had survived, they asked God for help and forgiveness of the people…"
The West yawned. There is only so much capacity for empathy, it seems. We are inundated by so much horror that we compartmentalize it. We are no longer shocked. We have a "mechanism" to keep distant from these things, in order to maintain our sanity. The general feeling now was that black Africans really had only themselves to blame. They could not "handle" freedom. Could this be true?
The Congo was just as bad. The United Nations was in limbo while the so-called Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) was ravaged by genocidal war. Clashes between Lendu and Hema tribal factions escalated from a regional struggle for gold, diamonds, timber and other resources into a major civil war.
"The international community just doesn't care," said Bill Fletcher of Washington-based Trans-Africa Forum. "Over two million people dead. So what? The U.S. interest in Africa is in direct relationship to oil in the ground. Angola, yes. Equatorial Guinea, yes. But DRC, no."
A request by U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan for a rapid deployment force (RDF) in DRC was not met with enthusiasm from the 15-member U.N. Security Council. A Council delegation led by Ambassador Jean-Marc de La Sabliere of France visited Central Africa, including the DRC, in June of 2003, but the United States refused to provide troops or participate in peacekeeping operations. France, Britain, Canada and Pakistan offered support for the Congo.
Javier Solana, the European Union's foreign policy chief, proposed a contingent of European Union troops to DRC, under a U.N. mandate and an E.U. flag. The U.N.'s Administrative and Budgetary Committee, a 54-member African Group, complained that the world was not providing "adequate funds" for both the U.N. Observer Mission in the Congo and the U.N. Mission in Sierra Leone.
Two major human rights organizations, Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, said that a "critical test" of the Security Council's commitment to prevent mass murder had failed.
"Thousands of civilians have already died in this conflict," said Kenneth Roth, HRWs executive director. "Only rapid U.N. action can head off continued killings."
According to HRW, at least 5,000 people died from direct violence in Ituri between July, 2002 and March, 2003, in addition to the 50,000 civilians who died there
since 1999. An estimated 2.5 million to 4.7 million civilians died in the DRC since 1998. Warring parties and neighbors exploited the gold, copper, coltan, diamonds, timber and cobalt resources.
Pierre Okongo Lumbi, head of the Commission on the Illegal Exploitation of Natural Resources and a senior DRC official, accused Uganda, Rwanda and Burundi of "pillaging" and "exploiting" the DRC. In a three-year period, over $1.5 billion worth of resources were taken by the neighboring African states. U.N. Under-Secretary-General Jean-Marie Guehenno asked for a peacekeeping force.
"The peacekeeping troops we have there are neither trained nor equipped to deal with the kind of violence that erupts from time to time," he said. "They're there to help implement a peace agreement, not to deal with militia that are at war."
The Group of Eight industrial powers met in June of 2003 with heads of state from South Africa, Algeria, Egypt, Nigeria and Senegal to discuss an "action plan" for Africa, calling for Western military and logistical support for a new regional peacekeeping force in Africa, with a troop strength of 3,500 to 5,000.
A 54-member regional group, the African Union, the successor to the former Organization of African Unity, met to discuss the situation, too. U.N. peacekeepers in the DRC, they were told, were overwhelmed.
"Our evaluation of what we know, it could be a genocide," said Carla Del Ponte, who was in charge of prosecuting perpetrators of the 1994 genocide in Rwanda.
France wanted to lead an international mission with a U.N. battalion of about 700 troops. Kofi Annan requested troops from "governments with capacity."
"France has indicated that in principle it is prepared to participate in such a force, provided there is a clear mandate, and other governments join in," he said. "So we are in touch with other governments trying to see if they will join France in such an effort."
In 2003, a civil war reached overwhelming proportions in Liberia, a country with strong ties to the U.S. Freed slaves, with the mandate and support of President Monroe, had formed the nation in the early 19th Century. The capitol city, Monrovia, was named after him, as was another city named after President Buchanan. Liberia had long been a limited success story, but in 1997 Charles Taylor was "elected" president using the campaign slogan "I killed your ma, I killed your pa."
By 2003, civil war threatened to become genocide. Bush decided to step in and send troops, but offered to intervene only when Taylor left the country. He stationed troops of the Liberian coast. This act followed a trip Bush had taken to Africa, where he offered an impressive aid package to help battle AIDS through an education, medical and chastity-based program.
Bush's first tentative steps in Africa were the hopeful signs of a new beginning. It reflects the fact that only with American support and leadership can such an endeavor succeed. It offers some political benefit to Bush, who had the backing of international and U.S. black leaders. More important, investment in Africa says that America, and white people, have not "given up" on Africa, and do believe there is potential there in the 21st Century.
Causes Steven Travers Supports
Conservative, Christian, USC, American patriotism