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July 16, 2005

African Misadventure

After all the concerts raising money for African aid and the G8 summits gaining governments' pledges to send money to African countries, the fact remains that most of them are dictatorships run by corrupt, despotic pricks ala Robert Mugabe, a typically fucked-up African dictator, who do not represent the people, just themselves.

These are the folks who will receive the bucks we send, and these are the people who will keep the money for their own use(can anybody say, Numbered Account?).

African countries are so badly mismanaged by self-motivated, self styled monarchs who have no problem with letting their people starve as long as they live in luxury, and these leaders control dissent through imprisonment, torture and execution.

In my opinion, sending all this money to African countries at this time is no different from flushing it down the nearest commode and, since some of it comes out of my taxes, I feel completely justified in taking umbrage with it. These African countries need to be repaired from within before they are ready to be helped from without.  

Pamela of Atlas Shrugs has a post that tells it like it is.    

Posted by Seth at July 16, 2005 09:43 PM


I agree on your analysis, but you failed to notice the history. You singled Zimbabwe/Mugabe so I'll stick to it, won't say it's your typical African country, but I won't deny it either.

The UK annexed Southern Rhodesia from the South Africa Company in 1923. A 1961 constitution was formulated that favored whites in power. In 1965 the government unilaterally declared its independence, but the UK did not recognize the act and demanded more complete voting rights for the black African majority in the country (then called Rhodesia). UN sanctions and a guerrilla uprising finally led to free elections in 1979 and independence (as Zimbabwe) in 1980. Robert MUGABE, the nation's first prime minister, has been the country's only ruler (as president since 1987) and has dominated the country's political system since independence. His chaotic land redistribution campaign begun in 2000 caused an exodus of white farmers, crippled the economy, and ushered in widespread shortages of basic commodities. Ignoring international condemnation, MUGABE rigged the 2002 presidential election to ensure his reelection. Opposition and labor groups launched general strikes in 2003 to pressure MUGABE to retire early; security forces continued their brutal repression of regime opponents.Source CIA Factbook http://www.cia.gov/cia/publications/factbook/geos/zi.html
This is a very short note to describe the XX century history, but please notice the origins: commercial interests, exploited by the UK (whites). In other words, colonialism.Then, in the 1960-70's, the Cold War geopolitics kicked in creating more chaos. Finally, a revolution that put Mugabe in power... since 1980.I will not deny that missmanagement (to say it lightly) is one of the biggest problems (another is HIV) but the truth is that nobody has really cared for the people... before they just cared for whatever economic resources could be extracted (colonialism), then for their role in the geopolitics (US-USSR) and now... now?I'm not saying that they themselves are not responsible, but when the only example they saw was to be pawn of the powerful and remote masters, how can they learn to be themselves?Stable, honest and well-run governments don't pop into existance magically... it took the so-called developed countries years, centuries, of battling and wars. Why should a newborn-country behave like a responsible 'adult'. And I'm not trying to sound paternalistic, I'm just pointing to the fact that there's a responsibility here that is not being fulfilled. The US, like it or not, together with the EU, UN, and others must help Africa help itself. By refusing the lifeline that humanitarian (not military) aid provides you are condemning the African continent into repeating the whole institutional evolution...

Posted by: history: excuse or logic? at July 17, 2005 09:29 AM

Your point is well taken.The problem is that the only way we could give monetary aid to these countries would be through their corrupt governments, otherwise sovereignty issues could arise.Humanitarian, non monetary aid(food, medicine, etc) even inevitably ends up being distributed under government auspices in these countries, meaning that the people on the other end of western largesse are those favored by gov't.I was following the revolutions at the end of the 1970s in Rhodesia and Angola because I had several friends who were fighting for pay against the insurgents(and in Angola, against Cuban troops). The first thing Mugabe did when he took over was to disarm the people and build a security service and army whose main responsibilities were to keep them from getting together the wherewithal to do to him what he had done to Ian Smith.I could see getting the Agency in there to help toward that end, like during the post OSS/Wild Bill Donovan years or imposing strangling sanctions on the offensive governments, but not enriching these dictators by funneling aid through them that will barely if at all reach the people they're intended for.

Posted by: Seth at July 17, 2005 10:12 AM

A $1000 dollar bill is no good if you're in the middle of the desert...Humanitarian aid, comes in all shapes and colors. Unfortunately, there has been a somewhat historic tradition and tendency to have tons of strings attached to it... so that it actually helps more the donor than the receiver..."In 1995, the director of the US aid agency defended his agency by testifying to his congress that 84 cents of every dollar of aid goes back into the US economy in goods and services purchased. For every dollar the United States puts into the World Bank, an estimated $2 actually goes into the US economy in goods and services."Source: www.globalissues.org/TradeRelated/Debt/USAid.aspIf you don't like that source, maybe this quote will:"Atwood recently noted, "Now, fully 79 percent of the USAID procurement budget, spent to purchase goods and services essential to USAID development work, is spent here in the U.S." AID has been rallying its American beneficiaries to lobby against foreign aid cuts."http://www.heritage.org/Research/TradeandForeignAid/EM416.cfmIt hasn't changed much... even the 2004 Tsunami relief has many of these 'donations' that go back to the giver's good & services industries...Nice friends you seem to have... after all even apartheid Sourh Africa didn't like to mingle too much with Ian (from what I've read - not really privy to the history) And sorry, but the Agency (assuming you are referring to the CIA) is the mother of more international fuck-ups than the world can stand... just look at USA's 'backyard'... Latin America is still trying to come to terms with Uncle Sam's mess... and Osama, and Iraq, and...

Posted by: history: excuse or logic? at July 17, 2005 06:23 PM

I can't argue with the bit about the CIA fucking up a lot, but my main point wasn't about how beneficial giving can be to us: My attitude is more about giving to legitimately help those who need our largesse, not giving so that the people responsible for the misery of those souls can benefit by choosing the distribution details(themselves and their political supporters).The scenerio isn't new, nor is it limited to Africa. I am one of many who believed that our purpose in Vietnam was a just one and that we lost the war here at home in the same way the left is trying without success to make us "lose" in Iraq.I'm not digressing here.Back then, the U.S. sent a lot of aid to RVN, everything from medicines to farm implements. Tne protocol, as usual, was that all aid materials had to be turned over to the province chiefs for distribution. More often than not, little or none of it ever reached its intended recipients. These local politicians sold most of it and traded much of it to the VC for opium and/ or refined heroin and a lot of that ended up either in GIs' veins or in the U.S.African despots are likely to turn a profit with a lot of what we send and use the proceeds to either enrich themselves or buy weapons to enrich their power.My whole premise is that it's not worth sending, say, ten million dollars(random figure) in any kind of aid to a country where you know nine million of it will never see the intended recipients and none of it will get them any closer to self sufficiency, freedom, etc.It's exactly like what we do with our own homeless: Citizens donate millions annually to shelters, soup kitchens and the like and the people running them as non-profits clean up, but the bottom line is they don't do anything more than provide "three hots and a cot", and the next day their clientele are just as broke and just as homeless. No one uses any of the moneys donated to put those willing through any kind of occupational training or anything else to help them become self sufficient.To me, that's a lot of money going to waste.Do you see the parallel?If we're going to keep sending money to Africa without seeing any kind of permanent positive result, Why bother? There are plenty of needy right here at home who could be helped.It's kind of like the tough love concept. Maybe those people need to stand up on their hind legs and do as we did back in 1776. Maybe we need to find ways to help them dump their leaders.Rhodesia was overthrown with Soviet help, Angola Soviet and Cuban. Ever heard of Patrice Lumumba University in the USSR? Both were communist insurrections(my buddies who were at those "bashes" were there more to fight commies than to support incumbents, even the pay was a secondary consideration, and it wasn't much). But I do not believe in just sending money into a black hole just to feel good about ourselves, I think we need to spend our money in a way that will make a permanent difference over there or not spend it at all.God knows we've got enough unproductive agendas sucking the teats of our government right here at home.

Posted by: Seth at July 17, 2005 08:50 PM

Seth,Thanks for your comments. Really. And I truly understand your concerns about the aid not really being aid. For the most part of the people *really* working in the humanitarian & development aid issues, that is also their concern...The sad truth is that the world is not perfect. Politics, culture, history, and other issues just make it more complicated. As I said, aid has also (mainly?) been used as a politicial tool (to support interests and puppet governments in a geopoliticial 'game' - as if chess this was) The sooner we can eliminate most of the politics in the aid issue, the better.For example, during the Afghan campaign, a sensitive issue was the humanitarian crisis. Besides the USA including peanut butter in those packages (a totally clueless and ignorant decision demonstrating the lack of understanding about the issues involved in aid programs - http://www.usafe.af.mil/airdrop/faqs.htm) the intended channel of distribution was initially proposed to be through the coalition forces. The obvious rationale here was three-fold: first you create a propaganda effect (on the ground and internationally), second, you can always doctor the news and make an attack on the combat-troops as an attack on a humanitarian-relief effort. Last but not least, you could use the aid as a bargain chip to reward the 'good' and punish the 'bad'. Amongst others.Needless to say that the international community, and particularly those involved in aid, were outraged - and in full reason. All those things just go against the mere concept of humanitarian aid.Anyway, I really see your point. Furthermore, I support your point, but I guess we differ in how to deal with it. For me it's quite obvious that the faster we can dissociate humanitarian aid from politics, it will be the best. Holding aid back at ransom of a political agenda (ie: regime change) will only give power to those opposing it, and playing into the hands of the politico that will aim for the soft-at-heart that will do anything to save a life, and be tricked into giving aid without being able to ensure its proper use...I personally believe that things like the WFP and other multi-national efforts where even though politics are present, they don't (necessarily) dictate the agenda... and after all, it's their mandate.As for your buddies, I understand but definitely not condone, their anti-communist mercenary activity. Latin America is a good example of where the USA also intervened on similar logics, but most of the time, the rebels were actually trying to depose a USA puppet to start out with (ie: banana republic dictators like Somoza - a West Point graduate) that mainly represented the USA interests... so who started? Doesn't it matter? Yes and no. Yes, because it helps explain how the USA is perceived internationally. No, because the world has moved away from the USA-CCCP Cold War scene.Just for the record, another 'fine' institution of the USA was the "School of the Americas" (SOA) with the dubious honor of including amongst its alumni the dictators of Panama and Argentina, Noriega and Galtieri, amongst other 'nice' guys...Cheers

Posted by: history: excuse or logic? at July 18, 2005 10:09 AM

I know about the SOA, an institution that did not enjoy the degree of "success" that its Soviet opposite number did, yet received major "attention" from the American left while they ignored the existence of Patrice Lumumba U. because the latter cast no negative light on the U.S.Sort of off topic,What caught my attention a couple of years ago was the "indictment" of Bush administration elements by the "World Court" in Belgium for "war crimes," while the Belgians were never made to answer for the torture murder of Patrice Lumumba that they sponsored.

Posted by: Seth at July 18, 2005 03:35 PM

Well... I think SOA was (sadly) quite successful, as it managed to be the common denominator for a whole bunch of LA dictators and hardliners in the military of those countries...I don't remember an indictment of Bush in the "World Court"? I guess you mean the ICC (International Criminal Court). The other is the ICJ (International Court of Justice). ICC is new, and is the one that deals with crimes, while the ICJ (aka Hague) deals mainly with sovereign issues. If my memory is right.Anyway, afaik, the only crimes that the ICC can prosecute that don't prescribe, are those against humanity. Besides those, the court - like all things legal - can't be retro-active. The USA hasn't joined the ICC because it fears that it will be the target of many legal actions that label its interventions in foreign countries as crimes against humanity and war crimes... on the other hand, the USA could've used the ICC to build a case against Saddam, and use it to prosecute terrorists...Again, since the international politics are quite dirty, the USA is not quite interested in exposing its deals and works in that arena, so it settles for more dirty work like extraordinary renditions, and such.BTW, just because a lot of people would *like* the ICC to act against Bush/USA doesn't mean that they can or will do...Was just checking and apparently the ICC is taking action for crimes in Congo and Uganda...http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=11272&Cr=icc&Cr1=

Posted by: history: excuse or logic? at July 19, 2005 08:45 AM

The article you linked to has most definitely piqued my curiosity, as I tend to be more action oriented than academic: Let's say the ICC names a defendant in a country in which he/she is (now) the dictator, the final word in that country with a good sized military force that supports him/her.The defendant tells the ICC to go "piss up a rope" and refuse to leave his/her sovereign territory.They would have to try the defendant in absentia, correct? So there is a guilty verdict, then what?Sanctions against the country? Invade the country to apprehend the leader? Send in a commando unit to abduct him/her in the dead of night? Allocate enforcement assets indefinitely to watch and wait for the now convicted leader to leave the safe harbor of his/her country, then snatch him/her up? Given that a country's leader has diplomats to conduct his/her government's business abroad and never really HAS to leave "home," how would the ICC, or any other international justice venue, for that matter, realistically enforce such a conviction when it came time to consummating the sentencing or other penalties handed down?In the case of Africa, where ruthless brutality against civilians by non-colonial governments and unbridled corruption have been an institution forever and the leaders today don't seem all that interested in stepping on one anothers' toes, I would be interested to know how such a scenario might go.I'll have to look for the information, but there was a call from members of one or two of the weasel states in Europe, a couple of years back, to try Bush and Rumsfeld for "war crimes" because of the Iraq invasion, but that foolishness never went anywhere.

Posted by: Seth at July 19, 2005 08:05 PM

NOTE: I'm not a lawyer, and all what follows are my speculation. I could be waaay off. Ok?As far as I know, the jurisdiction only applies to signatory and ratifying countries. So for starters, the defendant's country must've signed and ratified the treaty. And in principle, it's the country that will pass the case to the ICC because it could be decided that locally justice can be served, although it could also be started (and/or stopped) by the UNSC. BTW, the USA initially signed it, then it refused to ratify it, and now has removed its signature from it. Same with Israel, afaik. China hasn't even signed it.One of the big problems with your scenario is if it involves or not USA nationals and in what condition (military, blue-helmet, civil, etc). You see, the USA has rigged the whole thing so much in its efforts to be untouchable, that many loopholes and 'special cases' have been created. And you never know how they will backfire.As for trial in absentia, apparently that is not possible. Take a look here http://www.globalsolutions.org/programs/law_justice/faqs/icc_faq_long.html as it seems to have quite a bit of info... can't vow for its correctness or bias... ;) Except for the trial by jury, the defendant right's seem to be exactly the same as in the USA.So if you can't do it in absentia, that kind of tears down your scenario...

Posted by: history: excuse or logic? at July 20, 2005 01:26 PM

I was irretrievably occupied for the last couple of days, or I would have replied sooner.Having read up on the International Criminal Court via your excellent link, I can't see why they even bothered to create it.It seems to me that the kind of leader that would resort to the crimes tried by the ICC would refrain, with extreme prejudice, from making his country a member state in that court, knowing that to do so would be make him liable to prosecution therein.The exception, as cited in the profile of the ICC, would be when the U.N. pushed the prosecution of a defendant in a non-member country.Due to the ICC's having no "police force," we go back, at least in part, to what I wrote in my previous comment, scratching the "in absentia" concept as you pointed out its lack of applicability.Should the UN charge the unwilling leader of a country and wish to see him prosecuted by the ICC, they would have to have a member state send troops to invade his country and take him into custody or abduct him by one method or another(God help us if U.S.troops were sent in the former instance, unless there was a Democrat in the White House. The Dems can go to war with impunity, the Rep's become oil-hungry war mongers when they do the same thing). :-)The only times most of those who might be tried by a body like the ICC ever see the inside of a courtroom are when they've been ousted either by invasion or internal revolution.

Posted by: Seth at July 23, 2005 09:56 PM

An afterthought: I wonder where, once he's captured, Osama will be tried. There are scores of countries around the world who have bones to pick with the son of a bitch.I would bet that if he is snatched up by U.S. forces, we try him here first. Then maybe the ICC will get a shot. *************************Re the U.S. and Israel wanting nothing to do with the ICC:The UN and its "affiliates" have been opposed to nearly every move the U.S. has made in several years, and they are certainly no friends of Israel. Membership in the ICC would only make both countries vulnerable to the whims of such nations. **********************Re my previous reference to parties wanting to try Bush and Rumsfeld for "war crimes."I have more digging to do, but this is where it basically began:http://www.impeach-bush-now.org/Articles/Bush/USLawyers.htm

Posted by: Seth at July 23, 2005 10:11 PM

Seth,Sorry, I had lost the link to this track...Anyways, what you say about

It seems to me that the kind of leader that would resort to the crimes tried by the ICC would refrain, with extreme prejudice, from making his country a member state in that court
that is exactly what the USA has done... no wonder... BTW, the UN is a political body, and as such it has it's pro's and con's, it's not perfect but I rather have the USA work within its context instead of a (loony) lonely cowboy... had the USA managed a mandate from the UN would have avoided most all of the pressure/menace of prosecuting Bush et al for war crimes. They couldn't get it, now they're exposed. It won't go far (internationally) but internally, enough pressure could build up for an impeachment though... and as for
would have to have a member state send troops to invade his country and take him into custody or abduct him by one method or another
Do you remember Panama and Noriega? It wasn't for oil, nor freedom, more like drugs and cover-ops... and that was Bush father...I'm not quite sure where (if) Osama will be brought to justice, but did you know that it was Ghadaffi (Libya's 'president') that first requested an Interpol capture order back in 1998 (just pulled the link)? Makes you wonder...

Posted by: history: excuse or logic? at July 29, 2005 09:51 AM

The UN did give us a mandate, but they "changed their mind" when they realized Bush was ready to commit. Their reasons were, as we have subsequently learned, based not on any moral agendas, but solely on commercial ones, because the weasel countries were making too much money dealing with Saddam -- France was even selling him rocket fuel, despite their having signed off on the weapons embargo, and they have been found to have even sold weapons to some of the terrorist groups active in Iraq.And of course, certain Old Europe UN people were making big bucks off the Oil For Food Program, possibly even Annan.The UN has become a corrupt has-been. They are over-beauracratized and give too large a forum for representation by dictatorships and terror sponsoring nations, and admit it or not, they have diplayed an anti-American agenda for a long time now. They are also an anti-Israel body. They have no comment when a suicide bomber murders 20 or 30 Israelis, but the instant Israel retaliates, they are censured by the UN. Like most right minded Americans, I am a strong proponent of Israel.The link in your last comment didn't work, bummer. Can you redo it?

Posted by: Seth at July 29, 2005 11:12 PM

The technical aspects of the UN resolutions are that, technical... they didn't "changed their mind" the USA was reading it one way, while (most) others (even the UK) not only thought it didn't authorize war but also wanted an *explicit* resolution - like the one on Kuwait.The USA accusing the French for caring for their commercial interests, is the pot calling the kettle black... a brief review of how the USA protects its interests globally should settle that. BTW, don't forget how Iraq came to have chemical and biological warfare capability after the USA lost its regional ally (Iran) in 1979... and all other interventions by the USA (with or without UN mandate - particularly those without)The UN as a political body, is forcefully integrated with dark-shades of influence and its traffic (be them for political or economical reasons). But don't forget that the UN General Assembly's resolutions are non-binding, while the UN Security Council's are so. And the USA is one of the four with veto power there. Also, please remember that many of those 'dictatorships' that have a vote, have been put in power by the USA...Blaming the fiasco and corruption in the OfF program only to "Old Europe" is just ignoring the reach and extent of the web... the USA played an important role there too. They were all in it...Israel is a whole different story... and a very sad one at that, and we have to be honest enough to admit that both sides are guilty of many attrocities. Personally I don't believe in theocratic states, I think they can rapidly degenerate into messianic fundamentalism and can rarely (if ever) ensure a free society. As a side comment, I think that Israel is a political liability for the USA...Sorry about the link - your blogsite prepended your path to the actual link - which is: http://w3ar.com/a.php?k=538although, this one is probably much better:

An Example: relationships between Libya and the United States can hardly be described as good. Yet, long before the September 11 attacks, Osama Bin Laden was already under Red Notice in the database. However, the requesting country was not the United States, nor a European country. In fact, the first country that requested a Red Notice for Osama Bin Laden was Libya, in 1998.

Posted by: history: excuse or logic? at July 31, 2005 10:18 AM