In one corner, the long dead are reburied with full honors. In another corner, a young boy with no hands walks down a dusty road towards government-held positions - fleeing rebels closing in on the capital. Yet another corner has government troops launching SCUD-B missiles at rebel-held positions. In the last corner, two MIG fighters scream towards a school and drop their bombs, killing some 30 children inside.
Is this Iraq, Bosnia, Kosovo, Chechnya or East Timor? No, this is just another day in Africa. The honored dead are Rwandan, the boy is in Sierra Leone, the SCUDs are being used in the Congo and the Ethiopian MIGs are bombing a school in Eritrea. Africa is at war with itself and Bill Clinton has only taken baby step towards doing anything about it during his seven-and-a-half years in office.
When Rwanda fell into civil war in 1994, Clinton did nothing. His United Nations ambassador and now secretary of state, Madeleine Albright, voted against any U.N. action to stop the genocide. But, in 1995, U.S. forces bombed their way into Bosnia and set up shop for a long-term peacekeeping mission that is still going on today. Bill Clinton stopped in Rwanda last year and apologized for his hands-off policy and said that never again must we be shy in the face of the evidence. Well, Mr. President, "never again" is now and the evidence is all too clear on your discriminatory foreign policy.
Now that warfare is gripping Sierra Leone, is sending Jesse Jackson, some surplus equipment and a C-17 troop transport aircraft to Jordan to pick up peacekeepers all you can do? In Kosovo, you unleashed 40% of the U.S. Air Force's assets to bomb Serbia for 78 days and put an end to the so-called genocide there with a force of 5,900 peacekeepers.
In the Congo, which is being called Africa's first world war, troops from Angola, Zimbabwe and Namibia back the government, while troops from Rwanda and Uganda back the anti-government rebels. The government of Congo is now employing SCUD-B missiles, imported from North Korea, which have left scores of non-combatants dead. The most Bill Clinton can offer is talk through current UN Ambassador Richard Holbrooke and Secretary of State Madeleine Albright. But if the SCUDs were employed against Kurds in Iraq, Clinton would not think twice about sending the U.S. Air Force in from Turkey to destroy the SCUDs on the ground.
In the Horn of Africa, where warfare between Ethiopia and Eritrea has flared up again, the most the Clinton Administration can do is sign its name to a UN Security Council resolution condemning it and possibly support sanctions in the latest flare up in the two-year-old border war. But, in East Timor, the U.N. and U.S. took strong action to stop the Indonesian army - cracking down there following East Timor's pro-independence vote and backed by a strong Australian Peacekeeping Force to enforce the U.N. mandate.
I wonder where the so-called black leaders in the U.S. stand on Clinton's double standard in peacekeeping commitment and foreign policy towards Africa. Maxine Waters, John Conyers and the rest of the Congressional Black Caucus have yet to publicly condemn Clinton's lack of action in Africa. The NAACP, which fought hard against the Confederate battle flag in South Carolina as a symbol of slavery and racism, has been all but quiet on Africa.
As Bill Clinton stated during the conflict in Kosovo, he is the commander-in-chief of the armed forces and does not need the approval of Congress to deploy U.S. forces into a conflict. So, Mr. President, what are you waiting for now? Sierra Leone, Congo and Ethiopia/Eritrea all need well-armed peacekeepers. I am sure you will blame your inaction on Republicans in Congress. You could say you really wanted to do something about the warfare in Africa, but that Republicans would use the War Powers Act to stop you and any good you wanted to do there.
That excuse may work with the liberal so-called black leadership out there, but it will not work with me. I am aware of your problems with such words as "is" and "never again" and many others over the past seven-and-a-half years. I know you've done nothing, and I don't expect you to do anything.
Thanks for nothing.
(Kevin Martin is a member of Project 21 working for an environmental
contractor in the Washington, DC area. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.)
Note: New Visions Commentaries reflect the views of their author, and not necessarily those of Project 21.
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