The Racist Implications of President Clinton's African Policy

Since the fall of Reagan's "Evil Empire", the Soviet Union, we continue to witness a strange metamorphosis in American policy towards sub-Saharan Africa. The new mantra in America regarding Africa is the relegation of the continent, now on its knees against criminals parading as politicians, as the private domain of black civil rights leaders in policy formulation, prime among them are men like the Rev. Jesse Jackson. We believe this policy, pursued at a time when America is the leading power in current global power calculations, is racist, self-serving and insulting to Africans.

If American foreign policy is built around race, then its China policy must be the preserve of Chinese America; it Cuban policy a reward for anti-Castro Cuban Americans, and its Russian policy a matter for Russian Americans, etc. But this not the case. Mr. Clinton attaches great importance to his China policy, tremendous attention to his Cuban policy, and conscientious thoughts to his Russian policy.

The neglect of Africa since the withering of the Cold War can be seen in the spreading of chaos and terror on the continent as American and former Soviet client states disintegrate into terror. In Liberia, the US, already disinterested in the country since the removal of the Soviet threat, thus ending the usefulness of Liberia as base for supplying pro-Western rebels around Africa, Washington's policy is being determined through the eyes and judgment of men like Rev. Jesse Jackson, known as close friend and ally of one the most vicious butchers Africa has produced, Charles Taylor. Despite documented reports and records of the massiveness of Taylor's crimes against humanity - 250,000 killed including 45,000 children, 10,000 women raped, an unprecedented level of theft looting national resources which has reduced the country to primitive standards while the warlord is surrounded by fleets of expensive cars and other luxury items, - Rev. Jackson has paraded this man as a democrat needing US backing. Says the British weekly - The Economist:

"If the UN, Britain, America and the Sierra Leone Government all follow the same policy towards Liberia, Mr. Taylor could be taken on. But they're at odds. Liberia, which was founded by black Americans, looks to the US as Sierra Leone looks to Britain, the former colonial ruler. And Mr. Jackson, together with other black Americans who are influential in formulating American policy on Africa, are personal friends of Mr. Taylor's."

Adds Time magazine, in its recent publication on Sierra Leone: "Africa is a place where the West prefers to salve its conscience on the cheap. On the one hand, we feel a genuine moral pang when slaughter rages there. On the other, Americans are not willing to die to stop it. And some times a third factor makes the dilemma still more intractable: a warlord with absolutely no interest in peace." Furthermore, Time said, , Foday Sankoh's "RUF (Revolutionary United Front) feeds on earthly stuff: the illegal sale of diamonds smuggled out through neighboring. Sankoh has ties that country's President Charles Taylor , whom he met in Libya during military training in the 80s and who also blasted his way to power. Sankoh may be moving his base to Liberia."

Consequently, the vacuum left in US-African policy has led to the emergence of "sound bite" experts such as Rev. Jackson as key policy makers in an area so complicated. And the confusion about American policy towards Africa was recently made clear when Rev. Jackson told Liberian officials not to listen to the remarks of Republican Senator Judd Gregg, who honestly concluded that the war in Sierra Leone will not end as long as its source - Liberia - is left untouched. To the contrary, in spite of the volume evidence backing the Senator's findings and linking Taylor and his son as key RUF operatives in exchange of diamonds, Rev. Jackson told journalists that Taylor "is not encouraging the fighting." He compared Sankoh, known by the rest of caring mankind as mindless and insane killer, to Nelson Mandela, suggesting that such a man needs US money to form his political party. Emboldened by Rev. Jackson's comments, Taylor added that "He who's without sin (in Sierra Leone) must cast the first stone", while his officials threatened to take legal actions against Sen. Gregg for allegedly inciting a coup. Realizing the fact that it was Taylor who invaded the US embassy in Monrovia and killed a number of persons while recently threatening to arrest the American ambassador, such threats are real.

But Rev. Jackson has been changing his views since he angered many Africans and people of conscience by his comparison of Mandela with Sankoh: "So there must be an end to war mongers. Those who are driven by greed for diamonds and are engaging in smuggling and gun running must stop or be stopped immediately", he told journalists in Monrovia. As if in response, Taylor, who announced last year that because his grandfather came from Sierra Leone he has more interest in that country than the British, made it clear that those who believe he is involved in diamonds and gunrunning are mistaken. His reason: Independent Liberia was long producing diamonds when the British were in charge of colonial Sierra Leone's diamonds.

Nevertheless, Sierra Leone deputy minister of defense, Hinga Norman, declared in Nigeria that "Now we see that they (rebel chiefs and their followers) have surfaced in Liberia and all along, we have been saying that the hand of Liberia is a bit too big in the conflict in Sierra Leone"

However, Rev. Jackson may be coming closer to the truth by denouncing diamond smugglers and gunrunners in the Sierra Leone horrors, and he had read the many reports on the conflict and honestly decided to face "those", he would have been bold enough to point fingers at his friend Taylor. Although Burkina Faso and Libya are listed as prime backers along with Liberia, it is only the latter that has common borders with Sierra Leone. Recent figures indicate that Liberia sold $298million worth of diamonds while Sierra Leone's sale amounted to a meager $31million. It is Taylor who formed, armed and dispatched the RUF to Sierra Leone, knowing that once the diamond mines fell in the rebels' hands, they would be his. This is what Sen. Gregg was alluding to when he boldly declared that the Sierra Leone war would not stop as long as Taylor remains in Liberia. Your Charles Taylor the "democrat" who shuts down radio stations and executes opponents, Rev. Jackson, is squarely the "those" gunrunners who must be stopped. The challenge is that you be honest enough to say it.

But surprisingly, Rev. Jackson, quoting Taylor, announced that Taylor has assured him of "preparedness if all efforts fail to work with Nigeria and a force under ECOWAS banner, to preserve and protect the integrity of the democratic government of Sierra Leone." Hence, we may see Charles Taylor (who is now the defacto Chairman of RUF), and his ruthless fighters who reigned so much havoc in Liberia and ignited the Sierra Leone war as the new "peacekeeping force" in Sierra Leone.

It is this confusion, breeding the pillars of anarchy, that necessitate a more benign US policy on Africa, removing it from the hands publicity high priests with little understanding of the problems. What Africa needs is not American soldiers dying to preserve democracy in Africa, where US national interests no longer demands such sacrifices. But we do not need is a racist approach to our problems, seeing Africa through the eyes of compromised individuals.

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