We have opened a Pandora’s Box of new problems especially in Africa. First, Why we can’t say that we did not expect the problems that followed after attacking Iraq because we did.
We for some irresponsible reason chose to ignore them. At this point someone must sit down and look at the myriad of potential problems getting ready to erupt. We must ensure that we have the ability to handle them.
We must also now figure out how we will prioritize resources in order to do so. We had proven ourselves grossly inadequate as an Administration of accountability and responsibility. We are now unnecessarily fighting on an additional front while the Afghan situation is only going to get worse.
The Afghan warlords are being left to carry on their tribal wars as they have done for centuries. The problem now is that we do not have the forces and resources available to keep potential insurgents from crossing into Afghanistan.
Nor do we now have the ability to keep the warlords in line as we must. We are finding our ability to change their economy from one operating on opium income to something agriculturally productive and legal less than stellar.
We have still not been able to do enough to teach them and give them the tools and equipment to make a legal living. We must get in gear quick. we are killing valuable time we will never get back.
Okay, let’s talk about Africa for a bit. There is not a continent on earth more torn apart with mindless bloodshed and ruthless murder than Africa. Military dictators readily steal money and goods intended to help the starving people.
Their callous, senseless greed combined with famine and poverty was a recipe for disaster. This is especially true when talking of the Horn of Africa. Except for Libya, who has its oil reserves to thank, they are all having serious problems. The other countries in the region, especially Ethiopia, Somalia, and Eritrea, have been dealing with corruption, poverty, and war.
Ethiopia was governed for years under Haile Selassie. Despite financial aid from the U.S. Ethiopia has remained an underdeveloped undemocratic country. By 1974 the frenzy for an end to oppression, poverty, and corruption, had peaked.
The army was able to seize more and more control from Selassie. Selassie was eventually stripped of his powers and imprisoned. It was in prison where he was murdered by coup leaders in 1975. After bad came worse, he was replaced by Haile Mengistu who crushed thousands of political opponents, and began a reign of terror.
Thousands of young men and women turned up dead in the streets. The process of elimination was well organized. However, even as he was murdering his own people Mengistu had two other problems. He had a border dispute with Somalia, and a long standing dispute with Eritrea to contend with.
With Eritrean’s attacking from the North, Somalis in the South, and counter-revolutionaries to fight in the middle, all assets were diverted to fight the enemies. Because of all this, Ethiopia had one of the lowest standards of living in the world. Then things only got worse in 1984 when famine struck.
Other countries were hesitant to help because they feared Mengistu would just steal the food for his men and this is what did happen. In 1995 they got a new government under Prime Minister Meles Zenawi. The new government inherited 6 million people, starving, both physically and financially.
Eritrea who is right next door to Ethiopia has worse problems. Britain saw fit around 1943 to divide the country between its neighbors; they gave the coast and highland areas to next door neighbor, Ethiopia. Then they gave the Muslim northern and western lowlands to Sudan.
In 1962 a civil war ensued that lasted for 30 years. Finally with the overthrow of Mengistu, Eritrea was given its independence. Eritrea and Ethiopia ended up in a brutal, vicious, war. During the war were there were 100,000 killed, one million displaced.
There were also hundreds of millions of dollars that went from much needed financial help in the form of food and rebuilding the countries infrastructure and redevelopment to war. In December 2000 the two countries ended hostilities by signing an internationally brokered peace agreement; we’ll see how it goes.
Most of us know of Somalia because of Blackhawk down and their still on going war with terrorists. However, well before that Somalia too had been victimized by colonization. The British controlled the northern part while the southern part was controlled by Italy.
Italy had gained its foothold in an 1888 agreement with the Sultan of Hoya in exchange for protection. Of course Italy lost their share during WW2. For some reason Britain ended up making it one country. Italian and British rule had of course made these two distinctly different countries so it too was disastrous.
Major General Muhammad Siad Barre assumed leadership eventually. He reigned supreme, and ultimately became a tyrant. Like all dictators he eventually ended up unleashing his private armies on his enemies, things got even worse.
His forces began terrorizing the citizens, treasuries were looted, and clans were systematically targeted and murdered. Somalia’s Roman Catholic priest was gunned down. People were being tortured and murdered.
Soon after that 450 who were demonstrating against the murders of their leaders and they too were killed.
Things were beginning to get very desperate so in steps America. Over the next two years 50,000 Somalis would be killed in factional fighting and another 200,000 died of starvation.
Then on October 3, 1993 a Ranger helicopter trying to feed starving Somalis, went down. The next day there were two helicopters down and 18 dead Americans. The Ethiopian war has killed or displaced millions. Relief efforts have been thwarted, and Somalia is ruined.
Enter Sierra Leone, according to Amnesty International, civilians continued to be arbitrarily killed, mutilated, raped, and abducted. The perplexing thing is that this was a year after the agreement between the government of Sierra Leone and the United Front was signed.
This situation seems to be particularly sinister and underhanded. Against President Sankoh the rebels knew they didn’t stand a chance. So they formed an alliance with Liberian leader Charles Taylor. Together they launched a war against the Sierra Leone government.
As the rebellion got underway a group of soldiers arrived in the Capital of Freetown in 1992. Supposedly this was to demand better pay and conditions. However, it was found that their mission was to overthrow the government. Due to rapidly deteriorating social conditions, the coup was extremely popular. The RUF, (revolutionary United Front), overran titanium and Bauxite mines, that were the major source of state income.
Unlike most wars where civilian casualties are an unfortunate by product of war, the RUF deliberately targeted civilians for murder and mutilation.
They indiscriminately did machete lacerations to the head, neck, arms legs, and torso. We also can’t overlook the gouging out of one or both eyes, rape, gunshot wounds, acid injections, genital mutilations, and any other kind of torture or mutilation they could think of.
They also liked to use amputations as their favorite tool of terror. They used the shirt sleeve method where the arm is amputated close to the shoulder, and the long sleeve method, where the arm is amputated at the wrist.
Human Rights Watch found civilians with hands, arms, feet, legs, ears, buttocks, any number of fingers, all amputated by machete. This was all pointless, horrible, nightmarish torture.
They also used children to do their killing. One teenager recited how he would cut out the heart and lungs of his victims to eat. The children too were abused by the rebels, and were a favorite to use because they were particularly ruthless.
Practically half of the countries 4.5 million inhabitants were displaced by the war. Another 500,000 were refugees in neighboring countries. While at least 50,000 died in the fighting this is still not the end of it. This while there is also an estimated 100,000 mutilation victims. The economy is in ruins.
The national infrastructure needed to run the country had collapsed. It is just one more casualty of colonization.
Okay, Liberia, founded in 1822 by freed African American slaves became a Republic in 1847; you might think this country at least must be okay. After a military coup in 1980 Samuel Doe became President in 1986.
In 1989 violence erupted, and he was dragged into the street and shot. Guerillas killed 250,000 people, and more than one million were displaced, and yet another colony heard from.
In Angola, a long established colony of the Portuguese they clamped down on resisting colonies by killing, capturing, and exporting even more slaves.
Portugal would not cooperate with a peaceful decolonization so rebel groups emerged. The Popular Movement for the Liberation of Angola (MPLA), The National Liberation Front (FNLA), and Dr. Jonas Savimbi’s National Union for Independence (UNITA) were formed.
The US and Zaire Supported the FNLA, South Africa backed UNITA, and the communist Nations helped the MPLA. So once again the table has been set for mass mayhem and murder.
So, even after the Portuguese were tossed out and as a result of outside meddling, the killing still continued. There was upward of one million dead. In 1994 the United Nations sent in peace keeping forces. Under the agreement, Savimbi was made the Vice President and his forces were allowed to join the Angolan army.
Despite the concessions Made, Savimbi refused any future participation and negotiations stopped. At this point in time, Angola’s civil war has the distinction of being the longest in history, thank you Portuguese colonizers.
Talk about slaughter and mayhem for the world to deal with as a result of colonization. Let’s talk about Rwanda for a minute.
The Hutu’s and Tutsi’s had lived together, and gotten along well with each other for years. However, as a result of the way in which Belgium had run the colony, contention had been built in and exploited.
The name Tutsi refers to a group of people rich in cattle. When Belgium needed help running the colony it used the better educated wealthier Tutsi’s. As a result the Tutsi ended up having a monopoly on public life.
They were confronted with economic problems and the ever increasing corruption on the part of the government. As a result country leaders started demanding reforms. They especially wanted the return of the more than 600,000 refugees who happened to be mostly Tutsi’s.
In response the Hutu authorities in charge declared that the country was too overpopulated to permit their return. The stage had been set once again for horror. Rwandan Tutsi opposition forces crossed the border from Uganda on October1, 1999.
The President and his closest colleagues began portraying all Tutsi’s as the enemy in order to turn the Hutu against them. They managed to do this even though they had been living together in peace for years. The result of this was slaughter.
The organizers of genocide planned for the Tutsi’s had gained control of the state political apparatus, and so the genocide began. This was genocide in its truest form a true systematic premeditated murder of a distinct group of people.
The Rwandan genocide was unique in that rather than hiding the fact of what they were doing, they were quite open in their goal of Tutsi extinction. When all was said and done there were up to one million Rwandans murdered by their fellow citizens. Answers to on going investigations are due in 2008.
The instability to Burundi’s future lies in the fact of colonialism. One of the missteps in forming new countries was in dividing the Hutu’s and Tutsi’s between two distinctly different countries, Burundi and Rwanda.
Sadly this was not the first or last time the western countries would be totally insensitive to the plight of the lands and people of their colonized countries.
They were eventually given their independence and of course chaos ensued. Following was a coup where 100,000 were killed in ethnic fighting. They were mostly Hutu’s, who in turn killed Tutsi’s.
This was the beginning of a cycle of retaliatory violence killing tribesmen of both tribes, civil war was on. A ceasefire was brokered in 2000 by Nelson Mandela. This resulted with South African peacekeepers being sent in 2001. But Africa being Africa, what’s next is anyone’s guess.
The Democratic Republic of Congo was another victim of colonialism. Here the British once again saw it fit to change borders. They displaced local populations, in order to create the countries as they thought they should be.
The British left in 1960, elections were held and Patrice Lumumba was elected as Prime Minister. With the help of the CIA, the army chief of staff carried out a successful coup.
He was removed and they got Mobutu who began his 30 year reign as one of the most autocratic and corrupt dictators in the world. He was well also a crook, stealing billions from the national treasury.
Despite his corrupt regime he continued to get U.S. support as well as from the World Bank. In 1991, Mobutu adopted a new constitution, and scheduled multiparty elections.
Well, as usually happens during elections in Africa, opposing parties emerged. Chaos ensued and Mobutu ended up killing 100 student demonstrators.
This event provoked International outrage but elections went on anyway. Mobutu, who lost decided to fire the new Prime Minister. Mobutu had dominated the country for thirty years by pitting rival army factions against each other. He thought he would do it once again but he was wrong, it didn’t work this time. Events beyond his control will bring him down soon.
Then tiny Rwanda felt compelled to invade its huge neighbor. They did this in order to flush out the Hutu extremists who carried out their genocide.
The Zaire army fled, and the Rwandan army along with anti Mobutu forces then pushed to the Capitol of Kinshasa. Mobutu was removed from office and at the time of his death, was one of the richest men in the world.
Soon after, the Lawrence Kabila era began. He changed the countries name from Zaire to the Democratic Republic of Congo. He banned opposition parties, arrested the former elected Prime Minister, and, angered and alienated their allies. Of course, war erupted, a massive seven country war.
Then in January 2001, Kabila was assassinated. Then in February that year the U.N. Security Council approved a plan to have all fighting factions withdraw and be replaced with U.N. peace keeping forces throughout the country.
They are still embroiled in turmoil and to my knowledge, we are still watching. These, like all the other problems we have been talking about are ours. They are all of ours, and it’s up to us to figure out how to fix them and I believe we have. Life Today The Real Story "2005"