What Conservatives can do for Africa?

Notwithstanding the raw emotion been emitted in the Terri schiavo case by the conservative movement in this country (USA), I wonder what the American right can do for Africa. Throw a dart at a map of Sub-Saharan Africa. Assuming you don’t hit a remote wilderness, you will doubtless hit an area of the world where: deadly diseases are rampant, extreme hunger prevalent, corruption endemic, animal species endangered. Africa is a mess. It is a mess by any measure of human progress. If you do not think so, you are plagued by a paternalistic notion of what progress is.

In nation after nation, warlords and rebel generals harass and murder by the thousands — motivated by no discernible ideology except clannish ambition, cruelty, and greed. There has been a holocaust rolling across Africa for decades, and nobody cares. In Sierra Leone, children have had their arms lopped off by rebels. These mass amputations took place while the United States bombed Kosovo to save the kosovars. Is it a case of animal farm paradox… that all animals are equal but some are more equal than others? or am I being cynical and in experience in the workings of real-politik?

Conservatives have been enjoying a healthy debate for the last few years on something called “American Greatness.” The idea is a fairly fluid notion that America should do big things to fulfill its destiny, and conservatives should not shy from the idea that government must do these big things. Iraq is a case in point. The sacrifice in blood and wealth it took to invade Iraq will probably change the whole continent of Africa. Unfortunately, the greatness conservatives seem reluctant to experiment their ideas in the part of the world that could use it the most. One need only look to the area on this planet where it appears time is moving in the wrong direction. The average African is indisputably worse off today than he was thirty or forty years ago. Of what other place can you say such a thing?

I know America is supposed to be a “reluctant Empire”; Americans don’t want to rule the world. That’s a good thing. But throwing around “soft power” isn’t very effective in a continent with medieval poverty and totalitarian politics. Telling a one-armed orphaned kid (in sierra Leone) with a protruded belly and flies on his eyes to embrace the implicit messages in some USAID video about democracy and freedom isn’t just stupid; it’s criminal and perhaps evil.

The American Left talks about helping Africa, but what they invariably propose is transferring American wealth to the corrupt kleptocrats they meet at symposiums. The attitude of some Black diasporans in this has little to be desired. Here is a people who should know what been stripped of your humanity means defending murderous African dictators in the capitals of western countries. Whenever someone proposes something that would either hold kleptocrats accountable or foster real development through markets, some so- called pan-africanist screams about racism or colonialism. Meanwhile, the Right just doesn’t talk about helping Africa much at all.

I think it’s time the American right focus their attention on the plight of millions of Africans. I don’t mean setting tribes against one another and paying off corrupt “leaders” to keep down unrest. I mean going in guns blazing if necessary — for truth and justice. I am quite serious about this… if the right thinks it is good for Iraq. Why not Africans? The conservatives should mount a serious effort to bring the rule of law to Africa…after all they control all branches of power in Washington. It is time they back up their rhetoric with action as they are doing to save Terri in the defense of millions of Africans. This would seem imperial, but being imperial is not necessarily a bad thing, especially to save life… is it? The British Empire decided unilaterally that the global practice of slavery was a crime against God and man, and they set out to stop it. They didn’t care about the “sovereignty” of other nations when it came to an evil institution. They didn’t care about the “rule of international law,” they made law with the barrel of a cannon. The power behind this British action was in fact those men and women in the abolitionist movement. They nudge the government to do the right thing. Will the American right do the same to save a continent for posterity?


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