the Disillusioned kid: Why Do They Hate Us, Mummy? Why?
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Saturday, September 04, 2004

Why Do They Hate Us, Mummy? Why?

Looking over recent posts I'm struck by how lazy my blogging has been, ripping off large chunks of other people's stuff. Apologies for anyone hoping for more of my usual incisive analysis(!). Normal service (such as it is) may be restored shortly. If I can be bothered.

In the meantime, I'd like to draw your attention to George Monbiot's latest. He examines British involvement in Africa in light of the arrest of Mark Thatcher for alleged involvement in a coup attempt in Equatorial Guinea. The main point of this examination, however, is to assess the impact of this involvement (some might say meddling) on responses to the situation in Darfur and how they are perceived by those living within the continent:
Africans have every reason to be suspicious of British involvement in their affairs. There is no question that the British are, and always have been, "concerned" about Africa, but their concern remains a proprietorial one. When the Sudanese government claims that Britain is after its oil and gold, it is half right: even if the British government isn't, some of its prominent citizens are. Last week [Mark Thatcher's friend, Simon] Mann's alleged accomplice, Nick du Toit, testified in court in Equatorial Guinea that Thatcher was among them. He said that Thatcher wanted to buy helicopters from him for "a mining operation going in Sudan". Thatcher denies such allegations.

The Sudanese government appears to be attempting to commit genocide by natural causes in Darfur. The Fur, Massaleet and Zagawa peoples are being driven from their homes just as the rains are making survival in the bush almost impossible. Its claim that 1200 people have been killed is risible. The UN says 50,000 have died; a more comprehensive analysis by the Sudan specialist Eric Reeves suggests 200,000. It's a catastrophe, and it's likely, partly as a result of the UN's disastrous procrastination, to become far worse.

For once, the US and the UK governments appear to be on the right side, pressing Sudan more forcefully than the other members of the Security Council to disarm the janjaweed militias and accept a large African Union peacekeeping force. We should support them. But they are hobbled by three massive credibility deficits. The first is that, after the farce in Iraq and the sell-out in Israel, no Arab government will ever again trust them to intervene dispassionately. The second is that the institutions they control - in particular the cannibalistic International Monetary Fund - are responsible for more deaths every year in Africa than the janjaweed. The third is that the United Kingdom's colonial history is not yet over.

The British are still hated in Africa, and with good reason. Blair might huff and puff about the continent being a scar on the conscience of the world, but while our own citizens still regard it as their personal fiefdom, it's hard to see why anyone who lives there should take him seriously.
Another one for the "things I agree with, but could never have put so well" file

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