There is a critical issue facing the United Nations Security Council in the coming weeks that gives the United States great leverage in Central Africa, but it has not merited a single mention, that we can find, in mainstream international news coverage. An important question to ask the McCain campaign would be whether or not Sarah Palin met with any representatives of Uganda when she shook hands with world leaders at the United Nations. Katie Couric and CBS booted an opportunity to open a dialogue on Africa that has been occult, if it exists at all. The Bush Administration has been very cozy with the leadership of Uganda. Will McCain and Obama follow suit? Should we care?
Last weeks' post here examined positions Barack Obama and John McCain have or have not taken on Africa, especially the volatile and strategically important Great Lakes Region. Several readers suggested that affairs at home should merit more coverage than Africa, because there is nothing we can do for Africans anyway. The African continent is "lost" and we should put our own house in order. There is not enough media time to examine Africa, readers wrote.
However, mainstream media spent dozens of hours this week dissecting Couric's grilling of Sarah Palin on national security issues regarding Russia, while a seemingly over-managed Palin flubbed the question horribly, and Saturday Night Live and Tina Fey had a field day. It was all good sport and great comic relief in a week of financial meltdown that cried for some humor.
Our lack of attention to international issues could become the prelude to more tragedy. In the next week or so, Uganda will be pulling out all stops to gain a seat on the United Nations Security Council.
Milton Allimadi of Black Star News succinctly describes the irony.
"Uganda was found liable for massive human rights abuse in Eastern Congo, including genocide and theft, by the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in 2005; separately, the International Criminal Court (ICC) is also investigating the same alleged crimes for which Uganda was found liable by the ICJ," Allimadi writes.
As if that were not enough, the International Criminal Court, which has been cautiously supported by both McCain and Obama, indicted Congolese warlord Jean Pierre Bemba. The ICC maintains that Bemba, who is in the Hague awaiting trial, was financed by Uganda.
Today, Friends of the Congo told OffTheBus that Black Star News has it correct, that this is a serious situation, and deserves immediate action by the United States and other voting members of the United Nations who can block this move to seat Uganda on the Security Council.
"Our position is consistent with what Milton of Black Star News wrote. Uganda is certainly an agent of the US wreaking havoc on the African continent particularly in the Congo. The ICJ clearly stated that the DRC is entitled to $10 billion in reparations for the looting of Congo's resources and human rights abuses on its soil by Ugandan military and its proxies," Spokesman Maurice Carney said.
Uganda's president Yoweri Museveni's son was trained in Fort Leavenworth, as was President Paul Kagame of Rwanda. There is no love lost between Kagame and Musevini, and the United States has supported both countries in the finer points of weaponry and war games.
One must ask the question. What is the payback for the United States? We are propping up Kagame in Rwanda with the excuse that we allowed the 1994 genocide to happen. Uganda is clearly looting Congo, and so is the United States.
Visit Dan Rather's report on American company Freeport Macmoran's looting of Congo, "All Mine." The United States has much in common with the warlords of central Africa and no one is talking about it. Even Dan Rather can't get his probing report past HDNET, and his production team was arrested in the course of their filming in Congo.
A seat on the United Nations Security Council would be a reward for the United States' proxy actions and support of the resource wars in central Africa.
FOTC's Carney sums it up.
"Invade other countries and kill your fellow African and you get rewarded with a seat on the UNSC, what a travesty it would be to legitimize such actions as a route to such a prestigious post, " Carney said.
It is doubtful at this point that Uganda can be stopped.
There are fifteen permanent members of the Security Council. The structure is complicated, but is codified, unlike the elusive "Bush Doctrine" that took up so much media time a few weeks back. It turns out the Bush Doctrine was really the Charles Krauthammer Doctrine.
Five permanent members of the UNSC have veto power and the ten non-permanent members have no veto power. Seven non-permanent members can unite to block measures introduced by permanent members. One wonders how many members of the press who should be covering this could answer the question about veto power.
I could not. Had to look it up.
Permanent Security Council veto-wielding member countries include the United States, China, France, Russia and Britain.
China is present in every country in Africa to some extent, looking for resources.
How will the United States vote?
"The United States doesn't preview its vote for the rotating seats on the Security Council," Mark Schlachter, who is with the State Department's Bureau of International Organizations Affairs, told Black Star News.
This column is no place for a policy paper on Uganda, but mention must be made of the plight of the 2 million ethnic Acholis, who have been confined inside "relocation" camps, where the World Health Organization reports 1,000 people are dying per week. It is possible that 600,000 to one million Acholis may have died in these camps.
When I was in eastern DRC in 2007, I was approached by Congolese who stressed the stranglehold Uganda has on food commerce in the region. Congo could feed the world, but food and dairy products are shipped in from Uganda at prices out of reach for the average Congolese.
A stop at an "NGO (non-governmental organization) store" in Goma was a must before pointing the rented Land Cruiser 4x4 north on the only major highway in eastern DRC.
The NGO food store rivaled Wal-Mart in the sheer scope and variety of products providing comfort for American and Europeans. Markets where the Congolese gather offer dried and decaying fish skins discarded from the filets enjoyed by the NGO's in western-style restaurants in Goma. Lunch on the road consisted of roasted ears of corn--a staple of the Congolese diet.
I have a vision in my mind of a beautiful Congolese woman that I have carried with me since my trip there. She appears from time to time in my writing, locked forever in the vault of memory. I will never in this lifetime see her again, but I remember clearly the indigo blue skirt and bright yellow blouse she wore as she tended her goats and her field of maize below the hillside on which I stood. I attempted to befriend two of her goats that were tethered along the roadside and they would have none of it. Our eyes locked and she laughed heartily at the "Muzungu" harassing her goats. She is my muse now.
My video camera was rolling as I tried to capture the vast potential of the fertile land that war, greed, and international proxy armies, including that of Uganda, had reduced to fallow dreams.
I would post that video for readers on YouTube, but a "bodyguard," who said if my report got out, it would "ruin" certain plans for Congo, stole it. Oh, and he also confiscated my film of the NGO store.
Perhaps it is finally time for the United States to abandon its proxy role and "ruin" a few proxy plans in central Africa. Consider where our insatiability has taken us at home.