THE BLOG
04/22/2016 11:37 pm ET Updated Apr 23, 2017

Black African Lives Matter Too, But Not for Clinton

On the campaign trail, Bill Clinton has faced protests by Black Lives Matter activists calling him out for his crime and welfare "reform" bills which adversely impacted black people.

The same activists should denounce Clinton's foreign policies in Africa which screwed over black people too.

Clinton for example was in office during the Somalian fiasco in which militia fighters loyal to Mohammed Farah Aideed shot down two Black Hawk helicopters. In rescue operations, over 3,000 Somalians were subsequently killed, a third of them women and children, compared to 18 Americans.

The humanitarian relief operation went awry because Americans failed to recognize that aid was not seen as impartial in a clan-based society like Somalia if it strengthened a particular group. Continental Oil Company (Conoco) also helped plan logistics for the Marine landing, whose main result was to upset the traditional balance of the Somali kinship system and help convert Somalia into a failed state.

Clinton's involvement in Rwanda was even more disastrous than Somalia.

The official storyline is that the United States was a bystander to genocide in April 1994, a theme promoted by National Security adviser Samantha Power in her Pullitzer Prize winning book, A Problem from Hell: America in the Age of Genocide.

However the 2015 BBC documentary "Rwanda's Untold Story" shows that the Clinton administration was very much complicit in the mass killings in Rwanda in 1994, and then supported Rwanda and Uganda as they invaded and plundered the Congo in 1996 and again in 1998.

The Clinton administration's strategy was to support the Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF) led by Paul Kagame who had triggered civil war in 1990 by invading Rwanda from Uganda. Rwanda was ruled at the time by French-backed Hutu General Juvenal Habyarimana.

The Tutsi had been expelled from Rwanda following the Hutu Power revolution of the early 1960s and were an oppressed people. However the methods they employed to regain power in their country violated international law.

An eight-year investigation by French magistrate Jean-Louise Brugiere that included sworn affidavits by high-level RPF defectors along with an investigation by FBI agent Jim Lyons blocked by UN Prosector Louise Arbour concluded that Kagame shot down the plane of Habayrimana on April 6, 1994 as a pretext for gaining political power.

Moral legitimacy was accorded to the RPF based on the supposition that Hutu militias had massacred hundreds of thousands of Tutsi with machetes following a call for genocide which was never proven to have taken place. RPF soldiers meanwhile carried out their own massacres, extending to the Congo. RPF militias hunted down Hutu refugees in the forests and overthrew Congolese strongman Joseph Mobutu, an American Cold War client who had lost his strategic utility, and then Mobutu's successor Laurent Kabila who had once fought alongside Che Guevara.

The Clinton administration in 1994 convinced the UN Security Council to replace French troops with noncombatants to enable the RPF take-over. The Pentagon is estimated to have provided $10 million in arms covertly to Rwanda and Uganda through the period of the Congo invasion, sending military advisers contracted through a private company and coordinating communications, as Wayne Madsen detailed in his book Genocide and Covert Operations in Africa, 1993-1999.

As a consequence of the Congo War, Rwanda and Uganda's economies boomed from coltan and cobalt, and Western corporations such as American Mineral Fields (AMF), headquartered in Hope, Arkansas (Clinton's hometown) and Barrick Gold (whose board included George H.W. Bush and former Canadian Prime Minister Brian Mulroney), received concessions for mining and mineral resources worth over $157 billion.

According to Human Rights Watch, Clinton's foreign policy generally adopted a "selective approach to human rights," turning a "blind eye in African countries considered to be strategically or economically important." In oil-rich Nigeria, Clinton failed to impose sanctions against military ruler Sani Abacha after he had executed nine Ogoni activists including Ken Saro-Wiwa, and subsequently provided military training through a private contractor with a checkered human rights past.

The Clinton administration also provided over $137 million annually to Ethiopian leader Meles Zenawi who was heralded as part of a "new wave of democracy in Africa," though he jailed political opopnents and went on to rule for over twenty years.

This was smiilar to the other great democrats heralded by Clinton, Paul Kagame, who assassinated political opponents even in exile, and Yoweri Museveni who still rules Uganda with an iron-fist.

The Clinton administration did special harm to Africans in pushing structural adjustment programs through the World Bank and International Monetary Fund (IMF). In copper-rich Zambia, a showcase for the neoliberal reform, rapid privatization resulted in "systematic exploitation by multi-national corporations, national assets sold for a 'song' and persistent tax dodging," according to South African analyst Khadija Sharif. Living and working conditions deteriorated and environmental standards worsened while public services were slashed in the midst of the unfolding HIV-AIDS pandemic.

Considering the adverse consequences of Clinton's foreign policy, Black Lives Matter should focus attention on the harm done to black people the world over by Bill's brand of neoliberal and neo-colonialist politics which Hilary would likely continue.

As Secretary of State, Hillary was a key champion of the war to oust Muammar Qaddafi in Libya which helped convert that country into a failed state, and failed to supported a bill she promoted as Senator to regulate conflict minerals.

Peter Schweizer reports in Clinton Cash that the Lundin Group of Vancouver, Canada paid $250 million to Congolese leader Joseph Kabila's "finance minister" in return for mining concessions that yielded "staggering profits" and then pledged $100 million to the Clinton Foundation, which may have shaped Hilary's about face. In Bill-like fashion, Hilary subsequently turned a blind eye to blatant corruption in elections that restored Joseph Kabila to power.

Given this record, Black Lives Matter should be targeting both Bill and Hilary on the campaign trail, and a major last ditch effort is needed in support of Bernie Sanders.

Jeremy Kuzmarov is author of Modernizing Repression: Police Training and Nation Building in the American Century (Massachusetts, 2012).