The obvious question that comes to mind after reading Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni’s “The Qaddafi I Know” at Foreign Policy is: do politically-minded people go to bars?
The Middle Eastern radicals, quite different from the revolutionaries of black Africa, seem to say that any means is acceptable as long as you are fighting the enemy. That is why they hijack planes, use assassinations, plant bombs in bars, etc. Why bomb bars? People who go to bars are normally merry-makers, not politically minded people.
We were together with the Arabs in the anti-colonial struggle. The black African liberation movements, however, developed differently from the Arab ones. . . . .
(you may remember that Gaddafi directed the bombing of a nightclub frequented by American servicemen in West Germany in 1986)
So is Museveni a radical? If so, a radical for what? For just a small sample of the rest of the sophistry:
I know Qaddafi has his system of elected committees that convene to form a National People’s Conference. Actually, Qaddafi thinks this is superior to our multi-party systems. Of course, I have never had time to study how truly competitive this system is. Anyway, even if it is competitive, there is now, apparently, a significant number of Libyans who think that there is a problem in their country’s governance. Since there has not been internationally observed elections in Libya, not even by the AU, we cannot know what is correct and what is false. Therefore, a dialogue is the correct way forward.
Museveni, of course, has allowed international observers to the elections that his government has conducted and is thus “too legit to quit” twenty-five years after taking power by force. And since Libya is on the same continent as Uganda, Museveni is entitled to write in Foreign Policy and have a large role is solving Libya’s problems without even claiming to know much about the details of the issues, all while stridently denouncing “foreign” meddling. (And to take lots of American and other Western money to train and otherwise fund his military, and especially to “peacekeep” in Mogadishu–and to operate his government and otherwise meet some of the needs of his constituents while his government funds his re-election).
Pretty sobering to realize that Museveni is, in many ways, our bestest ally in the region . . . .
And of course more information is coming out about Museveni’s mobilization of the Ugandan military in his election. And now Human Rights Watch finds that a Ugandan “Rapid Response Unit” is using torture and extra-judicial killings.
And reporting by The New York Times discloses some of the massive shakedowns by Gaddafi of Western companies seeking to do business in Libya to fund his payment to the families of Lockerbie bombing victims.
The wealth that Colonel Qaddafi’s family and his government accumulated with the help of international corporations in the years since the lifting of economic sanctions by the West helped fortify his hold on his country. While the outcome of the military intervention under way by the United States and allied countries is uncertain, Colonel Qaddafi’s resources — including a stash of tens of billions of dollars in cash that American officials believe he is using to pay soldiers, mercenaries and supporters — may help him avert, or at least delay, his removal from power.
The government not only exploited corporations eager to do business, but willing governments as well. Libya’s banks apparently collected lucrative fees by helping Iran launder huge sums of money in recent years in violation of international sanctions on Tehran, according to another cable from Tripoli included in a batch of classified documents obtained by WikiLeaks. In 2009, the cable said, American diplomats warned Libyan officials that its dealings with Iran were jeopardizing Libya’s enhanced world standing for the sake of “potential short-term business gains.”
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