You know, we give George W. Bush a lot of good-natured guff around here – strictly for fun, of course, in the spirit of frat-boy raillery that the president loves so well – but sometimes you have to put joking aside, and give our leader the credit he deserves. Mr. Bush has always said that he's a uniter, not a divider, and he has proven that this year by accomplishing something that no other Western leader has ever done: bringing the fractious continent of Africa together into a new spirit of comity, a unity of purpose that cuts across boundaries of nation, religion, tribe and race.
As you might expect – given the American media's relentless accent on the negative, the knee-jerk liberal propensity for denigrating everything our bold, beleaguered Commander tries to do – there has been almost no acknowledgement in the stateside press of Mr. Bush's healing work among those suffering lands. But as the Scriptures teach us, with bitter wisdom, a prophet is without honor in his own house. It often falls to others, to outsiders standing apart from the petty partisan squabbles of domestic politics, to see the true picture of a visionary leader's accomplishments.
And so it is with Mr. Bush. While the Washington Post expends much petty sound and partisan fury trying to deride Dick Cheney's noble sacrifice in taking some of grunt work of government off our leader's shoulders, thus freeing Mr. Bush to pursue the grander, higher visions that are the hallmark of his policies, it has fallen to the UK's Guardian to tell the true story of Mr. Bush's success in Africa. The headline spells out the essence of this triumph:
Africa united in rejecting US request for military HQ.
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Yes, it seems that Mr. Bush's much-bruited "African Command" – the just-created proconsular satrapy on a new frontier of American dominance, recently hymned with such brio by Esquire writer Thomas Barnett – has yoked the oft-warring factions across the continent into an unprecedented commonality:
The Pentagon's plan to create a US military command based in Africa have hit a wall of hostility from governments in the region reluctant to associate themselves with the Bush administration's "war on terror" and fearful of American intervention.As we noted in that earlier piece, Barnett painted a " mostly glowing portrait of the Africa Command, which, we are told, is designed to wed military, diplomatic, and development prowess in a seamless package, a whole new way of projecting American power: 'pre-emptive nation-building instead of pre-emptive regime change,' or as Barnett describes it at another point, 'Iraq done right.'"
A US delegation led by Ryan Henry, principal deputy under-secretary of defence for policy, returned to Washington last week with little to show for consultations with defence and foreign ministry officials in Algeria, Morocco, Libya, Egypt, Djibouti and with the African Union (AU). An earlier round of consultations with sub-Saharan countries on providing secure facilities and local back-up for the new command, to be known as Africom and due to be operational by September next year, was similarly inconclusive…"We've got a big image problem down there," a state department official admitted. "Public opinion is really against getting into bed with the US. They just don't trust the US."
Another African worry was that any US facilities could become targets for terrorists, the official said. Economic incentives, including the prospect of hundreds of local jobs, had not proved persuasive.
Imagine an African country not wanting to have "Iraq done right" on its own soil! Imagine a nation turning down the prospect of a little runoff from Halliburton and other Bush cronies trickling into the coffers of a few of its co-opted elites, in exchange for alienating its own population and acting as another outpost for the "flypaper strategy" that has worked so well in the Babylonian satrapy.
But perhaps this tragic blindness on the part of Africa's leaders should not surprise us; after all, one can hardly expect these benighted peoples to comprehend the subtle, benevolent wisdom of the Anglo-Saxon mind. Especially Anglo-Saxon minds of the sophisticated caliber of Mr. Bush and his noble grunter, Mr. Cheney.
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