Western politician seem to react very differently to the lastest events in Libya. After discussing health care, former President Bill Clinton apparently said he regrets not having interfere in Rwanda 1994. African media can’t help but compare the massacre to the beginning of the genocide in Rwanda 1994, Sudan or the Ivory Coast. But there is one big difference between Rwanda, Sudan, Ivory Coast and Libya. For the first time western nations reacted immediatly. How altruistic is the sudden attack of western nations on Libya? Why care so much about Libya and so little about the other self-destructing countries, where’s the difference? Before reading the following article you might want to read Why Libya? (afrikazine 25.03.11).
The Ivory Coast, Libya and Rwanda Redux?
Article by WN.com Correspondent Dallas Darling.
Very seldom does an American President admit to any wrong doing, let alone a regret. Therefore, the world took notice when several years ago a question was posed to Bill Clinton: What decisions that you made as President did Hillary Clinton disagree with? After discussing health care, the former President explained that not acting in Rwanda in 1994 was one of his biggest regrets. As a result of America’s hesitancy and inaction, which greatly impacted the Untied Nations and United Nations Peace Keeping Forces in the region, hundreds of thousands of people died in a genocidal rampage that lasted a few months. Clinton also claimed that he has tried to make amends for this tragic mistake.
This came to mind as up to one million people have fled the Ivory Coast (Cote D’Ivoire) due to a brutal and genocidal civil war. The fighting has been instigated by a lack of food, high unemployment, and years of austerity measures and government corruption. In some regions, businesses, schools and hospitals have been looted. While law and order is rapidly collapsing and an eminent humanitarian disaster is about to occur, France’s envoy to the UN, Gerard Araud, has drafted a resolution that would impose an international travel ban and freeze certain assets by government officials. Regrettably, this appears to be the only action France is willing to pursue regarding its former colony.
And while foreign observers warned of ethnic cleansing and mass atrocities, it appears that France and the UN has set its sight on Libya, a geopolitical and oil rich nation that borders the Mediterranean Sea. But what is occurring in Libya, pales in comparison to the bloodshed in the Ivory Coast. For some, it has become a daily occurrence as two major political parties battle for control. Reports of shelling and indiscriminate violence against civilians and rape against women have killed many. Rogue bands of heavily armed militia are attacking innocent civilians. Human rights groups claim that what they have witnessed constitutes crimes against humanity.
For years, Western Powers enriched themselves from the West African ivory trade. When elephant’s populations declined and were nearly decimated, local people in the Ivory Coast harvested rubber under imperial rule. Sadly, an increased demand for rubber led to poaching practices and rubber poaches, whose only goal was to extract as much rubber as quickly as possible. Tens of thousands of acres of the Ivory Coast’s forests were damaged. The never-ending quest for rubber by America and Western Powers led to perpetual warfare, as did a market economy that favored industrialized nations. Globalization also devastated the Ivory Coast and its rich coffee and cocoa regions.
Due to a series of droughts, a steep rise in petroleum and oil, and massive loans through the World Bank, International Monetary Fund, and European-controlled banking institutions, austerity measures were recently implemented. Since the standard of living and working wages have rapidly declined in the Ivory Coast, and because centuries of foreign-imposed exports have slowly drained the nation’s vital resources, several major ethnic groups and political parties are now fighting over what remains. Modernization and urbanization have also added to many social problems. Poverty, exacerbated by fast population growth, has produced inadequate schools, housing, clean water, and electricity.
Although dozens of ethnic groups in the Ivory Coast have their own traditions and heroes, there is one famous legend that tells the story of how people first arrived. In their original homeland, Ghana, the Baoule people would store grain in case of famine. When a severe famine occurred, they were attacked by other groups. Rather than forfeit their food, queen, Abla Pokou led her people west to Cote D’Ivoire until they came to a river. Finding it impossible to cross, the queen sacrificed her own child to the genies of the river. In recognition of such a gift, they caused the trees to bend over the river and form a bridge. The bridge helped lead the Bauole to a land of peace and safety.
The word bauole means “the little one dies.”
At some point, Western Powers must break their materialistic and resource addictions that prevent them from prioritizing more urgent humanitarian crises and from sending international peace keepers, like the Ivory Coast as compared to Libya. They should also re-evaluate their decades-old market-oriented economies that have created harsh austerity measures, while increasing economic disparity at home and abroad. It would be another tragedy, another Rwanda, another short-sighted tyranny of the moment, another “little one that dies,” if France and the UN decides not to act and intervene in the Ivory Coast.