Monday, March 01, 2004

Ghadaffi's a Nut

As if anyone ever doubted it. Good to see that even in Africa, where misgovernment is the rule of the day, there seem to be limits to the amount of nonsense politicians are willing to swallow.

Libyan leader Moammar Gadaffi's insistence that all African armies should merge into a single military force delayed the closing ceremony of a major African Union summit by several hours on Saturday, delegates said.

"It's never going to work, never. Nobody supports it," said one west African delegate, hours after heads of state from dozens of countries had been due to wrap up the meeting in the Libyan coastal town of Sirte.

When asked why the closing ceremony had not begun on time, several other delegates explained that Gadaffi had once again put the plan on the table.

"Gadaffi thinks that by summoning us here he can impose his views on us. This shows a lack of understanding and respect," said a delegate from another west African state.

Foreign ministers meeting in Libya earlier in the week to prepare the summit's agenda agreed that the single army idea was "ahead of its time" because Africa had yet to reach the necessary level of integration. Instead, the vast majority of AU member states favour the establishment of a standby military force that would have peacekeeping duties and, in certain dramatic circumstances, such as genocide or other crimes against humanity, would intervene militarily and not necessarily with the approval of the state concerned.

"Within the next year or so we hope to have the capacity to prevent the kind of tragedy that arose in Rwanda" in 1994, Kenyan Foreign Minister Stephen Kalonzo Musyoka explained to journalists.


This is not the first time that Gadaffi, who portrays himself to his own citizens as a champion of Africa's emancipation and development, has seen his ideas dismissed by his African peers.

His plans for a "United States of Africa," a single sovereign entity, never found any support outside of Tripoli. (emphasis added)

To be honest, I think even the notion of a "standby military force" is a pipe dream. If the European Union hasn't been able to get its act together sufficiently to create one, why do African states imagine they're going to be able to pull it off? Where's the logistic capability to rapidly airlift such a force to a conflict zone? Even leaving that aside, it strikes me as most unlikely that a collection of African strongmen would ever give the go-ahead to a military force to intervene in a massacre in a member state, for fear of setting an unwelcome precedent in the future; a prison-house like Ghaddafi's Libya is hardly well placed to make interventionist noises about preventing human rights violations.