It takes the vision of multilated white bodies and the horror stories of survivors to get Americans exercised over U.S. inability to deal with the bad things happening in Africa.
The reality is that the vast majority of the people murdered and massacred in Africa by insurgent or guerrilla forces are blacks. It is blacks who suffer the most from the ideologically inspired fighting in Africa, and whose bodies have been strewn about villages for years in the wake of guerrilla raids.
Africa, with its 51 nations, is a confusing, seething continent, and small wonder that U.S. policy on Africa is also confusing. It was neglected in the Nixon and Ford administrations, partly because Henry Kissinger wasn't much interested.
But now we have President Carter and U.N. Ambassador Andrew Young. It is obvious that U.S. policy on Africa - despite Young's flip remarks to the contrary - is in serious trouble. The Soviets and Cubans do what they please and create great mischief. The nations with strong affinity to the West and to the United States have small confidence in U.S. help, because the United States has become impotent in many ways in recent years.
The decline of U.S. authority and strength can easily be linked to the Vietnam ordeal and also to the fierce and gratified urges to destroy the Nixon presidency. With amendments and restrictions placed on any president to deal quickly and surely with international crises, any president feels inhibited enough to declare, as Carter did, that his hands are tied.
The United States stands as a nation of bourgeois wimps irritated by the Soviet-Cuban aggression in Africa, but turning its back to drink beer and watch television. We do not appreciate the intensity of the revolutionary will power of the Cubans and their friends in Africa. (Cuba would be in Africa, with or without the Soviets - let's get that clear.) Moreover, even if the United States could muster the urge, our military forces are so thin, we couldn't do much anyway.
So there we stand, sans understanding, sans will, sans arms, sans nearly everything. These are nice ironies. A key factor in our inability to operate is the Clark amendment, authored by Sen. Dick Clark (D-Iowa), which restricted some of the president's actions in Africa. Iowans aren't that much interested in Africa, but Clark is. Iowans are far more interested in the worrisome state of agriculture, but Clark isn't. But who cares? He got elected, and he's a nice liberal.
Anyway, this mediocre state of affairs worries the globalists in this town, including Zbigniew Brzezinski, the president's national security adviser, Kissinger, who wishes he were still presiding over the world; Secretary of State Cyrus Vance, who likes consensus and orderliness, and the Dr. Strange-love strategists who always see doomsday but rarely volunteer to shed their blood for principle.
Now, Carter could risk congressional censure and ship weapons to certain embattled forces in Africa. He needn't, not should he, send U.S. troops. He could reinforce the friendship many African nations have for the United States by working to get them more military and economic aid. He could put the Soviets and/or the Cubans in a room, close the door and read the riot act to them. And he could fire Andy Young.
He certainly should do the latter. Young constantly contradicts what others in the administration say and believe. He somehow cites two African nations going Marxist-Leninist - Mozambique and Angola - as being denied U.S. aid. He fawns before African guerrilla leaders, mistakenly regarding them as the civil-rights brethren who worked with him in that noble American effort a decade or more ago. He cuts loose with incredibly irresponsible statements, such as saying that the Soviets and Cubans are a stabilizing force in Africa, and that Nixon and Ford ran racist regimes, and that the racists of the world are everywhere conspiring against Africa, him, Jimmy Carter and certain parts of Georgia.
But Carter can't fire him. Carter is a man who often shows a mind torn between alternatives. he is a sort of Dr. Jimmy and Mr. Carter, only he means well. He is torn between Young's pious idealism, stuffy and arrogant as it is, and the realities presented by a man who knows the cruel exercise of power, Brzezinski. He is torn between the somewhat patronizing attitude a white Southerner develops for an accomplished black like Young and the squinty eyed duty of a president of all the people.
I wish Carter would find a tough-minded black diplomatic professional, with whom he would develop no emotional hangups, to replace Andy Young.
But he won't. And U.S. policy on Africa will continue to be ineffective, and Carter will catch a lot of hell for it.