January 8th, 2014
Heartbreak in South Sudan; Where is our Strategy?
Harry C. Alford
Once again another part of the world has been thrown into turmoil. This is happening more and more since former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton thought her job was to party and tour around the world with a seemingly endless budget. Go everywhere, talk and smile and wave to the minions but don’t even think about diplomacy, world peace and stability. Her boss, President Obama, was fine with this style. He calls it “Leading from Behind”. There is no such thing! To do this is actually called “following” and the world needs no more followers as it cries for leaders.
The United States is the richest nation on earth with resources matched by no other country. Yet, we are becoming timid and the enemies, especially the daring ones, are like hyenas waiting to pounce on each opportunity. Iran sees us as a “sucker”. China and Russia notes our reticence and takes advantage of this cowardice.
Then there was a big lie told during the last election. The administration kept repeating that Al Qaeda “was on the run”. They told this lie so much that they started believing in it themselves. Then the Benghazi attack came and woke the nation up. The fact is Al Qaeda and many other terrorist factions are in a growth mode and are full of vigor and defiance. They know the United States is becoming timid and is without a strategy to bring security and peace to the world as we used to do.
So when South Sudan broke out in ethnic battles last week, we all looked surprised. American citizens were trapped in our embassy and subsidiary buildings.
Slowly and in a timid style a few of our troops are coming in to help them get out. Yes, we are running away from the fighting as we no longer do that too well. The UN, Norway and a few others are trying to lead and stop the violence. South Sudan is the world’s youngest nation and it appears that its two years of life are in jeopardy. There is a chance that this outburst may turn into Rwanda style genocide. We should have all seen this coming.
The South Sudanese are no strangers to violence. They are the survivors of the ruthless Darfur Genocide that killed millions – mostly women and children. They have a new country with a new government but that is no simple and sustaining act. It is extremely tribal. The two main tribes are the Dinka and the Nuer. From there we have dozens of other tribes and the nation has 60 dialects to deal with (English is the official language while there is a push to bring in Swahili). As one tribe attacks another and brings ruthless murder and mayhem, the other brings revenge. Pretty soon there is revenge after revenge after revenge and so it goes just like Rwanda. The first week accounted for over 1,000 dead. Over 120,000 persons are displaced by the violence. That is a scary start.
The deal is that South Sudan, despite its current poverty levels, is one of the richest lands in the world. It has one of the largest oil reserves in the world. There is also plenty of timber, iron ore, copper, chromium ore, zinc, tungsten, mica, silver, gold, diamonds, hardwoods, limestone and hydropower. My goodness! If they could all come together under a united and accountable government every one of the 8 million citizens could be happy and prosperous.
But the greedy and envious want it all for themselves. Hence, the paranoia amongst the ethnic divisions brings mass murder and it will get worse unless the powers around the world step in to stop it and bring order. All it took in Rwanda were two French battalions and an expedition force for Tanzania to stop the carnage. It took years of neglect from the United States, UN and others until the French said “enough!’.
The Africa Union would be a perfect model to bring peace. This organization of all the sub-Saharan African nations could organize itself, get training expertise from the US and European nations plus significant financing for a mechanized, mobile armed forces and move in under martial law. Kill the bad guys and bring order. From there, they can start a rebuilding effort similar to the ones in Germany and Japan after World War II. With success, they can send a message out to all other Jihad and rebellious types: “It is a new day in Africa. A day of peace, reconciliation and prosperity for we have the gold, oil, diamonds, farmland and every other blessing from our Lord. From here on, we set the rules and woe to those who challenge us.”
Wouldn’t that be great? I pray that day will come soon. My African brothers and sisters rely on yourselves because the “cavalry” is not necessarily going to come.
Harry C. Alford is the co-founder, President and CEO of the National Black Chamber of Commerce.