WASHINGTON DESK - President Clinton today offered a broad expression of contrition for what he said was America's shameful legacy.
Expressions of guilt and remorse by president Clinton are understandable but somewhat overdue. The African foreign policy of the Clinton White House has been indefensible given the overwhelming urgency of the situation and the vast number of human lives already lost in consequence of Clinton White House negligence in Africa.
In fact, delays in the Clinton administration's reaction-time during the U.N. deliberations are most notable. In April, 1994 the genocide in Rwanda began in earnest. By the end of the month reliable sources reported there were more then 250,000 refugees in panic along road and trails leading to Tanzania and other countries.
Boutros-Ghali became angry at the Clinton administration and was quoted in a New York Times story on 05/26/94, 'More than 200,000 people have been killed and the international community is still discussing what ought to be done[in Rwanda].'
The story of armored vehicles that Clinton eventually offered African troops but failed to deliver in time to save lives underscores the Clinton White House' disorganization and failed response.
In late May, Ghana, Ethiopia, and Senegal volunteered troops, but, according to reliable Pentagon sources, since the Ghanian troops were not well equipped, Clinton promised to '...provide the armored support necessary if the African nations will provide the troops for a mission into Rawanda.'
By the first week in June, Boutros-Ghali had massed 5,500 troops for the Rawanda mission. Unfortunately, By that time Clinton had abandoned the initial Rawanda plan in favor of transporting the troops by air to Kigali.
Two months later, after massive killing raids were taking place, Clinton was still not ready, and the armored vehicles had not been delivered.
Making matters worse, by the second week in June, the Pentagon was estimating that '...it would take at least another month to provide the armored vehicles and to train the Ghanians how to use them.'
Clinton's delay was the result of his haggling over the U.S. unpaid debt to the U.N. which was $2 billion in arrears. The U.N. refused to pay Clinton for the armored vehicles and U.S. Defense Department officials refused to release the armored vehicles unless they were fully compensated for them.
In mid June Clinton moved to cut the red-tape and start shipping the armor to Ghana, as belatedly promised in early Spring. In an effort to overcome the bad press he got over inordinate delay that may have cause needless deaths, Clinton announced in late May that $26 millions in 'humanitarian aid' would be sent to Rwanda and Ghana.
Clinton's steps in late May were largely for the U.S. PR value he hoped to garner from press coverage and photo-ops. But, even this move backfired, as the world was soon to learn that Clinton's delay had set in motion a looming disaster requiring, by that time. Such vast quantities of outside assistance were needed that the U.S. could not assemble and transport enough food and medicine to meet the crisis until the end of July, 1994.
Civil strife in Kigali was the immediate result. On July 29th Clinton ordered U.S. ground troops to take control of and to secure the Kigali Airport so that relief supplies could be flown directly into Rwanda. By that time thousands of Africans had died while president Clinton dithered
in the White House allegedly in pursuit of privacy, sodomy, and political economics.
Those allegations are currently the subject of judge Kenneth W. Starr's federal Grand Jury processes and anticipated referral to the House and Senate for appropriate considerations as to 'high crimes & misdemeanors' charges against Clinton and others in his administration.
While in Ghana,Tuesday, president Clinton passed an odd series of remarks that were not part of the pre-arranged and scripted 'speech'. Clinton launched into dark territory when he told a crowd of thousands, 'While saying it is well not to dwell too much on the past, the United States has not always done the right thing by Africa...Going back to the time before we were even a nation, European Americans received the fruits of the slave trade...And we were wrong in that.'
He went further into deep water, 'In our own time, during the Cold War, when we were so concerned about being in competition with the Soviet Union, very often we dealt with countries in Africa and other parts of the world based more on how they stood in the struggle between the United States and the Soviet Union than how they stood in the struggle for their own people's aspirations to live up to the fullest of their God-given abilities.'
The president offered no justification for his extemporaneous statement and accusations.
Admittedly, during the formative stages of early American history, some of the reasons offered against slavery were economic, others were moral. All supported an idea that president Clinton missed. That, the courts of the time needed to move beyond prevailing political morality to decide the issue. But, they did not always do so. The people of that day, found the decisions of the courts supporting the 'property claims' of slave-owners inhumane and unjust.
Even so, Americans and Africans asked themselves what was the relevance
of Clinton's theory about the history of African slavery and his truncated version of American Constitutional law and the Cold War references in Tuesday's rambling by the president.
Certainly, the American world view of the Cold War was well stated by George Marshall in April of 1947. It was to assist the governments of Europe to counter Soviet Russian Communist influence in Europe through '...resisting leftist subversion by extending economic aid to all European countries.'
Clearly, the Clinton White House has attempted to use military force as an instrument of a failed foreign policy. During the Reagan White House years,
military force was deployed as in Lebanon in 1982 but not with the idea that the Marines would engage in combat. Instead U.S. forcres were first deployed as part of a muti-national force to oversee the withdrawal of 14,000 PLO freedom fighters following their encirclement by Israel forces. But, even so, that mission was flawed, as well. Its political strategy was unrealistic and unwinnable.
Continued Clinton White House interventions in places like Kosovo, the Balkans, Rwanda, and the Middle East have pushed Clinton foreign policy beyond its economic and moral limits.