The U.N. Security Council unanimously approved the deployment of African and French forces to the Central African Republic on Thursday. Violence has been non-stop in the country since a coalition of rebels removed President Francois Bozize in March, the latest in a long list of coups since the nation gained it’s independence. The violence is one of fifteen active conflicts ongoing in Africa. Sadly the Central African Republic has become a microcosm of Modern Africa, a failed continent muddled in war and atrocities.
The initial violence in the nation east of Cameroon was between the government of the country and Seleka, which is a ragtag unit of rebel groups, that accused Bozize of failing to abide by peace agreements from 2007 and 2011. Seleka seized the capital of Bangui on March 24 even after an African coalition came to the capital to reinforce Bozize’s government. Bozize has since fled, with rebel leader Michel Djotodia declaring himself the new President. Bozize should by no means be shocked by the switch since he himself gained presidency 10 years ago when he led a group of rebels to seize the capital while then President Ange-Félix Patassé was out of the country. Notice a pattern here?
International intervention has now been called because of Djotodia’s inability to control his soldiers racial prejudice’s. His fighters are mostly Muslim and have preyed upon the Christians of the nation. Djotodia has covered his tracks by stating that there has been violence on both sides. The United Nations sees it differently, worrying that a genocide is almost inevitable. They estimate that 400,000 people have been displaced and 68,000 have fled from the country due to the conflict. More peacekeepers is the action the UN sees most fit for recourse.
French President Francois Hollande said that France’s 650 troops already in the Central African Republic would be “doubled within a few days, if not a few hours”. This is now the fourth African nation that Hollande has sent troops to since becoming President, joining Ivory Coast, Somalia, and Mali. Hollande has noted that it is important that order be restored to the African nation. Which begs the question: what is order in an African nation?
Is it ending the current violence and then waiting for another incident to happen? It’s easy to see the horror on CNN and began to feel the need for the world’s super powers to step in and right what is wrong, but what is really being fixed? Stopping genocide and further racial violence is a must, but what’s left after the dust is settled? Is that country going to suddenly turn into a global example of democracy that will be envied by all the other nations of the world? This is a country where elections are essentially picking what rebel leader will try to overthrow the current President. Is it reasonable to expect anything different once this conflict is over? The same questions can be asked about many African nations, Mali, Somalia, Senegal, and the list goes on. Those who intervene are just wiping the slate clean for new people to come in and take the place of the former President and Rebel leaders while the rest of the globe continues to watch the madness from CNN.
Imagine walking past a group of three kids. Two of them are white and one is black. The white kids are beating the daylights out of the poor black kid, all the while hurling racist taunts at him. Seeing this one would feel the duty to intervene and help the black child, but what would happen if the bystander who came to the rescue simply told the white bullies to stop what they were doing, and once they obliged he or she simply left the scene. No getting the white kids away from the black kid, no checking to make sure he was alright, just simply stopping the violence then departing. The black kid will be fine right? Highly unlikely, alas the nations, or even the United Nations, that choose to intervene in these African conflicts seem to think that this strategy is sound. Stop the immediate problem and it will all go away.
The analogy of African nations being children while the countries intervening are adults may pose an ultra-conservative “we are superior to them” notion, but that’s not the case. Yes the interveners are rescuers to the plight, but that in no way makes them superior beings, just products of superior regimes. The intervening countries are as much to blame for many African nation’s struggles as the nations themselves. They come to help, but only put out the spreading fire, not the source.
Does that mean that international intervention is useless? Of course not, but the current process being used by France, the United States or any other intervening country is packed with flaws, even if it’s decided upon by the United Nations. The ongoing incident and now intervention in the Central African Republic is merely a microcosm for the rest of the continent. Bullies beat up a kid, the adult comes, tells them to stop, leaves, then the bullies pick up where they left off. Until the countries of the world decide that small nations in conflict need more than a bandaid to fix their struggles, everyone else will be left with bleeding hearts, weeping over footage on CNN.
By James Hadley