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Commentary on the present and future of culture, politics, economics, and social values................... "At any given instant/All solids dissolve, no wheels revolve,/And facts have no endurance." W.H. Auden.

Monday, June 16, 2003

Mauritania, the "Democracy"

US Air Force units are now stationed in Senegal, West Africa. Who noticed that? Not the US news media. Nor the US taxpayers who are financing the operation. The far-flung flag of the US empire continues to be planted in new and exciting places.

France maintains a Foreign Legion force in Senegal. But we did not put military personnel there to keep the French company. The real US interest is next door in bordering Mauritania. There was an attempted militarty coup there last week against the government of President Maaouya Ould Sid'Ahmed Taya. Maybe we should call him General Taya, since elections are neither frequent nor honest, and he acquired power by military coup in 1979.

Yawn! Another African military coup! So what? Mauritania is on everyone's list of the ten poorest countries in the world. Resources? Iron ore and gypsum are the major products. There are rumors of oil lying offshore, but the "oil conspiracy" fantasy is over-used to explain all. Most of the country is dry-as-sand desert.

It is not just the absence of elections that marks Mauritania as an anti-democracy. It is also its ugly anti-human rights record of oppression, torture, rape, and slavery. Yes, it signed the UN anti-slavery convetion in 1980, but Mauritania still has 80-90,000 slaves, black Africans serving their Berber masters. Occasional raids into Senegal raise that figure.

So,why has Mauritania now become a US protectorate? Yes, the US Air Force is in Senegal, flying missions into Mauritania, in order to keep General Taya in power. The spread of US democracy? Oh, yes.

The real reason is that al-Qaeda organized the militray coup last week. A little while back. General Taya decided it would be profitable to become a US ally. He got lots of aid money in doing so. Lots. All he had to do was to recognize Israel and to suppress the Muslim fundamentalists in his country. A small price to pay for all those US dollars! For the US, a little bribery is a wondrous thing! But the fundamentalists resented his moves. Hence their attmept to drive Taya from power last week. Their aim? To set up an al-Qaeda state in his place. That move panicked the White House and the US Defense Department. So, they sent the Air Force to Senegal toprotect General Taya's regime, implying that further military aid will be forthcoming. Certainly more $$$$$$$.

So, forget the slavery. Forget the non-elections. Forget the torture of political prisoners. Forget the use of rape as a political weapon. In the name of democracy the US will keep Taya in power.

It isn't easy being the world's only superpower! Of course, it isn't easy being a slave in Mauritainia!

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