Hillary Clinton’s visit to Africa in late March, which was billed as a “goodwill tour” to strengthen America’s ties with developing nations, combined business with pleasure. In between meetings and photo-opportunities with African heads of state, Mrs. Clinton and her daughter Chelsea did a little taxpayer-funded sightseeing in the wilds of Uganda, Tanzania, and other poor countries. They seemed to enjoy playing Isak Dinesen—gazing at rhinos, greeting throngs of natives—before returning to the comfort and safety of the White House.
This tour was also a great publicity stunt for the First Lady, who had wisely kept a low profile while her husband sought reelection. During her visit to South Africa, Mrs. Clinton met and posed for a picture with Nelson Mandela, the great martyr to the cause of freedom who was selling photo-opportunities for $56,000 a shot. Mrs. Clinton also visited a shrine dedicated to the victims of the white regime before taking off for meetings with other heads of state, who are vying for a larger share of USAID funds.
When in South Africa, Mrs. Clinton sounded off on the problems of AIDS, illiteracy, and—her pet cause—the education of young girls, but kept silent about the continuing abuses of the provincial government in Kwazulu/Natal, whose leader has recently served as acting president of South Africa. The evils of the Afrikaner regime have, in the words of Macaulay, passed into a proverb, but according to the human rights group Africa Watch, Chief Buthelezi’s ruling Inkatha Freedom Party is still murdering hundreds of political opponents every year.
Having expressed her solidarity with past victims of political violence, Mrs. Clinton visited Ugandan first lady Janet Museveni in Kampala, where the two posed smiling for the photographers. Mrs. Museveni, of course, is the wife of Yoweri Museveni, who according to Amnesty International has presided over torture and extrajudicial killings by National Resistance Army units and the widespread practice of kandooya, tying a captive’s arms together above the elbows and behind the back, which results in excruciating pain. (Yes, Uganda is a signatory to most of the major human rights treaties.)
During her visit to Senegal, Mrs. Clinton said nothing about the continuation of black slavery in sub-Saharan Africa (a subject covered by the New York Times just weeks before her visit), though she did praise the West for having emancipated the black man over a century ago. Nor did she mention Senegal’s long-running war with ethnic separatists in the southern province of Casamance, which has resulted in the extrajudicial execution and torture of suspected rebels.
Unconcerned with the grave issues facing the region, Mrs. Clinton used her tour as an opportunity to do on a global scale what she has failed to achieve in domestic politics—to use Washington’s massive power as a means to play Cod, reaching down from her Mount Olympus on Pennsylvania Avenue and imposing her whims on a backward people in need of enlightenment. According to a Newsweek report, the rights of women in foreign countries will now be a principal concern of American foreign policy as shaped by Mrs. Clinton and Mrs. Albright. In foreign policy as well as in domestic affairs, it seems, 60’s-era feminist victimology is the kinder, gentler imperialism.
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