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February 22, 2007


What, you mean sometimes a national government can make a problem *better*? That there's something people can do besides throw up their hands and say, "Government can't solve the problem, government *is* the problem!"

Gee, but that might involve some work. And worse yet, thought. And worst of all, co-operation.

I glad the NYT took notice.

This is a shamefully minor comment/quibble with such a fine post, but "Unlike many west African countries," Mozambique happens to be on the eastern side of Africa.

Ack, silly me. I have this left/right impairment. Obviously, the West African countries were the epicenter of the (American) slave trade; it's most of the East African countries that were largely spared. Except for Mozambique. Correction forthcoming.

For some reason the Reagan Administration refused to help Renamo (the resistance group you mention) and actually told the truth about how terrible they were, comparing them at one point to the Khmer Rouge. I've always been confused by this, because Jonas Savimbi over in Angola was just as bad and he was one of our heroic child-murdering freedom fighters. Evidently Bob Dole was also bothered by the inconsistency, because he joined in with the American far right in wanting to support Renamo.

His political career did not end on the spot, though wanting to support Renamo puts him several steps lower than someone like Ward Churchill, who only made incredibly moronic statements about 9/11 and didn't advocate giving weapons to Al Qaeda.

DJ: yes, for some truly unfathomable reason, Renamo was on the list of Approved Anti-Communist Causes during the 80s. Grover Norquist was also an early supporter. If I didn't already have enough reasons to despise him, that would suffice.

Thanks for keeping our attention on both parts-- Mozambique's a nice antidote to the despair Zimbabwe inspires.

for some truly unfathomable reason, Renamo was on the list of Approved Anti-Communist Causes during the 80s.

Why unfathomable? What "anti-communist" organization was too horrible for the right wing to support in the 1980s?

I'm interested to know what impact you think the large ANC presence in Mozambique had on the postwar. (Mozambique was the most significant location of 'strategic rear guard' for South Africans fighting apartheid.)

"Why unfathomable? What "anti-communist" organization was too horrible for the right wing to support in the 1980s?"

Hence my confusion about the fact that the Reagan Administration didn't support Renamo--they were no worse than some of the other groups they did support. Grover and Jesse Helms and Bob Dole were just being consistent.

But it is nice to hear about Mozambique now--one hears so much bad news about Africa it's necessary, I think, to be told of some good news, in part so that people won't give in to a too-easy despair about the continent.

DJ: I am genuinely interested in Zimbabwe and Mozambique -- I wouldn't be writing on them if I wasn't -- but it would be Disingenuous and Wrong of me to deny that some tiny part of my motivation was: if people who read this site just happen, incidentally, to get the sort of minor, back-of-the-mind knowledge of a few countries they would not ordinarily read about -- a little bit of granular detail, just by the bye -- that has to be a good thing. Because it is way too easy to think of sub-Saharan Africa as an undifferentiated mass of despair, if you don't live there; and equally easy just not to read stuff about it because catching up on the backstory would take too long.

My friend who was in the State Department for decades, whom I've mentioned here before, including that he was our First Secretary in Botswanna for some time, used to be driven crazy by generalized negative statements about Africa, which he felt were deeply damaging slurs against the various countries that were doing reasonably well -- such as Botswanna.

I've no doubt that he's right that that sort of generalized, undifferentiated, impression, really hurts prospects for the countries where investment is a reasonably safe proposition.

Hilzoy, what years were you there? I was addressing the ANC question to you, but it's a bit buried in my comment above.

Nell: 1999, and unfortunately it was about a month, not years. I don't know much about the effect of the ANC.

Impressive indeed, and casts our own government's lack of advance planning for Katrina in an even more abysmal light.

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