Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Our man in Ndjamena

Ronald Reagan greeting Chadian President Hissene Habre in 1987 --

We welcome President Habre to Washington as the leader of a nation that has recently beaten back the violent aggression of an outlaw state (Libya). In winning its stunning victories, Chad has acted to preserve its freedom and handed a forceful message to aggressors. That message is: African nations will defend their sovereignty and foreign aggression will be defeated. In our discussion today, President Habre and I reviewed some of the events that led to this aggression. We also discussed the current situation in Chad. The United States has proudly joined France, Zaire, Egypt, and other friends in the effort to provide President Habre's government the means to fight and win.

That would be the same Hissene Habre convicted of crimes against humanity by an African Union court yesterday. And that alliance that Reagan refers to involved Mobutu and Mubarak. This stuff eventually catches up with you.

On the other hand, the French were apparently nervous back in 1987 that Chad's war against Libya was going so well that the Libyan government under Gadaffi could itself implode causing chaos in the Mediterranean, so they successfully urged Chad to ease off some of the notions that they might have picked up from Reagan's speech. For all we know, that French cynical realism probably bought 30 years of stability in migration from the Sahel.

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