Nick Kristof’s op-ed in Thursday’s NY Times, An Unsettling Complicity, ia a very worthwhile read, for the points he sought to make, and beyond.
Kristof’s point, with which I do not take issue, is that our coziness with corrupt Angolan officials is a moral failure. Kristof:
What unsettles me is the Western role in this corruption. Western oil companies and banks work closely with Angolan officials, enabling the kleptocracy, and the United States and other governments mostly avert their eyes from the corruption, repression and humanitarian catastrophe.
A generation ago, the United States supported a brutal warlord, Jonas Savimbi, in Angola’s civil war. He lost. Now, because of oil interests, we have allied ourselves with the corrupt and autocratic winner, President José Eduardo dos Santos, in a way that also will also be remembered with embarrassment.
This is nothing new. It’s happened in Saudi Arabia, Iran before 1979, Egypt, Bahrain, and Yemen, to name just a few. It happened throughout Central and South America, where the chickens are now coming home to roost.
Here’s what this policy translates into on the ground:
Marques de Morais has tracked $3 billion accumulated by President dos Santos’s daughter, the $13 million refurbishment of the presidential palace, the Lexus LX 570 luxury S.U.V.’s given to each member of Parliament — all at a time when children aren’t consistently getting five-cent deworming pills.
In other words, we have influence, if we’re willing to use it. And when children are spitting up worms and a country ranks No. 1 in child mortality worldwide, let’s exercise that influence rather than remaining complicit.
Okay, let’s pick up where Kristof leaves off. Continue reading