Keep this question in mind: What good would it have done the world if Idi Amin had saved a drowning African child?
In addition to providing raw materials, labor, and markets for finished products, Africa also cleanses the conscience of Africanist scholars, evangelists and missionaries, the rock and roll musicians who want to save Africa through orphan adoption, and philanthropists with Mother-Theresa complexes.
But at the top of the pack Ã¢€" Western politicians. Occupy Iraq and Afghanistan but do not forget to rescue the African from the clutches of war-lords, poverty, corruption, and disease. Africa has become the continent where the guilt-ridden come to score quick moral points. And we let them.
The reality behind the hype of saving Africa tells a different story. When Tony Blair intervened in Sierra Leone, it was heralded as an emblem of humanitarian military intervention (one of the five tenets of what became known as the Blair Doctrine). Yet, as Blair prepares to leave office, the reality in Sierra Leone is far different from the success story that will become part of his legacy.
Sierra Leone remains one of the worldÃ¢€â„¢s poorest nations. As the BBC reports on its website, 60 percent of its budget is met through foreign aid, life expectancy is 41 years and 70 percent of the population lives below the poverty line. Even with debt forgiveness Sierra Leone continues to import more than it exports Ã¢€" all testaments to a radical dependency and inequality in an otherwise resource-rich nation. This is a recipe for another civil war long after Blair is out of office.
Blair is not alone in exploiting Africa for conscience and legacy. In his January 2007 Ã¢€Å“State of the UnionÃ¢€