Hard Times On the Ivory Coast

If you enjoy the exploits of violent nutcase dictators, but like Barack Obama you’ve grown tired of Moammar Qaddafi, why not take a look at Laurent Gbagbo of the Ivory Coast?

The Ivory Coast is a good place to test the Obama Doctrine, memorably summed up by sympathetic reporter Andrea Mitchell: “When you have a catastrophe you can avert, and the benefits outweigh the costs, and you have international or multilateral support, go for it.”

There’s plenty of catastrophe in this small African country.  Gbabgo lost an election to Alassane Outtara last year, but decided elections are an annoying distraction from the important work of being President-For-Life.  Violent resistance has led to thousands of civilian deaths, with both sides implicated in various massacres.  The worst one, in the town of Douekoue, claimed a thousand victims, and appears to have been the work of Outtara’s rebel forces, although they are contesting this accusation to the United Nations.

International support is already on the ground, in the form of France, which appears to hold veto power over all foreign policy for the American Left.  France used to run the Ivory Coast, a colonial occupation that went well enough for the liberated country to officially retain its French name, as a souvenir of happier times when the air was filled with fewer bullets.  The increasingly desperate Gbagbo has decided to scapegoat the French, recently accusing them of planning a “Rwanda-style genocide” in his country.  This led to an attack by “patriotic youth” against the French embassy.

Concerned for the thousands of French nationals still in the country, France’s military has steadily increased its presence, but has generally shied away from directly engaging Gbagbo’s “youth militia,” which has a habit of deploying itself as human shields around strategic locations.

Like Hosni Mubarak of Egypt and Qaddafi of Libya, but unlike Bashar Assad of Syria or the mullahs of Teheran, Gbagbo has been told to gbug off by President Obama and the international community.  He’s seen Qaddafi-like defections from his inner circle, but he’s gotten a few of them back.  As the Christian Science Monitor reports, “On Sunday, Gbagbo’s Army chief of staff Philippe Mangou, who had defected to the South African embassy Saturday, reemerged and was seen on state TV attending a military conference with Gbagbo.  Another defector, General Kassarate, was also seen on TV at the same conference. Ouattara’s officials declared the two men recanted because relatives were threatened.”  I hope someone’s keeping an eye on Libyan defector Moussa Koussa.

Gbagbo has been trying to stir up an ugly racial and religious war for some time, through a platform that declares the only true “Ivoirites” are Christians who live in the south, while the Muslim immigrant population of the north are interlopers.  That’s not exactly a recipe for peaceful co-existence and assimilation.  It sounds like the kind of thing the United Nations would be keen to nip in the bud, now that its purveyor has lost an election, and refused to abide by the results.

The Ivory Coast will most likely be left to tear itself to shreds.  Outtara’s forces have been talking about a “lightning” assault to dislodge Gbagbo, which should be very exciting for the four million residents of Abidjan, where the presidential palace is located.  I don’t know if there’s a cost/benefit formula that would complete the Obama Doctrine formula and trigger an intervention.  Then again, how much “benefit” have we received for our “cost” in Libya?


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