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Africa's "King of Kings"

Qaddafi takes over the African Union.

11:00 PM, Feb 3, 2009 • By JOSEPH LOCONTE
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Consider the challenges facing the African Union: its peacekeeping operations, short on troops and training, have failed to stop the bloodletting in Sudan and Somalia; its economies remain crippled by corruption and socialist dogmas; its health-care systems are straining under the pandemic of HIV/AIDs; and its modest progress in democratic rule has suffered political setbacks and outbursts of violence. Earlier this week, African leaders--in a reflexive gesture of "solidarity"--demanded an end to international sanctions against the criminal regime of Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe. The Council on Foreign Relations, in its classically understated style, admits that the African Union "is struggling to reform its governing bodies."

Organizations that are "struggling" to reform should at least show signs of a kerfuffle, none of which were manifest at Qaddafi's coronation. The stated vision of the African Union, after all, is a continent characterized by economic development, good governance, and the peaceful resolution of conflicts. "Having rejected afro-pessimism, Africans are now intent on promoting afro-responsibility," declares the AU Commission, "meaning the future of Africans primarily depends on themselves." An imperious "king of kings" cannot seriously be expected to lead the way.

Indeed, it's worth recalling why the forerunner to the AU, the Organization for African Unity, was considered such a failure. Ugandan leader Yoweri Museveni once derided the organization as a "trade union of criminals." With Muammar Qaddafi as the new union boss, the criminal element in African politics has just gained a reliable and ruthless advocate.

Joseph Loconte is a senior research fellow at The King's College in New York City and frequent contributor to THE WEEKLY TANDARD Online.