25 HALIE SELASSIE
Emperor of Ethiopia
Emperor Halie Selassie was deeply distressed when the Italians conquered Ethiopia in 1935. But that may have been because the Italians had shot the 30 pet lions that roamed the grounds around his hilltop palace. In the end, Selassie may have been a better king to the animals of Ethiopia than to its people; in 1973, during the height of a drought in which 200,000 Ethiopians died of starvation, Selassie was seen feeding strips of beef to his Great Danes.
Admittedly, Selassie was a fairer ruler than many of those around him. For example, as a young provincial governor, he only took 50% of his peasants' crops while other governors were taking 90%, and in the 1950s as few as 100 political prisoners were tortured in his jails at one time. But under his long rule, Ethiopia remained in the dark ages. Just before his overthrow in 1974, the annual per capita income was $90, the literacy rate was 7% and Ethiopia was the poorest nation in Africa.
Under Selassie, Ethiopia received more U.S. aid than any other African country and Washington purchased a $2 million yacht for the Emperor. When Selassie faced an uprising in the province of Eritrea, the U.S. sent advisors and arms to help him smash the revolt. In return for our support, Selassie provided the United States with a naval base in the Red Sea and a place for a strategic communications station.
Selassie's kindness to his animals was his downfall; he was overthrown when photos of him feeding his dogs during the 1973 famine were circulated among his outraged troops.
26 IAN SMITH
Prime Minister of Rhodesia
Ian Smith promised the whites who elected him Prime Minister of Rhodesia in 1962: "If in my lifetime we have an African [black] nationalist government in power ... then we have failed in the policy I believe in." Smith planned to keep his promise. To choke out bands of black guerrilla fighters, Smith rationed food for Africans, whom he believed were feeding the guerrillas. This cruel measure only served to starve the already undernourished black population. Studies found that over 90% of Rhodesia's black children were malnourished and nutritional deficiencies were the major cause of infant death. Smith rounded up blacks into concentration camps he called "protective villages." Believing that ignorant people were less likely to revolt, he cut funding for black education, spending $5.00 on each black child compared to $80.00 on each white child. His all white Parliament passed a law protecting officials who took actions for the suppression of "terrorism," enabling the police and military to commit atrocities to "suppress terrorism".
An international trade boycott against Rhodesia arose, but while the U.S. publicly condemned the government, it continued to do business there. In 1971, President Nixon lifted the chrome embargo against Rhodesia at a time when there was a surplus of chrome in the U.S. Blacks were eventually given the right to vote for some officials, but the opposition to Smith's government grew so strong that he was ultimately forced to renege on his campaign promise. In 1979, Rhodesia became Zimbabwe, a country primarily ruled by blacks.
27 P. W. BOTHA
President of South Africa
P.W. Botha's first term as President was aptly called a "constitutional coup d'etat" by the South African press. The former Secretary of Defense altered the structure of government, giving the military and police unprecedented power. To justify this, he pointed to increasingly vocal discontent among South Africa's disenfranchised blacks, the large number of black states in Africa, and a so-called "growing Marxist" threat in the region. South Africa, he said, was engaged in a "total war" and must develop a "total strategy" to fight the battle.
South Africa's apartheid regime is quietly supported by the U.S. government, for, despite a U.N. boycott and Congressional efforts to reduce U.S. investment there, Ronald Reagan significantly increased military expenditures in the country. But few Americans realize that Botha's "total strategy" against blacks has turned his nation into a ruthless aggressor.
When Portugal withdrew from its colonies in Mozambique and Angola (see card no. 34), Botha, claiming he wanted to strengthen capitalism on the continent, financed the Mozambique National Resistance (MNR) against the country's popular government. The MNR, who receive direct training from South Africa, cut off the ears, noses, and limbs of civilians. After killing their parents and raping young women in front of 10 year old boys, they recruit these boys to fight. "Children do what we want them to do," they claim. "Adults defect."
In 1989, P.W. Botha suffered a stroke and later resigned. In early 1990 his successor, F.W. De Klerk, legalized political opposition parties and freed several important black political prisoners, while still upholding apartheid as the law of the land.
28 GENERAL SAMUEL DOE
President of Liberia
Perhaps Samuel Doe's rule is best summed up by his changing physique. When he came to power in a bloody 1980 coup, he was a lean Master Sergeant in military gear; today, he is a fat self-made General in a suit, living off U.S. aid and corporate kickbacks. But while Doe and his cronies live in luxury the rest of Liberia dwells in squalor. Under his regime, the gross domestic product has decreased by 13%, the country's health statistics are among the world's worst, 80% of the population is illiterate, all opposition parties but one were forbidden to participate in the 1985 national elections, and those who protest these inequities are jailed or killed.
Doe, a pro-American anti-communist, received $500 million in U.S. aid between 1980 and 1985. When Congress threatened to cut off funds because of Liberia's human rights abuses. Doe requested American "financial advice, as a show of good will. The U.S. sent 17 accountants, bank examiners, and economists to help Doe balance his budget, but they realized a difficult task lay ahead when they leamed that Doe had purchased over sixty $60,000 Mercedes Benz cars for his government ministers and had given the Liberian swear team $1 million for winning a match against rival Ghana. Ultimately Doe refused to allow access to records conceming 40% of Liberia's funds, for this "second budget," revenues from gasoline and lodging taxes, goes directly into the President's bank account. The American advisors returned home in 1989, mission not accomplished, and Samuel Doe remains in office, despite early 1990 rumblings of rebel plots against him.
29 MOBUTU SESE SEKO
President of Zaire
When Zaire's first elected President, Patrice Lumumba, appeared to be getting too close to socialism, U.S. companies feared they might lose control of Zaire's precious cobalt, copper, and diamonds. So the CIA stepped in, assassinated Lumumba, and replaced him with Mobutu Sese Seko (his name means "Himself Forever"). Although one CIA official commented that "Mobutu is screwing up Zaire pretty good. He simply has no idea how to run a country," this mercurial leader has been our main ally in Central Africa since 1965.
Mobutu has amassed an estimated $5 billion personal fortune at his nation's expense. He is perhaps the only world leader who could pay his national debt from his own bank account. In fact, there seems to be no division between his pocket and the national treasury. In 1974, when the U.S sent $1.4 million to assist troops fighting a civil war, Mobutu pocketed the entire sum. And no foreign company sets itself up in Zaire without a tribute to his honor, "Himself."
Although Zaire has more resources than most other countries in the region, it is the fifth poorest. Malnutrition takes the lives of 1/3rdof Zaire's children, and one child out of two dies before age five. But Mobutu has vowed to keep the world safe for democracy and according to Amnesty Intemational, in the name of anti-communism, he imprisons and tortures anyone who threatens his power base, often without trial. While some members of Congress grumble about giving assistance to Mobutu, they continue to reward his work against communism and his warm reception of American corporations.
31 HUSSAN II
King of Morocco
Like his former ally, the Shah of Iran, King Hussan II of Morocco spares himself no earthly delight. He has seven principal palaces; keeps 260 horses in just one of his many stables; boards most of his camels, ostriches, and zebras with his 945 head of cattle and his 1500 acre dairy farm; and he's got a couple of harems. Meanwhile, the unemployment rate in Morocco is over 20%, and 85% of the population lives in abject poverty, sheltering in makeshift huts in the country's increasingly swollen cities.
Citing dubious historical ties, in 1975 Hussan took his nation into a war in the Westem Sahara that is costing the country over $1 million a day. Although the Intemational Court of Justice ruled that Morocco has no historical claims to the territory, the U.S. continues to back Hussan diplomatically and financially in his war to annex the area. The U.S. also takes an active role in stopping coup attempts against the King. According to one dissident, the CIA gave Hussan a video tape that enabled him to catch the plotters before the fact. The favor was returned when Hussan visited Washington in 1982 he and President Reagan agreed that the U.S. could use Morocco as an emergency base for its planes.
Although Hussan has been less repressive in recent years, members of the opposition are still arrested and tortured. But as his people start to make connections between the rising cost of living and the war in the Sahara, criticism grows, and even the CIA has admitted that Hussan may not be able to keep the lid on dissent much longer.