About the time I bought The New Republic, the British satirist and editor of Punch, Alan Coren, published a book titled The Collected Bulletins of Idi Amin, purporting to be the actual writings of the then dictator of Uganda, Idi Amin. They were attacks on the belly and politically smart, too. I got in touch with Coren and his publisher with the idea of putting the collection out in America. Frankly, I chickened out because the lingo of the volume was black jive talk which seemed uncannily apt for an African tyrant-bullshitter. Well, it was for that reason deemed by those around me too sensitive or rather insensitive for TNR. So I stopped negotiations with the publishers in London, and the wonderful book was never issued on our shores. It made plenty of money in England. Some of the book's pieces are reprinted here. If you don't laugh at these ... well, you're a stiff.
A fews years ago--2006, I think--a movie titled The Last King of Scotland, with Forest Whitaker starring as Idi Amin, came out to tremendous admiration and laughter all over the world. Of course, he was long dead or actually not so long, having died in 2003 in splendid exile in Saudi Arabia, after killing from 100,000 to half a million people. Take your pick. Either way, he should have been hung by his testicles.
Instead of that, Israel carried out what is called "the Entebbe raid," rescuing its hostages from an Air France plane hijacked by the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine. On July 4, 1976, the I.D.F. freed the prisoners (three of which were killed) and took out 45 Uganda soldiers. One prisoner who was in the hospital was murdered in revenge by the country's militia. The only Israeli commando killed was Yonatan Netanyahu, the brother of Bibi. Amin survived the entire episode to kill many others. Perhaps the entire episode could have been avoided had President Ford only tried to engage Idi Amin.
Uganda is one of those many African tragedies that makes the whole portentous enterprise of economic development seem hopeless. The country is one of the poorest countries in the world, with a daily average income of $2.00. On the other hand, its growth record is one of the highest at 12% annually. Go know.
Uganda's misery is endless. There is a war going on between the cruel army and the more cruel Lord's Resistance Army. Col. Qaddafi's military goes in and out, starting with his alliance with Amin, a fellow Muslim, which he thought made a good match.
The new setting for rank brutality is described in Friday's Wall Street Journal in an article about Uganda's plan, not yet passed, to "Toughen Antigay Law." Its provisions mandate the death penalty for habitual gays, for gays who have sex with minors, and for AIDS-infected gays. Here an alliance has been made between conservative Christians and Muslims, for whom these punishments are in any case axiomatic.
Of course, Mrs. Clinton made a speech in which she singled out Uganda for criticism, calling the proposed law "a very serious potential violation of human rights." "Potential violation," indeed. Hillary gives a speech on every human ill. This one will be as successful as her speeches in Africa a few months ago denouncing war-time rape.