Foreign Policy asks:
Why does James Inhofe support Ivory Coast’s Gbagbo?
(Laurent Gbagbo is the Ivory Coast dictator who’s refused to step down after an internationally monitored democratic election voted him out of office. James Inhofe is the senior United States Senator from Oklahoma.)
Most nations in the world as well as the UN have recognized Gbagbo’s rival as the rightful president of Ivory Coast. There has been terrible violence in that country since the election and it’s apparently okay with Ggagbo because his ego must be fed.
Inhofe’s position starkly contradicts the administration’s policy on the Ivory Coast, where Gbagbo has been widely accused of targeting civilians and opposition supporters during the four month stand-off. U.S., European, U.N., and African Union policy has called for the outgoing president to step down immediately. Today, the U.N. Security Council slapped tough sanctions on his regime, adding to existing American, European, and African sanctions already in place.
So how did an Oklahoma senator come to support a man that most see as an obstacle to peace in the Ivory Coast?
Salon got the first bite out of this story, reporting that Inhofe and Gbagbo met through a Christian group known as the Fellowship.
The back story of that ‘friendship’ – one also shared by other prominent people in the Christian right – is here.
. . . .[but] one aspect of Gbagbo’s past — and present — has flown under the radar: his longtime ties to the Christian right in the United States, a movement in which he still finds at least some support.
That includes a U.S. senator and acquaintance of Gbagbo who declined to intervene in the crisis when asked by the State Department earlier this year, a former congressman who was hired by Gbagbo as a lobbyist, and a Christian right TV network that ran a fawning profile of Gbagbo, even as violence engulfed Ivory Coast.
Did you get that? A US Senator, when asked by his State Department, to lend his gravitas and personal connections to resolution of a violent dispute, refused. And he refused because he and the bad guy are Evangelical Christians together and sort of buddies, body count be damned. See?
Inhofe disgraces us all.
(A million people have already fled the country; the violence is expected to reach some sort of resolution very soon.)