Andy Young's Love Fest with Paul Wolfowitz --
“The more I read about Paul Wolfowitz, the more I realized we had in common,” confessed Atlanta's former mayor and shameless son Andrew Young, in his opening remarks before a Wolfowitz speech at an Atlanta synagogue, Sunday night. “We had a common mentor, [in] George Schultz... We had come from a completely different direction but found ourselves with a common agenda, to spread peace.”
Andrew Young's "mentor" George Schultz was secretary of state during the Reagan Administration's murderous contra wars in Central America, and during the Iran-Iraq war, in which more than a million people perished while America provided military intelligence and aid to both sides. Schultz is also a former CEO of Bechtel, a distinction he shares with Donald Rumsfeld. Paul Wolfowitz was until a few months ago Deputy Secretary of Defense, an early advocate and leading architect of the current war in Iraq as well as the next ones in Iran and/or Syria, and the current head of the World Bank.
These days Andrew Young is an "international business consultant," a polite term for flack, fixer and corporate whore. For years Young has traded on the dwindling stock of personal credibility owing to his participation in the Freedom Movement of the 1960s. His consultation consists of press conferences, media events, interviews, public appearances and speeches in which he shills for Big Oil in West Africa, privatizers in the Caribbean, Nike and Wal-Mart world-wide. His firm, Good Works International is credited with teaching the famously corrupt Nigerian president Obansanjo a brand new American-style way to solicit bribes -- the creation of Africa's first "presidential library."
Black Agenda Report (BAR) asked several Atlanta activists their opinion of Young's road from movement streets to the corporate suites.
"It's always sad, when you see somebody people look to as a leader crossing the line like that," observed Rev. Calvin Pollard of Emory University's Candler School of Theology. "This is a man who walked and worked with Dr. King. We should be able to expect better."
"Shameful," spat the Rev. Austin Ford, a retired Atlanta minister who had been active in SNCC more than 45 years ago.
"When you look at it, it's really not all that surprising," offered Dr. Keith Jennings. "This is the same Andrew Young that went straight from the King memorial celebration in Washington, DC to a Republican fundraiser across town where corporate fat cats showered Bush with campaign cash to do what he does for them. Those are the circles he moves in now, and that's who the brother is."
"Andy Young's been on that road a long time now," agreed Akinyele Umoja, a professor of African American studies at Georgia State University. "His deal with Wal-Mart was a shock to folks who hadn't been paying attention to what the man was doing."
One Atlanta native who has been paying close attention is Cynthia McKinney, the soon to be former congresswoman from Georgia:
"This is not the first time that Andy Young has associated with people of dubious repute. . . . During the time when I came under severe attack for my September 11 comments, I was investigating allegations that Barrick Gold and its mining operations in Africa had buried alive 60 African petty gold miners. I had been given a photograph, and I had eyewitness testimony that this had taken place. Unfortunately, Barrick Gold had some of the most notorious people associated with it, and Andy Young was part of that cabal. So, the financial arrangement that one enters into . . . one has to be careful where you get your paycheck from. And certainly, if you're going to sit on the boards of companies like that, you ought to serve as a conscience, not just as an employee receiving a paycheck."
McKinney had these observations on "peacemaker" Paul Wolfowitz:
"Paul Wolfowitz was one of the architects of the disastrous military and foreign policy -- and, of course, domestic policy -- that the Bush administration has pursued. I include domestic policy because, if you're spending all of your money on guns then there's very little to spend on butter -- and the American people need butter. So, that diversion from satisfying the needs of the American people is a consequence of the policies pursued by Paul Wolfowitz when he was at the Pentagon. Paul Wolfowitz, in my opinion, has no business being at the World Bank. It tells me something about the World Bank and its mission, because this is not a man of peace, this is not a man of development, this is a man who has destroyed the cradle of civilization."
"More than anything else, World Bank and IMF policies of structural adjustment, forced upon developing countries around the world are directly responsible for starvation and the inability of those countries to provide for the basic needs of their people," according to Keith Jennings. "You can draw a straight line between the Paul Wolfowitz who instigated the invasion of Iraq, the Paul Wolfowitz who sits atop the World Bank... It's been a long time since the days Young walked with Dr. King. Young's choice of friends these days shows just how far he has traveled."
"Being able to hold leaders accountable is the most important thing," concluded Sudanese scholar Ahmed An-Na'im, a Candler Professor of Law at Emory University, "whether it's political leaders, spiritual leaders or movement leaders."
"Andy Young never lets anybody forget that he walked with Dr. King," said Keith Jennings. "But this [speech praising Wolfowitz] ought to finally exhaust any good credit Andy built up from the days of the Movement. Andy hasn't been accountable to our communities or our needs for a long time now."