While the West, and even other African nations, are now officially condemning Zimbabwe’s Robert Mugabe for the cruelty and injustice of his regime, they are still cozying up to a leader with an arguably more atrocious record.  Across the continent from Zimbabwe, Equatorial Guinea’s Teodoro Obiang holds the presidency of the oil-rich nation in an iron fist.  He’s been in power since he orchestrated a coup in 1979 against his own uncle.  Under his regime the country has gone from bad to worse in terms of human rights, the rule of law and economic development.

So, why does the U.S. like the guy?  Well, for one, we’re addicts and he’s our dealer.  Equatorial Guinea is the third-largest oil exporter in sub-Saharan Africa.    Journalist Peter Maass details the oppression of Obiang’s government and the unctuous reasons for our warm relations in this excellent and succinct article on Slate.

I had read the article by Maass a little while ago, but then I noticed that the BBC was reporting on the results of the trial of Simon MannMann was involved in the 2004 coup attempt that Sir Mark Thatcher, son of former PM Margaret Thatcher, was believed to have “unwittingly financed.”   Now, Mann doesn’t seem like the most upright of world citizens, but I have to wonder if this isn’t a case where the enemy of our enemy is our friend.  Isn’t the U.S. (and our allies) in the business of deposing dictators of oil-rich nations?