This article is a special tribute to honor Dr. Hans Blix, the Chairman of the Weapons of Mass Destruction Commission of the United Nations. The Fall and dismemberment of the Soviet Union and the end of the Cold War were seen by Americans, with the mindset of George Bush, as a great window of opportunity for the United States to fully assume her role as the one and only super power, and to start giving marching orders to the rest of the world, regardless of what that world may think or feel They rationalize their thinking by haphazardly applying the Madeline Albright doctrine which argues that powers are acquired by nations solely for the purpose of using them if and when absolutely necessary.
But the principled stand of a few distinguished International bureaucrats like Dr. Hans, Blix, El Barade and Brahimi, not to mention the Secretary-general himself, and of nations like France and Germany and to a less extent, China and Russia, has continued to prove that George Bush, in rushing to War, was totally wrong, and that it is time for America to start seeking a new direction in policy formulation and implementation that would restore back to America her rightful place in the world, not as a super power per se, but as the “primus inter pares” (first among equals} in the committee of nations.
The only super power like Jesus was, in the Holy Trinity concept, had neither silver or gold nor military power. It had only two things, namely moral suasion and world consensus based on representation and participation. That body, I dare suggest, in this article, is the United Nations as toothless a bulldog as it might have appeared to George Bush in his convoluted view of the world. One of those human beings who would appear to have now given the UN that leverage and legitimacy around the world, is none other than Dr. Hans Blix who could easily have become a billionaire, if money could buy his conscience. All he could easily have done was simply declare a verdict in his report that George Bush and the Dick Cheneys of this world had wanted to believe so bad to justify their rush towar.
If Hans Blix was a lesser mind, he had a perfect alibi he could easily have anchored his report upon, if he were, sorry to say, a Nigerian. I hate to stereotype Nigerians in this kind of negative way, but guess what? It is the painful truth. If all Dr. Blix was after is blood money, he could easily have remained silent on making a distinction between mere contacts and collaboration between the Government of Iraq and Al Qaeda which is what George Bush is now saying, and the great Doctor would have smiled all the way to the Bank to deposit his loot and that should have been the end of the whole brouhaha. If he was willing to play ball, he might even possibly have been given assurances from the United States under George Bush to back his candidature in the foreseeable future for the job of Secretary-general, if he hadwanted that as part of the bargain. I am saying so, because the Administration needed the corroboration so bad. and Hans Blix would have been the best person to give it. Hans Blix a man of steel and integrity had wanted none of that. He has proved to me and arguably to much of the world, that money was not the only “god” he worships. It is for that reason I really want to single him out for this tribute from my own perspective. I am doing so partly, because I am star-struck, and partly because I come from a part of the world, as I said earlier, where everything is possible, if the price is right with apologies to IBB. While some of the people reading this, may not fully comprehend my euphoria, and respect for Hans Blix, the loud and clear message coming out of Hans Blix’s conduct in the Iraqi quagmire, is awesomely overwhelming for me as a Nigerian. I don’t know about you That is the first reason I am bending over backwards to do this tribute to a man I have come to admire so much, if you can believe me.
The second reason is even more powerful. It is as if there are no more good, honest and decent people in a country of 120 million which I am proud, at one level, to call my own. I am often amazed that it appears that the older generation of Nigerian leaders, pre and post independence, are far more honest, committed and disciplined than our present generation of leaders across the board. You could say all you want about Azikiwe, Sardauna Bello, Obafemi Awolowo, Tafawa Balewa and Aminu Kano to mention just a few it is crystal clear that money and limitless acquisition of it was never their principal motivation for seeking public office to begin with, and no amount of money could have bought their conscience. It is a different story today, if you ask me or ask the current President of the Nigerian Senate, Honorable Wabara who was forthright enough to admit recently, that many of our Honorable men in the House and the Senate, talk less of Governor and Presidential candidates have always had to sell their houses and earthly possessions to get elected.
Therefore, their first order of priority on getting elected, or appointed to any public office, is to find the ways and means to recoup on their investment. Therefore serving the people and creating good Government becomes a secondary motive, if at all possible. Little wonder why corruption has eaten so deep into the very fabric of our country as we speak.
If Hans Blix has shared the Nigerian mindset, where would the U.N have been today is a question I could not help, but ask myself as I embark on this project. We have just been told how much Halliburton have had to spend as kickbacks in Nigeria to avoid paying due taxes or for taking more crude oil from our shores than Halliburton has ever paid for. How about the great ENRON and how much damage she as done in Nigeria in her so called effort to help increase the Electricity megawatts and to stabilize electric power distribution in Lagos State, and probably in Ekiti State under ex-Governor Adebayo. The more you look, the less you see.
How about Obasanjo’s so much talked about Commission to probe corrupt practices in the Public Sector? Obasanjo is almost half way through his second term, and not a single soul has been charged or ever fond guilty of any corruption. My good Lord who had turned water into wine and had used only five pieces of fish to feed millions must have done it again, some evangelical born-again Christians in Nigeria world have argued, trust me. IBB alone had admitted spending more than 7.5 million Naira and Alhaji Dangote more than 6.5 million Naira to bankroll our current President into office in 1999. If that has happened in America, the IRS would be seeking to know how much taxes the two gentlemen have paid into the Treasury, and whether there has been ant quid pro quo promised by the President for this special favor, as he was coming out of jail to walk straight to the presidential villa in Abuja.
Something just doesn’t smell right here, but we have all been programmed not to ask or tell while life goes on. If all these were happening in America, the President himself would be constantly under fire to explain how that had come about. Instead of that happening in Nigeria, it is the President himself that has thrown an open challenge for all those complaining, to either come out with provable evidence or to for ever keep their peace. That is the country I come from. I guess, you can now understand why my appreciation of Hans Blix and his integrity as a human being and public servant is hitting the roof, so to speak.
The World must thank God for the magnanimity and vision of the American founding fathers and those who had seen the need to add those crucial amendments to the great American Constitution which are often referred to as the Bill of Rights and Freedom of Expression to mention just two. There is additional reason to appreciate the younger generation of Americans for being faithful to their Constitution by taking diligent care of the magical torch that has been passed on to them as observed by John F. Kennedy at his inauguration. Freedom of expression in this country is a fact of life, and not just an aberration or some window dressing provisions put there, just to make America look good. But for such provisions and a strict adherence to them by who ever is in power in the United States, at any given point, this tribute would hardly have been possible, talk less of putting it out in this kind of format for the reading public to see and debate.
This appreciation is not really about America, it is about the values America stands for and profoundly represents and epitomizes around the world. Not only is Hans Blix a symbol of integrity and chutzpah, I mean he was not gagged to speak about what he did and what he found in Iraq. He was free to even publish a book on his finding and to freely and openly criticize (so to speak) a sitting Administration, all in an effort to put the records straight for posterity. It doesn’t get any better than that, if you ask me.
Now when you recall that Paul O’neil the Treasury Secretary under Bush, then Dick Clarke the counter terrorist adviser to two presidents, then the 9/11 Commission and then recently the eloquent Ronald Reagan Junior, to mention a few, are all on record as confirming the same position that Hans Blix has reported, ab initio, that his inspectors did not find any weapons of mass destruction to justify the War in Iraq. the initial gratitude for this conclusion belongs to Hans Blix first and foremost in my judgment.
This tribute, I must add, is anchored on a lecture delivered by Dr. Hans Blix to the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace at 1779, Massachusetts Avenue, NW, Washington, DC on June 22, 2004 and covered from the beginning to the end by C-span. It was a virtuoso performance on the part of Dr. Blix, but I give kudos to a system that would permit such a lecture to be aired at a time like this, when our war time President of the United States, supposedly the most powerful man in the world is fighting an uphill battle trying to convince American voters he deserves reelection regardless of the quagmire in Iraq, and the almost daily beheading of Americans and their allies shown on television, and the general hatred of his policies as president, around the world. Only in America!
For once I think President Bush has now come to realize that what goes around, comes around. When you are President of the United States, you, sure, live in the proverbial glass house, and therefore must never throw stones, because that might, sooner or later, come back to hunt you. President Bush had come to office pilling up on his predecessor, and making the whole world believe he was going to be different from Clinton. He was going to be a straight shooter, and would never lie to the Nation. Has he kept his promise? It depends on who you ask? My own answer is that he has not.
One could easily see that Bush the Second has himself been going through his own baptism of Fire of a different nature from that of Clinton. He is now in a position to better appreciate Bill Clinton and his wife, as he led them to unveil their official portraits in the White House recently. Those who argue that George Bush did not mean all the encomiums showered on Mr. and Mrs. Clinton, at that ceremony, simply did not know what they are talking about. I have to believe that John Kerry who might well succeed George Bush is already learning a very valuable lesson, by clearly resisting the temptation to pay George Bush back in his own coins by going negative or trying to overtly criticize or second-guessing the President’s decision to rush to War.
John Kerry instinctively knew, like many of us, his supporters did not fully appreciate, that if he becomes President, cutting and run from Iraq, could never have been a viable option for him as well. He has got no other choice than to persevere and to finish the job, because American long term strategic interest around the world, demands no less. Since America is already in Iraq, there is no going back without finishing the job as also opined b President Clinton why answering questions on his new autobiography. All that may change are the methodology and the enabling policies. American goal remains the same, come rain or shine. That is the beauty and the uniqueness of American Politics that I may appear so fixated upon in this column time and again.
I have just finished reading “Disarming Iraq” written by Hans Blix. I take off my hat again for Dr. Blix’s insightful and courageous conclusions and viewpoints in that book. First of all, I have to congratulate the best African Secretary-general of the United Nations, the unflappable, Kofi Annan, for his very wise and visionary selection of Dr. Hans Blix for that job. He could not have made a better pick. I also have to agree with Dr. Blix, that all fair-minded readers of that book would have come to the same conclusion with the author that “Disarming Iraq” would, for ever, remain in the non-fiction list of all books ever written on the Iraq War. I am totally sold on the conclusion, that Dr. Hans Blix has made the most persuasive case on the presumption by many in this nation and around the world, that President George Bush had indeed rushed to war, refusing to give peace a chance, and using phony or highly exaggerated arguments at best, to get the Congress to reluctantly pass the war resolution for which George Bush is today blackmailing John Kerry without telling the whole story.
Dr. Blix had made the point, and it is hard for anybody who is not privileged to as much information as the learned Doctor has had, to effectively contradict or second-guess him. He has made the case and he is right, that the Iraqi war was totally avoidable as Saddam was already put in a box in his own country long before the War. Dr. Blix had argued, it might have taken a longer time to get rid of Saddam, but it was clear he (Saddam) had been terribly weakened and neutralized by 12 years of sanction and relentless bombing by the allied forces at the slightest provocation or excuse. Dr. Blix had opined that Saddam had come to recognize that open defiance of the allied forces and sheer bravado had become the only option left to him as a dictator, and it was clear that such bravado was never going to last or sustain him in power much longer than anticipated by most people.
Dr. Blix had, forcefully, argued that most of the members on the inspection team from the United Kingdom and the United States, were very well known to Saddam and to the Iraqi chain of command, to have come from the Special Services a euphemism for the CIA and the Scotland Yard of both nations. Dr. Blix has correctly attributed the Iraqi intransigence, opposition and obstruction of the inspection efforts to that awareness or resentment. For that reason coercive and intrusive inspection had therefore become totally undesirable and unworkable in the circumstance that Saddam had found himself. All the same, if the allied forces led by the United States, had allowed the inspectors enough time to finish their job, Saddam would surely have been totally disarmed, and the war would not have been necessary, and all the money and blood spilled, would have been saved, and the hatred America now faces in the most volatile region of the world would have been nipped in the bud for good. Who can disagree with that conclusion? Nobody, I dare say.
There can be no question that America, as a great nation, has had more than her own fair share of geniuses and brains in this planet, but with men like Hans Blix., Kofi Annan,, Madiba Nelson Mandela and Pope John Paul the Second, to mention a few, America must now begin to realize and appreciate that men of timber and caliber are no longer the exclusive preserve of the United States alone, and must now actively begin to reconsider the wisdom of saying “it is either my way or the High way, and that you are either with America or against America” Such arrogant streak as the one displayed by President Bush in crafting his policies around the world are clearly counterproductive, and must be jettisoned or drastically reviewed in the best interest of America and the World at large. I take off my hat for Hans Blix one more time, and so should you, if you do agree with me. I thank you all.
I rest my case.