In my life time, I have been a witness to amazing history. Even so, I am troubled by current events. It seems we are deluged by old and new problems: pervasiveness of underdevelopment in much of the world; mass migration; the Palestinian-Israeli conflicts; proliferation of nuclear and biological weapons; cyber-hacking; the great divide between the Global North and South; and international terrorism. The world, it seems, got rid of hegemonies and gained disorder and volatility. Today we live in a Unipolar world; a world dominated mostly by the whimsical wishes of the United States. Not since ancient Rome had there been such an incontrovertible and preeminent power. But guess what happened to ancient Rome.
Unfortunately, we have in the American White House, a president that is hell bent on bringing about untold chaos, calamity, war and unbridled pain and suffering on the people of the Middle East. We have in George Bush a president who has no respect for the collective wishes of the international community. He thumbed his nose at the Kyoto Treaty and belittled the ICJ. My God! This president is acting like a loose cannon bent on wrecking havoc on international peace and security. We have a loose canon and no one seems able, or willing to stop him, or check his excesses!
Concerning his personal vendetta with President Hussein, well, Saddam was a doomed man right from the start. Had he refused the current round of UN inspections – he and his country would have been bombed months ago. And now that the inspectors are doing their jobs — the US tells us the inspections are of no use. What is the matter with the United States? Must she always disparage international law and international opinion?
The Washingtonian rule is simple: obey international law when it suits and serve your purpose; otherwise abandon international decorum, disparage it and cast it aside. And that is sad! If the world allow Bush and his team of realist and war-thirsty hawks to get away with their criminal intent — posterity will not be kind to those who should have stood at the side of truth, justice and international law. It is almost too late, but still, it gladdens my heart to know that the French, Germans, Chinese and the Russians are refusing to be coerced into this round of criminality that is being perpetuated by George Bush and his henchmen. In the current dispute, Tony Blair would forever be remembered as Bush’s zombie.
Sometimes, I wonder. I wonder about the role of Africa and Africans on the world stage. I wondered about the stance and the temerity of our leaders (in times of national and international crisis). What is Africa’s role in today’s world in terms of effecting and affecting global changes; economic and human development; peace and security? And I have said it again and again and again about how Africa — especially Nigeria — lacks leaders with vision, strength of character, and moral uprightness.
Leadership has always been our bane. However, events in the recent past made me proud and joyous: the stance taken by Archbishop Desmond Tutu and the resolute statesman, Nelson Mandela. Their unflinching condemnation of Bush’s arrogance and the evil of an unwarranted and unjust war are pleasing. Canberra, London, DC, Ankara, Tel Aviv, and other capitals may not admit it; still, the voices of Mandela and Tutu echoed in the walls and hearts of peace-loving people the world over.
“The hottest places in hell” Alighieri Dante postulated, “are reserved for those who in times of great moral crises maintain their neutrality.” In this time of crisis, opinion-makers and well-meaning men and women of international status ought to warn the White House and the Pentagon of the nonsensicality of war, depraved aggression and the untold suffering that will befall helpless and hapless Iraqis. It is sad that those who should be sounding the warning bell are silent. And their silence is deafening.
Some are silent out of fear of the White House and of the far-reaching arms of US government agents; while others are afraid they might go out of favor with Bush. And then there are nation states that are silent because they might lose the token financial aids and technical assistance they receive from Washington. For all those nations and opinion-makers who are silent in this period of grave crisis – may you all rot in hell; and to those country and people who sold their soul for tokens, may your place in hell be the hottest.
President Saddam Hussein is said to have gassed his people and deprived them of their human rights; well so have the Russians in their dealings with the Chechens freedom fighters and the Moscow hostages. In matters like these, the Americans and the British are not innocent, either. For they have American Indians, and the blood of Africans on their hands. And even today, under their glare, the oil companies in the Delta region of Nigeria are exploiting, and depriving people of their rights. Have they taken the time to caution these companies from degrading the environment? What is going on in the Delta (Bayelsa) region of Nigeria is injurious and disgraceful. But hey, who cares. So long as they get their cheap oil and cheap labor – the indigenes can go to hell!
Where were these pontificators…these sudden paragons of morality and of human rights when the Apartheid regime in South Africa was abridging the rights of black South Africans; where were they when Sanni Abacha was running amok; where were they when Robert Mugabe was assaulting his opponents and his critics? If Robert Mugabe had not made the mistake of messing with White Zimbabweans — but instead had belittled, demeaned and violated the rights of just the Black Zimbabweans – neither America nor the EU would have voiced concern. As far as brutality and savagery goes, Mugabe is a neophyte compared to other thugs and bandit in Africa and the Middle East.
The Middle East is home to some of the most brutal dictators in the world; and these brutes do visit the Americas and Europe on a regular basis to parley with their mentors. Is America and Britain complaining about such men and their intermestic policies? Let the oil flow…let the hard currency flow…let the cheap labor flow and the West will leave you alone. This is one of the sad parts of international politics — the unseen and untold part of an otherwise noble art. During the Cold War, it was okay for governments to kill, persecute their own people, and loot the public treasury so long as the government and head of government was anti-communist.
Today, it is okay for governments to lynch their own people, violate their human rights, sodomize and torture them in solitary confinements so long as the offending governments are “against terrorism and against Osama bin Laden.” Islamabad, Addis Ababa, Kuwait, Riyadh, Cairo and Sanaa all understood this – the new politics of President Bush’s axis of evil mentality.
The heartache that I feel is not limited to the silence, injustice, hypocrisy and the duplicity of the United States and the West. Take the case of the Palestinians and the Israelis. How could the global system not feel compelled to rescue Chairman Yassar Arafat and his people? Doesn’t “freedom and self-determination” mean anything to humanity anymore? How could the world allow such calamity, genocide, cleansings, humiliation and degradation of the Palestinians to take place? Arafat and his disciples are to Palestinians what the founding fathers of Israel were to the state of Israel.
The same people that suffered unimaginable humiliation in the hands of Adolph Hitler are now visiting the same punishment on their neighbors; the same people who fought for, and achieved self-determination and political independence are now depriving others of their right to safe haven and statehood; the same people who felt persecuted (and were indeed persecuted) are now the judge, jury and executioners of defenseless stone throwing Palestinians. The Palestinians have now become what the Jews were: homeless. This is heart wrenching, objectionable and pitiful. What an unjust new world order!