Africa & Beyond

Obama and New US Diplomacy 2

Speaking to students at the New Economic School in Moscow on July 7, 2009, the US President, Barak Obama, called on the US and Russia “… to come out of their ideological trenches and save the world which has reached the brink of a new catastrophy.” He reiterated what a student had posited in 1993 that “… the real world is not as rational as on paper.”

Obama said that America would not dictate forms of government to other states and would respect the sovereignty of other nations. This had been the US practice which set America against other states in the world. US/Soviet and US/Russia international relations have been based on treaties. Anglo-American-Soviet-Russian international treaties have played a major role in the progressive development of international law since the Second World War.

The US established diplomatic relations with the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics on 16th November, 1933. Comrade Molotov, Andrei Gromyko and Anatoly Dobryinin ably negotiated on behalf of the Soviet Union, while Dr. Henry Kissinger, Robert McNamara and others held the fort for American diplomacy.

US/Soviet diplomatic relations were a cloak and dagger affair, full of intrigues and subterfuges on both sides.

Most US/Soviet, US/Russian talks have mostly centred on nuclear disarmament. The Obama government approach is sincerely well-informed and frank. One wonders why the limitations of armed forces and armaments, especially conventional forces have remained on the permanent agenda of US/Soviet/Russian strategic dialogue since 1948. The apparent reason for this is that some people have been profiting from the arms trade and since these people occupy and have occupied recurrent positions in both the US and Russian governments, they have represented the interests of the military-industrial complex for decades. For example, Bob MacNamara, who died recently had been a political and military dinosaur for decades. He, not only recruited and mentored political leaders around the globe, he was behind most of the Western powers negotiations on disarmament. He had forcefully argued that disarmament must begin with both atomic and conventional weapons and that full disclosure of information on armed forces and armaments and the ability to verify the information, are cardinal principles for disarmament talks.

Canada and the United States have collaborated closely on disarmament. France and Britain had insisted on ceilings for military personnel in their various proposals. Various numbers were suggested but verifications have always proved problematic. Between 1954-55, active Soviet and US negotiations, ten years after the Second World War, were constructive and in-depth, but changes in political leadership in the United States of America, threw up leaders who were very hawkish and suspicious of Soviet motives.

“McCarthyism”, “containment of Communism”, “the hand of Moscow”, “export of revolution” and other formidably-coined hyperboles stultified disarmament negotiations in the 1960’s.

Exaggerated and misplaced notions were propagated by Ivy League “Sovietologists”, who hyped US-Soviet relations. They regarded other scholars who ventured into Soviet enquiries as engaging in “un-American activities”. The telling effect of this narrow-minded, didactic sophism is being felt in US-Russian relationship which President Barack Obama is frankly seeking to re-set. Walter Lacquer, Henry Kissinger, Elspeth Huxley, Zieb Brzezinski raised the anti-Soviet hysteria to a crescendo that deafened every listening ear with dire warnings.

It is gratifying that all have been alive to see a total reversal of their positions by the new Obama administration. The Geneva Summit of 1955 and the Arms Control Conference in 1958 put back the Nehru “standstill agreement” idea, which he suggested in 1954, on the front-burner. How to deal with nuclear explosion, discontinuance of nuclear weapons tests, demilitarisation remained issues on every disarmament talks beyond 1965 and till today.

Obama’s plan on a new nuclear culture which President Medvedev supports should review in-depth, the various obligations in the nuclear and arms control agreements (1954-2009).

Non-proliferation of nuclear weapon, verification of the state of stockpiled arsenal, some now leaking, as a result of under-sea storage must be vigorously canvassed.

The deaths of fish as a result of under-sea storage of nuclear weapons could deplete fish hauls in twenty years.

Physical protection of nuclear material and waste is an important step if we must reduce the risk of such materials which are now the object of Western trade. The Koko port incident in Nigeria cannot be forgotten too soon.

Under the Environmental Modification Convention signed in 1977, the idea was to avoid the mass destruction of aquatic life and fauna through the adverse use of “environmental modification techniques” which Goldlblat sternly warned against at various disarmament conferences.

By the hostile use of techniques, Goldblat explains that “the hostile use of techniques could produce earthquakes, tsunamis, an upset of the environmental balance of a region or changes in weather patterns (cloud precipitations, cyclones of various types, tornadoes and storms) There could be changes in climate patterns in ocean current, in the state of ozone layer and in the state of the ionosphere. Radioactive material weapons pose a challenge too. These are the reasons why climate change and nuclear disarmament concerns should remain paramount in Obama’s diplomatic negotiations with states with nuclear arsenals. He also seeks multilateral action against Iran. It is advisable to handle these matters with care. North Korea should not be pushed to revolt! I have often watched some African delegates during disarmament conferences.

Africa’s contribution is limited to nodding agreements and concurring votes are registered. They always find conference papers “in good and due forum”, so they often rush to sign these agreements or leave them to gather dust.

A critical survey of our participation in disarmament talks shows that those scholars who are knowledgeable in the fields of nuclear science, are never invited.

Very often a swarming hive of officials attend these conferences just like the terming lot that messed up the Nigeria-Cameroon. Boundary and Territorial case.

Obama In Ghana

The scholastic logic in President Barrack Obama’s speech to the Ghanaian Parliament, his thinking, perception and reflections were more hortatory than policy affirmations. As an after dinner speech, it could have been better received.

It is very interesting that the President espoused complex views about the African conditions, which we feel more than sympathizers. However, there seems to have been repeated generalizations as if Africa were a one- state entity like America! To use Ghana as a metaphor for broad conclusions on Africa, did not meet the tenets of modal logic or formal logic.

The deepening pauperisation of the people in some African states has its roots in the economic policies, aid mechanism of Western nations. As a result, our people’s existence is jeopardised and the casualty issue has become purely metaphysical.

Ethical problems were addressed in Obama speech but if Obama had rudimentary acquaintance with societal systems and practices in some African states, he would have appreciated the problems better.

These problems flow from lack of legitimacy, expertise and tele-guidance from afar, using African leaders. To create conditions worthy of man in some African states we must go beyond hortatory speeches no matter how elegantly delivered. The problem is that US governments def

er to African governments and the ordinary people are sacrificial lambs in all seasons.

If Africans were “a fundamental part of our interconnected world, as partners with America”, the US media dampens the enthusiasm of entrepreneurship through their reportage in which they tirelessly and with glee report about wars, disasters, aids and curious things.

This ugly and shameful process has been sustained by the US and European press. The worst aspect is that this cretinism of mis-reporting Africa has been condoned for decades, even by those who seem enlightened enough to know. The ultimate felony of bad reporting has been committed by many Euro-American journalists and writers in the last fifty years. They regularly violated all intellectual etiquette on information dissemination. Their sweeping and unsupported generalisations paint pictures of metaphoric perils in an altogether metaphoric continent.

They put bias into every facet of their professional work in order to sell their lies to a naïve Euro-American with glee can audience, only eager to hear the worst about Africa. These “purchasable libertines” come cheap.

Obama may wish to talk about pejorative comments on Africa based on ignorance. There must be partnership grounded in mutual responsibilities and that is what Obama must continue to talk about. Also, the inequality in the international division of labour which is tilted against Africa was not adequately covered in the Accra speech. History cannot move if this remains the same.
“Seeing only tragedy or the need for charity” in Africa, has remained a Euro-American pastime. Even when “moments of promise” manifest, they are dwarfed by cynicism and laughter. The aid-giver is King, who must who must pontificate wisdom to the done.

If America feels very bad about “leaders who exploit the economy to enrich themselves and change constitution to stay in power”, why did America support the Honduran opportunist, who, having subscribed to a five-year term, dramatically changed his mind and tried to extend his stay? He should be told the truth.

“Western Consultants, like the World Bank and their all-knowing experts often do not work in Africa’s interest. Sixty-three billion US Dollars aid to Africa is a drop in the ocean but we cannot but be grateful. The problem is that Western leaders profusely promise heaven and paradise but do not fulfil their promises.

Our leaders cream off the loot, if they ever do. It is the ultimate in criminality but who can stop them? “Freedom is our inheritance”. Yes, but it is elusive.
Perhaps, the next time President Barrack comes calling, he will remember that to talk about a continent of such great diversity needs a lot more than a hortatory speech.
Case studies of African states by genuine Africanists may yield better and deeper knowledge. America will be greater if she can drop her firm belief in being right all the time. It is refreshing to see that Obama believes a more accommodating posture should be pursued, The US may insist on writing all the essays but they should allow the rest to supply the foot-notes.

Africa in History

In Virgil’s Aeneid, we learnt that Queen Dido was the founder of Carthage, a colony, near what is now Tunis. Queen Ranavalona of Madagascar, now Malagasy,was erudite and wrote a Code of Civil Laws, Queen Amina of Zaria, Queen Idia of Benin were women of African descent who impacted on the development of their enclaves.

In Africa, especially in Ghana, women play a dominant role in family life. They trade and bring up and instil discipline in their children.

Respect for mother and father is a priced virtue in Africa. The much-touted Euro-American civilisation has lost the moral component that ensures a harmonious societal existence. Hence, the tumult in Euro-American states, of children shooting fellow school-mates and hedonistic behaviour becoming prevalent.

Euro-American art and religion are both merely restatements of African models and patterns, vulgarised and encumbered by barbaric accretions. African art has been much the object of pillage and theft by civilised states.

Old African political systems embodied the best elements monarchical, aristocratic and democratic institutions. Long before the Americans became a sovereign entity in 1776, the Kingdom of Kanem Bornu had traded with the Ottoman Sultan of Istanbul in the 12th century and had established a diplomatic mission in Tripoli. The University of Timbuktu and Fez in Morocco disseminated knowledge at a time European nations were encumbered.

The Kingdom of Benin had diplomatic relations with Portugal in 1493. The Kingdom of Songhai, Mali, Ghana, Ba Congo, Zimbabwe flourished before Arab traders and Portuguese traders came to fetch slaves, gold and ivory. Bartholomew Diaz. blamed
mosquitoes and the inclement weather as an impediment to slave-catching.

Mosquitoes and the hot sum fought for Africa. The West must show humility and learn more about African history in order to better understand why the Old GUINEA, which still has its remnants from Guinea Bissau, Republic of Guinea to Papua New Guinea far from Africa, thrived on GUINEA GOLD. President Barack may wish to commission a full study of African history, so that by the time he visits Africa again, he would not rely on hackneyed, slanted information about his fatherland.

The gold-brick approach to African studies and getting information from African artists, itinerant European travellers and fleeting journalistic reports constitute a lazy man’s apology.

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