Who is Howard Jeter Kidding?

by Banjo Odutola

This US Ambassador to Nigeria surely has some nerves; does he not? You need to read his submissions about the Iraq War and deduce that he is in indeed His Master’s Voice (HMV) of prevarications at the worst and half-truths at best. As this Ambassador has come into our public space to peddle these awry reasons for an aggression of shame, he should be prepared for Nigerians in Diaspora, who have no use for his visitors’ visas, threats from his government and our citizens, who are not as stupid as his country thinks of the rest of the third world, would respond to expose him with the information that we richly enjoy from unbiased sources.

This American-British aggression against a small Islamic people and State in the Middle East is not about Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD) because the process of inspection led by Dr. Hans Blix, Executive Chairman, United Nations (UN) Monitoring, Verification, and Inspection Commission (UNMOVIC) and Dr. Mohamed El Baradei, Director General (IAEA), in their reports to the Security Council showed this US Administration misled it in the evidence produced to assist them. A UN Diplomat has not for a long time been so shame faced as the US Secretary of State – listening to his so-called evidence, as a pack of lies.

The United States and Britain are not the only members of the UN Security Council, so what if they did not believe that the inspection was yielding results. Others, like France, Russia and China believed in the process and they said so. In fact, France and Germany made clear that they were against the position of the aggressors who call themselves liberators but are only bullies.

This war is not about the defiance of the United Nations, as the Ambassador wants us to believe. If it were, why has the United States ignored the defiance of Israel in its failure to observe Resolution 242 and many others, for the last thirty years? It is a war that separates the allies of the US, from those countries that are unwilling for it to ride shod over them.

This war is not about Saddam Hussein terrorising his neighbours; Jeter should tell Nigerians of the parts played by his country and particularly, its present Secretary of Defence, Donald Rumsfeld, in the war against Iran; the arming of Iraq with weapons to aid it against a country, which the US president brands as a part of his ill-advised ‘axis of evil’.

When this Ambassador talks about the defiance and ignominy of Saddam; he cannot square his own country’s defiance of the UN and world opinion – going to war without a clear UN resolution. It is disgraceful that he would use Resolution 1441 as a pretext for this aggression; this exposes his lack of understanding of the Resolution and negotiations preceding it. In fact, International Law Experts who argue the justification of the aggression are using the 1991 Resolution as a cover and a stretch of legal interpretation.

Kofi Annan, the UN Secretary General has branded this war as illegal and so have many other International Law Experts. So, what is the difference between Saddam, who has built up weapons to deter Israel and other Arab neighbours from attacking his country and the US and Britain, who have supplied him with the capabilities to build the weapons. This is a case of taking Iraq’s Military Arms money, ignoring earlier protests of parliamentarians and Congressmen against arming Saddam, only to turn round and brand him as evil. Is it not rich for the US to brand any nation as evil? Its track records in Vietnam, Panama, etc and injecting of black men with Syphilis for a medical experiment are hardly enviable. This war is about the superpower that this US administration believes. Or, how else would you explain the phone call to President Obasanjo, when he, Thabo Mbeki and that Senegalese took a stand against aggression?

If Jeter were serving under Jimmy Carter, he would not have written the balderdash and arrant nonsense he argued. Carter submits that this is not a Just War, it is a war that weakens long held moral authority of the US and that is true; a war that challenges pacts and co-operations the US built over centuries. And, Carter is not alone; there have been resignations of US public officials who disagree with the US-British aggression. Take for example, in the UK, the Leader of the House of Commons and formerly the Foreign Secretary along with some government ministers resigned over the same issue. Here, it baffles so many people that the Labour Party, which stands for Peace and Justice, is the same, whose government is now waging a war on the flimsiest of excuses with a US Republican Government.

It is bizarre that in pursuit of this aggression, the UK government has weakened NATO, European Union and the UN – so says Robin Cook in his resignation statement. Look at what this aggression has done to the Arab Leaders; a summit of their Heads of Governments was reduced to nothing but a disgraceful indecorous and expletives trading one. I just cannot see the sense in the position taken by this Ambassador. He may possibly consider that he lives in a country in which the people are backward – so do Americans like to think of Africa; let him know that in Nigeria, we are educated enough to know the truth of an aggression when we see one.

Is this not the same Ambassador that wondered why Nigerians were concerned about the Iraqi plight, when there are enough wars and strife in Africa to concentrate the mind? At that time, I chose not to comment on his inane vituperation, simply because it was beneath contempt. I am proven right because he now shows himself as a diplomat who shoots from the mouth. I rise to his submission, only because if he were serving in the UK, my rights are protected enough to contradict him and I do it now in such a spirit. If, I were in Nigeria, I would be in danger of confronting an ‘American Ambassador’. Someday, I hope our people can challenge the type of arrogance in Jeter, regardless of being an American Ambassador. Anyway, who cares, what he is; I am concerned with the misinformation that he peddles in my country. I shall return to an aspect of this US-UK aggression as it bears for Nigeria.

When Jeter said “it is not a war against a people; it is not a war against a country. It is a war against a bad, disingenuous, and very, very dangerous regime. Saddam Hussein must go, and ultimately, he will.” These lies are unfortunate. If the war is not against the Iraqi people, he should turn his cable television to Al-Jazeera Network and watch little children whose stomachs were ripped open and their intestines are dangling because of the missiles fired by the troops from his country. Let him say this hubris to ordinary Iraqis who are witnessing the realities of this aggression as reported, not by the mainstream media broadcast, who are weapons of the aggressors but by many independent reports from Iraq at the www.indymedia.org website. These reports are from people, who are not the so called ’embedded’.

The gravity of the asinine declaration that Saddam must go as the Ambassador states is at the heart of this aggression. Read the reaction of Nelson Mandela of South Africa to that charge. Mandela questions the rights of the United States to determine or overthrow a sovereign government. Look, the example is clear. I can well imagine that Tony Blair got on the Bandwagon of this aggression because of his silly new world order philosophy, in which after this aggression, he could have counted on the US to support him in bringing about a change of government in Zimbabwe. Now, that the hawks in the US administration blame him for the failure of their government contemplating a second resolution to Resolution 1441, he would be lucky to keep his job than get rid of Robert Mugabe. As Mandela argues, it is wrong for the aggressors to intervene militarily in Iraq. If you doubt that position, wait until Nigeria antagonises the US.

Jeter further argues that the US “genuinely wants peace in the Middle East. The United States is working closely with the United Nations, the European Union, and Russia to that end. President Bush is personally very committed to seeing peaceful coexistence between Israel and a future Palestinian state. I also want to assure all Nigerians that this is not a war about oil. We have made clear that Iraq’s oil riches will be used in the post-Saddam era for the benefit of the Iraqi people and in the rebuilding of their country. Iraq’s oil is important but it is not decisive.” Who does he think he is Kidding? Of course, he has heard of the Israeli response to the Azure communiqué. Why not tell Nigerians about that.

There are two assertions in that statement. But we need to inform the Ambassador that since Yasser Arafat agreed to appoint a Prime Minister agreeable to Washington, the ‘road map to peace’ that his president is personally committed seems lost on the road to Iraq.

When he argues that Iraqi oil riches will be used in the post Saddam regime to benefit the Iraqi people. I trust that he is also saying that Iraq’s wealth becomes American at the end of the aggression and the US decides how the money is spent. This brings two questions and a familiar rhetoric to mind – Firstly, should he not tell Nigerians that under the laws of his nation, USAID funds, which is to be used in the construction of Iraq, is intended for US companies primarily. Secondly, if it is not about Iraqi’s oil, should the aggressors not place Iraqi oil revenue under a UN Trust? But, that is not going to happen. The US Secretary of State has said that his government would not countenance such a move. Thirdly, the ambassador talks about “…the oil resources that Iraq possesses should be used for the benefit of Iraqi people and not for a small group of political sycophants and military protectors.” This sounds familiar and it is about the only posit of the ambassador that I share. Seriously, could the same charge not be sustained in Nigeria? But, this Ambassador is only being mischievous or sounding a veiled warning to us. Those who have benefited under all military and democratic governments in this nation had better take cover. The benefits the Ambassador talks about are only set to accrue to US companies as in Kuwait. That is wrong.

In closing, I return to the exposure that this aggression has brought about. I am impressed by the ingenuity of the Iraqi scientists. Arguably, their efforts could have been directed to produce useful material instead of what their country is being punished for by the US and UK aggression. This is a developing world that has produced weapons that frighten the so-called developed world. It is impaling that in Nigeria, where we have the best brains, we import orange juice and toothpicks and there is no evidence that our government is seriously engaging our scientists to become as useful as the Iraqis. I am not advocating that we copy Saddam’s blue print, is it not time that we redirect our national scientific and material development into an enviable position?

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