US Foreign Policy: Isolationism or Strategy Change?

Introduction

Anyone who followed the three US Presidential debates (Barack Obama vs Mitt Romney) and the VP Debate (Ryan Paul Vs Joe Biden) may have noticed something I noticed in the last Presidential debate. While it was meant to be a debate on Foreign Policy, both Presidential Candidates  seemed more comfortable with ‘taking’ the debate back home to domestic discussions. This may seem unusual to those who expected to hear the candidates thrill viewers and the electorate with their policies for the next four years, but the reality is that it is far from being unusual given the recent state of US foreign policy.  Two things could be deduced from the debate

  • First, some of the US electorate are not interested in what the foreign policy of their presidents are, hence to convince the undecided voters, attention had to be drawn constantly to domestic policy.
  • Secondly, the candidates really had nothing to sell in terms of foreign policy.

In fact for the most part, both Obama and Romney were in agreement on almost every aspect of US Foreign policy – from Iraq, to Libya, to Afghanistan, Pakistan, China and Iran. The only notable difference was that while Obama thought he was doing enough and needed to sustain that (something which Republican Former Secretary of State Colin Powell agrees with), Romney thought there was need to go much further. They differed therefore only on the intensity of sanctions, the time frame for troop-withdrawals and the manner of interventions. However, whether Romney is a ‘whopper’ or not, is really of no consequence but I daresay that for him to have tagged Obama’s Middle East visit an ‘Apology tour’ means he may not be realising the changing tide of US Foreign Policy. This should not be surprising since the current policy is largely due to lessons learned from the mistakes created by people who thought like Romney.

The lessons from Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya and even Syria are enough to make any US president think twice before talking as if declaring war on the first provocation, or carrying out an outright intervention, or even challenging China is fashionable. The laid-back attitude of the USA is one that therefore makes one wonder if they will soon be reconsidering isolationism or if they are simply adopting a new strategy.

Lessons From Afghanistan…

Upon the ousting of the USSR from Afghanistan in 1979, the USA thought they had scored a major victory and surely there would have been pats on backs when the USSR finally collapsed 10 years later. But just about 11 years after the collapse of the USSR, the biggest attack on American soil in recent memory took place and is largely acclaimed to have been hatched in Afghanistan. Some may therefore wonder if it would have been better if the USSR had stayed on in Afghanistan. Without thinking, Bush went on to declare war against the Taliban – a war that has not only consumed great numbers of US and NATO troops but one that has decimated large civilian populations in both Afghanistan and Pakistan and keeps terrorising people through incessant drone attacks. Most significant to this is the fact that the 2014 deadline for withdrawal does not signal victory for the USA and her allies. A lesson must surely have been learned.

Iraq: Anything to Learn?

Iran is considered today to be a serious threat to the USA and Israel especially if they succeed in getting a nuclear weapon. In the 1980’s this same Iran was caught in a long-drawn war with Iraq, a war that ended in what can be termed an ‘uneasy understanding’ between the two countries. In 1990/91, Operation Desert Storm against Iraq weakened the country considerably, and in 2003, the invasion by George W. Bush, which led to the killing of Saddam Hussein threw the country in to complete chaos and created a power vacuum, one that is quickly being filled by Iran, especially given the withdrawal of US troops from Iraq. The US withdrew without achieving anything positive both for them and the Iraqis by the intervention. A lesson was surely learned.

Paying a New Price in Libya – Lesson for Syria?

The above two cases may have sent a warning note to the US about interfering too much, hence, when it got to Libya, they took a passive position initially and left France and the UK to take the lead. When it became very tough for NATO and the war was dragging on more than anticipated, the US had to come in, or fallout with her European allies. They did and killed Gaddafi and a puppet regime was installed. Less than a year later, on the anniversary of 9/11, the US again paid a big price. While the UK ambassador was earlier targeted, he was luckier than his US counterpart. Unfortunately, there is no one in Libya for the USA to go after directly, so the withdrawal attitude this time was to divert the cause of the attack to religious fundamentalism.

In the light of this, it is not surprising therefore that the USA has been taking a different attitude towards Syria. Though out-rightly seeking the overthrow of Al Assad, supporting rebel factions and admitting it will be a blow if Al Assad does not fall eventually, they  have been reluctant to push enough to get full scale Libya-style ‘humanitarian’ intervention. No matter how Syria plays out in the end therefore, the US will not be able to claim any direct role in its outcome. Hence, if it turns out sour, they will not be responsible, though that will mean Iran’s influence will extend to the Mediterranean. But if it turns out the way the US wants, their objective of isolating Iran will have been realised. The long and short of all this is that the USA is gradually slowing down on its role as the self-acclaimed policeman of the world.

Isolationism – Maybe Not

From George Washington’s farewell speech, to  the First World War, the USA showed great reluctance to becoming involved in European alliances and wars. Their policy of Isolationism is based on the view that America’s perspective on the world was different from that of European societies and that America could advance the cause of freedom and democracy by means other than war. This worked well until their brief involvement in WW I against the Central Powers. Their later rejection of the Treaty of Versailles and consequently never becoming a member of the League of Nations, meant that the interwar years was a quick return to isolationism. However, it is worthy of mention that US isolationism did not mean complete disengagement from the world stage. The United States continued to be a world player and to further its territorial, ideological and economic interests, particularly in the Western Hemisphere.

Coming into WW II in 1940 against Germany and Japan in 1941, seemed to have been the final blow to Isolationism, especially with the USA actively participating in the formation of the United Nations, the International Monetary Fund and the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development.  The post war Marshal Plan and the onslaught of the Cold War meant the USA had reached the point of no return – at least until events of the last decade and most importantly, the last few years.

But is the USA again going to isolationism? I really think not. The reason is simple – while the US Presidential candidates discussed different aspects of Foreign Policy, there was no direct mention of their active role in Africa, (except the moments when Romney mentioned Mali and Libya as parts of happenings in the Middle East).

Africa – Integral Part of a New Strategy?

The non-mention of Africa is no ordinary omission given that just last year President Obama deployed 100 U.S. troops to Uganda to conduct a  search for Joseph Kony, leader of the Lord’s Resistance Army in what I questioned whether it was a mission of Liberation or Reconolisation.  If that question seemed out of place then, it may not anymore given that the Army Times news service recently stated that the U.S. plans to deploy more than 3,000 soldiers to Africa in 2013.

It is therefore obvious that the US is not really thinking of Isolationism in the pre-1940 style, because, while they may have been taking a back seat attitude following recent losses and setbacks especially in the Middle East, their attitude in Africa has been one of active colonisation. This is especially when one thinks of operations such as “Cutlass Express”, the naval exercise that focused on fighting piracy in the Somali Basin region; “Africa Endeavor 2012” in Cameroon aimed at coordinating and training military communications and the Battalion Intervention Rapide in the same Cameroon (initially said to be aimed at fighting armed terrorism along the northern borders, but which has effectively become a force stationed in the Naval base of Limbe and was used to help Biya crackdown on protests in 2008 and change the constitution that helped him hold on to power)

Others such as the “Southern Accord 12” in Botswana aimed at establishing a military working relationship between southern African military forces and the U.S, and the “Western Accord 2012”  in Senegal that involved every type of military operation from fire exercises, intelligence gathering to combat marksmanship inter alia, really puts to rest any speculations that the USA is adopting any form of isolationism soon.

Since Africa was obviously the ‘elephant in the room’ during the debate, it therefore, makes one wonder what the new strategy is. Whatever it is, it is one that has this attitude of staying in the shadows and masquerading under the pretext of alliances. But if they are real strategic alliances that stand to benefit both the US and Africa, then would it  have been so conspicuously absent from a debate on Foreign Policy? Or was it – maybe not really, especially when one considers that statements like ‘I will go after China’ could only mean making Africa the battleground.

As the saying goes – ‘When two elephants fight, it is the grass that suffers’ hence AFRICOM if anything, signals danger for Africa because one cannot help but beg the question as to whose interest such a force stands to serve.

French – Africa Policy: Damages to African and European Economies

Cfa map

The first port-of-call towards getting real development in Africa, will be to dispel the myth that political independence was fully won by the Africans from their former colonial masters. This is simply because political independence could never have been achieved in a situation of gross economic dependence especially in the case of former French colonies. The granting of formal political independence by the colonial powers to their erstwhile colonies, was (with a few exceptions), never the achievements of popular based national liberation movements as is commonly understood but rather the result of a compromise reached between the former colonial powers and an almost negligible African bourgeoisie they created. A compromise aimed at continuing the dependent-satellite status on a new basis and in the face of growing challenges to the international capitalist system.

One of such is the French policy of Assimilation that claimed to have ended but in reality created monetary Unions that have continued to have their former colonies trapped in poverty. Amilcar Cabral in his work, The Struggle in Guinea, clearly states that decolonization gave western imperialism a new lease on life by permitting the continued economic exploitation of the African states through indirect means. In other words, decolonization has made it possible for an alliance between the local bourgeoisie and the bourgeoisie of the capitalist metropoles to emerge-an alliance which, on the one hand permits the local bourgeoisie to share in the benefits derived from the continued exploitation of their countries by western capitalism and on the other hand, frees the capitalists from the onus of direct domination of these countries.

Cabral’s position is given greater credence by this compelling write-up by Dr. Christof Lehman, who uses historical and contemporary evidence to x-ray the plight of Francophone Africa and the far-reaching consequences on the whole European Economy.

French Africa Policy Damages African and European Economies.

 Since the independence of the former French colonies in western Africa they are in spite of the richness of their natural resources and the productivity of their populations still catastrophically under-developed. In 2007 the French and European economies began deteriorated into a devastating recession. France seems to be like a man who is standing at the edge of a cliff, transfixed by the thought of falling into the abyss. In fear of losing the lucrative racket of controlling the western African economies he forgets that there is Terra firma and a possibility for both French, European and African prosperity behind him. Africans and leading European politicians expected that the administration of President Hollande would bring much-needed change with respect to French control over the economies of Benin, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Equatorial Guinea, Ivory Coast, Gabon, Guinea Bisau, Mali, Niger, the Republic of Congo, Senegal and Togo. However, also Hollande´s administration seems to be so transfixed by the prospect of falling into the abyss that it does not fathom the possibility of taking one step back. Will France remain transfixed in fear and drag western Africa and Europe with it when it falls or does it dare to loosen up its grip on control over the good old CFA racket in its former colonies and discover the true potential and value of the African markets. As painful as it may be, the primary prerequisite for a progressive development and prosperity is the truth about the current state of affairs.

The root causes for the lacking development of the western African economies are closely related to the fact that France, contrary to other former colonial powers, managed to install its commissars at the heart of its former colonies economic and monetary system and that it still maintains almost unchallenged control over them. The system was created by German National Socialists during the 1930s and 40s. It was used to usurp France and other German occupied nations.

The Genesis of the CFA-System in Nazi Germany and the German Occupation of France.

On 9 May 1941 Hemmen, the German Ambassador to France declared that he had signed a treaty with the French Admiral Darlan. The treaty would place German commissars within the French National Bank´s departments for foreign currencies and international commerce.(1) The treaty was negotiated under the auspices of German Minister of Finance Herman Göring, whose father, Heinrich Ernst Göring has been the German Governor of German West Africa, today’s Namibia, from 1885 to 1890. Herman Göring was among other notorious for his plundering the occupied nations economies through operations accounts and for his special interest in treasures and art from the German occupied areas.

At the end of World War II and the occupation of France, the French President Charles de Gaulle created the CFA Franc as a currency for the western African colonies. De Gaulle created a monetary union whose functions of control were based on the model Germany had used to usurp German occupied France.

Even though the colonies have since gained independence the system of almost absolute control over their economies by installment of commissars in the Central Banks of the western African Monetary and Economic Unions, the B.E.A.C., the B.C.C., and the B.C.E.A.O. persists.

Modo-Colonialism, the Veto Right of French Commissars over African Economies

Together, Benin, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Equatorial Guinea, Ivory Coast, Gabon, Guinea Bissau, Mali, Niger, the Republic of Congo, Senegal and Togo, establish the Monetary and Economic Union of West Africa (U.M.O.A.). Their currency, the CFA-Franc is printed under supervision of the French National Bank in Charmaliéres, France. The Council of Presidents of the fifteen U.M.O.A. member states constitutes the highest authority of the union and decisions of the Presidential Council are made unanimously. The Ministerial Council of the U.M.O.A. defines the monetary and credit policy of the union and it is responsible for the economic development of the region. According to the constitutions of all fifteen member states the creation of their currency, the regulation of its value as well as the regulation of parities and modalities is the exclusive privilege of the nation and its people and decisions about it are made by the parliament.

The placement of French commissars within the heart of the nations and the unions banking system however, creates an obvious dichotomy between the apparent sovereignty of the union, its constituents, and direct control from the previous colonial power.

Three of the thirteen of the Directors of the B.E.A.C. are French and four of the eight Directors of the B.C.C. are French. The Board of Directors of the B.C.E.A.O. is constituted by sixteen Directors; two from each country plus two additional Directors from France who take part in the management of the bank under the same conditions and with the same privileges as the other Directors. The number and placement of the commissars gives them a Veto right at the board of each of the Central Banks. No decision can be made without their approval and France can enforce its policy by threatening to deadlock the economies unless decisions are made in compliance with French suggestions.

The French Veto right also extends to the nomination of the Governor of the B.E.A.C.. The Governor is elected with the unanimous vote of the Board of Directors, on suggestion of the government of Gabon, and after the approval of the other member states as well as France.(2)

The Central Bank does not only have the privilege to create the currency. It also has the privilege to grant credits for the current accounts of the national treasuries at its discount rate. The Board of Directors is making the decisions about the temporalities and about the total amount that is granted for financing the economies of each of the member states.

 Feeding France, Bleeding Africa – Current Accounts and the System of Usurpation.

While the primary instrument of control is the installment of French commissars, the primary instrument for usurping the western African economies is their current accounts. The member states agree to deposit their foreign currency reserves in a shared reserve fund.

The foreign currency reserves are subject to deposition in an operations account at the French National Bank. Between 1945 and 1973 one hundred per cent of the foreign currency reserves had to be deposited in the operations account, in 1973 it was reduced to sixty-five, and on 27. September 2005 to fifty per cent. (3) Another fifteen per cent are kept in a guarantee fund.

In other words sixty-five per cent of all foreign currency reserves of the fifteen nations and all revenue generated outside of the union’s territory are kept at the French National Bank. On 3 May 2010 the website of Jeune Afrique quotes the former French Minister of Finance and Commerce, Christine Lagarde: “The Bank of the States of Central Africa, for instance, places almost 90 per cent of their reserves in the French National Bank”. (4)

In 1960 Jean Boissonat, a member of the currency committee of the French National Bank wrote: “Almost all decisions were made in France  … The Franc Zone allowed France to deliver certain natural resources to itself without having to spend any foreign reserves. It was estimated that this represented two hundred and fifty million US-Dollar savings in terms of foreign reserves per year …” Boissonat continues by stating that approximately half a million Frenchmen in Paris receive their means of survival from the Franc Zone.(5)

The French socialist Jean-Noël Jeanny wrote in 1963 that: “all that the African nations achieve by increasing their export is the generation of more foreign currency reserves for France”.(6) He could as well have added “and the creation of debt for themselves”. Beside profiting on African foreign currency reserves which are returned to the West African nations in the form of debt, France is also profiting from African gold.

The gold reserves of the fifteen nations are kept in France, supposedly to guaranty for the value of the CFA Franc. In 2001 the West-African gold reserves at the French National Bank had an estimated value of 206,528 billion CFA Franc. In an interview for Le Liberation in 1996 the late President of Gabon, Omar Bongo said: “We are in the Franc Zone. Our operations accounts are managed by the French National Bank in Paris. Who profits from the interests that our money generates? France.” (7)

France is indebting and enslaving Africans by means of Africa’s own wealth; for example:

12.0000 billion invested at three per cent creates 360 billion in interests which France grants as credits to Africa at an interest rate of five to six per cent or more. The allegory of “Bleeding Africa and Feeding France” is no exaggeration, not alarmist, and not revolutionary. It is a sobering fact of French modo-colonialism and the cost in terms of under-development and human suffering is staggering. The current accounts and the French usurpation are a humanitarian disaster that is induced by France and financed by those who are suffering from it.

 Coups, Crisis and French Finance-Nazism in Africa.

In 1996 France devalued the CFA Franc in spite of the protest of most western African nations. Former French Prime Minister Eduard Balladour justified the French dictated devaluation of the CFA Franc because “ it was considered to be the best possibility for aiding the development of the western African countries” (8), even though another statement by Balladoure indicates that he was aware of that the regulation of a currency is a matter of national sovereignty(9).

The late President of Togo, Etienne Gnassingbé said about the devaluation: “One used to say that violence overrules justice. I was not the only one who issued the warning….. but France has decided otherwise. The African voices don´t count for much in this affair”.(10)

The words of the late Etienne Gnassingbé indicate that the Bleeding of Africa can be taken literally. According to the statutes of the monetary and economic union every member state is free to leave it. So much to theory. In practice, France has left a trail of post-modern coup d’états, violence, and murder in those nations who tried to get out from under what many West-Africans perceive as French Finance-Nazism in Africa.

In January 1963 the President of Togo, the late Sylvanus Olympio was murdered three days before the issuing of a new currency.

On 19th November 1968 the late President of Mali Modibo Kéita was ousted in a coup and arrested. In 1977 Modibo Kéita died in prison. Kéita was poisoned.

On 27th January 1996 the President of Mali was ousted in a military coup d´etat.

On 15th March 2003 the late President of the Central African Republic Angè Félix Patassé was ousted by the “rebel leader” Francois Bozizé. In all cases the monetary union and France have played a role.

Ivory Coast´s President Laurent Gbagbo, France, the ICC and Modo-Colonialism.

When Laurent Gbagbo became the President of Ivory Coast one of his first official initiatives was the erection of a concrete wall in the tunnel that connects the French Embassy with the Presidential Residence. Gbagbo wanted Ivory Coast to abandon the CFA and institute a new regional and if possible a Pan-African, gold-backed currency. The initiative toward the establishment of a gold-backed Pan-African currency enjoyed the sympathy of many African nations and enjoyed unequivocal support from Libya, which until the so-called Arab Spring in 2011 was the richest and most developed of all African nations.

As if it was a conditioned reflex, France seemed transfixed by is fear of falling into the abyss, of losing the CFA racket that has kept the French economy afloat since it was conceived by de Gaulle in 1945. Rather than seeing a potential, France was biding its time until an opportunity for a post-modern coup d’état. The 2010 Presidential elections in Ivory Coast provided this opportunity. France sided with Alessanne Outtara. Libyan intelligence reports from 2009 and 2010 indicated that the French Intelligence Service D.G.S.E. had begun infiltrating, financing and arming a group of “rebels” in the northern region of Ivory Coast.

The outcome of the Presidential election was apparently very close. The electoral commission declared Alessanne Outtara the winner but the election result was disputed by Laurent Gbagbo.

There had been registered serious irregularities. In one particular village with a population of approximately ten thousand, Alessanne Outtara seemed to have received almost one hundred thousand votes.

Western mainstream media began building a narrative: The electoral commission had declared Outtara to be the winner. The despotic Laurent Gbagbo refused to hand over the reins of power to the winner of the elections. Gbagbo is cracking down on peaceful protesters. Gbagbo is cornered in his bunker…

What western media generally failed to report, underreported, or conveyed in a distorted and strongly biased fashion was that: Laurent Gabgbo and his party had brought the case to the Supreme Court; that the Supreme Court of Ivory Coast had recounted the votes; that the Supreme Court had taken notice of election fraud in favour of Outtara; and that the Supreme Court of Ivory Coast had declared Laurent Gbagbo to be the winner of the elections and the rightfully elected President of Ivory Coast. That French-backed guerrilla began attacking predominantly pro-Gbagbo villages, committing massacres, and that French backed “rebels” were attacking the Presidential Residence.

What was emphatically reported in French and western media like the BBC was that “security forces” clamped down on peaceful protesters, and that “Ouattara´s Army” is cornering “Gbagbo in his bunker”.(11)

Nobody seemed to ask the important question. Where in the world had Outtara, who just claimed to have won the elections, gotten an “army” from?

It is symptomatic for the high prevalence of racism and condescending modo-colonialist reasoning among European populations that only very few commentators and analysts said:

“But the electoral commission is not the one who has the competence to approve of election results, it is the Supreme Court”.

A comparison can illustrate the point: When George W. Bush and Al Gore had the closest of all elections that have been held in the United States of America; who certified the election? The Supreme Court, of course. (12)

Many Americans felt utterly disenfranchised but the population respected the Supreme Court. Could anyone have even thought about the remote possibility of “Al Gore´s Army cornering Bush in his Bunker” of “Gore neglecting the Supreme Court because the electoral commission had pronounced him to be the winner?” And where in the world would Al Gore have gotten his army from anyways? And where did Alessanne Outtara get his army from?

The capture of Laurent Gbagbo cost the lives of approximately 1.600 young Ivorian soldiers. Young patriots who were willing to defend the President of Ivory Coast from the onslaught of a French-backed post-modern coup d’état. The capture an arrest of President Laurent Gbagbo was possible only after French Special Forces violated international law by blasting a hole into the wall which Laurent Gbagbo had erected inside the tunnel that connects the French embassy with the Presidential residence.

The sealed boxes with the ballots from the 2010 elections are kept at the United Nations. So far U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has failed to order an independent re-count of the ballots. The fact that the United Nations has so far failed to re-count the ballots to determine the legitimacy of either Laurent Gbagbo´s or Alessanne Outtara´s claim for the Ivorian Presidency, combined with the selective and one-sided prosecution of Laurent Gbagbo at the ICC and of military officers who were loyal to him in 2010 is symptomatic for grave systemic and procedural problems at the United Nations and the International Criminal Court at The Hague. The case against Laurent Gbagbo ought to have been dismissed on the basis of selective prosecution from the very start. His prosecution at the ICC after French involvement in the aggravation of post-election violence in Ivory Coast and the arrest with the aid of French Special Forces is a blatant example for the abuse of the ICC as an instrument of modo-colonialist control. The most recent selectively prosecuted case is that against General Dogbo Ble in Ivory Coast. Also here western media are de-facto sentencing a political opponent of modo-colonialism before he is even heard in court.(13)

A recent analysis of the systemic and political problems with the ICC, the United Nations, the Rome Statute and the explosion of international law at its very root by Dr. Hans Köchler (14) reads as if it was written to elicit the injustice that is being perpetrated against Laurent Gbagbo and the people of Ivory Coast.

Missed Chances for African and European Economies and the Urgency of Change.

A growing number of African and European leaders are becoming impatient about the paralysis of France. African leaders are impatient because the obvious usurpation of their nations is unbearable for the African economies and their populations. European leaders are mostly impatient because France prevents a European adaptation to the last decades geo-political changes in Africa and because the crisis of the Euro requires initiative rather than stagnation. Failure to integrate the western African economies into the economic sphere of Europe is bound to have devastating long term consequences for both Africa and Europe.

China has recognized the colossal market potential of a developing African middle class. The French and Trans-Atlantic model of usurpation and subjugation is not only criminal and unethical, it is also uncompetitive.

Recent statements made by the French political heavyweight Jacques Chiraq, who said that France does not have to be a benefactor, it must merely stop usurping Africa, are indicating a potential for change. Chiraq stated that failure to change French-African relations can have catastrophic consequences. 2012 Presidential candidate Jean Luc Mélenon stated that the CFA represents the severe mistake not to tie the western African economies to the economies of the European Union. Mélenon demanded that France abandons its veto right at the Boards of the African Central Banks.

The European Council stated that France is blocking for any project of the European Central Bank that attempts to change the nature or the bearing of the French involvement in the western African Central Banks. The French approach to managing French-African relations is not only bleeding Africa. It is increasingly bleeding both the French and European economies that are missing out on the market potential of an emerging African middle class.

Some political analysts have suggested the establishment of an African-European Peace and Reconciliation Commission that is dealing with the crimes of the past, the building of trust, the review of highly politicized cases at the International Criminal Court, such as the prosecution of Ivorian President Laurent Gbagbo to ease a transition toward new African-European relations.

The question for this and the coming year is whether France will continue standing at the edge of the cliff and fall while dragging both western Africa and Europe into the abyss together with it, or if it dares to listen to the voices of reason from Africa and its European partners, turn its gaze away from the abyss and see that there is fertile land, right behind it.

Dr. Christof Lehmann

 I want to express my recognition and gratitude to Prof. Nicolas Agbohou. The historical context of the article and references about it are inspired by his speech at the Conference on African-French Relations in Paris City Hall, on 09 October 2012. – Dr. Christof Lehmann.

Notes:

1)      Pierre Arnold (1951), Les finances de la France et l´occupation Allemande.

2)      Artikel 3 de la BEAC.

3)      Article 2 of the Agreement about Operations Accounts between France and the African Nations within the Franc Zone (PAZF).

4)      Website of Jeune Afrique, 03. Mai 2010.

5)      Jean Boissonat. La Zone Franc: Survivance du Passé Ou Promesse d´Avenir. La Croix, 17 févenier 1960.

6)      Jean-Noël Jeanny. Rapport Jeanny; La politique de coopération avec les pays en vaie de dévelopment. Paris, documentation francaise 1963.

7)      Omar Bongo. Interwiew for Le Liberation, 18. September 1996, p.6.

8)      Jeune Afrique. Economie no 178, April 1994.

9)      E. Balladour in Le Monde, 09. February 1990. Lire aussie Géopolitique de printemps No 53, 1996, p.81

10)   Jeune Afrique no 1841, 17 – 23 April 1996, p. 38.

11)   Cornered in Abidjan as fears grow. Andrew harding on Africa, BBC, 06. April 2011. http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/thereporters/andrewharding/2011/04/cornered_in_abidjan_as_fears_g.html

12)   Supreme Court of the United States. George W. Bush et al., Petitioners v. Albert Gore Jr., el al., 12. December 2001. http://www.law.cornell.edu/supct/html/00-949.ZPC.html

13)   Ivory Coast´s pro-Laurent Gbagbo general Dogbo Ble on Trial. BBC, 02. October 2012.  http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-africa-19797488

14)   Dr. Hans Köchler. World Court without a World State. Criminal Justice under the Dictates of Realpolitic. http://www.i-p-o.org/Koechler-ICC-Realpolitik-IPO-OP-1July2012.htm

15)   The US/UN/NATO Race for Global, Full Spectrum Dominance. Black, fetzer, Mezyaev and Lehmann, 15. August 2012. nsnbc. http://nsnbc.wordpress.com/2012/08/15/the-usunnato-race-for-global-full-spectrum-dominance-14/

 

 

500 Years Later – Time For Africa to Forget… A Review!!!

INTRODUCTION

It is indeed a compelling Documentary and a must-watch for as I did, I came to realise that the scramble, partition, and colonization of Africa saw the continent divided among different competing powers which went to great lengths to sap the continent of its vast riches. While the British adopted the colonial policy of ‘Indirect Rule’, The Portuguese and the French adopted the policy of assimilation. This was informed by the fact that they portrayed nothing good in the African, and by their policy made Africans to despise their own cultural values and attempt to adopt western values at the expense of their rich African heritage. Hence, Africa was divided among European countries for the purpose of exploitation, suppression and domination for one obvious reason, and that was economic predisposition.

The Europeans petitioned African nations, repositioned themselves, and became ‘owners’ of everything in Africa that were of any value. African nations were subjected to foreign domination and exploitation. This situation was exacerbated when most of the academic and religious orientation of some of the first breed of Africans was aimed at continuing the legacy of slavery and colonialism in new forms – even in an era where there is so much talk about human rights, freedom and political self-determination.

<<< Crime, drugs, HIV/AIDS, poor education, inferiority complex, low expectation, poverty, corruption, poor health, and underdevelopment plagues people of African descent globally – Why? 500 years later from the onset of Slavery and subsequent Colonialism, Africans are still struggling for basic freedom-Why? Filmed in five continents, and over twenty countries, 500 Years Later engages the authentic retrospective voice, told from the African vantage-point of those whom history has sought to silence by examining the collective atrocities that uprooted Africans from their culture and homeland. 500 Years Later is a timeless compelling journey, infused with the spirit and music of liberation that chronicles the struggle of a people who have fought and continue to fight for the most essential human right – freedom.>>>

The 500 Years Later (2005) movie written by M. K. Asante, Jr. and directed by Owen ‘Alik Shahadah, with five international awards to its credit, is a penetrating documentary that looks at history from an African perspective. It depicts the problems people of African descent continue to encounter today and finding their roots in history. Filmed on location all over the world, this film covers issues ranging from slavery to the civil rights movement and from colonialism to poverty. The movie further depicts those who died due to famine, diseases, and social dislocation aboard ships that took them to Europe in order to build empires. It is now half a century since Ghana got its independence as the first African State after colonisation, but Africa is still bereft of any meaningful economic and technological development. It is a cause for concern for any well meaning African. This has led A.M. Babu when writing the postscript of Walter Rodney’s How Europe Underdeveloped Africa, to query;

…..What, we may ask, has gone wrong? Is it inherent in the very nature of underdevelopment that makes development an impossible task? Among the many prescriptions that have been offered, e.g., cultural, social, psychological, even economic-none has produced any encouraging result, in fact, nearly all of them have had negative results, and made bad situations worse.

The questions raised by Babu receive a cogent examination in 500 Years Later. While the movie deals with issues such as crime, drugs, HIV/AIDS, poor education, inferiority complex, low expectation, poverty, corruption, poor health, and underdevelopment among others, this critical review will focus on some of the broad themes that cuts across the different issues raised in the documentary to evaluate where the problems really lie. Is it justified that Africans should be perpetually held by the bondage of their past or should they forget it and move on?

IMPERIALISM/CAPITALISM

If there is one theme that runs through the movie 500 Years Later, it is the notion of a people who have been perennially exploited for the good of others. It captures on-screen what Walter Rodney captured in How Europe Underdeveloped Africa. The importance of bringing such an issue to the limelight can be seen in the fact that the Occupy Protests that raged across many cities in the world  all aimed at fighting the excesses of Capitalism which is inherently exploitative.  This is what 500 Years Later captures so well. It shows clearly that the present day form of capitalism crept into Africa, in the 19th century with the arbitrary partition and colonisation of Africa. This was as a result of some weaknesses which Africa had. Rodney (2005) recognises some of them as “the concept of weakness, and inadequate economic capacity, as well as certain political weaknesses namely; the incompleteness of the establishment of nation states which left the continent divided and the low level of consciousness concerning the world at large which had already been transformed into a single system by the expansion of capitalist relations. (p. 174)

Of the two weaknesses, Africans were able the overcome the latter, as they gradually got opportunities to study and acquire more knowledge about the world at large. Most of the first breed of Africans who got fully educated strove to overcome the other weakness. These were the African Nationalists like Kwame Nkrumah, Leopold Sedar Senghor, Julius Nyerere, Nnamdi Azikiwe, Patrice Lumumba, Samora Marcel among others. But unlike Europe and America who had to determine their future with little or no external influence, the case of Africa was different. The gullibility of most Africans led to their being pitched against each other. The result was general political instability, coups and counter coups, civil wars, etc. Within such circumstances, there was little or no room to make any meaningful economic advancement.

NEO-COLONIALISM

500 Years later clearly addresses the main issues of slavery and colonialism, it does also explicitly address another question, which is, why the many prescriptions for the African problem seem to be making no headway even after 500 years. This is the question of neo-colonialism. For example, neo-colonialism played and still plays a major role in Africa’s post-independence economic stagnation. Neo-colonial relationships can be seen to be the product of the transfer of formal political power to a class created by, and dependent upon western capitalism. This relationship receives a cogent description from Hodgkin (1969) who says ”Neo-colonialism” tends to be regarded as something of a dirty word, to be used-if at all- in inverted commas, reflecting the shocking lack of gratitude of the formal colonial peoples for the benefits which they continue to receive from the former colonial powers and from the west in general. But in fact, it is an entirely necessary way of describing the situations arising out of false-decolonization”.

Cabral (1979) also describes the real character of decolonisation and the context in which it took place as an objective of the imperialist countries to prevent the spread of socialism in Africa through the liberation of reactionary forces which had hitherto been stifled by colonialism and allowing these to ally with the international bourgeoisie. The end result of this was the creation of a bourgeoisie class where one did not exist so as to strengthen the capitalist and imperialist camp. This done, the bourgeoisie in the new countries had a role which, “…far from being anything surprising should be considered absolutely normal; it is something that has to be faced by all those struggling against imperialism” (p. 442)

Cabral’s (1979) analysis ties in with that of 500 Years Later which depicts that social differentiation was initiated in Africa during the colonial period. Although it is a fact that antagonistic social differences had already emerged in Africa long before European contact, the impact of European trade, followed by colonial rule greatly transformed the fabric of the African society and produced a new and more accentuated social cleavages. As Amin (1979) confirms “the complete colonization of West Africa had two principal social effects: the acceleration of the decadence of the primitive community and the reinforcement of traditional class difference on the one hand, the introduction and development of a new class differences linked to the capitalist exploitation of the continent on the other hand” (p. 36)

Fanon (1963) who labels this new class the ‘national middle class’ or national bourgeoisie’ of the African countries blasts them for compromising the goals of the national liberation movements and permitting a ‘false decolonization’ to take place. Fanon clearly states that the mission of these national bourgeoisie “has nothing to do with transforming the nation” as it is content with playing “the role of the western bourgeoisie’s business agent” and serving as the local instrument of neo-colonialism (152-153).

Fanon (1963) further characterises  this strata of the society as an ‘underdeveloped’ middle class’, since it has little or no independent economic power and no capability or inclination to play the historical role performed by the bourgeoisie of the western society. Thus, he states that the national bourgeoisie: “is a bourgeoisie in spirit only….consequently, it remains at the beginning and for a long time afterwards a bourgeoisie of the civil service…..it will always reveal itself incapable of giving birth to an authentic bourgeoisie society with all the economic and industrial consequences which this entails.

Caught up in this relationship and without an economic power base, of its own, the bourgeoisie has no choice than to become the willing accomplice of neo-colonialism and rely upon an authoritarian dictatorship to maintain its domination and privileges, ready to do anything to stay rooted in this position. Having being established as a ruling class, the bourgeoisies generally enriched themselves at the public’s expense through public graft and corruption as well as deals with foreign capitalists.

As a consequence, there has been increasing obligation of the bourgeoisie to foreign interests who are only too glad to offer loans, grants, and credits which will keep the bourgeoisie in debt to them. Thus in a bid to finance this conspicuous consumption and at the same time service the debts incurred, the bourgeoisie have mortgaged both the local economy and the state to foreign capital, in some cases, in the name of “privatization” Hence, the operating budget of most of the African states are totally dependent upon loans and grants from one or more of the major Western Powers, while local entrepreneurs and business men depend upon loans and credits from foreign banks and firms to finance their investments. The end result is a neo-colonial society, tied in a multiplicity of ways to foreign capital. With this state of affairs, it is clear that Africa’s quest for independence began on the wrong footing. The Bretton Woods institutions have not really helped matters. The loans given to most African states by the International Monetary Fund, accompanied by Structural Adjustment Programs (SAP), did no more than sap the African states of the little they had, leaving them with huge national debts to service

EDUCATION

Another key theme running through 500 Years Later is the need for education or re-education of Africans with relation to their history. Rodney (2005) had made the point that “the educated Africans were the most alienated Africans on the continent. At each further stage of education, they were battered and succumbed to the white capitalist system, and after being given salaries, they could then afford to sustain a style of life imported from outside… That further transformed their mentality” (p.275) 500 Years Later affirms this by stating that “the kind of education that we have is to still enslave our minds, to make us believe we are inferior…” This is an issue that had already received cogent treatment from Kwame Nkrumah. Nkrumah (1959) acknowledged that the writings of Karl Marx and Lenin greatly impressed him; hence he felt that their philosophy was capable of solving the problem of imperialism and colonialism. Nkrumah (1962) felt that education was the key to the liberation from colonialism, which to him is “…White man’s burden which rest heavily upon the shoulders of the so-called “backward” people who have been subjugated, humiliated, robbed and degraded to the level of cattle (p.29)” Nkrumah saw in the policies of the colonial masters a lot of hypocrisy. In their crafty nature, they masked their real inhumane nature and evil intentions so well that it was very difficult for the people to notice. He describes what will pass today as neo-liberalism as being an attitude aimed at stifling the real independence of African nations. For Nkrumah (1962), “…the attitude of Britain, France, Spain, Italy and other colonial powers towards what they call “participation” by colonial peoples in colonial government and public affairs are half-way measures to keep them complacent and to throttle their aspiration  for complete independence (p. 27). In the light of this, Nkrumah saw the need to present a model theory for the liberation of Africa, partly motivated by the hope that the Socialist movement in the world at the time would overtake the capitalist – imperialism that exploited Africa. Hence, in line with the objective of the author of 500 Years Later he wrote that “We have read articles, papers, pamphlets, and books on the subject and we are weary of the platitudes of their authors and distortion of facts. We have written as we see the facts and are indebted to no one but our conscience quickened by the rich revolutionary heritage of historical epochs”.

The point here is that many Africans having deciphered the distortions and platitude of European colonialism and now see the importance of knowledge in the African crusade of decolonization against European colonialism, on the one hand, and on the other hand, the African liberation and development. Knowledge is necessary for power and for action as Nkrumah (1962) wrote that “…there are vast numbers of ordinary Africans, who animated by a lively national consciousness, sort knowledge as an instrument of national emancipation and integrity. This is not to say that these Africans overlooked the purely cultural value of their studies. But in order that their cultural acquisition should be valuable, they needed to be capable of appreciating it as free men (p.4).

The whole idea is therefore that there is a pressing need for Africans to get engaged in the de-colonial campaign as free historical beings, since, “the main purpose of the organization is to bring about a final death of colonialism and the discountenance of foreign imperialist domination” (Nkrumah, 1962, p.41). This is because it was glaring that “outside interference does not help to develop their country, for it impedes and stifles and crushes not only economic progress, but the spirit and indigenous enterprise of the peoples themselves”(Nkrumah 1962, p.42). Hence, decolonization should have been seen as a major indigenous enterprise. Since it was an African ideological response, a philosophical responsibility of Africans to existential challenges of European colonialism Africans should be able to think along with Nkrumah, that de-colonisation is a theory of “what must be done” in responsible response to this dangerous foreign ideology against Africa and its citizens, nature and cultures. The writings of Nkrumah, Fanon, Rodney and others are just a few examples to support the message of 500 Years Later that the oppressed African spirit was only scorched by slavery but not killed, it was not discouraged in to naivety or total resignation,  it was not wearied into inactivity, nor hoodwinked into self-annihilation.

NOT COVERED….

While the movie 500 Years Later can be commended for doing a great job in touching on sensitive issues that are at the core of Africa’s woes, it is worth mentioning that it fails in a way in its treatment of the issue of conflict. Following the independence of most African states, there have been many conflicts whose causes cannot be tied down simply to ideology, slavery and colonialism. Some have attributed this to being a ‘curse’ arising from the abundance of Natural resources (Collier, 2007). This is fuelled by earlier views that an abundance of resources generates corruption of political institutions (Lane and Tornell, 1999). The argument has therefore been that corruption and the failure of governance structures in an environment of abundant resources increases the risk of civil conflict (Collier and Hoeffler, 2005). It is therefore worth insisting that a huge problem with Africa today, her unfortunate past notwithstanding, is the problem of bad governance and leadership.

CONCLUSION

500 Years Later is a great step towards getting the African story right. It depicts that the preservation of the basic relationship of western dominance and African dependence by other means after the formal transfer of power is still a key element in the continent’s underdevelopment. This is evident not only in the field of economic relations but as has been manifested in the resent bombardment of Libya by NATO forces, in the military, diplomatic, cultural, and educational terrains.

While 500 Years Later may have done a great job, this review has been aimed at showing that what M. K. Asante, Jr. and Owen ‘Alik Shahadah sought to achieve by movie had been expressed at different times by scores of scholars of African descent. What is therefore new about the movie is not really the information but the manner in which it has been communicated. The use of a movie means that people can sit down, relax and as a group go through the same story that Rodney or Nkrumah had expressed in print.

This movie and its sequel MOTHERLAND are therefore must-watches not only for African students but for students, academicians and scholars everywhere. In this era of globalisation, ignorance of Africa’s real history will no more be an advantage to any foreigner given that Africans are seeking not only to know the history of other continents but also to set theirs right. The effectiveness of all these however, will be reliant heavily on the condition that Africans first of all undergo what Ngugi Wa Thiongo calls the ‘decolonisation of the African mind’. This has to be, the complete shaking off of the psychological traumas of slavery and colonialism. Unless this stage is attained, Africans will continue to see situations where African leaders keep clamouring for foreign investors, without ever thinking of investing in their own citizens; situations where World economic conferences will be organised only for African leaders to attend and sit at the receiving end of the table; situations where African nations continue to be dumping grounds for outdated and ill fitted technology and technological know-how.

REFERENCES

Amin, S. (1979) “The Class Struggle in Africa.”  Revolution, Vol. I, no. 9 The African Research Group

Babu; A.M. Postscript to Walter Rodney, How Europe Underdeveloped Africa,

Cabral, A. (1979) The Struggle In Guinea, The African Research Group

Collier, P. (2007). The Bottom Billion: Why the Poorest Countries are Failing and What Can Be Done About It. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Collier, P. and A. Hoeffler. (2005). Resource Rents, Governance, and Conflict. Journal of Conflict Resolution, 49(4): 625-33.

Fanon, F. (1963) The wretched of the Earth, New York: Grove Press

Hodgkin, T. (1969) Foreword to Green and Seidman’s Unity or Poverty? The Economics of Pan-Africanism Baltimore: Penguin

Lane, P.R. and Aaron Tornell. 1999. .The Voracity Effect. American Economic Review, 28, 22-46.

Nkrumah, K. (1959) The Autobiography of Kwame Nkrumah, London: Thomas Nelson Ltd.

Nkrumah; K. (1962) Towards Colonial Freedom. “Africa in the Struggle Against World Imperialism” London: Panaf Book Ltd.

Nkrumah; K. (1964) Consciencism, “Philosophy and Ideology for Decolonisation with Particular Reference to the African Revolution” London: Heinemann Educational Books Ltd.

Nkrumah; K. (1965) Neo-Colonialism, “The Last Stage of Imperialism” London: Panaf Books Ltd.

Rodney, W. (2005) How Europe Underdeveloped Africa, Abuja: Panaf Publishing Inc.

Teachable Moments Loom in Syrian Conflict

 

Christof Lehmann

After more than 18 months of belligerent action against the government de jure of the Syrian Arab Republic it is still maintaining relative stability and security. A peaceful resolution however, becomes increasingly illusive while the potentially catastrophic regional and global consequences of the failure to broker a peaceful resolution seem to be a harbinger of a return to global barbarism, anarchy and unspeakable human suffering.

NATOS´s Victory and Teachable Moments i Libya.

In an article, published in Foreign Affairs March/April 2012 edition which was published prior to NATO´s 25th Summit in Chicago, Ivo H. Daalder, the U.S. Permanent Representative to NATO, and James G. Stavridis, Supreme Allied Commander and Commander of the U.S. European Command, gave a a clear indication of what NATO has in mind for Syria.

Daalder and Stavridis described NATO´s Operation Unified Protector in Libya as  ” NATO´s Victory in Libya. The Right Way to Run and Intervention” and as “A Teachable Moment“. (1) What was so “teachable” about Libya, and what is “The Right Way to Run an Intervention” ? An analysis of NATO´s post 25th Summit doctrine and the consequences for security and stability in the Middle East points to a two tiered NATO strategy which combines low cost, low intensity, illegitimate warfare with an aggressive nuclear posture. (2)

There are in fact numerous teachable moments in the phenomena that is euphemized under the name “The Arab Spring”: The successful political manipulation of Turkey; The successful implementation of plans developed by the RAND Corporation which already in 1996 advised that Turkey should be governed by Gül in the office of President and R. Tayyip Erdogan in the office of Prime Minister, as a precondition for a successful implementation of a comprehensive solution for the Middle East; The successful transformation of the Turkish High Command from a bastion of secularism into a High Command that would cooperate with Muslim Brothers and Al-Qaeda mercenaries in preparation of the division of both Syria and Turkey along ethnic lines; The successful manufacturing of a crisis as precondition for the successful abuse of a UN Security Council resolution, as a precondition for the successful implementation of regime change.

A UN Security Council resolution is adopted when it has the concurrent vote of all permanent members. However, since resolution #4 (1948) on Spain it has become practice that abstentions are interpreted as a passive or quasi-concurrent vote. This practice implied that the members who propose the resolution are not overstepping the resolutions authorizations to a significant degree.

When Russia and China abstained on UNSC resolution # 1973 (2011) on Libya it was implicitly understood that Russia and China expected that NATO would adhere to the letter of the resolution and not overstep it in any significant degree. It should be added here, that the fact that the UNSC has adopted a resolution does not necessarily make it legitimate.

What Daalder and Stavridis also found “teachable” was that NATO or its allies could disregard the Convention against the Use of Mercenaries and use the Al Qaeda associated Libyan Islamic Fighting Group as infantry, while abusing resolution 1973 to wage an aerial war against the Libyan military.

Special Forces on the ground would function as liaison within a joint command while NATO could enjoy “plausible deniability”. The Libyan government de jure was ousted, the head of state murdered in cold blood, an independent investigation into his death could be prevented, a proxy government could be installed.

It is not surprising that Daalder and Stavridis proclaim a NATO Victory in Libya. From a NATO perspective it was in deed a victory and a teachable moment. It was also a moment that has taught both Russia and China that NATO will abuse an abstention at the Security Council to implement wars of aggression.

The UN Security Council has since been frozen in a deadlock between NATO members on one hand and China and Russia on the other. The deadlock has brought the necessity of structural changes within the United Nations into focus. The United Nations is rapidly loosing its residual credibility and functionality as an instrument for conflict resolution while security and stability in the Middle East are deteriorating. Negotiating a peaceful resolution of the conflict in Syria, for the brewing conflict between NATO, Israel, the GCC member states on one hand, and Iran, Russia, China on the other at the UN seems increasingly implausible, if not impossible.

NATO´s victory in Libya has not only brought about regime change, it has also devastated the countries infrastructure, divided the country along tribal and ethnic lines, resulted in a weak and split national government that is unable to maintain internal as well as external stability and security. What is most worrying about Daalder´s and Stavridis interpretations of Libya as victory and teachable moment is, that it implies that the achievement of the destabilization of Syria, Lebanon, Iran, and subsequently Turkey are likely to be perceived as victories and teachable moments too.

The cost of further NATO victories in terms of regional and global stability and security, in terms of the economies of Syria, Lebanon, Iran, Turkey and the global economy, the cost in terms of a deterioration of international law and a return to barbarism and anarchy in conflict and conflict resolution, and the cost in terms of human suffering are staggering.

Peaceful Resolution of Syria Crisis only Possible with Good Faith.

The primary precondition for a peaceful resolution to the crisis in Syria is that all parties are negotiating and acting in good faith.

An immediate withdrawal of all NATO and GCC member states special forces and other military personnel from Syria is a minimum precondition for showing good faith.

An immediate adherence to the Convention against the Use of Mercenary Forces and other international bodies of law by NATO and GCC member states, Jordan, Lebanon or major political players in Lebanon such as Saad Hariri and Walid Jumblatt, Israel, Libya and any other nation that is currently involved in financing, training, arming or other support of insurgents and the armed opposition.

An immediate establishment of strict controls of refugee camps in Turkey, Lebanon and Jordan. Particularly the refugee camps in Turkey are being systematically abused to recruit, train, arm and deploy insurgents into Syria. Strict controls would include that entrance into and exit from the camps is strictly monitored by Turkish police or military personnel, eventually with the participation of military observers from one or several non NATO or GCC member states.

The close monitoring of all Syrian borders by neighboring countries military forces to stop the illegal flow of weapons, troops and the deployment of military observers from non NATO, GCC member states.

The blatant violations of international law in particular by Turkey and Jordan, who not only offer their territory for infiltration by foreign fighters, but who actively take part in organizing the subversion, and all logistical and other support of insurgents must halt immediately.

The new joint UN – Arab League envoy Ladhkah Brahmini should be given the full support of all UN member states. His role is, however not likely to be perceived as that of a neutral or fair broker, as long as the Arab League upholds the dispensation of Syria´s membership. Ladhkah Brahmini will be facing an insurmountable challenge as long as Saudi Arabia and Turkey, who together with Iran and Egypt form the Contact Group, are violating international law and sponsoring the insurgency and subversion.

Initiatives by the Arab League to politically, diplomatically, economically and otherwise isolate Syria which are inherently opposed to the Charter of the Arab League and its purported function do not create preconditions for negotiations in good faith. Illegitimate initiatives, such as the one to pressure Arabsat and Nilesat to stop broadcasting Syrian Radio and TV satellite signals in order to facilitate absolute image and media control by nations who are taking part in the attempted subversion must cease. A dialog in good faith is not facilitated by one-sided, strongly biased propaganda. The Organization of the Islamic Conference must recall the dispensation of Syria. The abuse of this organization is dangerous and risks to aggravate a religious dimension of the conflict and to further aggravate the abuse of Sunni – Shia conflicts world wide.

Organizations such as the “Friends of Syria” group, which is a de facto subversive alliance must be abandoned as instruments for finding a resolution to the conflict. The Friends of Syria group is a de-facto cartel of nations who meet to organize systematic violations of international law in an attempt to bring about regime change in Syria.

Iran is to host a conference of 120 nations to work towards a peaceful resolution of the crisis. It is a positive initiative that should be supported, but it is not likely to bring about a peaceful resolution unless Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and the U.A.E. will take part in good faith.It is a positive initiative that should be supported, but it risks to further aggravate the conflict unless Turkey, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates are taking part and are willing to play a constructive role, which is unlikely.

In the absence of NATO and GCC member states, Jordan´s, Israel´s, Libya´s and others good faith in negotiating a peaceful resolution, the Iranian initiative may in fact be part of the only viable alternative. If it is supported by Russia and China it may have a chance to succeed.

The second best solution to an all inclusive solution that embraces the armed political opposition and the nations who are supporting it would be the establishment of a multilateral group that protects Syria from the consequences of a continued aggression.

Such an alternative solution could include the following initiatives:

Countering the consequences of attempts to diplomatically, politically, economically and otherwise isolate the government de jure of Syria by reinforcing diplomatic and political relations, by trade agreements that help alleviate the devastating consequences of sanctions, and to diversify the one sided international discourse about Syria.

Even though political parties in Syria are legitimate, and even though one opposition party is holding a ministerial post in the unity government, there is a lack of party infrastructure that makes opposition parties equal competitors to the Arab Socialist Baath Party. Selective support of the one or the other political party at building a party infrastructure can be problematic and invites unwarranted foreign interference.

A model for developing a democratic culture and multi-party infrastructure projects could facilitate a pluralistic political process which could to remedy the consequences of decades of government under emergency laws.

When organizing those projects, it must be taken into consideration that Syria, because of its de-facto state of war with Israel has had heightened security needs which have not decreased since the onset of the attempted subversion. As a long term strategy of delegating political influence and responsibilities to multiple political parties is the best strategy to discourage from attempts to use violence and for strengthening national coherence.

In the case that the UN fails as an instrument to safeguard the national sovereignty and security of Syria while the subversive alliance continues the illegitimate support of armed insurgents, it must be considered to add a military dimension to finding a peaceful resolution of the conflict.

The government de jure of the Syrian Arab Republic has the right to sign treaties with friendly, non hostile nations and deploy foreign military troops on Syrian territory. Failure by Turkey and Jordan to secure that insurgents are not using their territories as bases of operations for transgressions in Syria could be countered by the deployment of international troops along the borders to help repel insurgents. Further failure of Turkey, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, as well as NATO member states to halt the illegitimate support could warrant diplomatic and other sanctions.

Sadly, in the light of sustained aggression, the most viable way to secure peace and stability is to aid Syria by establishing diplomatic, political, economical and military credibility against a foreign aggression.

At closing this article, I would like to reiterate that war crimes will be committed as long as they can be committed with utter impunity. The current state of affairs, where NATO and allied nations instrumentalize the ICC and special tribunals for political show trials and victors justice, with an ICC that in and on itself has no legitimacy in international law on one hand, and a Kuala Lumpur War Crimes Tribunal that has no other than moral authority, it is unlikely that the international regression into barbarism can be halted.

Those nations who wish to facilitate a peaceful resolution of the crisis in Syria and who want to prevent future aggressions, would be well advised to establish international jurisdiction for the most serious crimes to limit war criminals ability to act with impunity.

Source: Christof Lehmann, Editor: NSNBC

27.08.2012

Notes:
1) Daalder Ivo H, Stavridis James G. (2012) ”NATO´s Victory in Libya. The Right Way to Run an Intervention“. Foreign Affairs March/April 2012 pp 2-7
2) Lehmann Christof (2012) “NATO`s 25th Summit in Chicago in Preparation of Global Full Spectrum Dominance, Interventionism, Possible Preparations for A Regional War Directed against Russia and China, and Developments in Global Security.” nsnbc, May 20 2012. http://nsnbc.wordpress.com/2012/05/20/natos-25th-summit-in-chicago-in-preparation-of-global-full-spectrum-dominance-interventionism-possible-preparations-for-a-regional-war-directed-against-russia-and-china-and-developments-in-global/


 

Assange Is A True Democrat: Chomsky

 

It has been with some degree of fascination that I have followed the unfolding of the Julian Assange saga. While I have been apt to question what all this meant for the so much talk about freedom of speech, Britain’s recent attitude towards it has been nothing but amusing. In all this however, I see Assange being the ultimate winner as it has done nothing but increase his popularity – something he will surely cherish. While Britain has said that it remains committed to reaching a diplomatic solution to the presence of Assage in Ecuador’s London embassy, after both countries took steps to defuse a row over his action in taking refuge, Noam Chomsky has proclaimed Assange a true democrat.

The WikiLeaks founder who has been living in the Ecudaorian  embassy’s quarters for more than two months in an attempt to avoid extradition to Sweden, where he is wanted for questioning over rape and sexual assault allegations received his accolade in a discussion New Matilda had with Chomsky as presented in the following write-up by Tamara Fenjan  of NewMatilda.com,

Noam Chomsky

Last week NM spoke with US intellectual giant Noam Chomsky about Julian Assange, who is now the centre of a diplomatic nightmare in London. Tamara Fenjan reports

Julian Assange has been granted asylum by the Ecuadorian government, creating a diplomatic row between the Latin American nation and the United Kingdom, which remains intent to extradite him to Sweden to face allegations of sexual assault. While voices have been raised in Sweden and the UK, the US has so far declined to “interject” itself into the situation.

However, there is one American who has been loud and clear in his support of Assange — MIT linguistics professor and left-wing intellectual Noam Chomsky.

Last week Chomsky told New Matilda he believes Assange is right to fear extradition to Sweden, where if the USA asks for him to be extradited he would “be on the next flight”.

“If Swedish interrogators want to interrogate him they can do it in London,” Chomsky told NM. “Everyone in their right mind knows that this is a stepping stone to the US.” He draws a parallel with Bradley Manning, the US soldier accused of having leaked thousands of classified documents to Wikileaks, and says that what to happened Manning is a clear indication of how Assange will be treated if he is extradited to the United States.

Manning has been held in a military prison for almost a year and a half without trial — most of that time in solitary confinement.

WikiLeaks Founder – Julian Assange

“There is no doubt that the purpose of all this is to get [Manning] to say something about Assange, who will also be treated the same way if he ever comes to the US. … Therefore, a decent country at this time — if there is one — would grant him political asylum,” Chomsky said.

Chomsky says of the Swedish legal system “that one can not rely on it, which is not so surprising.” Sweden cooperated with the Nazis during World War II and is now working with the Americans, he points out. “Sweden cooperates with whoever is in power … suppose that Syria asks Sweden to extradite somebody to Syria whom they accuse works with the rebels — would Sweden do it? No!”

“By right [Assange] ought to get a medal of honour. He’s performing his responsibilities as a citizen of a democratic society and people ought to know what their representatives are doing ”

The question now is whether UK police will storm the Ecuadorian embassy, located in London’s Knightsbridge. Wikileaks reports via Twitter that this morning “there are still over 35 police surrounding the Ecuadorian embassy”, and has issued a statement condemning “in the strongest possible terms the UK’s resort to intimidation”.

“A threat of this nature is a hostile and extreme act, which is not proportionate to the circumstances, and an unprecedented assault on the rights of asylum seekers worldwide,” the organisation said.

Assange’s fears seem to be corroborated by private confirmation given to Craig Murray, a respected former UK ambassador and human rights activist:

“I returned to the UK today to be astonished by private confirmation from within the [Foreign and Commonwealth Office] that the UK government has indeed decided — after immense pressure from the Obama administration — to enter the Ecuadorean Embassy and seize Julian Assange.

“This will be, beyond any argument, a blatant breach of the Vienna Convention of 1961, to which the UK is one of the original parties and which encodes the centuries — arguably millennia — of practice which have enabled diplomatic relations to function. The Vienna Convention is the most subscribed single international treaty in the world.”

Greens Senator Scott Ludlam spoke this week in support of Assange. Foreign Minister Bob Carr said the Federal Government would not “make representations one way or the other” regarding Assange’s asylum claim.

Source: Chomsky.info

 

“RED GOLD” – ANOTHER RESOURCE CURSE?

In most African countries, the prices of basic commodies are greatly linked to the price of fuel. This could be attributed to the cost of transportation which increases with fuel price increases and the high elasticity of local demands which make it easier for the consumers to bear the biggest brunt of any increases. This no doubt makes one sees how the capitalist system is working harder than ever to increase the chasm between rich and poor. The removal of the fuel subsidy in Nigeria and the mayhem that followed seem to have been the test-drive by the IMF and World Bank. Since protests in Nigeria did not have much impact, there is now consideration of covering more grounds. Cameroon happens to be next in line – but unlike Nigeria that recieved so much attention, I will not be suprised if ‘France-dominated Cameroon’s removal goes unnoticed.

The thought of it has however made me go back to look at an article I wrote for FabAfrique Magazine  on the ‘Red Gold’. If the problem of black gold has been subsidies, what exactly is the problem of this resource?

Palm Fruits cut in half

Over the last few months I have not ceased to wonder if Africa would have been better-off without all the abundance of natural resources. What with all the appellations like Collier’s ‘Natural Resource Trap’, the ‘Natural Resource Curse’ or most strangely, the one that beats me most, the ‘Dutch Disease’[1]. The paradox of a blessing being a curse at the same time, is one too complex for my little head to fathom. But behold, the evidence is overwhelming and I cannot pretend not to see it – the conflict that seems to accompany natural resources and the widespread poverty in Africa – a land of affluence.

It is a fact that Africa is blessed with rich soil that permits it to grow almost everything needed for mankind’s existence. There’s cocoa for chocolate, and its related products, coffee for tea, timber for construction and the making of wooden instruments and paper, cotton for clothing, palm for palm oil, and many others.

Africa is also flooded with natural resources that the world largely depends on. Amongst these are gold, copper, bauxite, diamond, and the one that is usually called “black gold”, crude oil. Another form of “gold” has come up today, which I term “red gold”. This is crude palm oil that amounts for a greater part of income in countries like Nigeria, Ivory Coast, DR Congo and Cameroon. And it is these countries that stand tall in the hall of fame of crude palm oil production in Africa.

Unfortunately, it is also a fact that diamonds are responsible for Sierra Leone’s worst nightmare, that Nigeria’s fuel subsidy crisis is a manifestation of the case of a country ‘living at the banks of a river and washing its hands with spittle’, that the civil war in the Congo and the Libyan crisis are cases where resources have made people wolf unto their brothers – just to name a few.

Am I deliberately leaving out Cameroon here? This should not have been surprising since World Bank Director Paul Collier in his award winning book The Bottom Billion deliberately leaves out Cameroon in most serious discussions and only mentions it briefly when referring to the depletion of resources in the Country.

I am not going to delve into questioning why Cameroon seems so much under the radar or where the depleted resources have gone to, but I am bound by conscience to wonder if Cameroon is free from the resource curse. I am going to take a look at just one resource here – what I call The ‘Red Gold’. This is crude palm oil that accounts for a greater part of income in countries like Nigeria, Ivory Coast, Democratic Republic of Congo, and Cameroon. These are the countries that stand tall in the hall of fame of crude palm production in Africa.

The Republic of Cameroon which ranks fourth in crude palm oil production in Africa according to the United Nation’s Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) has crude palm oil as one of its main agricultural products. The country which is fondly called ‘Africa in miniature’ can boost of a yearly production of about 200,000 tons of palm oil. In 2011, production was 210,000 tons up from the previous 200,000 tons.

Crude palm oil which has always been a part of the

Local Palm Oil Processing

people of much of West Africa, and Cameroon in particular actually gained industrial prominence in 1910 when the Germans established industrial plantation units around Edea under the Société de Palmerais de la Ferme Suisse. Then, came the Cameroon Development Corporation (CDC), in the 1940s. And later on the PAMOIL Cameroon Ltd.

Palm oil production in Cameroon is highly favored by the tropical climate that consist of 4 to 5 months of dry season, and about 7 to 8 months of rainy season, coupled with the South West Monsoon wind that blows across the coast of the country where large agro industrial corporations like the Cameroon Development Corporation (CDC) is situated, including the Palm Oil Corporation of Cameroon (PAMOIL), the Manyu Oil Palm Initiative. Independent farmers too, are involved in this highly lucrative business, and most of them have come under the Cameroon Association of Palm Oil Producers, headed by Claude Leonard Mpouma, and the Small Holders Scheme.

Large farms of palm nuts used in the production of palm oil which covers about 170,000 hectares can be seen mainly in the South West, South, Littoral, Centre and East.

This new form of “Red Gold” generates a yearly income of more 200 billion FCFA, about 400 million dollars, and provides about 65,000 indirect and direct jobs.

Because of the high quality of Cameroon’s crude red palm oil; which is cholesterol free and rich in vitamin E, there’s high demand for it at home and abroad. If it is not demanded for cooking, it is demanded for the making of soap and other cosmetic products found in the greatest shops around the world.

The exponential growth in demand has meant the supply is lagging as local production fails to grow simultaneously thanks to the poor state of farm-to-market roads, crude or rudimentary machines used by some small holders and the poor quality of some of the seedlings causing am almost 100% increase in the price of palm oil from the official 450frs CFA (almost a dollar) to about 750frs CFA in the black market. This poses a problem given that a majority of Cameroonians in the local areas live on less than a dollar a day. Much like Black Gold, this resource seems to be going down the road of becoming too expensive for the ordinary man.

The State of Most Cameroonian roads – Source: Cameroon Today Newspaper

While one could be optimistic enough to say that the future of palm oil in Cameroon is bright because of the ‘tarring’ of some farm-to-market roads, like the famous Kumba-Buea stretch of road, the widening of the Douala –Yaoundé road, and the provision of high yielding palm seedlings to farmers by structures like the Cameroon Development Corporation (CDC), PAMOIL Cameroon Ltd, Programme de Developémment de Palmerais Villageois(PDPV), which also coordinates the activities of small holders farmers, the question that remains unanswered is whether these modest achievements are worth commending in a country so richly blessed

Maybe I am not being reasonable here, given that the government has signed many agreements in favor of the farmers and in 2010, it jointly launched a project with the government of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (Africa’s biggest producer of palm oil) aimed at generating income in the palm oil sector in four years time, supported by the United Nations Industrial Development Organization and the Common Fund for Commodities.   Recently, Cameroon and UNIDO reached a deal in Vienna, Austria to promote the industrialization of palm oil production in Cameroon. Following this programme, four pilot centres were chosen; the Agro Industrial Unit in Bora in the East, Massoumbou Gardens in Littoral, the Agro Industrial Development Company in the South and the Manya Oil Palm Cooperative in the South West. This will certainly bridge the gap between demand and supply which requires the creation of about 20,000 hectares of palm tree farms yearly.

Modern Palm Oil Processing

These are wonderful efforts with great prospects but history and the reality of international trade dampen my hilarity. It is true that today, for the first time, most African countries have made the most impressive breakthrough into global markets for goods and services other than just primary products, it is also true that most of the firms established during the colonial era,[2] still continue to play a major role in the export-import trade of the now independent States which were their former colonial preserves. Most of these pay very low prices for the cash crops they export to Europe while they set very high prices for the finished products they import for sale in Africa. Also, the major share of their profits is sent back to their home countries rather than being invested in the African economies where the profits are made. This has the unfortunate effect that a structural imbalance is created in the African economies resulting from their over dependence on the export of one of few primary products and this makes their economies extremely vulnerable to external factors and seriously hinders their internal development.

This is my fear for the future of ‘Red Gold’.


[1] The Dutch disease is an economic concept that explains the apparent relationship between the increase in exploitation of natural resources and a decline in the manufacturing sector.

[2] e.g. UAC which is now Unilever

Africa And the Plight of a Wasted Generation

From St. Ives to Inverness; from the Isle of Man and stretching across the City of London; and even in places like Tristan da Cunha, a UK Overseas Territory and the most remote inhabited island chain on the planet, this has been a long weekend of celebrations. It started officially on Saturday (and even with the characteristically gloomy British weather) the streets of all cities have been aglow with images of the Union Jack. It has been a long weekend awash with celebrations of the Queen’s Diamond jubilee.

As I sat watching the incessant dripping of the rain through my window, I could not help but wonder if an average African born 60 years ago will have any cause for celebration – that is if they were fortunate to see their 60th anniversary. As if to lend credence to my thoughts, the double tragedy in Africa’s most populated country on a day so aptly tagged ‘Black Sunday’ seemed to have been the one thing I needed to realise the futility of any struggle to make meaning of life – especially as an African.

I was forced to take a look at what Africa was in 1952 and what did I see? I saw US-educated Dr. Kwame Nkrumah who had been elected prime minister of the Gold Coast (the British Colony that later becomes Ghana). That seemed to be the beginning of a new era for a continent that had not known any form of freedom for centuries since it was enslaved and colonised. There was hope for the continent as continental Africans who were at that time studying in America and Europe such as Kwame Nkrumah of Ghana, Jomo Kenyatta of Kenya, Leopold S. Senghor of Senegal Julius K. Nyerere of Tanzania, Nnamdi Azikiwe and Obafami Awolowo of Nigeria were all returning to mother Africa, preaching and applying their political ideology for African nationalism and Pan-Africanism. Their political philosophy which assumed the new role of pedagogy for promoting internal liberation.

There were beacons of hope across the continent 10 years later,  by 1962, when a majority of the continent gained independence. But unlike the  about 4200 beacons of the Diamond Jubilee which as they  were  lit, had three generations of Royalty watching, with smiles on their faces, I wonder if anyone can look back and smile at any of the beacons of hope that were lit in Africa in the early 1960s.

Let me look at a few:

The first is Leopold Sedar Senghor. According to Senghor the value of African socialism was founded on the African understanding of family based on philosophical intuition through the concept of Negritude: “The family in Africa is the clan and not as in Europe ‘mum, dad and the baby’ it is not the household but ‘the sum total of all persons, living and dead, who acknowledge a common ancestor.’ As we know, the ancestral lineage dates back to God”.[1]

Leopold S. Senghor – Negritude

Senghor saw a common factor of Africanity as consisting in the state of being ‘black’, ‘negritude’, ‘negroness’. Hence the Afro-Negro worldview could be sustained by an intuitive consciousness that opens itself up in communal embrace to the rest of the world culture. African culture was therefore, a symbiosis of different elements, in a symbiotic encounter, in which association was free and beneficial to all. Senghor felt that Negritude could open up a harmonious basis for integration of black and white values with a view of bringing into being a new African personality which necessarily contributes to the civilization of values. In this light negritude was seen as a cultural heritage of the Negros and an embodiment of cultural, economic, political and social values of the Black people.

It is against this backdrop that negritude was seen as being not just a mere theoretical speculation or simply a philosophy of being but also a philosophy of praxis aimed at liberation. Its aims and objectives were considered the same as those pursued by all African nationalists following independence, namely, the truth of their “being” and “culture” as well as the full mastery of their environment. Negritude was nothing more than the Black man’s attempt to regain what Jean-Paul Sartre calls an ‘existential integrity” on the original purity of one’s existence.

60 years on: the African still lives on an existential mirage. The lines between life and death are blurred. People go to church and do not return. Others board flights or cars but never reach their destination. Children are born only for them to witness the agony of starvation, deprivation and die of curable diseases before their first birthday. Maybe the problem was Negritude – either hoping too much or too little!

Julius Kambarage Nyerere, like Senghor saw in African socialism, the only

Nyerere – Ujaama Socialism

veritable tool that could affect the political and economic liberation of Africa. Like Senghor, Nyerere felt that “the foundation and objective of African socialism is the extended family.”[2]  The familyhood depicted by Ujamaa, therefore, went beyond the basic family nucleus; beyond the tribe, the community, the nation. It must include the entire human race. It x-rayed the traditional life of the African people where the sense of brotherhood was strong: where “society is so organized that it cares about the individual”.[3] In short Ujamaa socialism was said to be an attitude of mind needed to ensure that people care for each other’s welfare. In Nyerere’s conceptual schemes, therefore, the solution to the African predicament and the sure road to freedom, laid simply in the adoption of African socialism which was antithetical to capitalism. Nyerere’s Ujamaa was clearly a theory that was aimed at transforming independent Africa.

60 years on: capitalism reigns supreme in Africa. Individualism is manifested in the grabbing attitude of politicians who think only of making quick gains at the expense of the masses. Even China which is communist at home is capitalist in Africa. May be there should have been a middle way!

Zik – Neo-Welfarism

This was sought by Nnamdi Azikiwe (Zik) whose major political thought centre around the idea of the regeneration of Africa in socio-political life and what he termed “neo-welfarism”. The idea of the regeneration of Africa represents a call to a New Africa. Beyond the general tendencies prevalent in his time, to favour and refine socialist teachings and to reject capitalist principles, Zik was among the few thinkers who made frantic efforts in the search of a middle way between socialism and capitalism in his later years. Finding the major political systems – capitalism, socialism, welfarism – wanting, Zik, feeling that since none of them is totally bad, there was the need for the harmonization of these systems by combining what he believes to be the good elements in each of them. These results in what he called “neo-welfarism” which is “an economic system which blends the essential elements of Capitalism, Socialism and Welfarism  in a socio-economic matrix, influenced by indigenous African mores, to enable the state and the private sector to own and control the means of production, distribution and exchange, whilst simultaneously enabling the state to assume responsibility for the social services, in order to benefit the citizens according to their needs and officially specified minimum standard, without prejudice to participation in any aspect of the social services by voluntary agencies.”[4] The philosophical basis for neo-welfarism is eclecticism and pragmatism.

Unfortunately, pragmatism and eclecticism have been painstakingly removed from Nigerian political dictionaries and hence the via media has no place anymore. The fuel subsidy crisis was just one of many examples of where socialism and welfarism have been binned in favour of resolute capitalism. This should not have been surprising because Nkrumah had prophesied about them.

One of the most systematic and speculative of the freedom movement of post-

Nkrumah – Consciencism

colonial Africa was the theory of liberation of Kwame Nkrumah, which he expounded in his book Towards Colonial Freedom, written in 1947 and published in 1962. Nkrumah spoke of liberation as being mainly from colonialism, which to him was “…White man’s burden which rest heavily upon the shoulders of the so-called “backward” people who have been subjugated, humiliated, robbed and degraded to the level of cattle.”[5] .Nkrumah saw in the policies of the colonial masters a lot of hypocrisy. In their crafty nature, they masked their real inhumane nature and evil intentions so well that it was very difficult for the people to notice. “ the attitude of Britain, France, Spain, Italy and other colonial powers towards what they call “participation” by colonial people in colonial government and public affairs are half-way measures to keep them complacent and to throttle their aspiration  for complete independence”.[6]

In the light of this, Nkrumah saw the need to present a model theory for the liberation of Africa. He was partly motivated by the hope that the Socialist movement in the world at the time would overtake the capitalist – imperialism that exploited Africa.

Nkrumah, and other Africans having deciphered the distortions and platitude of European colonialism saw the importance of knowledge in the African crusade of decolonization against European colonialism, on the one hand, and on the other hand, the African liberation and development. Knowledge was necessary for power and for action. Nkrumah further wrote that

… there are vast numbers of ordinary Africans, who animated by a lively national consciousness, sort knowledge as an instrument of national emancipation and integrity. This is not to say that these Africans overlooked the purely cultural value of their studies. But in order that their cultural acquisition should be valuable, they needed to be capable of appreciating it as free men.[7]

There was a pressing need for Africans to get engaged in the de-colonial campaign as free historical beings, since, “the main purpose of the organization is to bring about a final death of colonialism and the discountenance of foreign imperialist domination”.[8]. This is because it was glaring that “outside interference does not help to develop their country, for it impedes and stifles and crushes not only economic progress, but the spirit and indigenous enterprise of the peoples themselves.[9]

60 years on: Outside interference has never been far from Africa. Its legacies are clear for all to see. Africa produces no guns but records the highest number of deaths by guns. The DRC, Somalia and Libya are living examples of foreign imperialist domination. The IMF and the World Bank have only succeeded in impeding and stifling economic progress with proposals that never seem to work but are always imposed on African governments.

60 years on after Nkrumah won  the first election in Africa as the PM of the Gold Coast, we are apt to wonder if it will be better if Africa could simple forget all the years of civil wars, genocides, apartheid, famine and diseases. Maybe we can start anew! But should this option be considered, Africa will have WASTED A GENERATION!

NOTES:


[1] Senghor; Poetry and Prose (Selected and trans by Reed and C. Wake) (London: Oxford University Press, !965), p. 43

[2] Nyerere: Ujamaa: Essays On Socialism (Dar-es Salaam :Oxford University Press 1968) p. 2

[3] Ibid p. 3

[4] Nnamdi Azikiwe; Ideology for Nigeria: Capitalism, Socialism or Welfarism. (Lagos: Macmillan Nigeria Publishers Ltd, 1981), p. x

[5] K. Nkrumah; Towards Colonial Freedom. “Africa in the Struggle Against World Imperialism” (London: Panaf Book Ltd., 1962), p. 29

[6] K. Nkrumah; Towards Colonial Freedom. “Africa in the Struggle Against World Imperialism” p. 27

[7] K. Nkrumah; Towards Colonial Freedom. “Africa in the Struggle Against World Imperialism” p. 4

[8] K. Nkrumah; Towards Colonial Freedom. “Africa in the Struggle Against World Imperialism” p. 41

[9] K. Nkrumah; Towards Colonial Freedom. “Africa in the Struggle Against World Imperialism” p. 42

Attack on Syria likely before March?

After the Arab Leagues discontinuation of it´s mission in Syria, the closure of European and Arab Embassies in Damascus, and the non binding resolution of the United Nations General Assembly, all signals are set “Go” for the War on Syria and Iran. The remaining questions are, what will be the pretext to trigger the transition from the months long covert to an overt war, when will it be initiated, how is it likely to develop, and what will the outcome be.

Diplomacy: The discontinuation of the Arab leagues mission in Syria and the closure of European and Arab Embassies prompted the Russian UN Envoy Vitaly Churkin to interpret them as possible precursors of war. (1) The adoption of a non binding resolution by the United Nations General Assembly on Syria on Thursday came after intense US-American and Western European diplomatic pressure on politically and economically dependent nations, and following the Russian and Chinese rejection of a draft resolution at the UN Security Council on 4 February.

On Sunday Syria rejected the Arab League´s resolution that was calling for a UN-Arab Peacekeeping force in Syria, combined with the tightening of economic sanctions on Syria. The resolution was perceived as blatant interference into Syrian internal affairs. More over, the fact that several of the nations that sponsored the Arab Leagues resolution, and who would be the most likely candidates to volunteer “UN Peace Keepers”, are the very nations that are waging an illegal covert war against Syria; namely, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, with the aid of Turkey, USA, UK, and other NATO Member States. Both Syria, Russia, and China opposed the Arab League Resolution to prevent what they called a new Libya like scenario.

Vitaly Churkin stated, that the draft resolution was unbalanced and that it reflected the tendencies that cause Russia concerns. Namely, the attempt to isolate the Syrian political leadership, the rejection of any contacts with it, and the attempt to impose a political settlement formula from the outside. According to Churkin, Russia also rejected the draft resolution because non of the Russian amendments had been adopted. Churkin elicited, that Russia was especially critical of the failure to include a call on all armed groups to cease attacking residential neighborhoods and government institutions, as well as a call on government troops to leave cities and towns. Churkin also concluded that failure to adopt these points did not leave Russia with any other choice than to vote against the draft.(2)

On Thursday, the European Union adopted a resolution, urging the Russian Government to immediately halt the sales of arms to Syria. The E.U. resolution was widely perceived by analysts as meant for domestic consumption in the attempt to cognitively and emotionally prepare populations of E.U. Member States for a significant “freeze” in E.U.-Russian relations and a possible indirect or direct military conflict with Russia. Syria is the largest Arab importer of Russian arms. (3) However, seen from an objective perspective, the relatively modest Russian arms sales to Syria dwarf the heavy US and E.U. arms sales to Saudi Arabia, Israel and other regional countries.

On 2 January, nsnbc reported that the US will deliver 84 new F-15 Boeing Fighter Jets to Saudi Arabia and significantly upgrade it´s existing fleet. (4) It is an arms deal, supporting a regional US ally, that is waging a covert war on Syria and is arming what is euphemistically called the “Syrian Opposition” (5), a country that is cracking down on protesters in Bahrain, and a country that only recently has beheaded a woman for “sorcery” (6). The traditional European or Prussian warfare doctrine of Carl von Clausewitz (7), that warfare should be the continuation of diplomacy by other means seems to have developed into diplomacy being warfare by other means. The fact that Clausewitz was inspired by Hegel seemingly makes this permutation easy. Create a problem, foster a popular demand for a solution which suits your strategic interests, and deliver the solution. The fostering and abuse of what is euphemistically sold as “The Arab Spring” with capital letters, like “The Holocaust” and the offering of military intervention as solution is a perfect example of Hegelian Dialectics; An Arab Spring, that is cynically, manufactured along the guidelines of the US Special Forces Training Circular for Unconventional Warfare, TC 18-01, which has bee published on nsnbc this week. (8)

War. After failed initiatives to lend apparent legitimacy to the war on Syria and Iran, the questions that call for being answered are; what will be the “event” that is used as pretext for entering an overt military stage of the war, when is it most likely to occur, how will it most likely develop and what is a plausible outcome. All signals are on “go”, the fuse is lit.

The Russian Military is bracing itself for the outbreak of a regional, and potentially wider Middle Eastern or Global War and is on a high state of alert. According to “The Hindu” the Head of the Russian General Staff, General Mikael Markov, informed at a Moscow Press Conference, that Iran is a sore spot for Russia, and that it is likely that a decision to attack Iran will be made within months, a little closer to the summer. Markov added, that Iran was capable of giving a sharp repulse to the attack. Also Russian Admiral Vladimir Komovedov reportedly said, that given the current military build-up in the Persian Gulf, any spark could set off the fire of a regional conflict. Komovedov, who is heading the Russian State Duma´s Defense Committee told foreign military attaches in Moscow that the US could attack Iran any time now with a simultaneous launch of 450 Tomahawk cruise missiles from warships deployed in the region. The Russian general Staff has established a “situation center” and is monitoring the situation around the clock in real time. (9)

Over the recent months Russia has significantly reinforced it´s Southern regions and borders with air, ground and maritime forces. An attack on Iran would most likely incite Iran to attack US Oil Installations in the Caspian Sea, and a developing conflict would involve Georgia, Azerbaijan, Ossetia, Chechnya and destabilize the entire Caspian Region. With an attack on Syria being the most likely “initiator”, and Iran bound to respond, it is most likely only a question of time before the powder keg ignites.

It is unlikely that the USA and NATO will be able to take on Iran directly and with massive ground forces, before it has either significantly reduced the Syrian governments military capabilities, or succeeded in ousting the Syrian Government. It is also most likely, that the US, NATO, Qatar and Saudi Arabia will be counting on “plausible deniability” as long as possible while waging war on Syria, in an attempt to position Iran and Russia as villains who intervene militarily. The ongoing development on the ground is strongly indicating that this is the most probable strategy.

Jordan. According to a report from 13 December 2011, an unspecified number of US troops that were withdrawn from Iraq had been re-deployed to Jordanian Air Force Bases as well as in Jordanian villages near Al-Mafraq, along the Jordanian-Syrian border.(10)

Since then, the NATO Alliance has established a buffer zone along the Jordanian-Syrian border, which according to sources around former Jordanian Prime Minister Marouf Bakhit is currently housing 43.000 “rebels” from Libya who are waiting for a signal to attack Syria. The so called buffer zone is established around the cities of Mafraq and Ramtha, and is approximately 30 km long and 10 km deep. The zone has reportedly been closed for civilian and non authorized persons. Three large camps, housing about 20.000 mercenaries of the “Tripoli Brigades” led by Abdelhakim Belhadj have reportedly been established. The sources around former Jordanian P.M. Marouf Bakhit, which have good ties to Jordanian Intelligence Services, state, that the total number of foreign fighters in Jordan, poised for an attack on Syria is 43.000. The transport of the NATO mercenaries has largely been conducted under the cover of medical evacuations from Libya, and that some of Jordan´s Royal Medical Services Hospitals as well as Hotels are filled beyond capacity with foreign fighters poised for war on Syria.

According to the same sources, a contingent of dozens of Turkish Intelligence Officers have been the Rabia district and established an operations room in Mecca Street. The Turkish operation also functions as recruitment office for Jihadi´s and mercenaries who wish to enlist in the planned attack on Syria.

Lebanon and Turkey. According to sources with ties to Jordanian Intelligence a shipment of over 50 T of Israeli Military Equipment, worth over USD 650 million has arrived at Erbil Airport in Kurdistan. The weapons have reportedly been paid by “Rafael Industries”.Lebanese M.P. and Chairman of the Lebanese Progressive Socialist Party, Walid Jumblatt´s recent shuttling to Qatar, Iraqi Kurdistan and Turkey have specifically been tied to the arms delivery.  The weapons are planned to go on route to Homs. Jumblatt is well known for his anti Syrian meddling. During the protracted Lebanese civil war Jumblatt was a significant agent for division within the progressive alliance and known to have repeatedly sabotaged Syrian attempts to unite progressive forces around a pan-arabic solution that also embraced the Palestinian problem.

Syria First. But When.

Libya was not the easy push-over as many may have expected. The profound and still ongoing resistance of the legitimate Libyan governments forces and the Libyan people has most likely contributed to a delay of the war plans against Syria and Iran. Syria will be even harder to destabilize. The Syrian people are standing in a surprisingly strong solidarity behind their government and against the foreign led insurgency. NATO´s lack of ability to push for another Libya Style UN Resolution has significantly delayed the window for overt military intervention by NATO and allied countries.NATO´s problem with respect to Iran is, that it can not afford to attack Iran directly as long as Syria is not significantly destabilized, and the window of opportunity for a war on Iran in 2012 is already closing and is to be expected by middle of April if it is to be realized this year.

The rapidly closing window for an attack on Iran is adding to NATO´s urgency to initiate a Syrian campaign. Other contributing factors to the urgency are the problems that are arising with maintaining a force of largely uncontrolled and undisciplined foreign fighters in Turkey and Jordan. Another factor which is adding urgency to initiating an assault on Syria is the political nightmare that would arise for NATO if millions of Syrians turned out voting for the new Syrian Constitution, and protesting for President Bashar Al-Assad and against foreign intervention and aggression. What is needed is a plausible excuse for an intervention, and before the results of the referendum for the new Syrian Constitution can be proclaimed.

On 26 February the people of Syria will hold a referendum about the new Syrian Constitution. A referendum that will most likely be the point where the masses of NATO mercenaries in Jordan and Turkey will be given the “go” for an assault on Syria. Massive unrests and violence on the 26th may be the excuse NATO is creating.

Neither Iran nor Russia are particularly interested in becoming engaged in a direct confrontation with the NATO led aggression. The responses to an assault on Syria via Jordan, Turkey and eventually Lebanon will largely depend on the Syrian military´s capability to cope with the situation, and if NATO dares to raise the stakes, risking a confrontation with Russia. Would Iran stay passive when NATO mercenaries launch an attack via Jordan? If so, a Russian response would be strongly depending on the Syrian military capability to handle an assault by 40.000 fighters from Jordan, and if the West insists on intervening with regular forces. If Iran is getting involved the situation may be better for Syria. Can Iran muster a limited response that could not serve as pretext for a war against it ? Will Russia assert it´s influence over Iran and keep it from attacking US Oil refineries in the Caspian ? I don´t know, and most probably nobody really does. What is certain however, is that the Russian, Iranian and Syrian military forces are on alert and in anticipation of developments that can turn the region a thunder within the hour. What ever the outcome, the victim is humanity.

Dr. Christof Lehmann on nsnbc

17.02.2012

1) Russian envoy: Embassies closure in Syria could mean preparations for military intervention; TREND.  http://en.trend.az/regions/met/arabicr/1992801.html

2) Russian Envoy Slams UN General Assembly’s Syria Resolution http://en.rian.ru/russia/20120217/171356084.html

3) EU Urges Russia To Halt Syria Arms Sales.  http://en.rian.ru/world/20120216/171347105.html

4) US Delivers New F-15´s to Saudi Arabia.  http://nsnbc.wordpress.com/2012/01/02/us-delivers-new-f-15%C2%B4s-to-saudi-arabia/

5) The Manufacturing of the War on Syria. Christof Lehmann (2011), nsnbc. http://nsnbc.wordpress.com/2011/12/15/the-manufacturing-of-the-war-on-syria/

6) Saudi woman beheaded for “sorcery”. http://nsnbc.wordpress.com/2011/12/14/saudi-woman-beheaded-for-sorcery/

7) Carl von Clausewitz. Wiki. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carl_von_Clausewitz

8) US-Military Logic behind Syrian Insurgency. The “Special Forces Unconventional Warfare” manual” TC 18-01. Christof Lehmann (2012) nsnbc.  http://nsnbc.wordpress.com/2012/02/15/us-military-logic-behind-syrian-insurgency-the-special-forces-unconventional-warfare-manual-tc-18-01/

9)Attack on Iran not far off says Russian general. The Hindu.  http://www.thehindu.com/news/international/article2899679.ece

10) Foreign Troops Begin to Spread near Al-Mafraq. Boilingforgspost/nsnbc. http://nsnbc.wordpress.com/2011/12/13/foreign-troops-begin-to-spread-in-syria/

The Truth About the Situation in Libya

By Brian Becker, National Coordinator, ANSWER Coalition 

Aug 13 - Stop Bombing LibyaLibya is a small country of just over 6 million people but it possesses the largest oil reserves in all of Africa. The oil produced there is especially coveted because of its particularly high quality.

The Air Force of the United States along with Britain and France has carried out 7,459 bombing attacks since March 19. Britain, France and the United States sent special operation ground forces and commando units to direct the military operations of the so-called rebel fighters – it is a NATO- led army in the field.

The troops may be disaffected Libyans but the operation is under the control and direction of NATO commanders and western commando units who serve as “advisors.” Their new weapons and billions in funds come from the U.S. and other NATO powers that froze and seized Libya’s assets in Western banks. Their only military successes outside of Benghazi, in the far east of the country, have been exclusively based on the coordinated air and ground operations of the imperialist NATO military forces.

In military terms, Libya’s resistance to NATO is of David and Goliath proportions. U.S. military spending alone is more than ten times greater than Libya’s entire annual Gross Domestic Product (GDP) which was $74.2 billion in 2010, according to the CIA’s World Fact Book.

In recent weeks, the NATO military operations used surveillance-collecting drones, satellites, mounting aerial attacks and covert commando units to decapitate Libya’s military and political leadership and its command and control capabilities. Global economic sanctions meant that the country was suddenly deprived of income and secure access to goods and services needed to sustain a civilian economy over a long period.

“The cumulative effect [of NATO’s coordinated air and ground operation] not only destroyed Libya’s military infrastructure but also greatly diminished Colonel Gaddafi’s commanders to control forces, leaving even committed fighting units unable to move, resupply or coordinate operations,“ reports the New York Times in a celebratory article on August 22.

A False Pretext

The United States, United Kingdom, France, and Italy targeted the Libyan government for overthrow or “regime change” not because these governments were worried about protecting civilians or to bring about a more democratic form of governance in Libya.

If that were the real motivation of the NATO powers, they could start the bombing of Saudi Arabia right away. There are no elections in Saudi Arabia. The monarchy does not even allow women to drive cars. By law, women must be fully covered in public or they will go to prison. Protests are rare in Saudi Arabia because any dissent is met with imprisonment, torture and execution.

The Saudi monarchy is protected by U.S. imperialism because it is part of an undeclared but real U.S. sphere of influence and it is the largest producer of oil in the world. The U.S. attitude toward the Saudi monarchy was put succinctly by Ronald Reagan in 1981, when he said that the U.S. government “will not permit” revolution in Saudi Arabia such as the 1979 Iranian revolution that removed the U.S. client regime of the Shah. Reagan’s message was clear: the Pentagon and CIA’s military forces would be used decisively to destroy any democratic movement against the rule of the Saudi royal family.

Reagan’s explicit statement in 1981 has in fact been the policy of every successive U.S. administration, including the current one.

Libya and Imperialism

Libya, unlike Saudi Arabia, did have a revolution against its monarchy. As a result of the 1969 revolution led by Muammar Gaddafi, Libya was no longer in the sphere of influence of any imperialist country.

Libya had once been an impoverished colony of Italy living under the boot heel of the fascist Mussolini. After the Allied victory in World War II, control of the country was formally transferred to the United Nations and Libya became independent in 1951 with authority vested in the monarch King Idris.

But in actuality, Libya was controlled by the United States and Britain until the 1969 revolution.

One of the first acts of the 1969 revolution was to eliminate the vestiges of colonialism and foreign control. Not only were oil fields nationalized but Gaddafi eliminated foreign military bases inside the country.

In March of 1970, the Gaddafi government shut down two important British military bases in Tobruk and El Adem. He then became the Pentagon’s enemy when he evicted the U.S. Wheelus Air Force Base near Tripoli that had been operated by the United States since 1945. Before the British military took control in 1943, the facility was a base operated by the Italians under Mussolini.

Wheelus had been an important Strategic Air Command (SAC) base during the Cold War, housing B-52 bombers and other front-line Pentagon aircrafts that targeted the Soviet Union.

Once under Libyan control, the Gaddafi government allowed Soviet military planes to access the airfield.

In 1986, the Pentagon heavily bombed the base at the same time it bombed downtown Tripoli in an effort to assassinate Gaddafi. That effort failed but his 2-year-old daughter died along with scores of other civilians.

The Character of the Gaddafi Regime

The political, social and class orientation of the Libyan regime has gone through several stages in the last four decades. The government and ruling establishment reflected contradictory class, social, religious and regional antagonisms. The fact that the leadership of the NATO-led National Transition Council is comprised of top officials of the Gaddafi government, who broke with the regime and allied themselves with NATO, is emblematic of the decades-long instability within the Libyan establishment.

These inherent contradictions were exacerbated by pressures applied to Libya from the outside. The U.S. imposed far-reaching economic sanctions on Libya in the 1980s. The largest western corporations were barred from doing business with Libya and the country was denied access to credit from western banks.

In its foreign policy, Libya gave significant financial and military support to national liberation struggles, including in Palestine, Southern Africa, Ireland and elsewhere.

Because of Libya’s economic policies, living standards for the population had jumped dramatically after 1969. Having a small population and substantial income from its oil production, augmented with the Gaddafi regime’s far-reaching policy of social benefits, created a huge advance in the social and economic status for the population. Libya was still a class society with rich and poor, and gaps between urban and rural living standards, but illiteracy was basically wiped out, while education and health care were free and extensively accessible. By 2010, the per capita income in Libya was near the highest in Africa at $14,000 and life expectancy rose to over 77 years, according to the CIA’s World Fact Book.

Gaddafi’s political orientation explicitly rejected communism and capitalism. He created an ideology called the “Third International Theory,” which was an eclectic mix of Islamic, Arab nationalist and socialist ideas and programs. In 1977, Libya was renamed the Great Socialist People’s Libyan Arab Jamahiriya. A great deal of industry, including oil, was nationalized and the government provided an expansive social insurance program or what is called a welfare state policy akin to some features prevalent in the Soviet Union and some West European capitalist countries.

But Libya was not a workers’ state or a “socialist government” to use the popular if not scientific use of the term “socialist.” The revolution was not a workers and peasant rebellion against the capitalist class per se. Libya remained a class society although class differentiation may have been somewhat obscured beneath the existence of revolutionary committees and the radical, populist rhetoric that emanated from the regime.

As in many developing, formerly colonized countries, state ownership of property was not “socialist” but rather a necessary fortification of an under-developed capitalist class. State property in Iraq, Libya and other such post-colonial regimes was designed to facilitate the social and economic growth of a new capitalist ruling class that was initially too weak, too deprived of capital and too cut off from international credit to compete on its own terms with the dominant sectors of world monopoly capitalism. The nascent capitalist classes in such developing economies promoted state-owned property, under their control, in order to intersect with Western banks and transnational corporations and create more favorable terms for global trade and investment.

The collapse of the Soviet Union and the “socialist bloc” governments of central and Eastern Europe in 1989-91 deprived Libya of an economic and military counter-weight to the United States, and the Libyan government’s domestic economic and foreign policy shifted towards accommodation with the West.

In the 1990s some sectors of the Libyan economic establishment and the Gaddafi-led government favored privatization, cutting back on social programs and subsidies and integration into western European markets.

The earlier populism of the regime incrementally gave way to the adoption of neo-liberal policies. This was, however, a long process.

In 2004, the George W. Bush administration ended sanctions on Libya. Western oil companies and banks and other corporations initiated huge direct investments in Libya and trade with Libyan enterprises.

There was also a growth of unemployment in Libya and in cutbacks in social spending, leading to further inequality between rich and poor and class polarization.

But Gaddafi himself was still considered a thorn in the side of the imperialist powers. They want absolute puppets, not simply partners, in their plans for exploitation. The Wikileaks release of State Department cables between 2007 and 2010 show that the United states and western oil companies were condemning Gaddafi for what they called “resource nationalism.” Gaddafi even threatened to re-nationalize western oil companies’ property unless Libya was granted a larger share of the revenue for their projects.

As an article in today’s New York Times Business section said honestly: “”Colonel Qaddafi proved to be a problematic partner for the international oil companies, frequently raising fees and taxes and making other demands. A new government with close ties to NATO may be an easier partner for Western nations to deal with.”

Even the most recent CIA Fact Book publication on Libya, written before the armed revolt championed by NATO, complained of the measured tempo of pro-market reforms in Libya: “Libya faces a long road ahead in liberalizing the socialist-oriented economy, but initial steps— including applying for WTO membership, reducing some subsidies, and announcing plans for privatization—are laying the groundwork for a transition to a more market-based economy.” (CIA World Fact Book)

The beginning of the armed revolt on February 23 by disaffected members of the Libyan military and political establishment provided the opportunity for the U.S. imperialists, in league with their French and British counterparts, to militarily overthrow the Libyan government and replace it with a client or stooge regime.

Of course, in the revolt were workers and young people who had many legitimate grievances against the Libyan government. But what is critical in an armed struggle for state power is not the composition of the rank-and-file soldiers, but the class character and political orientation of the leadership.

Character of the National Transition Council

The National Transitional Council (NTC) constituted itself as the leadership of the uprising in Benghazi, Libya’s second largest city. The central leader is Mustafa Abdel-Jalil, who was Libya’s Minister of Justice until his defection at the start of the uprising. He was one of a significant number of Western-oriented and neoliberal officials from Libya’s government, diplomatic corps and military ranks who joined the opposition in the days immediately after the start of the revolt.

As soon as it was established, the NTC began issuing calls for imperialist intervention. These appeals became increasing panicky as it became clear that, contrary to early predictions that the Gaddafi-led government would collapse in a matter of days, it was the “rebels” who faced imminent defeat in the civil war. In fact, it was only due to the U.S./NATO bombing campaign, initiated with great hurry on March 19 that the rebellion did not collapse.

The last five months of war have erased any doubt about the pro-imperialist character of the NTC. One striking episode took place on April 22, when Senator John McCain made a “surprise” trip to Benghazi. A huge banner was unveiled to greet him with an American flag printed on it and the words: “United States of America – You have a new ally in North Africa.”

Similar to the military relationship between the NATO and Libyan “rebel” armed forces, the NTC is entirely dependent on and subordinated to the U.S., French, British and Italian imperialist governments.

If the Pentagon, CIA, and Wall Street succeed in installing a client regime in Tripoli it will accelerate and embolden the imperialist threats and intervention against other independent governments such as Syria and Venezuela. In each case we will see a similar process unfold, including the demonization of the leadership of the targeted countries so as to silence or mute a militant anti-war response to the aggression of the war-makers.

We in the ANSWER Coalition invite all those who share this perspective to join with us, to mobilize, and to unmask the colonial agenda that hides under the slogan of “humanitarian intervention.”

THE PEACE DEAL DILEMMA IN LIBYA!

I have just finished reading a very prolific  article on the Financial Times COMPROMISE MUST BE REACHED TO END LIBYA CONFLICT and it is clear that we really still have some of the issues I raised in the last post. The problem of selective analysis and reporting of events. I would expect academics to be more objective if the mainstream media is failing. Unfortunately what I noticed from this article is way away from being objective.

While the article makes a graphic and realistic presentation of the facts facing the Libyan people and concludes that a compromise at this stage happens to be the best option, it fails in that it still at this stage draws its premises from the same false reasons that were given for the intervention in the first place.

There is no denying that there is a  good conclusion to this article, and the most reasonable one at this point in the saga, but unfortunately some facts need to be straightened. First I want to disagree that because Gaddafi used force to get and maintain power meant that he was going to kill 700,000 people in Benghazi. To call what is happening in Libya now, a lending of credence to Gaddafi’s propaganda is to ignore the bitter truth. If I remember correctly, when Gaddafi’s son addressed the people after the first day of protests, he pointed out just these terrible realities of civil war that this article highlights. But what happened? All the major media outlets interpreted it to mean he was threatening the people.

In any country – even the UK or the US – the military is there to protect the sovereignty of the State, which was clearly threatened when the first sights we saw of rebellion in Libya was of those carrying arms. If the Libyan army (so often wrongly called ‘forces loyal to colonel Gaddafi or Gaddafi forces’) was marching towards Benghazi, it was not because there were civilians on the street as was the case in Egypt and Tunisia but because men had carried arms against the State. We are yet to see footage of crowds of mass protesters in Libya as we saw in Tunisia and Egypt and as we have been seeing in Syria. The reason is simple. The Libyans had little to spur them to such action and the few who did come out (apart from the armed rebels who have a clearly different agenda), were deceived by the false impression that they could get a better country if Gaddafi was forcefully removed. Surely he did not stay in power for over four decades without getting tap roots into the ground.

A controversial no-fly zone was immediately sought from the same Security Council that Gaddafi had in 2009 criticized at the General Assembly for being undemocratic and perpetrators of disorder rather than order, (enough reason why the members of that council will want to see him out), and France and Britain with a reluctant USA started what has been the most ‘admirable’ ‘protection of civilians’ in human history. We are all witnesses of how Libyans have been protected. The logic used was humanitarianism but this in itself was greatly questioned by Stratfor at the time.

The NTC has been recognised by the powers bombing the country and what is the next move – they have started signing agreements that will see the release of money belonging to the Libyan people. If Gaddafi’s regime kept any money in Banks in the UK and US, how legitimate is it to hand it over to a group of rebels who may not even know how much it was? Why has the requests by Gaddafi for elections been turned down? How do we justify the fact that a country that had a welfare system, access to education and health that even the UK and US will envy, highest number of women entering universities – comparetively speaking, should now become a failed state because the UN has no sense of diplomacy? After listening again to the speech Gaddafi made at the UN, I now saw sense in most of what that man – a dictator as he may be – was making. The UN has been totally useless as far as maintaining peace in the world is concerned. I am sure ECOMOG has more to its credit than the UN has. If really the objective was to stop the killing of people in Benghazi, why did the bombing extend to Tripoli and to Gaddafi’s compound and civilian areas?

If at all there was any popular uprising in Libya, I am sorry to say that it was high-jacked by the very action of the UN security council which it now claims to have been the best option at the time. The United States had its war of independence and succeeded. The UK had its Glorious revolution and succeeded to come up with her current parliamentary system. Other countries had their protests like Egypt and Tunisia and succeeded (if we can call what is going on now success). Why were the Libyans not allowed to carry theirs to its logical conclusion? Why was there no similar response in Bahrain, Yemen and Syria in which the government has already massacred thousands?

What Ann-Marie Slaughter’s  article fails to point out is that most of the Libyans who have lost the wonderful lifestyle they had under Gaddafi, will not only say that a ‘devil they know is better than one they do not know’, but hey will also hate the invaders.This was manifested in the mass protests they held, expressing support for Gaddafi and  showing defiance for the invasion of their country. Owing to this crisis and given that the country is gradually being destroyed, most of them will seek asylum and be granted, but they will be foreigners with venom on their minds. If in 20 years we have Libyans bombing in the US or UK, it will not be a great surprise – that is if we have not forgotten then that we created the terrorists.

However, if  truly the UN and the rebels are sincere that they want the welfare of the people of Libya and they want to be champions of democracy – making unreasonable demands of Gaddafi is itself not democratic. The only democratic solution to this problem is that the Libyan people decide in a free and fair elections who they want their leader to be. Gaddafi should not stand the elections but there is no reason why any other person should not stand. To simply ask Gaddafi to leave and then hand power to the rebels to me is nothing more than a military coup – and we are all agreed that military coups have never been acceptable by the UN.

The situation has however taken the most unexpected twist now that the leader of rebels has been reported to have been killed. The next few weeks will hold a lot of surprises not only for Libyans, the Rebels but also for NATO.