Monday, February 18, 2008

Earth: thoughts and reflections

by Nana Kofi Oppong-Damoah

Looking into the world now, it is not at all difficult to come up with a lot of issues that are of concern. While the biological scientists are concerned about the effects of poisonous gas emissions and global warming, Chinese authorities are concerned with sustaining their recent rates of impressive economic growth.

African Heads Of State just finished the African Union Summit, where believe it or not, despite the conflict in Darfur and the grave human rights abuses in Zimbabwe, it was considered prudent that the issue to be given the most attention was the debate on the question of whether the unification of Africa should adopt the gradualist approach the European Union has successfully used or it should be much more radical, as proposed by the Libyan leader- 'Brother' Col. Muama Gadhafi.

The Bush administration in the United States seems pre-occupied with what many, such as Noam Chomsky¹ describe as an attempt to protect its hegemony while the democrats within that same country are acting as their republican counterparts; rallying each other to become the official candidate for the 2008 presidential elections.

All these issues are important to the actors concerned with them in various quarters but to me, I am most concerned about the enemies the American nation seems to be making for itself in its attempts to protect herself against the so-called international terrorists.

It is true that the events of September 11 were brute, rude and barbaric and that they should be condemned in no uncertain terms by every member of the human race. As the president of America rightly put it in the immediate aftermath of the events, "it was an attack on the civilized world and in general an attack on they rights of freedom, justice and the principles democracy".

However, I with my little semi- literate mind and the minute information I possess wish to sound a note of caution to the only superpower in the world currently ,that its actions seem to bother on the edge a little bit. As one of the maxims employed in the judicial phenomena of equity goes, “he who comes to equity must come with clean hands” and since it can be proven that America , especially its notorious “the agency” (the CIA) doesn’t have clean hands, I believe it is only fair that it learns to moderate its push for equity before nature.

The current actions of the United States seem to assert its belief in the saying that “the strong is never powerful enough unless it is able to convert might to right and obedience to duty”² and that I believe is a very wrong notion. Respect is won and not commanded.

The foreign policy of the United States of America is very much to blame for its current problems in a way. The policy has been to use anyone at anytime to achieve desired wants and dump them as soon as their usefulness is done with or their efficiency is questionable. In doing so, there have been times when grave human rights abusers have been praised as worthy leaders and murderers have been seen to provide “much needed stability and peace in the long run.” ( George bush Snr.)

A typical example is Saddam Hussein who was recently executed in Iraq . In the year 1989, George Bush Snr, declared that “normal relations between the United States and Iraq (which was then ruled by Saddam) would serve the longer- term interests and promote stability in both the gulf and the Middle East just a little bit over a year after Saddam Hussein had gassed thousands of Kurds to death and gone to war against Iran.

Later, when he Saddam Hussein had outlived his usefulness in the eyes of American policy makers and overstepped his boundaries, America declared war against him. Osama Bin Laden was also trained by the CIA for use in Afghanistan against the soviet forces. He was trained in sophisticated terror methods and now he has turned against his masters.

He is like fire, "good servant and a bad master". According to Cooley, John (Pluto, 1999, pp 11,54) Sheikh Omar Abdel Rahman, one of the criminals who the United States government was protecting and had been slipped into the country had his followers attempt to bomb the world trade center in february1993 using methods he had been taught, once again, by “the agency”. Now those are not exactly clean hands are they?

Not only is America guilty on the military and tactical front. Even if one chooses to ignore the support the American government once gave to the apartheid regime in South Africa (a regime that killed over 1.5 million blacks and left damages totaling more than 60 billion dollars), and also overlook other embarrassing episodes such as the cases of Manuel Y.Noriega and others, on the Trade and International Relations front, America is also stinking guilty of violations of international codes and treaties.

The principle of Internal Sovereignty is one that is accepted globally and there are treaties in place for extradition of criminals in any part of the world to any other part of the world. What business then were American Secret Service Agents conducting in Eastern Europe in 2004 abducting nationals of other countries and sending them to Guantanamo Bay ?

That aside, in the early part of the twentieth century, precisely within the first five years of the century, when global warming was a phenomena that was eating up the minds of so many countries. Thus in a rare effort of solidarity and global concern for an issue, the Kyoto treaty was drawn up. All major emitting countries signed and even the ‘evil’ China signed. However, the mighty superpower rubbed the noses of all the others in it by refusing to sign it but rather forming the Climate Change Science Program (CCSP), a travesty that was to regulate emissions in the United States to ensure that through ‘ways and means’, emission rates in the country could grow by 14% annually. In my country, there is an adage that “the impotent man is at peace with himself and all others until his impotence is mentioned.

Then whoever bothered to mention it faces his wrath.” Bearing in mind that most of the third world countries have agrarian economies that are mostly dependent on the natural environment which is being polluted by these same emissions, isn’t it worthy to mention that these countries are likely to harbor ill feelings against the ‘prince’ of worldly power and influence?

It is worth noting that the effects of such actions are grave on the lives of some under privileged people. British Broadcasting Corporation reported on the 30th of July, 2007 in the 7:00 am (G.m.t) news broadcast on its world service via radio that in a new survey, scientist have found out that the number of annual hurricanes in the Atlantic Ocean has doubled from four(4) during the 1900–1930 period to eight(8) in the 2000–2007 period. What’s more, human actions such as emissions that cause global climate change are the main causes of such events. If the recent Asian Tsunamis and Hurricanes are anything to go by, can we estimate the number of people who have and will suffer by such actions of a global superpower?

With regards to violations of international codes of ethics and regulations once again, the United Nations has five permanent members of the Security Council that can veto any move by any country and such decisions by convention are respected worldwide. The United Nations works to promote global peace and is an organization that comprises of almost all the countries in the world. As such, one would expect that all nations will respect all decisions of this body whether it suits them or not. But once again ‘The Prince’ has defied this agreement.

Whenever the Security Council moves to take punitive actions against Israel or any ally of the United States , that action is vetoed by the U.S. and is respected by all. However when the United States’ decision to invade the nations of Iraq and Afghanistan were vetoed by France and Russia, our royal and mighty ‘Prince’ disrespected these conventions and went ahead to implement its will. That action, apart from heading the United Nations its own head because it effectively questioned the status and power of the organization, also set a very bad precedent for the world ; one that can eventually lead to a world war.

The above chronicle of events is but a little of the actions of the United States that, to me, threatens its own survival. Undoubtedly, the United States is a nation I love myself. It is a land of opportunities and freedom, one whose existence challenges all other nations to strive to achieve more. However, some of these actions leave much to be desired. I believe that it needs to change a bit from these policies and restructure to sustain its life and importance. In his book “The Prince”, Niccolo Machiavelli (1469-1527) stated, that “the prince should have the people on his side; if the contrary is true, there is no help in adverse moments” and that is what I seek to say in this piece. The metaphor of the prince which I have employed extensively in this article refers to the American nation and its foreign as well as national defense policies. As at now, it seems to be making a lot of valid and potent enemies. And for that, I more than fear for ‘The Prince’ in the dark days which will definitely come.

I must however employ a caveat to state that the views I express in this article are not static. These are my convictions as at today the 31st of July 2007 with respect to the information I have at hand. Solomon, who is said to be the wisest man ever to have lived on the face of the earth once said that “a wise man changes his mind sometimes” so I admit that as I grow academically and socially I may change my views on this issue but for now, here they are.

Concluding, I will urge the policy makers of the current paradise on earth to go back to the declaration that proclaimed their very independence and rediscover the truth in these words; “We hold these truths as self evident, that all men are created equal and are endowed with certain inalienable rights.” and respect it. National security and national peace are important. But truth rules above all. Human life must be paramount in all things and the protection of all human life, all of it and not just American lives must be the prime objectives of all policies.

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