We must stop them! (Baffour's Beefs).
In my native Ghana, the elders say it so nicely: "Barima ne nee otua dua" (A man is he who have something between his thighs). Political correctness did not exist in those days, so I am prepared to forgive the elders for forgetting about women in that line. But where are the "African men" when it comes to one of the most crucial issues to affect our modern lives -- the attempt by America to extend its hegemony over the world by force of arms and intimidation, which it is disguising not too cleverly as the prevention of the "world's worst leaders from having access to the world's worst weapons".
So far, we've just had one African "man" bold enough to make himself heard loud and clear on this issue. Last September, Nelson Mandela spoke out on the threatened invasion of Iraq by America and Britain -- an unjustified invasion dressed up as a morally-inspired war to "disarm Saddam Hussein" of his weapons of mass destruction and effect a "regime change" in Baghdad. On 30 January, Mandela again emptied his chest on Iraq, this time even more strongly (see excerpts on p12). May God and our ancestors bless his chest.
I must concede, however, that Mandela is now able to say these things because he is out of office and feels unconstrained by fears of his country losing its all-important foreign handouts. He has acknowledged this point himself. The African Union and other African leaders and countries have expressed similar opposition but their voices have been understandably muffled because of the constraints of office.
This is where the people of Africa, unencumbered by diplomatic niceties, should take over from where our leaders' muffled voices have ended, by joining the growing worldwide Anti-War Campaign and organise mass but PEACEFUL (the emphasis is on peaceful) demonstrations in our cities, towns and villages to, first, show solidarity with the innocent people of Iraq who are at risk of being turned into "collateral damage", and, second, to express our revulsion and total rejection of the idea being foisted on the world that some few chosen countries have the divine right to produce and keep weapons of mass destruction and others don't.
A dangerous precedent will be set if global opinion allows America and Britain to wrap their threatened invasion of Iraq in the cloaks of public honour, respect and legitimacy. They will bully the United Nations and attack Iraq anyway whatever we do or say, but we should not just close our mouths and lend honour to what is undoubtedly a naked adventure by the world's most militarised nation ("We have the finest military in the world", President Bush says in that voice of his), wanting to flatten a weaker nation just so it can frighten everybody else in future into bending the knee.
In a BBC TV debate on 7 February, one woman asked Tony Blair: "I am totally opposed to anyone having or developing nuclear weapons. And that goes for British and American nuclear weapons as well. This country [Britain] has lots of nuclear weapons and the US has nuclear weapons. The US has dropped nuclear bombs, don't let us forget that. How can we possibly justify criticising Iraq for developing nuclear weapons when we are doing so little to get rid of our own. Isn't it incredibly hypocritical?"
Blair fidgeted and waffled: "I don't believe so for two reasons," he said. "First of all, we are obviously part of a whole lot of agreements to do with nuclear weapons. Secondly, Britain has not menaced and used external aggression with these types of weapons against our neighbours... You know, Saddam, every time he has been allowed to do so, has started a war with the countries around him... He is the one power in this world that has actually used chemical weapons against his own people."
Could somebody help Tony Blair because he appears not to know his history. Saddam's 10-year war on Iran was funded and supplied (if not instigated) by Britain, America and their allies. Britain, again, was the FIRST to use chemical weapons in Iraq, in 1922 -- Saddam was not even born! Britain may not have "menaced or used external aggression with" nuclear weapons, but the nation currently leading Britain by the nose (America) happens to be the only power in the world to have used nuclear weapons -- in Hiroshima and Nagasaki. To most morally conscious people, dropping atomic bombs on "other people's people" is as reprehensible as using them on "your own people". So no kudos there!
Equally reprehensible is the idea that those who have already manufactured or used weapons of mass destruction should set themselves up as a cartel to prevent others from manufacturing the same weapons to defend themselves. Africa did a hideous thing in Cairo in April 1996 by signing the Pelinda Treaty banning Africa from having its own nuclear deterrent. It is not too late yet to tear it up though, as President Bush has torn up the international treaties he doesn't like.
Why do I say so? Please let's listen to Prof Sir Joseph Rotblat, the British nuclear physicist and Nobel peace laureate. He was the FIRST person, he says, to develop "the concept of nuclear deterrence even before the Second World War". He has been talking recently about his involvement in the earliest -- "one might say prehistoric stage" of nuclear weapons. The Americans hired him to work on the Manhattan Project that produced the atomic bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945. Prof Rotblat was one of the speakers at a recent conference on nuclear weapons policy organised by the British daily, The Guardian, on 8 January 2003. His speech was quite instructive, and I'm going to quote liberally from it here:
"For the scientists in the UK who started the work on the atom bomb," Prof Rotblat revealed, "the rationale was to deter Hitler from using his bomb against us, and thus winning the war... I did not contemplate, and never condoned, the actual use of the bomb. This was the basis of my work in the UK and later on the Manhattan Project in the US.
"With this background, you can imagine my shock when General Leslie Groves, the overall boss of the Manhattan Project, said in a private conversation: 'You realise, of course, that the main purpose of the project is to subdue the Russians'. The date is important -- 4 March 1944. long before the bomb was made, and at a time when the main burden of fighting the Germans was borne by our then allies, the Russian army...
"From the start, it was the intention of the hawks that the United States should maintain the monopoly, or at least, predominance, in nuclear weapons and, in line with this, prevent unfriendly nations from acquiring them.
"The aforementioned General Groves outlined this policy in October 1945. saying: 'If we were truly realistic instead of idealistic, as we appear to be, we would not permit any foreign power with which we are not firmly allied, and in which we do not have absolute confidence, to make or possess nuclear weapons. If such a country started to make atomic weapons, we would destroy its capacity to make them before it has progressed far enough to threaten us'.
"It took nearly 60 years for these ravings of a bellicose general to become official US policy. In between, the combined endeavours of hawks and the military-industrial complex kept the US as the frontrunner in the nuclear arms race... Out of 15 milestones in the nuclear arms race, the US was first in 14 of them...
"US policy in relation to Iraq is an illustration of this... The campaign to change the regime in Iraq -- if need be by military means -- long precedes the September 11 events. Various right-wing groups in the US, the neo-Conservatives, have, over the years, conducted campaigns for a more aggressive US foreign policy, in particular in the Middle East -- including a change of regime in Iraq.
"Let me quote one such case. In 1986, a project entitled 'A Clean Break' strongly advocated the removal of Saddam Hussein. It originated in an Israeli-US study headed by Richard Perle. He followed this up in an open letter to President Clinton, demanding a full-scale drive for a regime change in Baghdad. The list of co-signatories nearly coincides with the list of the politicians who now occupy prominent positions in the Bush administration.
"I have singled out this case because it brings into the open the role of Israel in the whole problem of security in the Middle East, and hence the world. In my opinion, far too little attention has been given to the consequence of Israel possessing a military nuclear capability... Not only does Israel keep nuclear weapons, it would not allow their acquisition by other countries in the region...
"In the possession of the US, [weapons of mass destruction] are good, and must be kept for the sake of world security. The fact that, as a signatory of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, the US is legally bound to their elimination, is completely ignored."
It is this unacceptable hypocrisy that we should all get into the streets (all across Africa and the world) and PEACEFULLY demonstrate against. You may not see your demonstration on 880 World or CNN, but the American and British embassies in your capital will include it in their dispatches to Washington and London. That is good enough.
|Printer friendly Cite/link Email Feedback|
|Date:||Mar 1, 2003|
|Next Article:||African Footballer of the Year 2002: El Hadji Diouf, the Senegalese playing for Liverpool, is likely to retain the title he won last year. But watch...|