Africa, R2P And Imperial Doctrine
It must be uncontroversial that there is such a thing as the “responsibility to protect”, since this has long been recognised by the United Nations and most, if not all of the member states.
But, the occasional resort to this “emerging international norm” as President Obama’s UN ambassador Susan Rice calls it; must not be confused with the aspiration for peace by nation states that have for long been calling for protection of hapless victims of disproportionate and unjustified force the “responsibility to protect.”
Firstly the principle itself is not “emerging”, especially when one looks at how the doctrine is interpreted by the West, not least the way it is being interpreted in the blatant brutalities currently being executed by the triumvirate US, UK and France in Libya ruthlessness guised as the protection of Libyan people by the inherently murderous and demolition inspired NATO. Rather than “emerging” the doctrine stands in history as a venerable tradition of the West, applied whenever there arises a need to invoke a regime of violence to sustain the imperial doctrine, especially when all other pretexts are lacking.
Adam Smith observed that the “merchants and manufacturers” of England were “the principal architects” of state policy, and made sure that their own interests “were most peculiarly attended to,” however “grievous” the effects on others, including the people of England. He was referring to the mercantilist system, the forerunner to the imperialist doctrine. In a generalised form, Smith’s observation stands as “one of the very few authentic principles of the theory of international relations,” as noted by Noam Chomsky.
The other fundamental principle noted by Chomsky is the maxim of Thucydides that says the strong do as they wish, and the weak suffer as they must. This and Smith’s principle cannot be treated as the end of wisdom, but they essentially take us a long way in understanding world affairs.
There is another pervasive principle that says those who hold the clubs can carry out their work effectively only with the benefit of self-induced blindness. This is the principle of intellectual history formulated by Francis Jennings. It includes selective historical amnesia and a variety of devices to evade the consequences of one’s actions.
In contrast to this clever gimmick, it is permissible, if not obligatory, to posture heroically about the crimes of enemies, lying freely if it helps the story, particularly when it is important to create public hate against the enemy in question. This is what we see happening in Libya today. There is so much lying against Gaddafi to the extent that the heap of lies has assumed reality status for what is happening within that country.
The decade-long lies peddled after President Robert Mugabe’s takeover of colonially occupied land in Zimbabwe is another example. All the world was told was that Mugabe had ordered a barbaric land grab against very productive white commercial farmers who had made Zimbabwe “the breadbasket of Africa,” giving this land to “unskilled black farmers” and “his cronies” – that way rendering “thousands of farm worker jobless”.
Professor Ian Scoones of the Institute of Development Studies at Sussex University recently disproved all these untrue assertions in a detailed study carried to assess the Zimbabwe land reform programme. The myths were exposed for what they are; mere myths and propaganda.
This propaganda denouncing the land reform has nothing said about 4 000 white commercial farmers occupying 75 percent of Zimbabwe’s arable land, sidelining millions of blacks to unproductive and overcrowded corners of the country; or about how the black farmers have been improving yields each year since the agrarian reforms began in 2000, especially the tobacco farmers. One can quote the standard high school textbook in the US, where a conventional version of the Columbian era is that for thousands of centuries in which human races were evolving, forming communities and building the beginnings of civilisations in Africa, Asia and Europe – the continents of the Americas stood empty of mankind and its works. Thus, we have the story of Europeans in the empty lands across the world – a story where Europeans created civilisations where none existed, “discovering” places such as Zimbabwe’s Victoria Falls, after being led to the natural miracle by the indigenous people. Of course, the knowledge of these locals is no different to that of the fish that swam in the falling waters, or the baboons that came to drink from the running River Zambezi so it counts for no human knowledge.
The fact that some “savages” were seen wondering in these “discovered” places, which in fact were “empty spaces” is of little moment. US poet Walt Whitman explained that America’s conquests “take off shackles that prevent men the even chance of being happy and good.” After the conquest of half of Mexico by his rapacious colleagues, Whitman asked rhetorically, “What has miserable, inefficient Mexico got to do with the great mission of peopling the New World with a noble race?”
His thoughts were made clearer by the leading humanist thinker of the time, Ralph Emerson, who wrote that the annexation of Texas was simply a matter of course. He wrote: “It is very certain that the strong British race which has now overrun much of this continent, must also overrun that trace, and Mexico and Oregon also, and it will in the course of ages be of small import by what particular occasions and methods it was done.”
As recently as 1969, the leading scholarly history of US diplomacy explained that after liberating themselves from British rule, the united thirteen colonies were able to “concentrate on the task of felling trees and Indians, and of rounding out their natural boundaries,” as written by Thomas Bailey. As the founding father of imperialist United States of America said, the country was founded as an “infant empire.” Said George Washington, “The gradual extension of our settlements will as certainly cause the savage, as the wolf, to retire; both being beasts of prey, though they differ in shape.” Indeed today’s US foreign policy sees non-allies as beasts of prey, especially non white ones.
Washington went on to say, “We must induce the Aborigines to relinquish our Territories and to remove into the illimitable regions of the West.” Of course Washington’s people were to “induce” the Amerindians to leave for heaven. The territories became the property of the colonialists by right of conquest as all colonised peoples across the world were regularly instructed. Even Thomas Jefferson concurred with George Washington, predicting that the newly liberated colonies would drive the indigenous population “with the beasts of the forests into the Stony Mountains,” so that the country would be “free of blot or mixture.” Then, it was anticipated that blacks would be repatriated to Africa after the end of slavery.
In 1801, Jefferson wrote to James Munroe and advised him to “look forward to distant times, when our rapid multiplication will expand and cover the whole northern if not the southern continent, with people speaking the same language, governed in similar forms, and by similar laws.”
James Madison added that the US needed to “carry on the benevolent plans which have been so meritoriously applied to the conversion of our aboriginal neighbours from the degradation and wretchedness of savage life to a participation of the improvements of which the human mind and manners are susceptible in a civilised state. With our Indian neighbours, the just and benevolent system continued toward them has also preserved peace and is more and more advancing habits favourable to their civilisation and happiness.”
This was despite the acknowledged policy of expelling and exterminating the same Amerindians. Clearly it can be reasonably argued that citations of some of these historical utterances can be misleading in the modern day world, especially when one looks at the so-called globalised world. But, perhaps we may need to look at the perpetuation of the doctrine that led to these utterances as the basis upon which a semblance of relevance can be derived.
It is true that utterances that were common rhetoric a few years ago would be condemned as vulgar racism today in many parts of the world. That is a sign of progression easily attributable to activism against imperial hegemony and other injustices of this world. President Theodore Roosevelt explained how Western hegemony is a matter of benefit for those upon whom it may be visited. He explained: “The expansion of the peoples of white or European blood during the past four centuries has been fraught with lasting benefit to most of the peoples already dwelling in the lands over which the expansion took place.”
He added, “We are in fact their benefactors,” despite what the ungrateful leftists and Pan Africanist zealots may mistakenly believe. Such versions of history are in fact the standard themes of imperial conquest themes based on the belief in the humanity of the resort to force by the powerful. This is the basis of the “emerging international norm that recognises the ‘responsibility to protect’ innocent civilians facing death on a mass scale,” in the words of Susan Rice.
It is rather surprising that mass starvation in the developing countries caused by Western protectionism, even by Western strangulation as is the case with the sanctions-induced suffering of Zimbabweans, does not seem to attract the appropriate sense of “responsibility to protect” – a mere act of humanity where food is supplied, and fair trade is ensured. Trillions of dollars go into wars of aggression in a matter of months, while out of the $12,3 billion pledged in Rome last year, to offset global food crises, only $1 billion has reportedly been delivered. Rather, we hear of trillions of dollars going into military interventions and other political machinations aimed at creating client states out of weaker and destitute peoples the notorious regime change doctrine.
Back in history the Spanish were very frank in instructing the natives on how to be subordinate to imperial authority. They said if the natives “acknowledge the Church as the Ruler and Superior of the whole world” then we “shall receive you in all love and charity, and shall leave you, your wives, and your children, and your lands, free without servitude,” and even “award you many privileges and exemptions, and will grant you many benefits,” fulfilling the Spanish responsibility protect.
Indeed, those protected do have responsibilities too, as sternly admonished by Spanish humanitarians who said: “If you do not (meet your obligations) we shall powerfully enter your country, and shall make war against you in all ways and manners that we can and we protest that the deaths and losses which shall accrue from this are your fault, and not that of the Highnesses, or ours, nor of these cavaliers who come with us.”
Does this not resonate to the present situation in Libya? We are told that the deaths and losses resulting from NATO’s high precision bomb attacks on Libya are the responsibility of Muammar Gaddafi; that they are absolutely his fault, just as it is Robert Mugabe’s fault that the Western imposed illegal economic sanctions have resulted in so much loss and deaths for Zimbabwe. The colonial legacy was founded on the doctrine that the colonists were benevolent humanists, responding in a godly way to the pleas of the miserable natives to be rescued from their bitter pagan fate.
Today, the “democratisation” doctrine is founded on similar beliefs. We are told that Western elites are benevolent humanists responding selfishly to the plight of desperate masses across the world people declared dying to live the Western style of life, so desperately calling for help as they wallow in the grasp of nasty dictatorships and in miserably primitive values and ways of living; some still dressing in ridiculously long garments and even wearing veils on their faces. They need to be freed, we are told.
Some of these backward people are so primitive that they do not understand the nobility of homosexuality and same sex marriages, vehemently declaring laws banning this practice. These are the miserable people of Africa being led by governments that do not understand that the development of Africa is solely dependent on the benevolence of Western investors the only people blessed with the skill of developing industry and employing labour gifted non-Westerners.
Malawi was recently threatened with total disinvestment for preferring anti-homosexuality laws. The Western leaders are convinced that they are the only people in the world with the proper idea of governing countries, and on this very noble assumption they believe they must rid the developing world of its non-compliant leadership so the whole world can benefit from the selfless benevolence of the West.
This is the “pro-democracy” movement that defines all dissentring voices as anti-democracy, anti-civilisation and even anti-human rights. It is this benevolence of Westerners that gave us Ronald Reagan, with all the ghastly crimes of his years in office, leaving not only slaughter and utter destruction in much of the world, but also major threats of nuclear war and terror, and as a bonus to all of us, a major contribution to global jihadism.
In 1898, the US was determined to occupy and take over Cuba through settler colonialism the cruellest of all forms of imperialism. Senator Henry Cabot Lodge called for intervention in Cuba, lauding proudly the US record “of conquest, colonisation, and territorial expansion unequalled by any people in the 19th century,” and he urged that it was “not to be curbed now” as he reckoned the Cubans were, like all others, pleading for Americans to come over and help them.
Indeed, the imagined plea was swiftly answered. The United States sent in troops, thereby preventing Cuba’s liberation from Spain and turning it into a virtual colony, as it remained until 1959. This is the same script for Afghanistan; whose liberation from the US installed Taliban government was prevented by the US, as they have virtually turned the country into a neo-colony, literally running its affairs through the corrupt puppet leader, Hamid Kharzai.
The same could easily happen in Libya, if African countries fail to do the reasonable thing of militarily teaming up against NATO to defend the falling sovereignty of that country. How, it may be asked? It is clear every African country stands in a position where it can fight the aggression in Libya without necessarily going to Libya.
The Western interests spread far and wide don’t they?
Unity is stronger than lethal bombs and atomic bombs.
Libya will be turned into a virtual colony and, the demise of that shining example of prosperity could trigger new energy for Westerners to repeat the conquest elsewhere in Africa. That, Africa must stop by any means necessary and there must be no apologies. For more than 50 years we have seen this remarkable campaign to restore Cuba to its rightful place. We have seen this vicious economic warfare with the clearly articulated aim of punishing the population so that they can overthrow the disobedient government.
The US has invaded, terrorised and carried out other heinous crimes against the people of Cuba in defiance of unanimous world opinion – even in violation of UN General Assembly resolutions.
We have seen the same remarkable economic warfare against Zimbabwe for more than ten years now. The US even came up with a sanctions law so it could punish its own citizens, should they deal with a country being punished by the elites for its blatant disobedience to imperial authority; even daring to oust white commercial farmers and redistributing “their” land to “unskilled black farmers”.
Whether it is Libya, Cuba, Iran or Zimbabwe the line of pretexts never changes. The US and its Western allies are dead committed to bring democracy to these countries, to free them from the tyranny their own leadership is, to introduce to the people the glory and sweetness of limitless freedoms and happiness enshrined in Western democracy.
Zimbabwe has brought itself back to the wrath of America, this time well supported by Canada, for daring to exclude Western investors from the lucrative diamond industry.
The two neighbouring Westerners are vowing to stop the certification of Zimbabwe diamonds by the KP process basing their position on the most frivolous of pretexts ever heard in history. They argue that there is no consensus to have Zimbabwe’s diamonds certified, yet they cannot point to any other country that has stood opposed to this certification beyond themselves.
It is remarkably amazing that the US and its Western allies can still stand in the name of defending the common people in weaker nations. More startling is the fact that this fallacy still has currency even among the people whose plight the West is fond of abusing.
There are Zimbabwean nationals with the amazing naivety, or is it foolishness; to support the blocking of diamond trade by the insane elites from the US and Canada.
How that should ever make any form of sense is a wonder that no sane person can ever comprehend.
It would appear like Western powers will always rely on willing puppets from the ranks of the population whose resources they target for imperialistic exploitation. In Zimbabwe, the MDC-T leadership has long enjoyed the politics of fronting Western interests and they believe their behaviour is some form of struggle for democracy, even shamelessly describing their traitorous conduct as heroic.
But, lies never triumph.
Zimbabwe we are one and together we will overcome.
It is homeland or death.