By Owei Lakemfa
THREE of the worldâ€™â€™s most famous African Americans sat down to discuss Christmas. Oprah Winfrey, Michelle and Barack Obama. The couple politely and playfully disagreed on gifts. An engaging personality the man is, but he has to struggle betweenÂ being a man of principles, and the leader of a powerful country with conflicting views and interests, some of them parochial.
Just after the show, came the news that Iran might be closer to producing the nuclear bomb thanÂ previously thought. ObamaÂ had vowedÂ that Iran and North Korea will not be allowed to “game” the system; but canÂ America stop Iran ? Has America who tolerates its allies in Pakistan and Israel to possess nuclear bomb, the moral authority to stop others? How come China , America , France , Britain and Russia can play with the bomb but not others? The answer can be gleaned from his theory on war.
Obama’s noble speech for the occasion of his Nobel Peace Prize delivered in a â€˜â€˜Yes We Canâ€™â€™ posture, cleared the Bush as to the intentions of his administration. But more importantly, he posited his theory on war; the issues of pacifism, non violence, Holy and Just Wars.
Pacifism, he posited correctly, is nonsensical. It could not have stopped the Nazi hordes of Adolf Hitler or the fascists of Benito Mussolini in Italy . Nor can it persuadeÂ al Qeda to drop the gun or pack up its war games. But this truth does not address the fact that Hitlerite Germany was the creation of the harsh, illogical and greedy pound of flesh victorious Europe exerted on that country following the First World War. In the case of al Qeda, it is the creation of America when as part of the Cold War politics, it whipped up international Islamic religious sentiments to fight an holy war against the Afghan Communist government and its military backers from the Soviet Union . The problem today is how do you recork the genie?
Obama’â€™s complain that the number of civilians that died in Second World War surpasses that of the soldiers, is a baffling point; this has been the case in all wars I know.
A major clarification he made was on non violence. His assertion that “there is nothing weak-nothing passive-nothing naÃ¯Ã¯ve- in the creed and lives of Ghandi and King” are anÂ eternal truth. Mahatma Ghandi did not envisage that there wouldÂ be no violence or war. He merely taught his followers to remain focused and unyielding in their principles and goals for a free India and that they should turn the other cheek when violence is visited on them. On the one hand, Martin Luther King’s similarÂ message was that his followers will be persecuted and subjected to violence, but that they must wear out their oppressors.
On the other,was Nelson Mandela, a fellow peace prize winner Obama mentioned. He did not believe in non violence; rather he had faith in what Obama characterised as a just war. Wars can become inevitable; necessary and as a last resort such as those against Hitler, Apartheid and those for social justice, peace and on humanitarian grounds.
But there are also unjust wars such as the American ones in Vietnam and Iraq and its terrorist invasions of tiny Grenada and Panama .
I agree with Obama that so called Holy Wars which seek to eliminate those with a different faith, or murder in the name of God are criminal. No divine war has limits or is justifiable; if indeedÂ GodÂ wants to fight a war, he knows how to do so. But to massacre and bomb the innocent in Godâ€™â€™s name is ungodly.
Obama not surprisingly over states America ‘s contributions in underwriting “global securityâ€™.”Â What is more factual is America’â€™s contributions to world insecurity. Its overthrow of the democratically elected governments of Jacobo Arbenze in Guatemala, Salvador Allende in Chile and Patrice Lumuba in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
I agree absolutely with Obama when in reference to war crimes, he declared that “America cannot insist that others follow the rules of the road if we refuse to follow them ourselves”. But the proof of his sincerity is not in the promise to close down Guantanamo Bay or other illegal American detention camps around the world, but in granting Prisoner Of War (POW) status to combatants captured in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Obamaâ€™â€™s claim that the retention of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation ( NATO) is a sacrifice, is ridiculous. NATO was a war alliance established by the American axis of the Cold War to rival the Soviet Warsaw Pact. Retaining and expanding it to harass Russia as was the case in Georgia or invade countries like Iraq and Afghanistan , endangers world peace rather than make the universe a safer place.
On the following points I fully agree with Obama. That “those regimes that brake theÂ rules must be held accountable ” That “Only a just peace based on the rights and dignity of every individual can truly be lastingâ€¦â€¦Pent-up grievances fester, and the suppression of tribal and religious identity can lead to violence.”
If we acceptÂ such truths and the Obama administration were to live by them, then America and the rest of us must ensure that Turkey”s ban on t he culture, tradition, language and political party of the Kurds ends, that ImperialÂ Morocco’â€™s colonialism of WesternÂ Sahara is ended and the people given theÂ inalienable right to self determination, and that Israel accepts the right of Palestinians to their home land withÂ capital in their ancestral East Jerusalem. We are at no liberty to chose when to stand by principles or when to allow expediency.