By Dele Sobowale
“Having power destroys the sanity of the powerful. It allows their irrationalities to leave the sphere of dream and come into the real world.”—Saul Bellow, American Nobel Prize Winner for Literature.
(VANGUARD BOOK OF QUOTATIONS, VBQ, p 195.
As you are reading this article, violent protests causing the death of some people everyday are going on in several parts of the Middle East. Months and perhaps years of outrage will follow. Homes, hitherto peaceful, will be bombarded by rockets and aircrafts; businesses will be destroyed. All that mayhem will occur as a result of one man’s decision. The man is Donald Trump – the Twitter In Chief, TIC, of the United States of America.
His recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel will benefit, if at all, only Israel. Even the US will lose a lot as a result. The spreading violence the world experiences in the region is only the beginning of more violence and more disruption still to come. The refusal of the leader of Palestine to meet with the US Vice President is only the smallest tip of the iceberg. Not only the Arab League of States but the entire Islamic world will reject the decision. And, just in case Trump thinks only Muslims are against the idea, the immediate reaction of the Pope represents the position of Catholics worldwide. Anglicans, Methodists, Baptists, Pentecostals are not far behind. For once the Jews of Israel have the other two major religions of the Nile Valley united against them. What appears like victory to the leaders of Israel might turn out to be a costly blunder for both the US and the Zionists.
To start with, no other country will follow the US to Jerusalem. From Europe to Asia and Africa, the leaders who have voiced their opinions have blasted the decision. The United Nations is calling for an emergency meeting to discuss the response of the global body. Russia and China must be salivating at the opportunity Trump has provided them to increase their influence in the world at the expense of America.
Perhaps it is a mere coincidence that Egypt had just announced the construction of a nuclear power plant to be financed by Russia. But, it is possible that the announcement was intended to tell the US that the nations of the region are actively considering other options instead of following America’s leadership as they have done until now.
No Arab or Muslim Head of Government can agree to move to Jerusalem without risking major political upheavals in his country; or even loss of his own life. Other measures will follow which will leave America completely isolated on this issue. For the first time since World War II, the world’s greatest power will become an observer instead of a major participant in the Middle East peace process.
Dire economic consequences will surely follow. Granted the US no longer depends on Arab oil as it once did. America is now an oil exporter and can tell the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries, OPEC, to go to hell. But, American exports of goods and services to the region might be at risk. Millions of Muslims worldwide might on their own downgrade the US as tourists’ destination and the US might find it difficult to rally the world around its efforts to halt North Korea’s nuclear ambition.
In addition to violent protests at American embassies globally, Americans living abroad might become endangered species of mankind. Jerusalem is in the Middle East but its recognition as capital of Israel by Fuhrer Trump is destined to be a conflict without borders. Everything America may become game for attack anywhere in the world
“Power is poison. Its effects on Presidents had been always tragic.”
Henry Adams, 1838-1918. American historian.
Henry Adams wrote about the effect of power on American Presidents when the country was still very young and was not the strongest power on the planet. Those were the days of the British Empire who one of Her Majesty’s fools said its “sun will never set”. The sun of the British Empire started setting soon after World War II – long before Prime Minister Harold Macmillan pronounced to the South African parliament on February 3, 1960, that “The wind of change is blowing through the [African] continent.” The British Empire like all empires before it ended when geo-political forces beyond its control increasingly rendered Great Britain irrelevant in the march of history.
There had been other empires before – Assyrian, Roman etc. They now remain the relics of history. “The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire” by Edward Gibbons, 1737-1794 was one of the greatest historical achievements which few people have read. One thing I got from it apart from the certainty of decline and fall of all earthly powers was how the end starts with one leader committing one great blunder out of hubris. As the Greeks have warned us, “Those who the Gods will destroy, first, they make them deaf; then they make them mad”. Trumps decision has elements of both in it judging by established historical precedents.
“Too many throats have been cut in God’s name through the ages and God has been enlisted in too many wars. War for sport and plunder has never been as bad as war waged because one man’s belief was irreconcilable with another” wrote I F Stone, US, 1907-1989.
The dispute over Jerusalem has lasted several centuries. The violence it has brought about among Jews, Christians and Muslims remains explosive till today. Until the creation of Israel in 1948, struggle over control of the Holy City was between Christians and Muslims. The creation of Israel as homeland for Jews has changed all that. To reduce the bloodshed the international community agreed to keep it out of the control of any of the three major faiths. Tel Aviv was the capital of Israel accepted by all countries and it remains so till today. But, as Israel became militarily stronger, supported by the US, it had occupied more Palestinian land and now is laying historical right to Jerusalem.
American Presidential candidates – including Clinton and Obama – seeking Jewish campaign funds and votes had always promised to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. On reaching the White House, each had beaten a retreat once the experienced diplomats in the State Department and the Generals in the Defence Department reveal the consequences of fulfilling that particular campaign promise. Only Trump has been crazy enough to do it. Why is the decision lunatic?
“The purpose of any government’s foreign policy is to protect its citizens’ economic well-being and physical security” according to George Kennan, legendary American diplomat and historian.
Because Trump’s decision threatens American economic well-being and security worldwide, it does not even begin to meet the first requirement of a sound foreign policy. The only credit the man can claim is that he has fulfilled a campaign promise. However, all over the world, candidates for office, who are not in government have less access to privileged information. They make promises based on incomplete data. Most of the well-adjusted ones, on reaching office amend their positions; jettison some ideas, and even sometimes reverse themselves when the facts available to them point to disastrous consequences of following through with their promises. Among the certain consequences of Trump’s decision are losses of lives and properties, possible reduced safety of Americans in worldwide and in the Middle East in particular and the country’s loss of influence over global events. America’s stand on climate warming and its position on several international agreements have already largely isolated the world’s largest economy and power. With the latest policy announcement, the rest of the world will turn its back on the US.
“Some great misfortune to portend, no enemy can match a friend” according to Jonathan Swift, 1667-1745. Trump calls himself a friend of the American people. He may send many to their graves.
MAKARFI: THE MIRACLE WORKER — 1.
“Miracles happen to those who believe in them.” VBQ p 160.
A political miracle occurred on December 9, 2017 in Abuja at the Convention of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP. To start with, less than six months ago few people would have given the party a chance that they can regroup and offer a credible alternative to the ruling party – the All Progressives Congress, APC. But, miraculously, they did.
Four factors worked in their favour. First, Buhari had failed to deliver the knock-out blow to those he regularly calls “looters”. Perhaps, if the list of “looters” has been released as promised and prosecution commenced, the PDP might be reeling by now. Second, the APC has failed to deliver on any major election promise. The economy is worse today than in 2015 and there is no clear way forward. Debts are mounting with little to show for it. Third, the APC is now developing its own list of corrupt people. Soon, it might be time to write APC: CORRUPTION INCORPORATED. But, the main reason the PDP is looking good now is Makarfi – the interim National Chairman who piloted the party through its most turbulent period and delivered it safely to shore. More to come…