Swans Commentary » swans.com April 5, 2010  



In Search Of Enemies


by Femi Akomolafe





"We no know how we and dem a-go work this out, oy!
We no know how we and dem a-go work it out.
But someone will 'ave to pay
For the innocent blood
That they shed every day,
Oh, children, mark my word;
It's what the Bible say, yeah! yeah!"
—Bob Marley

"I cannot make liberty my aim unless I make that of others equally my aim."
—Jean Paul Sartre

"What then did you expect when you unbound the gag that muted those black mouths? That they would chant your praises? Did you think that when those heads that our fathers had forcibly bowed down to the ground were raised again, you would find adoration in their eyes?"
—Jean Paul Sartre.


(Swans - April 5, 2010)   I don't know how Sartre answered his pungent and all-important question, but no oppressor should expect anything less than the most vitriolic denunciation from me.

America's response to the attempt by the Nigerian Umar Farouk Mutallab to suicide-bomb a plane on 2009 Xmas day was, as usual, predictably knee-jerk and irrational.

It looks like the more things change in the United States of Amerikkka the more they remain the same. And despite all the resources at the disposal of the world's sole military superpower, the country still lacks the aptitude to fashion out responses that would be hard for its numerous enemies to predict.

Americans, it appears, have the rigid mind-set that force and violence are the only logical solutions to any and all problems that confront them. From birth, all their ideological institutions have conditioned them to believe that un-remitted violence is a natural way of life. This is the only explanation we can adduce for a nation where some citizens have more arms in their personal arsenals than those of many national armies. This is also the explanation we can give to a nation that has, according to one estimate, been engaged in about 70 wars in the past 50 years.

Never mind that "Brother" Obama, a Democrat, now holds the helm at the Oval Office; the U.S. continues to behave in its old miserable ways. The new Emperor has sadly chosen to continue to pursue the same inglorious, irrational, and utterly stupid policies of his predecessors.

The "Change We Can Believe In" president continues to react to foreign policy challenges exactly the same way Republican Bush senior and junior reacted -- by launching wars in Iraq and Afghanistan; or like Democrat Clinton did -- by bombing Sudan's sole pharmaceutical company.

Those with the mind that Obama has not actually bombed any country should ask the Pakistanis what American drones have been doing to them. They can also ask what the updated military assistance to Yemen was supposed to achieve if not to waste more Yemenis' lives. They should also ask why Obama and his staff are still rattling their saber against Iran, and why they cannot get it into their heads that Iranians are neither so stupid nor so suicidal as to launch a military assault against their protégé, Israel.

So as a result, America will have to show our strength in the way that we end wars and prevent conflict. We will have to be nimble and precise in our use of military power. Where al Qaeda and its allies attempt to establish a foothold -- whether in Somalia or Yemen or elsewhere -- they must be confronted by growing pressure and strong partnerships.
—President Barack Obama, speech on Afghanistan

And this was the man to whom they awarded a Nobel PEACE Prize!

Reacting to the Xmas day bomb scare, Emperor Obama beefed-up American military assistance to the irrational government of Yemen and put Nigeria among the list of countries on watch. Looking at the list, though, it is obvious that it was drawn up more to settle old diplomatic scores than to protect the American Homeland (what a terminology!)

If Umar Farouk Mutallab's action rationalized Nigeria's inclusion on the list, what about Cuba? Does any sane person actually believe that Cuba will be the sponsor of terrorists?

Mr. Obama also echoed Bush junior's lies that the various enemies of the U.S. are envious of American freedom and democracy.

If the capacity of American governments to lie to their citizen is astounding, equally amazing is the capacity of Americans to continue to accept their government's lies as the gospel truth. Years of being lied to by their governments and institutions seem to have done nothing to dampen American's enthusiasm to be lied to.

Americans that would like to know some of the lies they are being told can read James W. Loewen's books, Lies Across America and Lies My Teacher Told Me.

Since the 11th of September 2001 the world stands at the crossroads. The choice is between two paradigms: security or sustainability. Security is exclusive: "our" security, which we presume to be threatened by others -- outsiders, foreigners, potential enemies -- and which we try to protect through exclusion. The other paradigm, sustainability, is inclusive: a safe and secure place for all human beings, a safe habitat, a safe job, secure access to food, water and health care, secure entitlements to resources which are essential for a decent and meaningful life, worthy of human beings. Sustainability as an inclusive concept implies the mutual thrust that justice will be maintained and secured for all people, without any discrimination, the ultimate guarantee of mutual security.
Jan Pronk, former Dutch Minister

American and other Western leaders continue to tell their people that the West is hated because of its way of life, which we are told is the envy of the world. We have also been told the lie that we, non-free, dictator-loving, poor, underdeveloped, Third-World people hate America (and the West) because we envy the freedom and the democracy people in the West are supposed to be enjoying.

That this is a patent and absurd lie has done nothing to stop successive Western governments from repeating it.

I have lived in the West and I can say without any doubt whatsoever that the so-called freedom people in the West are supposed to enjoy is just a mirage.

Either the leadership and the scholarship of the West do not know what it means to be truly free, or they just derive some sadistic pleasure from telling plain, stupid lies.

How on earth can a people that lives in a virtual police state, with numerous government agencies monitoring their phone and mail, and where cameras watch their every movement, be said to be free?

It is simply impossible to escape monitoring and surveillance in Western countries, yet citizens are being fed the lie that they are free. Britain is said to have the highest number of cameras per head in the world, yet British leaders go around the world giving lectures about freedom.

And it was recently revealed in the Netherlands that the Dutch police monitor so much of citizens' phone calls that storing them is proving too much of a challenge.

Yet, Westerners go around the world mouthing nonsense about individual freedom and personal liberty!

I live in Ghana, a country where government leaves citizens strictly alone. In many African countries, it is still possible to go through life without encountering any governmental interference. And they tell me that I am envious of some people who cannot breathe without one government agency or the other recording it!

Having lived in the West, I know that it is a society that hates to be told some home truth about itself. It is also a society that is quick to find faults with others whilst glossing over its own monumental shortcomings.

But the truth should be told that the West is lucky, indeed very lucky, that the rest of us have decided to let bygones be bygones and refused to pay the West back in its own bad coin.

After over four hundred years of slavery, followed by about one hundred years of direct colonialism, followed yet by more years of the more pernicious neo-colonialism (aka imperialism, aka globalization), are Africans expected to be praising their Western oppressors?

Should the Angolans, the Mozambicans, the Somalis who have had their lives destroyed by wretched Western policies be grateful? Should they sing hosannas when they hear about the West? Should the Iraqis, the Afghans, the Pakistanis, the Yemenis whose very lives are being snuffed out daily be welcoming Westerners with joys and smiles?

And are we to ask the Palestinians to really love the countries whose munitions the Zionist occupiers of their land are using to destroy their lives?

These are the irrational demands the West is making of the victims of its policies.

It is sad that instead of Western leaders learning some humility, they still trot around the world with the same imperial haughtiness that has characterized their dealings with the non-Western world.

The West operates racist, myopic, and totally illogical policies in its dealings with the non-Western world, yet it expects the victims of its oppression to fall in love!

"As a man sow shall he reap"
—Bob Marley

It is said that you cannot sow tare and expect to reap beans. The West sowed (continues to sow) hatred and yet expects to reap deep gratitude and undying love. It simply doesn't add up.

The crimes the West committed (continues to commit) against the non-Western world are egregious and vast. The only miracle is that we have elected to overlook it. But as Nelson Mandela aptly put it, "Amnesty is not Amnesia."

It is time Western leaders listen to Alan Paton who, in his classic Cry the beloved Country, has this to say: "I have one great fear in my heart, that one day when they turn to loving they will find we are turned to hating."

A great mind, Bellamy, once said: "The only way to be happy is to make other people happy. The only way to make other people happy is to appear to love them. The only way to appear to love them is to love them indeed."

The U.S., and the West, should learn that the only way to be safe is to try and ensure safety for the rest of us. Thanks to science and technology, the spinning globe that we all call home has become a village where everyone's actions impact the lives of others.

The logic escaping the leaders of the West is that efforts to guarantee safety for ONLY THEIR PEOPLE are a futile exercise that is doomed to failure. As the spokesman of Somalia's Al-Shabab group, Sheikh Ali Mohamud Raage, recently told the BBC, his organization is "no more than the organized arm of Islamic resistance to Western oppression."

"What is al Qaeda?" the Sheikh asked. "It is Muslim people who are massacred in countries like Iraq, Afghanistan, and other Islamic countries like Yemen."

The inability or unwillingness of the West to take other people's feelings into consideration is at the root cause of much of the problems bedeviling the world. The erroneous and racist belief that the rest of us owe the West a living is at the core of the anger against the West. The illogical belief of the West that it is cheaper to kill us than pay for our resources is what is turning people against the West. These are the unpalatable truths that the West is incapable of dealing with.

This much I tried to explain in a letter to Time Magazine in 1994 when a young American volunteer, Amy Biehl, was mindlessly killed in a South African shantytown. She was in the then apartheid enclave to help, but the ghetto youth saw only a white person who, to them, represented the Hated Figure.

Westerners appeared baffled as to why a healthy and sane young Muslim would willingly kill himself in order to make a point. The same way people in the non-Western world are continually baffled by the inability of the Western Man to live and let live; or why he must, like a child, believe that they world is his oyster.

Discerning readers must have noted that this piece borrowed the title of a book by one of America's noted merchants of death, John Stockwell. The book, In Search of Enemies: A CIA Story, makes a very engrossing if heart-rending reading.

It is a book that literally takes one's breath away. And those Americans who would like to get behind the official lies and propaganda and learn the true reason(s) their country is so hated across the world would do well to read Mr. Stockwell's book, from which we read these pure gems:

... [W]e searched the world for allies who could provide qualified advisors to put into the conflict, or better yet, regular army units to crush the MPLA and deliver the country to Roberto and Savimbi. We canvassed moderate friends - Brazil, Morocco, South Korea, Belgium, Great Britain, France, and even Portugal, without success. South Africa eventually came to UNITA's rescue, but the Zairian commando battalions in northern Angola were only slightly better than the FNLA forces they joined.

Mercenaries seemed to be the answer, preferably Europeans with the requisite military skills and perhaps experience in Africa. As long as they were not Americans, the 40 Committee approved. We began an exhaustive search for suitable candidates, a search which brought me in conflict with my bosses and kept me at odds with them even into March 1976, months after the Senate had ordered a halt to the Angola program. The conduct of European and South African mercenaries in previous African civil wars had left them with a murderous reputation, and the use of white mercenaries at the crest of the era of black nationalism was a blunder, I felt, which could only damage United States credibility in the Third World. In addition, the mercenaries who have appeared in previous African wars have been a mixed bag, more often self-serving, ineffective, unmilitary.

The CIA was casting about for the next war, amoral, ruthless, eager to do its thing. Its thing being covert little games where the action was secret and no one kept score.

But history increasingly keeps score, and the CIA's operations are never secret for long. Inevitably they are exposed, by our press, by whistleblowers in our government, by our healthy compulsion to know the truth. Covert operations are incompatible with our system of government and we do them badly. Nevertheless, a succession of presidents and Henry Kissingers have been lured into questionable adventures for which, they are promised by the CIA, they will never be held accountable. Generally they are not, they move on to sinecures before the operations are fully exposed. Our country is left to face the consequences.

Claiming to be our Horatio at the shadowy bridges of the international underworld, the CIA maintains three thousand staff operatives overseas. Approximately equal to the State Department in numbers of staff employees overseas, the CIA extends its influence by hiring dozens of thousands of paid agents. Operationally its case officers "publish or perish"-an officer who does not generate operations does not get promoted. The officers energetically go about seeking opportunities to defend our national security.

The CIA's function is to provide the aggressive option in foreign affairs. The 40 Committee papers for the Angolan operation, written by the CIA did not list a peaceful option, although the State Department African Affairs Bureau and the U.S. consul general in Luanda had firmly recommended noninvolvement.

Already we are paying dearly for indulging ourselves. As we have succeeded in making ourselves more like our enemies, more like the KGB, the world has taken note. Throughout Africa, Latin America, and Asia, at least, every legitimate American businessman, teacher, and official is suspiciously viewed as a probable CIA operative, capable of dangerous betrayals. The world knows that, in fact, numbers of actual CIA case officers are posing as just such people, while they recruit agents, bribe officials, and support covert adventures. The positive contribution of such activity to our national security is dubious. But mounting numbers of victims, the millions of people whose lives have been trampled or splattered by CIA operations are increasingly cynical of America. Because of the CIA the world is a more dangerous place. Americans have reduced credibility. Worst of all, by retaining the CIA we are accepting ourselves as a harsh and ruthless people. It's the wrong game for a great nation. And the players we've got are losers.


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About the Author

Femi Akomolafe (see his profile on Swans) is a computer consultant, a writer and social commentator, an avid reader, and a passionate Pan-Africanist who lives in Kasoa, Ghana. Femi is known to hold strong opinions and to express them in the strongest terms possible. As he likes to remind his readers: "As my Yoruba people say: Oju orun teye fo, lai fara gbara. It means that the sky is big enough for all the birds to fly without touching wings." Femi Akomolafe's views, opinions, and thoughts can be accessed on the blog he maintains: http://ekitiparapo.blogspot.com/.   (back)


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Swans -- ISSN: 1554-4915
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Published April 5, 2010