The hypocrisy of the West that is what — particularly the type exhibited by the US. The leaked slew of military documents on the whistle-blowing website WikiLeaks this week, was another stark reminder of the two-faced nature of Americans, who it seems, have become quite adept at the practice of preaching one thing and doing the exact opposite. Contrary to the accepted wisdom, American’s raw actions on the ground frighteningly belie their stated beliefs of democracy, freedom, equality and fraternity.
Killing the Taliban without trial? Concealing civilian deaths? Shock, horror, gasp! But why should the world be shocked at these revelations/allegations? War is brutal. It was never meant to be a pretty phenomenon. The mere fact that a so-called democratic superpower is waging the war does not suggest they are going about it gracefully. Yet the world has a sanitised view of what an American war means. This speaks volumes of the triumph of American propaganda, which has conditioned our perception of the US as a liberator and guardian of democracy. Nothing could be further from the truth.
If we go by the notion that power is not a means but an end in itself, then democracy, itself an ideology which I sincerely believe was originally conceived with good intentions, has been turned into an instrument to spread American dominance in world affairs. In recent times, the US has not pursued and promoted democracy for its laudable ideals but for the power it gives them to control what ironically is known as the “free world”.
Growing up as a teenager in the early nineties, I always wondered why during the wave of multi-partism, which swept across many of Africa’s previously one-party states, the Americans through the IMF insisted on privatisation, among other conditions, to complement the emergent democracies. Since then we have seen democracy being used to legitimise the buy-out of resource-rich industries in African countries by Western corporations.
Prior to this, the approach by the US and the West in general, had basically been to do business with “the devil” at all costs, regardless of whether “the devil” was a well-intentioned statesman or a despot. The latter approach is still preferred in situations which require it, but is generally considered blatantly duplicitous and therefore is covertly executed as those in the DRC and Uganda will tell you. Either way, owing to these approaches of command and control, “independent” Africa has over the last 50 years pawned away much of her economic capital and today we have precious little left. Save for the politicians and the ruling party bigwigs, the rest of us have to be content with the miniscule royalty revenue earned from “our” extractive industries. It is an outrageous state of affairs, really.
You see, the most important war of our time is not so much about who controls the politics but the economy. And here is the catch with America’s version of democracy-made-for-resource-rich-nation-states; it guarantees them the ability to control both the politics and the economy of such states. Precisely because it was never in the interests of the West for Africa to assume economic independence, democracy, which is a more palatable notion than the-doing-business-with-the-devil model, was foisted on us. In territories where the appeal of democracy has been rebuffed, as in Iraq and Afghanistan, a “war on terror” has been the answer.
Curiously, both countries, which have borne the brunt of the war on terror, are staggeringly resource-rich. Iraq’s amount of proven oil reserves are rivalled only by Saudi Arabia’s. Recently, we have been informed that the Americans have during their war campaign in Afghanistan, suddenly stumbled upon nearly $1 trillion in untapped mineral reserves, ranging from huge veins of iron, copper, cobalt, gold to critical industrial metals like lithium. That such a vast swathe of minerals would have remained undiscovered all these years, is simply astounding! And since when did soldiers become mining prospectors? It seems to me that the financial incentives for fighting the war on terror very much belie the ideological motives they put across to us!
When I consider the recent history regarding the pursuit for global domination and competition for resources, I am reminded of an African proverb about the man who digs up a grave for his enemy, unaware that he may be digging it for himself. If the US does not change her hypocritical attitude and continues to wage wars premised on spurious charges such as non-existent weapons of mass destruction, she might well be waging war against herself. Terrorism as real and as unconscionable as it may be, is in so many ways a twisted manifestation of defiance by those who choose not the American way, preferring their own ideologies of power, politics, religion and the right to do with their resource wealth as they see fit.
Fighting resource wars under the guise of spreading freedom and democracy is nothing but stinking hypocrisy and if unchecked will lead our civilisation to its ultimate disaster.
The trouble with the politics of global domination is that by fanning wars between competing nations or blocs thereof, it threatens the very basis of our civilisation. As the largest repository of the world’s industrial resources, Africa has a key role to play in averting such a disaster. For one, we should stop mortgaging our key assets to foreign interests, Western or Eastern/ Chinese. We should not stop there but demand a model of progress based on cooperation as opposed to competition. If we can pull this off, we would have managed to halt the damaging effects of American hypocrisy and the wars that accompany it, which in the end, threaten us all.