Imperatives of President Obama’s Second Tenure
World history will be bereft of its fertile pages without a mention of two great events namely: the Great Wars and the role of the two super powers: the United States and the defunct Soviet Union. The ideological struggle or cold war raged on till the detente in the late 1980's. As “Perestroika and Glasnost” invaded the defunct Soviet Union and diluted Russian pristine socialism, the United States of America emerged unscathed as the undisputable super power of the world. This historic event heralded the transition of global diplomacy from multilateralism to unilateralism even as bi-polarity paved the way for a uni-polar world.
Until the last decade, the United Nations had served as a Clearing House in making crucial decisions affecting peace and security among the comity of nations. The United Nations authorized America's invasion of Iraq in 1991 but did not authorize Bush's misadventure in Iraq. There are some peremptory norms of international law, which prohibit unilateral military action against any nation, no matter how guilty the regime might be. The authorization of the United Nations is a necessary pre condition for military action against any belligerent nation.
Even at the height of the cold war, President Harry Truman preferred the doctrine of containing soviet socialism rather than engage in aggressive, preventive strikes which the leaders reasoned, were not consistent with America's traditional values. But President George Walker Bush Jr. did not foresee the consequences of pre-emptive strike against Saddam's terrorist infrastructure. The cold logic is that issues of nuclear proliferation cannot be resolved through unilateralism but by high level diplomacy and dialogue.
Unilateralism in the use of force is not novel in world diplomacy; it has only assumed a horrifying dimension. China used force in 1962, 1947 and 1971 against Pakistan. The United States perpetrated atrocities at the Guantanamo Bay operations during the Cuban missile crisis in 1962, and under the cover of the cold war, America elevated global terrorism to its apogee with a view to vilifying Soviet interest and the much-dreaded global Sovietization that was the thrust of Marxist-Leninist ideology. Under the Bush administration, the detention camps in Guantanamo Bay competed favourably with the torture chambers of the Nazi regime. The situation was so horrible that former Secretary of States General Collin Powell (retired) authoritatively implored the Pentagon to close the detention camp because it has blistered America's human rights record.
The action of the U.S has created the impression that ideological differences are better settled with brute force as symbolized by the atom bomb. That is why Pakistan and India are vigorously pursuing the armament race at a very huge cost even at the point of neglecting very pressing domestic needs. If the atom bomb is the key to power, why will the Persians not look for it at all cost even if it would serve civilian ends.
The actions of President Bush have cast doubts on America's record as the policeman of the world as compared to the so called “access of evil”, a phrase used to describe the enemies of America. America has a track-record of wrecking havoc in other lands. America wrecked havoc in Vietnam but the people's resolve was so strong that Vietnam inflicted heavy casualty on the Americans. America also unilaterally invaded Grenada, Afghanistan, Panama and Cuba under the guise of curbing terrorism. Because of America's belligerence, China adopted isolationism as a foreign policy option. The bombardment of Benghazi and Tripoli by the Ronald Reagan administration was also borne out of morbid fear of the ever increasing Libya-Moscow alliance.
In human affairs when leaders deliberately try to cover up the truth to satisfy their selfish interests, they end up telling more lies in an attempt to authenticate earlier fabrications. This has been the course of events in America since the ascendancy of President Bush eight years now. George Bush demonstrated colossal naivety in the area of foreign policy. Even the former Secretary of States Condoleezza Rice- a sovietologist, could not save the foreign policy disaster. As Secretary of States she had shuttled between Washington and Tel-Aviv, but could not diffuse the tension in the Middle East. Even the modicum of success achieved in Korea and Lebanon has been dwarfed by the interminable sectarian violence in Iraq.
In blatant disregard for international law and the diminution of the United Nations, President Bush elevated the idea of preventive strike not only as a strategic option to secure America, but to the pedestal of a core security doctrine. Under Bush's tyranny, America legitimized the use of force by pontificating that the atom bomb in the hands of a dictator would be dangerous and a world without Saddam Hussein is a safer and more peaceful place to live.
This wretched doctrine was sold to the capitalist and Washington Lobbyists with immense oil interest in the Middle East. Without the U.N approval, Bush unilaterally took America to Iraq in order to rewrite the history of the U.S. Like Pharaoh Rameses II of Egypt, Bush has re-written the history of the Middle East with the blood of youthful American soldiers whose death could have been avoided if caution was not thrown to the wind. Bush's aggression has portrayed America as a bully in the Middle East rather than a peace maker. To use the word of Senator late Robert Kennedy, Bush's action in Iraq was “unilateralism run amok”.
Today, America's curiosity and overzealousness in preventing the armament race has lured many countries who are now desperate to acquire nuclear power. Today India and Pakistan are trying to outrun each other in the mad race to obtain the nuke. Iran seems to have made some progress in the enrichment of Uranium which is a logical step towards the development of nuclear weapons. North Korea is yet to lay all the cards on the table of the International Atomic Agency. The policy of Pyongyang vacillates between termination of nuclear enrichment and frequent policy reversals of sustaining the programme.
Although America's pre-emptive strike wrecked havoc on Iraq, America has also sent a clear signal that no country can be safe without acquiring some quantum of nuclear strike force. In fact the nuclear issue bothers on the national security of countries hence even developing countries now have the increasing quest for acquiring sophisticated military build-up in order not to be mesmerized by any superior military power.
There is another consequence of America's unilateralism namely: the proliferation of nuclear weapons in the world. It is true that the process of acquiring nuclear weapons ranging from uranium enrichment, the production of nuclear fuel to the development of nuclear weapons is a very complex procedure; the enthusiasm shown by nations will obviously culminate in the proliferation of the technology. The result is that the world would be more insecure as countries may no longer feel secure. The phobia that other countries are front-runners in the race to pick the nuke technology will heighten the mad race.
Now in Iran, nuclear weapons are seen as symbolic of State power, modernity and identity. In North Korea, the Nuke now serves as a bargaining chip attracting as it were, much needed economic assistance from America and Europe. South Africa, Libya, Ukraine, Kazakhstan, Argentina and Brazil have given up on their nuclear programmes. Thus as the advanced capitalist countries approach the nuclear threshold, emerging nations are now making a big push for the nuke in spite if the colossal cost involved.
Again, the civilian use of nuclear power as a twin imperative of energy security and climate security has also made the tinderbox attractive. The general perception is that Positive Security Assurance may gradually begin to wane giving way for Mutually Assured Destruction (MAD). The fact that the Middle East is a Nuclear Free zone has provided justification for the hard-line posturing. Worse still, disarmament initiatives and its diplomacy have never been effective because of insincerity on the part of the world powers and their strategic allies. In fact, disarmament diplomacy is convoluted to favour the allies of the world powers and often titrated to suit the fancy of capitalist economic interest; yet matters as serious as nuclear weapons regime requires open and frank negotiations.
It does appear that the Bush administration had no ounce of value for human life. Rather than atone for the sins perpetrated against the civilian women and children in Iraq, the President was in desperate searching for whom to blame for his misadventure. No administration in America, not even that of the Richard Nixon and Ronald Reagan displayed such a degree of foolhardiness in the management of America's foreign policy.
The huge dilemma has been that the United States of America has continued to impose its will on other nations; and the bogey of unilateralism has been pushed to such a bizarre level that America's diplomacy around the world is becoming an embarrassment in a “free world” where democratization is the mantra. An “unjust” war cannot legitimize the illegalities of America under the guise; of curbing terrorism is a radical new twist in America's uni-polar diplomacy which would eventually lead to a catastrophic end. This may be the most scintillating legacy of the Bush dynasty. Bush pursued Osama for 8 years but Obama nailed him in 8 months.
It has become a knotty conundrum for world leaders to decide if President Bush was a victor or villain, a liberator or a butcher. Whichever way we look at it, using democratic binoculars, the so called leader of the free world has for the past eight years acted as a blood-thirsty tyrant. America under Bush created extreme unilateralism which can only be tolerated if it is considered that the nuclear tinderbox can be substituted for sustainable world peace.
With the ascendancy of President Barack Obama, this belligerent posturing has to change. The troop draw down in Iraq is a welcome development. Guantanamo Bay has also closed those torture chambers. A similar troop draw-down in Afghanistan may be necessary because America has created so many enemies around the World. The war in Afghanistan is unwinnable. There is now need to draw a sharp demarcating line between a just war and gunboat diplomacy. Obama should lay more emphasis on multilateral diplomacy as he has already demonstrated in the Mideast. The same subtle trick can work in Iran, North Korea, India and Pakistan. Obamanomics should concentrate more on how to vivify the middle class, which was suffocated by his predecessor, raise the standard of living, create jobs and cut down drastically on war funding. This is the campaign promise of Obama, which must be pursued vigorously even in the face of the threat of nuclear proliferation and destruction.
President Obama's strength is not only in dismantling Al Qaeda, which heralded the hurricane sweeping through the Arab World, but also in his domestic policies. Obama has successfully passed the healthcare reforms, and experts hail it as the most historic. He is at the last lap of the push for visa cum immigration reforms, which is critical to attracting the best brains that would catalyze development. His educational reforms christened “No Child should be left behind” are inextricably yoked gun reforms to reduce teenage violence. The most fundamental perhaps is his economic policies at rebuilding the middle-class, which by any stretch of imagination will see him through to his Second Tenure, in spite of dissenting voices in the Republican Party. Ultimately, the reforms being embarked upon by President Obama would justify his comeback to the White House come 2012.
Idumange John is Deputy President, Niger Delta Integrity Group (NDIG).