Tag Archives: Invasion

Obama and a Syria Strike, by Gabriel C Banda

 

Obama and a Syria Strike

by

Gabriel C Banda

Yes, I believe, Obama’s 2013 position not to openly strike Syria with American forces was the appropriate one.

As outgoing President Barack Obama’s legacy assessment will continue for ever, we will consider one issue.

There are those who feel that if Barack Obama had in 2013 ordered an attack on Syria due to accusations around the Bashar al-Assad administration and chemical weapon use, the recent outcome in Aleppo and Syria would have been against Assad. The accusers almost blame Barack Obama’s non-striking as the cause of the situation they are unhappy with.

Their wish had been for a “swift” and “sharp” strike that would have disabled, and removed, the Assad administration.

Strike supporters included John McCain and, sadly, Hillary Clinton, and others such as “Professor” Bernard-Henri Levy, so-called “philosopher.”  Bernard-Henri Levy, consistent with his war-mongering, had been a strong supporter of the intervention in Libya and the removal of Muammar Gaddafi.

War Monger

Over abuse of force, Levy has been a war monger hiding, or excused, under the coats of academic freedom and free expression. Had it not been for the tags of “Professor,” “Philosopher,” and “intellectual” he is referred by others with, the unclothed position of Bernard-Henri Levy would be more clearly recognised as that of a thug.

Still unrepentant about the terrible and evil effects of his position, Bernard-Henri Levy greatly supported and continues to defend, when on BBC and other media, the 2011 invasion of Libya led by the war lord Nicolas Sarkozy, who was then France’s president.

Nicolas Sarkozy, with a guillotine trailed against Libya’s Muammar Gaddafi, used the machinery of the France government, and even twisting the United Nations system, to force a coalition of force that removed Libya’s Gaddafi and led to instability that has affected Libya, Africa, the Middle East, and the whole world, including innocent people in France and Britain, the USA, and ally nations assembled in the raid on Gaddafi and Libya.

Crossing Line

The proponents of a swift strike and knock-out of Assad and administration have used Barack Obama’s warning about not crossing some red line against him. They use it as an Obama weakness because Obama had given a warning and did not follow it up with action.

It does not seem to matter to them whether Obama’s action would be right or appropriate for the emerged situation but that he had said it and therefore should have proceeded to attack Syria. It seems not to matter to them that the issue of chemical weapons use was not easy to definitely assign.

It does not seem to matter to them that the reasons or excuses of Weapon of Mass Destruction or Crimes Against Humanity used by intervening governments have at sometimes come out false or snares.

It seemed not to matter that the position of a clean, swift, strike was an assumption that was based on a sense of supremacy of oneself over others considered easily conquerable. Why is there an assumption that military might will always defeat others?

In long gone times and recent times, some rulers have acted improperly and created long term difficulties for all of us. Many leaders and rulers, from George W Bush Jr to Tony Blair, have acted by poor egos and handled the arsenals of military and force with immaturity. Many leaders and rulers have not been mature enough to handle authority over force.

Angela  Merkel Maturity

However, not all rulers have the same immaturity over use of force. One who has been cautious about use of force has been German’s Angela Merkel, a person of greatness, and one of the most mature of rulers and leaders in modern times.

To some degree, especially for an American president, Barack Obama has on some critical times acted with great caution where others would have thrown in the military machine heavily. This, not acting to go in when one is not sure, has been faulted against him.

In my view, it is better to be cautious about the use and effect of force and violence than end up creating the results that George W Bush Jr did in Afghanistan and Iraq. Barack Obama’s caution is a more sustainable and just position than that of leaping and attacking first and then thinking later, with turmoil around you.

Some bully others because these bullies feel they have weapon arsenals and can always defeat others they consider lesser.  It has been said that some bully others because the bullies have weapons and want to try out the weapons or intimidate others. Without weapons, they will not bully others.

Duet

In 2013, there was pressure to have Barack Obama and Britain’s David Cameron to repeat a duet, as George W Bush Jr and Tony Blair did over Iraq, and attack Syria. What helped the situation was the British parliament, with much of the public behind them,  voting against the move to another open war.

To his credit, and democratic credentials, David Cameron readily and politely accepted not to proceed with the proposed open armed intervention. That helped Barack Obama’s position for, without ally Britain, as they did in Iraq and Afghanistan, America has been reluctant to attack alone.

What if Barack Obama had directly used America’s forces to intervene in Syria and remove Assad? The results might have included the following: If Assad had fallen, ISIS would have been stronger. If Assad had fallen, ISIS may have now been in control in Syria. ISIS may have become Syria or Syria would have become the ISIS state.

Then also, there would have been no guarantee that American strikes could have happened without injury on America and those intervening. In scriptures, the story of small David and big Goliath is a lesson for all times.

You should never underestimate your opponent. Already, without factual basis, many officials in the West had underestimated the resilience of the Assad administration and thought he would collapse in a short time, in months rather than years. The situation turned out differently.

Barack Obama had been reluctant to get in to support Nicolas Sarkozy in the removal of Libya’s Muammar Gaddafi. Obama’s weakness was to yield to Sarkozy and reluctantly join in. It is not enough to say one did something wrong because another had insisted to be joined.

Within his administration, war monger Susan Rice pushed for the military intervention and even insulted Africa’s rulers for calling for caution because of the effects they feared would happen with intervention. The effects feared came to pass. Obama had allowed people like Susan Rice and Nicolas Sarkozy to work against his inner caution over Libya.

Spring

Another sin that Obama fell into was to agree to support the armed rebels fighting the Assad administration in the so-called “Arab Spring.”  Clearly, ISIS was, from the beginning, in the “Arab Spring.”

Yes, I believe, Obama’s position not to strike Syria was the appropriate one. Already, the position to support armed rebellion against Assad’s Syria in a conflict with religious undertones was not appropriate, with its consequences that led to the rise of ISIS as Syria government forces faced militias from many groups.

There have been times when rulers of America’s regimes, feeling and acting on the myth that their country is a superpower and can push around others to do what it wants, have gone on to take actions that have created immediate and long-term problems for others, the USA, and the world.

Over the decades, even just to take the decades following World War II, this has happened under various administrations, Republican and Democrats. There seems to be in the background a machinery that, with whatever party in office, tries to assert intervention in other parts of the world – even where the intervention will create difficulties for those intervened, others, and the United States itself.

In recent times, this has happened over the invasion of Afghanistan, occupation of Iraq, and, without lessons being learnt and applied, intervention in Libya. Another key burden of a US administration has been supporting the armed rebellion against Syria’s Assad administration. But Barack Obama’s avoiding of striking Syria in 2013 was, I believe, the appropriate one. That will be a pleasant memory of the Obama legacy.

ginfinite@yahoo.com

**Gabriel Banda has been on the MA Peace Studies Bradford University  programme.

Mama Hillary Clinton in Zambia, by Gabriel C Banda

In 2011, Hillary Rodham Clinton, then United States Secretary of State, visited Zambia. I wrote about her in relation to some key challenges facing humanity and human relations.

Hillary Clinton, in whom many of us have for long been well pleased, has just had official endorsement as Democratic Party’s 2016 US presidential election candidate.

Of course, I differ with her on events of Libya and Syria. Unlike persons like John McCain and Sister Hillary Clinton and Bernard-Henri Levy, I believe that President Barack Obama did the right thing not to directly invade and strike Syria. If more armed pressure had been made on Syria and Assad had fallen, ISIS would have risen earlier and things would have been worse now.

On Libya, I believe, then as now, that Barack Obama, reluctant at first, should not have allowed himself to join France warlord Nicolas Sarkozy and others to invade Libya and destroy Muammar Qaddafi, leading to the chaos that will be with us for long. Western support for armed rebels in Libya and Syria, as the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq, has created difficulties and some instability for the whole world, including Western societies.

And in the view of many of us in various parts of the world, Hillary Clinton will definitely make a good president for the United States.  The rule of Barack Obama has dignified America in the world and managed to make many outside the United States appreciate the projection of a United States that has a more friendly and humane nature, a society that is surely a close family member of humanity rather than its boss and bully and actor for the Superpower idea, “Superpower” being a myth that cannot be achieved in nature by any government or group. 

Hillary Clinton would more likely continue the improvement of human relations than, say, a person like Donald Trump, a personality that may lead to increased tension and division in human relations. Already, Hillary Clinton has made some remarkable contributions to the Common Good. More good than bad will arise from Hillary Clinton’s rule.

Here, I reproduce, courtesy Post Newspaper, Lusaka, the piece published on my then “Another View” column in the Post of Saturday June 18, 2011:

 

Mama Hillary Clinton’s Challenge

By

Gabriel Banda

“ALL too often, we were doing programs that continued year after year, and we, frankly, did too much of the talking and not enough of the listening, ”said Mama Hillary Rodham Clinton, USA Secretary of State, in our city Lusaka, Friday, June 10, 2011. She was closing the AGOA, African Growth and Opportunities Act countries, forum.

She observed that, “despite the best of intentions, for too long, in too much of our development work, the United States was not focused on the kind of partnerships that should be at the root of development,”

And Mrs Hillary Clinton said the United States administration of Barrack Obama aims to be more sensitive.

“In this Administration,” said she, “We have embarked on a new way of doing business.” And, “Our approach is based on partnership, not patronage.”

Also, “Ultimately, it is aimed at helping developing countries chart their own futures and, frankly, end the need for aid at all.”

Sister Hillary Clinton’s words in Lusaka highlight some key problems in human relations and development. These issues face not only people in USA and Africa relations, but governments and persons all over the world. It is about patronage or true partnership.

Problems of patronising attitudes and practices affect various fields. Besides the social development field, in politics example is the George W Bush administration’s March 2003 invasion of Iraq. The results of the invasion continue to affect not only the United States and the Middle East, but all of us, worldwide. Tensions increased.

Before invasion, the Bush regime had been cautioned, by many worldwide, of unjustness of the actions and the likely negative effects. These came to pass. Even now, clearly, instead of using the United Nations system to broker peace, in Libya the current external governments’ military role, which does not meet “just war” criteria, will bear huge negative effects worldwide. The war lord attitude has not been restricted to Bush rule.

But in development, trade and business, civil society, and other fields, actions arising from the patronage mindset are still with us.

Apart from other variations in nature, human variation is noted in issues like skin colour, being male or female, religion, ethnic link, culture, language, nationality and citizenship, and location.

Variation in many aspects of the world contributes towards a more whole earth and life. That there is variation on earth is great resource for us to learn and grow from many angles. This variation actively contributes to the making of the whole and the balance of that whole.

Each individual part is unique and gifted. Each we must appreciate. I believe that none is inherently superior or inferior by being born in some particular community. I believe a person born in the deserts of Africa can learn to fly a Boeing 747 while a person born in the skyscrapers of Manhattan can learn to live well in a desert.

We need to open ourselves to other persons. There is no stranger in the world. And the earth being circular, each point of the world is the centre of the world. Each individual or place is important for the maintenance of the whole world. Wherever you are is the centre of the world.

And wherever each person is, they must actively contribute their skills, experiences, and thoughts. A problem is when we are doing “too much of the talking and not enough of the listening.” This has meant closing, or limiting, ourselves off from the skills and experiences of others.

Often projects and activities are tackled without the active consultation and involvement of the ones who live the practical situation. This has led to projects not working well. Even where much money is poured in, lacking the essential human ingredients, the projects have reached less than they would have had they involved input from a wide variation.

Some who handle cash and resources tend to control the direction of projects and activities. They leave out the thoughts, skills, experiences, and visions of others they consider less able because those persons in material, finance, resource, and background situations are thought to be lesser than controller’s.

Many projects do not take in input of local persons as the projects merely implement templates designed from outside. In Zambia, Africa, and elsewhere, work against HIV and AIDS could have advanced further or earlier had there been more listening to others. The resources would have reached and done further. This is a bigger problem in mono-donor situations, where some donors dominate particular fields. They stifle creativity and growth.

Various talents, skills, and experiences willingly shared can contribute to the benefit of many. We are fortunate that with some six billion persons, male and female they are, we have chance, if we open ourselves to them, to live some six billion lives and deep experiences.

Slavery, slave trade, and apartheid have been evils because of pain and working against preferred choices of the enslaved as things are directed to service of the slave masters. Left to their own choices, enslaved persons could have contributed greatly, in many other ways, to the world. Slavery made the world lose out in growth and opportunities.

Currently, there are so called “experts” who are not competent, while some have skills but are not very appropriate, relevant, to the situations. Some do not do “enough of listening” and allowing other persons.

IMF and World Bank and their allies have shown arrogance, bullying, incompetence, and dictatorship. They pushed aside local views and imposed some inappropriate programmes. They kept imposing their activities through various sanctions and threats against governments and society.

The fruits of IMF programmes include increased poverty, crime, corruption, environmental impact, and inequalities around factors like ethnicity, cultures, gender, and regions. Their programmes have caused reduced capacity of societies. The programmes worked against growth and opportunities of societies. The activities have acted against peace and the integrity of life.

They have not organised resource and other reparations to redress the damage they have done to societies and humanity. Perhaps some recent debt write-off may be considered silent reparations. But the organisations still control economic programmes which are still inappropriate for societies

But, even though many have sought it and others been assigned, in this unitary and interdependent world, there can be no superpower. Superpower is a temporary human created myth without basis in truth.

Now or in other generations, the action of one in one place affects all others everywhere. To grow, we should be moving towards relationships of mutual respect, growth, and realisation that the work of all of us on earth seeks to eventually pull together towards a common good.

The world will flourish through partnership and creativity, not through patronage. It is important to allow others. Every one will nourish and grow. Many should listen to, and practice, some of Mama Hillary Clinton’s words!

END

– GCB June 2011, LUSAKA.

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