Tag Archives: War

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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Gabriel Banda Peace Notes, 03: Syria War and Nick Clegg Intervention Test

Gabriel C BandaSyria War and the Nick Clegg Intervention Test

 By

Gabriel C Banda

RECENTLY, marking the tenth anniversary of the invasion and occupation of Iraq, Britain’s deputy Prime Minister, Nick Clegg, reflected on the controversy of military intervention by external forces.

Writing in The Independent on Sunday of March 17, 2013, Clegg lamented the illegitimacy and illegality of the invasion led by United States president George W Bush and Britain’s Labour Prime Minister Tony Blair.

In opposition during the March 2003 invasion, Nick Clegg says he, his Liberal Democrats party leaders and members, and very significant numbers of the British and world populations had opposed Bush and Blair’s invasion plans and actions.

The invasion was based on weak, unproven, “weapons of mass destruction” grounds and was illegal in international law. The invasion led to much death, injury, displacement, stability, and deep social disharmony affecting many in Iraq, the region, and other parts of the world. We are still living with the deep effects of the invasion.

Nick Clegg is now Britain’s deputy prime minister in a coalition headed by the Conservative Party’s David Cameron. The challenges of intervention are very first hand. To avoid the negative experience of Iraq, Nick Clegg suggests some four factors to consider before intervention can happen.

Clegg’s four “tests” are: Is intervention legal? Does it command local and regional support? Another test is “are we confident intervening will alleviate suffering?” And, the fourth is “Is the United Nations behind it?” He feels that in the absence of United Nations approval, “are there reasons to intervene on clear humanitarian grounds?”

Without consulting him, I will call them the Nick Clegg principles of intervention, some form of “Theory of Intervention,” just as there is the “Just War” theory to consider whether to go to war or not, and issues of fairness and war. In fact, the Nick Clegg principles of intervention cannot be separated from the basic principles of Just War, but must be considered some practical checklist of a particular situation in war. The Clegg principles need to be consistent with Just War principles.

In our MA Peace Studies class at Bradford University in the 1990s, we learnt that Just War principles are a total package. Firstly, the cause should be “just.”  There must be right intention and motive. The authority to wage the war must be legitimate. And the war action must be proportionate. War must be a last resort. The war action should not create problems larger than the problem being dealt with. That war must be able to succeed.

Now, Nick Clegg feels that in participating in the recent military intervention in Libya, his government fulfilled the four tests. But I believe the Clegg principles were not demonstrated in Libya.

The intervention may appear to have been legal through the instruments of United Nations Security Council resolutions 1970 and 1973 on Libya. But the resolutions had defects in content and implementation. In addition, the resolutions were used as blank cheque to disarm and remove the Gaddafi regime.

The Security Council did not allow foot soldiers in Libya, yet some forces from the West, and neighbours like Qatar and Sudan, had troops fighting in Libya.

Secondly, to strengthen the Clegg principles, besides the legal question, there should always be the moral question, for apartheid in South Africa was legal but a moral crime. Over Libya, Nick Clegg and the British and France government partners did not pass the Clegg tests.

The principle on local and regional support was difficult for intervention. Both Gaddafi and the rebels had significant support from persons from local groups identifying with various sides. In such case, even after military conquest by one over others, there can be no long term order.

The regional support principle was not met. The African Union, with its experience over various conflicts in Africa, had been opposed to the military intervention and preferred a political settlement. USA’s Susan Rice scolded the African Union position and drove for military intervention. France president Nicolas Sarkozy had a guillotine set on Gaddafi’s head and would not listen to a non-violent solution facilitated by Africa.

The Clegg test’s United Nations presence requisite has been weakened by his discretion on great humanitarian consideration where there is no United Nations approval. Nick Clegg factors allow for intervention outside the UN. As over Iraq, this can become a dangerous window used to justify unilateral action outside official United Nations endorsement.

As the United Nations seems to be forgetting, the world body’s primary role is not only to stop wars, but to put an end to war. UN priority in any conflict should be to avoid military means and move to political settlement.

Many problems have arisen out of the Libya intervention. The Libya intervention contributed to later problems in Mali. I believe the Libya experience, besides showing more questions on contents of the Clegg doctrine, shows that the Clegg tests highlight failures by the intervening UK and allies. The Libya intervention failed the Just War package.

Now, after Libya, Nick Clegg feels his proposed principles should also come in on the Syria civil war, where the UK, France, and other governments support the anti-Assad insurgents.

With the rebels they support suffering unity and purpose concerns and even defeat as in the strategic Qusair town, there may be an urge for Britain and France to intervene. It may be tempting to find a “weapon of mass destruction” type of reason to justify intervention.

Both Syria government forces and the rebels have accused the other of using chemical weapons. As in Iraq against Saddam Hussein’s regime, the external supporters of Syria’s insurgents may rush for some reason around chemical weapons use to justify military intervention on the side of the rebels, or against Assad’s regime.

The Clegg principles will need definite, objective, truth before assigning blame. And what will the interventionists do if it turns out insurgents are the ones that have used chemical and other dirty weapons?

External intervention in Syria is not easy. Syria’s military strength and situation are not like was in Libya. As various forces have learnt the lessons of Afghanistan, Iraq, and Libya, the intervention itself can lead to further problems for everyone, including the invaders. Reality is that, with significant support and resources around the various parties in the Syria war, neither the Assad regime nor the insurgents can hope to rule without major problems if they subdue others by military force and impose themselves onto the whole society.

As in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Libya, in Syria there can be no military solution which will create permanent order. As violence begets violence, the increased military support for the combatants has greatly increased burden and prolonged the reaching of settlement.

The Clegg intervention tests will not succeed in Syria. The size of internal Syrian local support for external intervention is not easy to measure in a society with deepened sectarian and other alignments. Regional support is compromised where some members of the Arab League and Gulf Council are active supporters of forces against Assad.

Because of unpleasant experiences over the Libya resolutions and other factors, China and Russia will not allow some UN Security Council resolution for intervention in Syria. And, yes, open intervention will worsen suffering. The Syria war is already deeply affecting the region, Europe, and the wider world.

External intervention, even using the Clegg principles, may lead to further long-term problems in the complex Syria situation. But, although imperfect, it is important that those in influential positions in UK, France, US, Russia, Arabia, and elsewhere, should, amongst other Just War factors, consider the Nick Clegg Just Intervention test.

 Based in Lusaka, Zambia, Gabriel C Banda is involved in social development, writing and the arts, and observing conflict and peace issues.

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                                                    GCB, June 2013, Lusaka.