By Richard Odu
The change of guard which took place in the United States of America on January 20, this year, left the world standing in utter consternation right from the time the election results were announced. Donald John Trump, winner of the election, on taking oath as the country’s 45th president, had a two-word punchy message to his countrymen and the world at large. According to him, from that day on it was going to be “America first”.
Analysts looked at this message from diverse dimensions. Some interpreted it to mean isolationism. This conception is today getting credence from Trump’s reversal of some Barrack Obama policies, notably the signed agreements on climate change and visa conditions.
The tough-talking president had earlier placed a most unpopular travel ban on some mainly Muslim countries, claiming that it was not targeted at the Muslims but was only a step towards his fight against terror. Whatever is the case, it might be a great source of concern if America, the big brother of the world, decides to isolate itself from the rest of the people, more so in this era of globalisation. Sure, no one expects an American president to put its country second. But, as his country takes the first position, certainly some others would occupy the second position which is fair enough.
Yet, some analysts had expected the US president to, also in his “America First” programme, curtail the country’s meddlesomeness in affairs of other countries under the pretext of being the police of the world.
Talking about meddlesomeness, America in recent times had carried the so-called police job too far for comfort, apparently in pursuit of what it saw as its vital interests, oil being the foremost. Its forays into the oil-rich Arab world in its consuming passion to control affairs in the region led it to murder former Iraqi leader, Saddam Hussein, in the second gulf war under the false claim that his regime was stockpiling weapons of mass destruction.
Not done yet, the US turned the muzzle of its gun against Libya’s Muarmar Gaddafi and made sure he was silenced completely. The rest of the world clapped, having been fed with the lies that these men were the troubles the globe was contending with.
Unfolding events in recent past have proved something else; that these men, despite their eccentricities, were the stabilizing forces in the volatile Arab region as they had helped to suppress Muslim radicalism. For instance, the late Saddam Hussein was accused, among other things, of decimating the Iraqi Kurds known widely for their Muslim fundamentalism. The truth, however, was that the former Iraqi President who knew his people so well came to a conclusion that nothing else would silence fundamentalism other than waging relentless war on those who perpetrated it. Under him, Iraq was stable, people fed well and no Islamic radicals were given a chance to rock the boat. No one could have imagined an Iraq over-run by the Islamic State (IS) in the presence of Saddam.
Again, Saddam was a strong believer in the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), the oil cartel that has monopolized the market for decades through the compromise of member states, thus allowing a somewhat even spread of global wealth in the developing and developed countries.
He incurred the wrath of almighty America when, during the George Bush Snr presidency, he annexed Kuwait forcefully into Iraq for the reason that Kuwait, a tiny oil-rich country created by the Western world for selfish purposes, was bursting OPEC agreed oil production quota, thereby destabilizing the market. It was all the machinations of the United States of America. Before the annexation, Saddam Hussein had warned Kuwait, which was actually another province of Iraq before the Western world carved it out and made it a country.
What followed this annexation of Kuwait was the gruesome war, which the US and its allies tagged Desert Storm, where the full force of more than four super powers descended hard on tiny Iraq. We recollect that the United Nations was never in support of the war.
Caving in under superior firepower, Saddam Hussein’s troops surrendered, and then punishment was meted upon Saddam’s Iraq to see if his country men would react by removing him. But the military strongman survived the ensuing oil blockade which restricted how much of the commodity he was to sell. America, thereafter, resorted to blackmail, accusing him of corruption. They, however, never traced any foreign bank account to his name. They said he used Iraqi wealth to build a luxurious state house where he lived. He countered by stating that the state house which they said was paved with gold belonged to Iraqis, not to him personally.
Seeing that there was no coup nor a potent insurrection against his government, America planned another storm which led to the fragmentation of Iraq and the eventual killing of Saddam Hussein. In the ensuing confusion that followed the annihilation of Saddam and his family, the pillaging of Iraqi government offices and treasured artifacts in the country’s museums began in earnest. The US army of occupation in Iraq cared less about the destruction, but proceeded to guard only oil installations, an indication that oil was at the centre of the imbroglio.
As for Muammar Gaddafi, lately disclosed records had shown that his plan to create a gold-backed currency to compete with the euro and dollar was a motive for his elimination, among other selfish reasons of the West. This gold, according to reports, was accumulated prior to the rebellion and was intended to be used to establish a pan-African currency based on the Libyan golden Dinar. This plan was designed to provide the Francophone African countries with an alternative to the French franc (CFA), something that did not go down well with French authorities then. And so a death sentence was passed on him. On the day he was killed by his countrymen who could not understand the machinations of the West, Gaddafi was said to have asked them a simple question, “What did I do to you?”
Through the Internet, the West had fed the Arabs with its propaganda that led to the Arab Spring. And these leaders were killed like common criminals for the main reason that they refused to let go their vast oil wealth into the controlling arms of the United States of America and its allies. The Arab world had been goaded into assisting in the destruction of their oil-rich land. Having completed this project of self destruction, the Arabs chose to make themselves refugees in the adjoining Europe, the land of seemingly superior Caucasians? The stabilizing forces in those volatile regions (Gaddafi, Saddam, etc) were gone. Only Syria’s Assad appears to be the last man standing among the Arab leaders marked for demolition. He has refused to give way despite a barrage of missiles which are today flying against him from America and its NATO allies in a Western-induced rebellion against his government. The world is, however, watching to know how the macabre real life Syrian movie would end. As for the damage to Iraq and Libya, only God knows how it could be remedied.
What the world would cherish from Trump’s America today is a global positive influence, a mediatory interference in national and international affairs of other countries in such a way as to engender peace and stability. An American senator, at the wake of the second Desert Storm, had remarked that the country’s power did not lie in its vast arsenal or brute force but in its ability to persuade other nations to behave in a particular manner without firing a shot. How come America lost this strength and resorted to brute force?
Down here in Nigeria, the world knows that all is not well with the so-called giant of Africa, going by resonant voices of separatists as well as those calling for restructuring, true federalism and the like. From a dispassionate point of view, calls for the restructuring of the nation’s political system can only be seen as genuine interest in the unity of the nation as the present system has been proved warped, in view of the plethora of crises that have engulfed the nation since independence. Those opposed to restructuring can, therefore, be seen as enemies of a united Nigeria. And this group appears hell bent on resisting change. Germany, Britain, US and others appear to prefer a united Nigeria, having warned separatists of the existence of a constitution which everyone knows was foisted on the country by a northern-dominated military. Severally, the British who put together the variety of people into one entity (another case of meddlesomeness), and colonized the country, have been accused of instituting a system that breeds nothing but chaos. It is expected that the United States, in conjunction with its ally Britain and the United Nations Organisation, will intervene to prevent the hate speeches already flying around the country from snowballing into full scale hostilities. That will not be seen as meddlesomeness.