As President George Bush embarks on his
African journey, civil society ratchets up its opposition to
resist the American juggernaut. Flushed with the illusion of
total military victory it is ominous that Africa has emerged on
the American leaders radar screen.
Remarkably, as long ago as 1953, former South
African president Nelson Mandela "condemned the criminal
attacks by the imperialists against the people of Malaya,
Vietnam, Indonesia, Tunisia, and Tanganyika and called upon our
people to identify themselves unreservedly with the cause of
world peace, and to fight against the war policies of America
and her satellites."
It is now incontrovertible that the United
States of America is an imperial power determined to strengthen
its hegemonic grip upon the whole world, including South Africa.
Professor Chandra Muzaffar of the International Movement for a
Just World enunciated that "for an imperial power it is not
just control over vital economic resources that counts.
Demonstrating one's power and might is an end in itself in any
In this regard, without any justifiable
pretext, the United States pulverised Iraq to the pre-industrial
age in a 'shock and awe' military invasion. It thereby
effectively controls the second largest oil reserves in the
world. 9/11 allowed the USA to annihilate Afghanistan and
install the puppet regime of Hamid Karzai that gave the US
access to the gas and oil reserves of Central Asia.
Professor Muzaffar regards the US as the most
predatory economy in history. The US has to control the natural
resources of other countries. Oil, the lifeblood of industrial
civilisation, led to the first resource war in the post Cold War
era. The US economy, geared towards arms production and arms
sales and responsible for about 20% of jobs in the US, will
ensure the continuity of conflicts throughout the world.
It must be noted that the US emerged as the
world's leading imperial power by bombing Hiroshima and Nagasaki
in August 1945 obliterating 250,000 men, women and children. It
continued to assert its ideological dominance by getting
involved in a series of wars- in Korea(1950's), in Vietnam
(1960's), in Mozambique and Angola(1980's) and in many other
parts of the world, especially Latin America.
Apartheid South Africa itself was supported by
the United States and its allies, Great Britain and Israel,
without whose help the white racist regime would have
capitulated far sooner. Dick Cheney, Bush's vice-president, had
the temerity to call Mandela a "terrorist", and even
voted to keep him incarcerated in prison. The CIA murdered
Patrice Lumumba and the US blocked any attempt by the United
Nations to send a peace-keeping force to avert the colossal
humanitarian disaster in Rwanda and Burundi. Now, incredibly,
the US calls for a "regime change" in Liberia and
Former president Mandela accurately stated in
January:" If there is a country that has committed
unspeakable atrocities in the world, it is the United States of
America. They don't care for human beings."
President Bush and his neo-conservative
coterie in Washington have been intoxicated by the vision of
imposing a Pax America modeled on the imperial order which
Britain imposed on the world. The US desire to dictate, direct
and dominate the world has become a necessity in America's
metamorphosis from a country into an empire.
An empire is characterised, inter alia, by a
lack of boundaries imposing it's values on its subjects.
Washington's control over vital economic resources and the
resultant economic might is a driving force behind its imperial
reach. It now demands total submission by other states to its
political will. Recalcitrant rulers have to be removed in what
the hawks in Washington euphemistically describe as 'regime
change' a la Arafat and Saddam Hussein. Next on the list are the
leadership of Syria, Iran, Zimbabwe and Liberia.
Washington's record of war and violence in
pursuit of hegemonic power conforms with a pattern rooted in
Western colonial history. To ensure political obedience from
friend and foe alike, the US possesses that one advantage that
has been the arrogant pride of almost every dominant empire in
history: massive military power. Historians attest that it is so
awesome and terrifying that it even surpasses ancient Rome's
As the Bush administration seeks to extend its
hegemony it has shown an utter disregard for civil liberties,
international norms and multilateral organisations such as the
UN. Captives at the American base at Guantanamo in Cuba have
been denied the most elementary human rights. American
individuals in "the land of the free".
Indeed, American imperial power today is so
overwhelming that many nations, especially those that value
their independence and sovereignty, live in perpetual fear of
hegemony. They are afraid that in order to exact total obedience
to its political wishes, Washington may decide quite arbitrarily
to punish a particular state or penalise a certain leader. The
goal of the American Empire is to penalise its adversaries, keep
under control its competitors and to reward its cronies.
South Africa has been victimised with the
suspension of $47 million military aid because it refused to
give the Americans immunity from prosecution by the new
International Criminal Court in The Hague. The veil of the
"war against terrorism" has led to a long series of
irresponsible decisions and violations of international treaties
including the Kyoto Protocol, Antiballistic Missile Treaty,
Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention, Landmine Treaty and the
ICC. The world cannot allow a two-tier system of justice: one
for the USA, Israel and Britain; and one for the rest of the
Former president Mandela with extraordinary
prescience stated:" What I am condemning is that one power,
with a president that has no foresight, who cannot think
properly, is now wanting to plunge the world into a
holocaust." For South Africa to play along with Washington
it may be signing its own epitaph. In the end it will be
subsumed-politically and economically- within the diabolical
ruling system of this global power.
* Dr Firoz Osman is Secretary of the Media
Review Network (www.mediareviewnet.com),
an advocacy group based in Pretoria.