Friday, September 28, 2012

Obama Is No Moral Compass

Obama’s no moral compass

Friday, 28 September 2012 00:00
Tichaona Zindoga
Zimbabwe Herald

The world today is on fire and it is not just American flags burning on account of the offensive anti-Muslim video released recently.

Conflicts are gnawing at societies from Afghanistan to Syria, from North Africa down to DRC. United Nations chief Ban ki-Moon put it well in his address to the UN General Assembly on Tuesday.

He said the body gathers annually “to look soberly, and without illusion, at the state of our world”, but sounded the “alarm about our direction as a human family.”

“We can all see widespread insecurity and injustice, inequality and intolerance. I see Governments wasting vast and precious funds on deadly weapons — while reducing investments in people.”

There is also the scourge of climate change. These pressing issues need urgent attention by world leaders.

Unfortunately, the divided world today does not inspire any confidence that it is ready to stamp out the scourges: rather some of the flashpoints are exploited for selfish ends. And if one looks up to the supposed leader of the world, the United States, they will be disappointed. Really disappointed.

On the same day Ban ki-Moon counselled sobriety in dealing with the alarming situation the human family, Barack Obama gave what could be regarded as a long, uninspiring, circuitous and ironic lecture by way of address to the UNGA.

The US leader propped himself on the moral pedestal in which his country led the world in the best of endeavours and aspirations. The irony was writ large. The US and Obama have failed the moral test.

Obama’s speech clearly showed this deficit which could not be helped by his famed dialectic and constant references, sometimes unnecessarily, to the moral paragons like Gandhi.

Obama began with the story of Chris Stevens, the slain US diplomat in Libya during the anti-Muslim video violence. He said Chris was killed in Benghazi where he helped Libyans cope with violent conflict and cared for the wounded, and crafted a vision for Libya.

Obama credited Chris with supporting democracy and building new institutions. He had plans to build a new “cultural” centre and modernise a hospital.

“Chris was killed in the city he helped to save,” mourned Obama. It must be admitted that the human face, an American face, to the video and Libyan conflicts was one powerful tool to get a sympathetic audience.

Only Obama missed the irony in telling the world that Chris arrived in a cargo ship, which may remind one of the Trojan Horse of yore. It is also to be wondered what really the likes of Chris and the Western invaders saved the people of Benghazi, now they are clearly in a worse, more insecure, hungrier and more uncertain position than before.

Certainly not from themselves, or a “brutal” dictator that, if he expectedly did, spilled less blood than the good saviours! It is ironic that Obama attests to the values of the UN that “diplomacy can take the place of war” when the belligerence of the US, including under Obama’s tenure, has been unparalleled.

Even when intervening in troubled places, if it would not have sparked the trouble, US is opportunistic and loots and control institutions.

Look at the so-called Arab Spring. Did the West in general and the US in particular, erstwhile benefactors of “dictators” not side with the protestors?

And having gained foothold, did they not try to infuse new institutions and cultures, just as Chris heroically tried to do? Without a sense of irony Obama reported inspiration in Tunisia as a dictator fell; democracy in Egypt; transition in Yemen and people power in Libya.

He said: “We have taken these positions because we believe that freedom and self-determination are not unique to one culture . . . ”

Indeed! Obama, again without a sense of irony, tells us: “Just as we cannot solve every problem in the world, the United States has not and will not, seek to dictate the outcome of democratic transitions abroad . . .”

If the US and Western opportunism and intervention in the so-called Arab Spring are not long enough noses of interventionism, then here in Zimbabwe we have a clearer example. The US has been seeking regime change in the country via supporting opposition, civil society and media. Zdera buttresses this.

So much about not trying to dictate the outcome of democratic transitions! The US may have all the resources and the power, including the compulsive, constrictive and coercive power of sanctions and the carrots of assistance and support, but it is not showing good leadership.

This Obama’s guise of moral compass of the world simply ring ever so hollow.

One tends to pity that the name of Chris Stevens, a fella born in a town called Grass Valley in California and a son of a lawyer and musician, being somewhat abused. The US needs to deploy its ordinary men like Chris, and its vast resources, more often to ends that are for the greater good of all humanity. This is where United Nations Secretary General Ban ki-Moon’s alarm bells come in.

Looking at Obama’s speech, he was neither sober, in whipping emotions over Chris, nor without illusion as he wanted to project himself and as a moral leader when he not helped insecurity and injustice, inequality and intolerance.

The US and the west have not helped the cause of climate justice.

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