JUST AND EQUITABLE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN NATIONS AS A PANACEA TO GLOBAL INSECURITY

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بسم الله الرحمان الرحيم

TEXT OF LECTURE DELIVERED BY SAHEED OLUROTIMI TIMEHIN {PhD} ON SATURDAY 28TH DECEMBER, 2013 AT THE ANNUAL CONFERENCE OF THE AHMADIYYA MUSLIM JAMA’AT NIGERIA HELD AT JAMIA AHMADIYYA ILARO, OGUN STATE.

INTRODUCTION

In the preface to his award winning book “Confessions of an Economic hit man'(2004), John Perkins writes:

“Economic Hit Men(EHMs) are highly paid professionals who cheat Countries around the globe out of trillions of dollars. They funnel money from the World Bank, the U.S. Agency for international Development (USAID), and other foreign “aid” organizations into the coffers of huge Corporations and the pockets of a few wealthy families who control the planet’s natural resources. Their tools include fraudulent financial reports, rigged elections, payoffs, extortion, sex, and murder. They play a game as old as empire but one that has taken on new and terrifying dimensions in this time of globalization.

I should know; I was an EHM.”

This frightening narrative does not end here. John Perkins continues:

I wrote that in 1982, as the beginning of a book with the working title, Conscience of an Economic Hit man. The book was dedicated to the presidents of two countries, men who had been my clients, whom I respected and thought of as kindred spirits-Jaime Roldos, President of Equador, and Omar Torrijos, President of Panama.  Both had just died in fiery crashes. Their deaths were not accidental. They were assassinated because they opposed that fraternity of Corporate, government, and banking heads whose goal is global empire. We EHMs failed to bring Roldos and Torrijos around, and the other type of hit men, the CIA-sanctioned jackals who were always right behind us, stepped in.

I was persuaded to stop writing that book. I started it four more times during the next twenty years. On each occasion, my decision to begin again was influenced by current world events: the US invasion of Panama in 1989, the first Gulf War, Somalia. The rise of Osama
Bin Laden. However, threats or bribes always convinced me to stop.

…This story must be told because only by understanding our past mistakes will we be able to take advantage of future opportunities; because 9/11 happened and so did the second war in Iraq; because in addition to the three thousand people who died on September 11 2001,
at the hands of terrorists, another twenty four thousand people died from hunger and related causes. In fact, twenty four thousand people die every single day because they are unable to obtain life-sustaining food. Most important, this story must be told because today, for the
first time in history, one nation has the ability, the money, and the power to change all this. It is the nation where I was born and the one I served as EHM: the United States of America.

What finally convinced me to ignore the threats and bribes?
The short answer is that my only child, Jessica, graduated from college and went out into the world on her own. When I recently told her that I was considering publishing this book and shared my fears with her, she said, “Don’t worry, dad. If they get you, I’ll take over where you left off. We need to do this for the grandchildren I hope to give you someday!”. After this response, the fears, the threats and the bribes no longer matter.

The modern world is today a cauldron where all kinds of suffering are brewed. It has, since the last quarter of the last century, gradually turned into a grand amphitheater on which stage the worst sub-human traits of men are acted out in the presence of a stupefied, confused and traumatized audience. Like a trimly jigsawed, well packaged spy-suspense movie, the events in the world move at such a pace and in such an unpredictable manner that makes the wisest man gasp for breath. In the face of this abnormality, calls for peace at the global level seem to have become the obsession of world’s global moral authorities, the religious leaders. In fact, the immediate past Supreme Head of the Worldwide Ahmadiyya Muslim Jama’at, Hadrat Mirza Tahir Ahmad {r.a} spent the most part of his illustrious life working for the enthronement of peace at the global level.

Two of the most recent and momentous efforts towards the restoration of global peace are the historic addresses of the current Supreme Head of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Jama’at, Hadrat Mirza Masrur Ahmad{ a.t.b.a} at the heart of Western Civilization in 2012. His Holiness was at Capitol Hill, Washington D.C on 27th June, 2012 to address American congressmen, statesmen, media experts, academics and public analysts on the topic: The path to Peace- Just Relations Between Nations. Similarly, on the 3rd and 4th of December, 2012, his Holiness delivered a keynote address on the topic, The Key to Peace-Global Unity, at the European parliament in Brussels in the presence of leading statesmen representing 30 countries.

NATIONHOOD: THE ISLAMIC PERSPECTIVE

The western concept of nationhood and national identity is a product of several centuries of strife, wars, conquests, enslavement, treaties and violations of personal and institutional dignities. This sordid past left an indelible mark on the psyche of the western man as a result of which he has come to cherish individualism and freedom. These two concepts brought together and translated into political action have given birth to protection of one’s territory, respect for human rights and survival of the fittest. . National identity therefore is not more than, to borrow the words of Liah Greenfield, “a cultural construction, an historically contingent phenomenon, and thus, in a certain sense, an accident”.

Issues of nationhood and national identity are often major factors in much of the contemporary world’s conflicts. Every man claims to belong to one nation or another and very often gives allegiance to it and glorifies it above others. He therefore sees his support for the ‘nation’ and his derision of others patriotism. National consciousness in most of the western societies is therefore seen as an exclusivist sentiment for the promotion of self-love. Islam however maintains that man must see himself as a member of a global family. His national or tribal affiliations are only for social identification and do not confer on him any status of superiority. Allah says:

“O mankind, We have created you from a male and a female; and We have made you into tribes and sub-tribes that you may recognize one another. Verily, the most honorable among you in the sight of Allah is he who is the most righteous among you. Surely, Allah is All-Knowing, All-Aware”. Q49v14

One of the major challenges to peace in the world is racial or national arrogance. Despite the economic factors, the 1st and 2nd World Wars had their roots in the feeling of superiority by some nations of the world. When a nation looks down on other nations, it falls into the abyss of totalitarianism and perpetrates atrocities against them and seeks legitimacy in its superiority complex. Such a nation thus becomes a victim of its own in-sensitivities as its peace and security are continually threatened by the victims of its tyranny as well as the absence of goodwill of its neighbors.

Much of the unrest in the modern world came into being as a result of the arrogance of the western world. The United States of America in particular has a large share of the blame. The American psyche has not totally cast away the influence of the racist ideology it inherited from its founding fathers. Addressing the US senate in 1890, J. J. Ingalls declared:

“The race to which we belong is the most arrogant and rapacious, the most exclusive and indomitable in history. It is the conquering and unconquerable race, through which alone man has taken possession of the physical and moral world. All other races have been its enemies or its victims.”

Similarly, Thomas Jefferson, who wrote the American Declaration of Independence in 1776 and whose writings have had the greatest influence on several generations of American policy makers declared:

“I advance it, therefore, as a suspicion only, that the blacks, whether originally a distinct race, or made distinct by time and circumstances, are inferior to the whites in the endowment both of body and mind.”

A mindset such as this will no doubt breed hatred in the minds of the blacks and arrogance in the minds of the young Americans. This was what backfired during the American Civil unrests of the 1960s. In the report of the National Advisory Commission on Civil Disorders submitted to the US President in 1968 we have the following:

“What white Americans have never fully understood-but what the Negro can never forget-is that white society is deeply implicated in the ghetto. White institutions created it, white institutions maintain it and white society condones it.”

If there must be peace, nations must accept one another as equals. The United Nations must embrace this reality and back it with resolutions that have mandatory force. In this light, the inequalities associated with nuclear programs, arms development and the exercise of veto power need to be addressed if truly the world wants peace. The developed nations must also be prepared to build bridges of benevolence by extending aids to under-developed nations with no strings attached. Writing in 1976, John Herz, in his ‘The Nation-State and the Crisis of World Politics’, quotes U. Thant as saying that:…the people of the world have perhaps ten years left in which to subordinate their ancient quarrels and launch global partnership to curb the arms race, improve the human environment, defuse population explosion and supply the required momentum to world development efforts.

Six years ago, Peggy Levitt stunned the world of sociology and anthropology with her insightful study in her book, ‘God Needs No Passport’. She examines the reality of transnational living in most of the developed nations and in the US in particular. She argues for the need to come to terms with the changes occasioned by immigration and insists that the political authorities, the native settlers as well as the immigrants must all make a sense of it.

It is a well known fact that men hardly migrate from comfort zones. Very few people leave their homes out of curiosity. If nations attach importance to the welfare of their citizen and majority of the people live a life of fulfillment, the lure of migration reduces. The improvement in communication has opened up the secrets of the developed nations to eager explorers from the not-so-privileged nations. The natural instinct for survival is usually activated when people are oppressed in their homelands. If the developed nations truly desire peace, they must assist the under-developed clan of nations to grow rather than exploiting them. They must also educate their citizenry to tolerate immigrants who have settled among them while immigrants too must integrate themselves into their new societies. Governments of nations must also embrace the reality of transnationalism in the 21st century. Fifteen centuries ago, Islam had foreseen the need for global citizenship through immigration and transnational living experience. Allah says:

“Verily, those whom the angels cause to die while they are wronging their own souls, they will say to them: what were you after? They will reply: we were oppressed in the land; they will say: was not Allah’s earth vast enough for you to emigrate therein?” Q4v98

The above verse shows that Allah expects men to migrate in the land when they are oppressed, persecuted or denied the opportunities of life. The question, “was not Allah’s earth vast enough for you to emigrate therein?” closes the door of excuses against anybody who remains in a comfort zone and suffers thereby. Islam thus acknowledges the reality of super-national, super-cultural and super-ethnic dimensions of the 21st century world.

JUST AND EQUITABLE RELATIONSHIP: THE ONLY WAY OUT

Justice and peace are two sides of a coin. The absence of one determines the absence of the other. Several of the crises that have challenged global security have their roots in the injustice done by some nations against other nations. The ugly episode of colonialism indeed left a bitter taste in the mouths of the peoples of the colonized regions. It also taught them a lesson that with raw power, goals could be achieved. Thus the foundation was laid for the birth of a different kind of tyrants- men mentally nurtured in the academy of western imperialism whose allegiance is neither to God nor to humanity. The conflicts in the modern world and its attendant feeling of insecurity are all offshoots of the philosophy of survival of the fittest which drove the early western imperialist schemes. The bitter truth is that it still does.

The western powers, despite the lip-service they pay to the concept of justice, do not seem to know its meaning or are determined to turn a blind eye to it. Nothing threatens the peace of the world today other than the fruits of the seeds of injustice they have planted in different lands and climes. Apart from dismembering the Ottoman Empire and carving out Kuwait from the Kingdom of Iraq during the Sykes-Picot Treaty (May 9-16, 1916), the trio of Britain, France and US also created an international consortium to exploit the oil of Iraq and its environs at the Conference of Allied Powers at San Remo, held on April 24, 1920. It was during this conference that they jointly entrusted the Mandate of Palestine to Great Britain. According to Ralph Schoeman in his monograph,’ Iraq and Kuwait: A History Suppressed’, “Ninety five percent of the shares were divided among three countries: Britain 47.5%, France 23.5% and the US 23.75%. The Consortium of San Remo became the Iraq Petroleum Company”. Where on earth is justice? Ninety five percent of a nation’s resources in foreign hands and five percent for the people! Can one expect peace where such injustice has been planted? Definitely no.

The hydra-headed Israeli/Palestinian conflict which may soon enter its first century has been the major excuse for many violent actors in the Middle East. The collective rejection of truth and justice and the adoption of duplicity in place of diplomacy by the world powers have further fanned the embers of the crisis. Bin Laden for instance declared:

“For over half a century, Muslims in Palestine have been slaughtered and assaulted and robbed of their honor and of their property. Their houses have been blasted, their crops destroyed. This is my message to the American people to look for a serious government that looks out for their interests and does not attack other people’s lands or other people’s honour. And my word to American journalists is not to ask why we did what but ask what their government has done that forced us to defend ourselves. So we tell the American people, and we tell the mothers of soldiers and American mothers in general that if they value their lives and the lives of their children, to find a patriotic government that will look after their interest and not the interests of the Jews.

I say to them that they have put themselves at the mercy of a disloyal government and this is most evident in Clinton’s administration. We believe that this administration represents Israel inside America. Take the sensitive ministries such as the offices of the Secretary of state, and the Secretary of Defense and the C.I.A, you will find that the Jews have the upper hand in them. They make use of America to further their plans for the world.”

Bin Laden’s declared mission is to avenge the defenseless Palestinians who have been victims of American and Israeli oppression for a long time. To support justice is to be an enemy of injustice wherever it may be and whoever may be involved. The injustice done to the Palestinians by the UN, its organs as well as international media organizations is not quantifiable. In the whole saga, the perpetrator of the crime has been extolled while the victim has always been castigated.

The teaching of Islam is very clear in this regard. Allah says:

“O you who believe! Be strict in the observance of justice, and be witnesses for Allah, even though it be against yourselves or against parents and kindred. Whether he be rich or poor, Allah is more regardful of them both than you are. Therefore follow not low desires that you may be able to act equitably. And if you conceal the truth or evade it, then remember that Allah is well aware of what you do.” Q4v136

The prejudice and stereotypes which characterize the media report on Islam and the Arabs are also reflections of the injustice of the fourth estate of the realm to mankind’s well being. Some sections of the media have contributed to the negative reactions of some groups in the name of religion because of the unjust ways in which their activities are reported or analyzed. Similarly, innocent Muslims have been persecuted or branded for being Muslims simply because certain individuals have chosen to invoke Islam or its tenets in justification for violent actions that in reality have nothing to do with Islam.

Just as some Muslims have christened America the ‘great Satan’ out of petty spite and misinformed enthusiasm, some media organizations have made use of such labels as ‘Islamic terrorism’ or ‘Islamic fundamentalism’ for reactions by groups whose objectives do not conform to the Islamic ideal. Rajmohan Ghandi writes:

“It is true that the 9/11 attackers called themselves Muslims, and some of them may have conducted their attack in the name of Islam. Some of the killings in Rwanda in 1994 were conducted inside churches. All the killers{and the victims too} were Christians. Did that make the Rwandan killings a Christian crime? When Hindus and Buddhists are involved in terrible deeds in Sri Lanka, are we to blame Hinduism and Buddhism? Nazism and communism were enthroned, and the holocaust carried out in supposedly Christian lands. Are we therefore to impute a great flaw to Christianity?

Slavery was practiced and also apartheid in Christian societies, and often in the name of Christianity. Did the slaves blame Christianity? Were the spirituals anti-Christians? Did Nelson Mandela strive to alert his people in South Africa to an evil inherent in Christianity?

In September 2003, I saw on TV the conversation that Brit Hume of Fox News had with President Bush in the White House. In the oval office, Hume asked the President about the sources of his inspiration. President Bush named Lincoln and pointed to the Lincoln portrait in the room. When Hume asked how Lincoln inspired him, the President said that in the time of civil war Lincoln fought for American unity. After 9/11, the President continued, he too felt called, in the spirit of Lincoln, to invoke unity in the United States.

I think it is good to ask what Lincoln, if he were alive today, would have said. We can never know for certain, of course, yet it is perhaps useful to try. All know the timeless lines from the second inaugural. Referring to the two sides in the war, Lincoln said:

“Both read the same Bible, and pray to the same God; and each invokes His aid against the other. It may seem strange that any men should dare ask a just God’s assistance in wringing their bread from the sweat of other men’s faces; but let us judge not that we be not judged.”

CONCLUSION

From the above, it is obvious that unless strict standards of justice are maintained, the scourge of war and strife that plague the modern world will never be abated. Western powers should desist from practicing duplicity in the name of diplomacy. No nation, however great and powerful, is superior to another. Indeed history demonstrates that great empires had risen and fallen in it long trajectory. Where are Namrud, Fir’aun, Nebuchadnezzar and their empires? They have all gone into the dungeons of eternal perdition. Let us all as individuals, groups and nations reflect on this verse:

“O ye who believe! Let not one people deride another people, haply they may be better than they, nor let a group of women deride other women, haply they may be better than them. And do not defame your people nor call one another by nickname. It is indeed bad to fall back into the malpractice of the days of ignorance after having believed; and those who repent not, such are the wrongdoers.” (49v12).

 

 

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