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Opinions of Wednesday, 18 September 2002

Columnist: Koramoah, Kwame Adofo

Why Ghanaians & Africa must never support the US

...to Attack Iraq

Following the bombings of New York and the Pentagon, the United States declared war on terrorism. The whole of the international community supported and pledged solidarity to the United States. Now it is on the verge of declaring war on Iraq, not because any evidence of Iraq being complicit to the attacks, but on some spurious ground of harbouring weapons of mass destruction. Saddham Hussein has now been described as an evil man. But as an African the question is, is Saddham truly more evil than his demonizers, United States and Britain? Has Saddham done any evil to the African people than say the United States or Britain or for that matter any colonial empire?

Following the Second World War, the United Nations was set up, principally to preserve international peace and security. Several treaties (agreements) were put together to govern international law in what later became known as "The UN Charter". The most important part of which is article 2(4).

Article 2(4) states:

    [a]ll members shall refrain in their international relations from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any state, or in any other manner inconsistent with the purpose of the United Nations.
Essentially the article brakes down to (1) wars of aggression constitute a crime against peace for which there is responsibility under international law. (2) states must not threaten or use force. (3) states are under a duty to refrain from acts of reprisal involving the use of force. (4) states must not use force to deprive peoples of their right to self-determination and independent. (5) states must refrain from organising, instigating, assisting or participating in any acts of civil strife in another state.

The only exceptions to article 2(4) is in relation to collective measures taken by the United Nations, such as it did against Iraq in the 1991 Gulf War; and of course the right to self defence.

The use of force as proscribed under article 2(4) is not strictly limited to cases of armed use of force. But can include for example, an economic force. Often used against weaker states by the rich and powerful states when their interest is under threat. Similar to what is currently being used against Zimbabwe by Britain and the United States, because of Mugabe?s equitable redistribution of the land to the landless black. Strictly speaking, such use of economic force is in breach of article 2(4) and therefore illegal. The issue of Zimbabwe is a matter for a later analysis, but for current purpose the use of force as envisaged by article 2(4) covers all forms of coercion aimed against political, economical independence or territorial integrity of any state.

The United States now wants to use force against Iraq. From the basic background of international law outlined above, it is clear that the United States does not have any legal justification to do that. It can justify any attacks on Iraq only if it can find support from the Security Council to take a collective measure against Iraq, or if it can justify that a war against Iraq is a right to self-defence. But Since Iraq has not attacked United States in any way, the self-defence argument cannot hold. The only option therefore is if the US and Britain can produce a convincing evidence that can persuade the Security Council, especially those with a right of veto?Russia, France and China to take a collective action.

Even so they have indicated their preparedness to bypass the United Nations and attack Iraq. Unless they get a resolution in their own terms, regime change. An alarming prospect not only for the poor Iraqi?s but also for other smaller states around the world. The right to self-determination, a core aspect of article 2(4) is out of the window. In effect what that mean is they will get rid of any leader who obstruct their interest. Similar to the current situation in Zimbabwe where the US and Britain has declared that "it no longer consider Mugabe as a legitimate leader". This is the real danger to an international peace and security. It makes the illusion of equality of states don home to many international law sceptics and underlines the view that "might is better. The stronger you are both militarily and economically, the more you can shape international law".

The US, Britain and other world powers acts always in their interests and nobody else?s, even at the expense of flouting international law. They care little about the international community. They don?t care about the world and Africans in particular. The time has therefore come for Africans to also clearly identify where our own interest lies.

History paints a gloomy picture for Africans. It tells a story of many indignities suffered by the African people. Our people were taken as slaves. They were chained, mistreated and shipped across the sea as slaves. They suffered all the indignities any human race has ever witnessed. Some of our people were killed, raped and tortured. The entire continent of Africa and Ghana in particular suffered immensely. To date we still continue to suffer. A year ago, there was a United Nation conference against racism in South Africa. On the agenda was the issue of apology and reparation to the African people. The United States and Britain boycotted, because it was against their interest. They don?t care about what they have done to our people. But when it came to the Jewish people who were used as slaves in the Second World War, apology was swift. Reparation was paid. But to the African, forget it!

Saddham Hussein, the demonised evil of the world has never done anything wrong to the African people. He has never bombed any African country. Never destroyed any African economy. Never imposed any harsh economic pills on any African country. Never imposed the IMF/World Bank on any African country. Never designed any disingenuous mechanism such as HIPC on Ghana or any African country. Never made sure our children cannot get a decent education. Never made sure our women will die when they go to the hospitals to deliver their babies.

But the United States, Britain and their other allies have done all of the above on the African people. Our people are now suffering because of the United States ( aka United Snakes) and Britain and their other allies. Our people are out of work, our children are deprived the opportunity to have education. They have made livelihood in Africa meaningless. And soon, very soon the poor will be denied the right to drink when water goes under the hammer, all under the dictation of United States and Britain.

As an African who has suffered so much as described above, I see no bigger evil than the United States and Britain. My interest in Africa is not whether Saddham has nuclear, chemical or biological weapons. My interest as an African is when are the children going to have the right to education, the right to food. When our women will have the right to quality health care when they go to hospitals to deliver their babies. The fathers will be able to provide food on the table for the family. The ability to have a job. The right to good drinking water. The right to the basic necessities of life. The ability to maintain our strong community bonding. The ability for the African to regain his self-respect in the world.

I do not care whether Saddham has these weapons, because many other countries have them. Israel, United States, Britain, France, Russia, Pakistan, India etc? all have these dangerous weapons. Again Saddham is not the first to have used them. The United States first used them in Japan. Again Saddham or Iraq is not the first to breach a UN resolution. In fact Israel, US staunchest ally routinely flouts them. There are several UN resolutions currently ignored by Israel. But the US doesn?t purport (to put it mildly) to even contemplate compelling Israel to comply.

There is hypocrisy in this world. It makes international law a joke. Where "might is better". I know many African international law experts disagree with me on this point. But Africans must evaluate it ourselves, from our own experience. Looking at our daily livelihoods, the injustices, the indignities and the travesty of international justice, all perpetrated by Britain, and US and pretend afterwards to be helping our people. They do evil things and pretend to be humanitarian. Why don?t they show humanity by wiping out the debt and allowing our people to be free? I think the time has come for Africans to see our true evil as not Iraq but those who disingenuously pretend to be the good guys, Britain and the US. We dare not support them to commit another evil, especially when illegal.

Kwame Adofo Koramoah
Solicitor for the Supreme Court of NSW

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