Author: Paul I. Adujie | July 02, 2009
Piracy in Somalia waters has finally gotten the world’s attention? What took so long? It was, and still is, a phenomenon on the African continent, to which the world is often content to look askance! I have come to believe, without exceptions, that issues affecting Africa are treated by the world, haphazardly, lopsidedly and near nonchalantly, despite protestations to the contrary.
There is this, which ought to be labeled as breaking news, the fact that in Somalia, piracy is not a water-borne disease. Some might want to treat the symptoms, but is most probably better to address the root.
There are root causes outside and distinct from the outward symptoms which now threatens the world’s commerce and sea-lanes for merchant ships and recreational vessels as well. Piracy on Somalia waters have been going on for quite a while, in fact, a Nigerian vessel, tugboat was held for about a year, and it has just be released as I write these words.
Why is the world concerned now? What took the world so long? The capture of American citizens I suppose. And Mr. Obama got his first chance to exercise America’s military armada, and Africans were Mr. Obama’s first kills, road kill? Mr. Obama would dialogue with North Korea and Iran, but not with those, water-borne-disease African pirates crime gangs?
A presidential rite of passage, of defending America militarily, is accomplished, by Mr. Obama through the order to shoot, and kill the Somalia pirates, in order to preserve American lives and demonstrate through that, Mr. Obama’s resolve to employ snuffing-out tactics as tool of policy, especially, as no consequences, political or military would be forthcoming. Good.
Here is the unaddressed long term issue for Somalia, America and the rest of the world. Piracy on Somalia waters lingers, and it is actually widening on the waters of the Red Sea and Indian Ocean, around east Africa. American citizens have been rescued, but, the battle has not been addressed. The temporal war was won. And that is surely not good enough as policy, as long-term strategy; for America and the world.
The failure of Somalia as a nation state, the complete disintegration and defluxion of political authority in Mogadishu and all of Somalia have starred the world in the face for more than 15 years!
Somalia, just like any other African nation which is like any nation in Africa afflicted with crises and political fissures from time to time, as it were not long ago in Sarajevo, Bosnia Herzegovina etc crises in African nations are allowed to fester, replicate and metastasize (circa Liberia flowed to Sierra Leone and then Ivory Coast) Darfur Sudan replicates similar pattern, flows to Niger etc) Uganda crises, flows to Rwanda and Congo with combatants from many African countries in the region
Piracy is not a water-borne disease; piracy, the Somali blend must not be seen is not another chaos or disease which defy explanations or understanding by those outside of Africa. What has happened in Somalia is one of the symptoms of a failed nation state and the lawlessness which arises as consequences.
Nations should not be allowed to fail; the world often views nations in Africa as anything but nations, and there is this attitude or belief that African nations are not capable of stability or sustainable social structures. And as a result, challenges in African nations are often viewed as if they are insurmountable and hence, why bother?
Africa, for most, is synonymous and represents chaos; chaos of wars, AIDS, Ebola, famine, and malaria etc But these problems are not peculiar to Africa, unless anyone was to assume or conclude that the human capacity to do good or so much evil, are unique human traits limited to the African continent. There are those who selectively view challenges faced by all humans, when such challenges are facing Africans.
Africa for some is an inconvenient part of the world to which the wish to wish away.
A great number of people in the world today, some Africans among them, are unwilling to ask the root causes what eventually become these consequences or what others see as chaotic situations with which many are either uninterested and or just plainly impatient!
A cursory examination however, reveals the source of the brigandage on the waters of Somalia, otherwise known as piracy. As a result of the collapse of the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe ideological bloc, as was then called. Somalia under Siad Barre was a Marxist/communist nation and at that time, the Soviet Union and the United States struggled for the Somali turf. Barre was overthrown, died of heart attack while exiled in Nigeria
The Berlin Wall came down and the rest of Eastern Europe tumbled down between 1989 and 1991, there was a sea change within and among nations which were until then aligned ideological power blocs of geopolitical schisms.
Western powers maintained a sphere of influence with preachment of capitalist ideology and Eastern powers similarly maintained a sphere of influence in accordance with communist-socialist formulas. During the so-called Cold War years, nations of the world were apportioned and piled up along these east-west political divide geopolitical theories.
African nations were, like other nations slapped and splashed along this great divide, a divide that was aggressively ferocious and mutually dedicated to the annihilation of each other. And so, in particular reference to African nations, the split was very pronounced. There were capitalists, mixed economies and there were communists-socialist economy.
It meant the tolerance of dictators, tyrants, autocratic leaders, some in uniform as military men who pretended to be politicians and managers of public policies. Democracy, the rule of law and all the fine ideals were expediently ignored.
In battles to align nations with these competing ideologies and sphere of influence were aggressively ferocious and unrelenting; and in the process, persons and countries were completely ruined without a second-thought about consequences. Western and Eastern blocs competed with most brutal of methods and means without a care of consequences.
Somalia as a failed nation state is one such consequence. But who cares? The cold war was fought the great powers, as if with blinders on. Western and Eastern powers needed satellite nations, and puppets on strings-sorts of political leaders in their spheres of influence. Dictators sprouted with winks and nods from the power blocs such satellite state supported.
There were stooges, dictators, tyrants and autocrats were set up in a plethora of nations to engage in proxy wars in these satellite nations.
Legitimate constitutionally elected governments were overthrown and supplanted, in their place, anyone willing to do the bidding of particular geopolitical power bloc was good enough. In Africa, and there were so many such post colonial usurpation of power by the west. Mobutu of the Congo came about and Pinochet in Chile came about.
Siad Barre was a military man turned politician in Somalia, a country which was once touted as a model for the spread of democracy on the continent of Africa.
Somalia suffered from protracted internecine strife. Clan loyalty replaced patriotism and dedication and commitment to central government. All these were added to the toxic mix of geopolitics and Somalia spiraled out of control. The United Nations mandated a belated intervention, and, the so-called humanitarian intervention by the United States was botched as the factions accused the US of supporting and backing factional efforts, instead of being a neutral and objective peace-broker.
Expediency reigned during the cold war years laid the ground work for imbroglios in Africa. Expediency as policy replaced logic and good sense and long term planning or strategies. The building blocks of political structures were overlooked, neglected or jettisoned outright for expedient chess games power games between the competing super powers for superiority. Democracy, Human Rights etc were ignored, in favor of puppets, and tyrants who would gladly do the biddings of a superpower.
The current financial meltdown and downturn in the global economy, provides an analogy, toxic assets and securitization of mortgages were essentially American and European phenomenon, however, the consequences has reverberated beyond America and Europe.
Additionally, double standard in the rescue implementation, also exacerbated the meltdown. Just as a double standard in policy also produced different results for nations facing disintegration, such as was in the Balkans and in some parts of Africa.
Lehman Brothers was permitted to fail, after the open rescue of Bear Sterns and then, AIG, Somalia was permitted to fail while Bosnia was publicly rescued. There is no difference between the causes of failure for Bear Sterns and Lehman Brothers, and there were no difference between social, economic and political fissures Bosnia-Sarajevo faced compared with Somalia.
This double standard is also evident in the treatment of say, desperate refugees and asylum seekers from Cuba and Haiti, the Cubans are welcomed with banners and pageantry. The Haitians are returned to Haiti, despite the fact that both asylum seekers are from identical dire economic and political straits, even by American own assessments and admission.
The only difference is the color or race and continents of the victims of wars and social upheavals in our world.
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- Interpol compiling Somali piracy suspect database (ctv.ca)
- All at sea (news.bbc.co.uk)
- Somalian legislators urge neighbouring states to send troops (cbc.ca)
- A Somali State of Mind (mydd.com)
- More Players Coming Out of Africa and Into M.L.S. (nytimes.com)
- Rebel Threat Pressures Somalia’s Neighbors (time.com)