Civilisation Only Skin Deep: Africa, The West And Osama bin Laden

07 Feb 2012

By Reason Wafawarova

We saw insolent celebrations by many young American liberals who saw it as absolutely normal to hysterically yell injudiciously in praise of the assassination of Osama bin Laden on May 2, 2011.

The crowd chanted in unmistakable jingoism: "U-S-A! U-S-A! / Obama got Osama! Obama got Osama! / You can't beat us! (clap-clap-clap-clap-clap-clap) You can't beat us! / F**k bin Laden! F**k bin Laden," according to a blogger for the radical magazine N+1.

The same ‘world' could not stomach it when some Afghans were seen dancing on the streets the day the Twin Towers fell to a terrorist attack that is now commonly known as September 11.

This writer was at Border Gezi National Youth Service Training Centre in Mount Darwin on September 11, 2001, three days after the centre had opened its doors to the first intake of the historic National Youth Service Training program. Some instructors and trainees openly celebrated the attack and chanted anti-imperialism slogans. This writer reminded the celebrating lot that it was unAfrican and inhuman to celebrate the death of anyone, even that of your enemy, or that of the much hated imperialists.

A sobering silence immediately followed - only to be broken by hot debate over the views of this writer, and even extending to questioning his political leanings and affiliation.

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton learned about the death of Muammar Gaddafi via an SMS message. At that time she was in Kabul. She was filmed by CBS NEWS as she got ready for an interview.

Clinton received her BlackBerry from an assistant. Having read the message about Gaddafi's capture, she exclaimed: "Wow!"

The US Secretary of State looked extremely happy. She and the CBS reporter heartily laughed about the death of Colonel Muammar Gaddafi. In jubilation she paraphrased a well-known phrase by Julius Caesar and said: "We came, we saw, he died," after which the interviewer and Clinton burst into raucous laughter. The interviewer composed herself for the next stage of the interview, and Hilary Clinton kept giggling like an intoxicated hooker in the company of a cash loaded client.

Let us contrast the attitudes of the young Americans, the Afghans, the Zimbabweans at Border Gezi Training Centre, and the US State Secretary, with that of one Frank O'Connor, a former New York fire fighter who expressed his disgust with maturity and dignity. This is what he said after Osama's death:

"My heart screams, ‘you sonofabitch, rest in pieces.' But as a Vietnam vet, and a 62 year old man who has seen firsthand suffering and death, I was troubled at the hairless faces swelling in the streets chanting, ‘U-S-A, U-S-A.' If you wear the other man's caftan, one man's terrorist becomes another man's patriot."

He continued, "What if an Iraqi assassinated George W. Bush and then screamed ‘Justice' while Arabs danced in the streets? When Muslims dance over our misfortune, we are repulsed. Similar reactions by Americans send the wrong message throughout the Arab world."

O'Connor further elaborated: "This is not a sporting event. These inappropriate celebrations violate human dignity, and the inherent sanctity of human life."

The civilisation of humanity is only skin deep, and it takes a simple act of irrationality like the revenge killing of Osama, or the callous and lawless murder of Colonel Gaddafi, to show how uncivilised and bigoted a people can be.

War veterans and men of uniform are acutely aware that casualties have faces, lives and stories, and this is what makes up military discipline. It's civilians like Hilary Clinton who watch too much television to the point of trivialising death in real life.

Those who trivialise death can adjust and manipulate numbers to achieve an intended goal, be it socio-economic, or political. This is why the number of people alleged to have been killed in the mid-80s Zimbabwe civil conflict has been increasing from the initial CCJP estimates of under 3000 to the much publicised 20 000 that prevails today.

At one time the UK's Standard pushed it to 400 000, less for the sorrow that should go with sympathising with the victims, and more for vilifying President Mugabe.

While numbers can be manipulated, adjusted and even corrected, real people can't. Those who have fought wars will tell that limbs detach, bones shatter, and blood spills. It is easy for words like "sixty people dead in Afghanistan," to flow from a news reader's well paid lips, just like it is very easy for words like "20 000 Ndebeles were massacred," to flow from the lips of a divisionist imperialist, or from those of a donor mongering civic activist won't on impressing more the potential funder than stating the facts.

Someone who once held the bleeding head of a dying comrade will never take death so casually, and those who fought in the liberation war will testify to this. It is sad to see death being abused by those spared of its brutality.

The general triumphalism over the death of Osama overlooked the disgusting legacy of the so-called "war on terror," especially its murderous impact outside the Western world.

Barrack Obama told us of "empty seats at the dinner table," in reference to the 3000 US citizens who perished at the fall of the Twin Towers. He did not tell the world of the million "empty seats at dinner tables" in Iraq, and neither will he bother an inch about the 50 000 "empty seats at dinner tables" in Libya.

The Iraqi authorities say the country has five million orphans following the nine-year military occupation by the US and its allies, and there is virtually no word of sympathy or regret from those who caused the deaths of their parents.

One can mention the two million Iraq refugees displaced from their loved country by the chaos caused by foreign occupation, and there is still no trace of any notice by those who inflicted this pain.

There is no mention whatsoever of the over 2000 civilian deaths so far caused by Obama's drone attacks in Pakistan, and surely there will never be regret over the deaths of over 10 000 innocent civilians killed by the Western coalition in Afghanistan. These are lesser people whose fate is no more than collateral damage in a "just war," as Obama fondly describes it.

It is important to note that not all Westerners are stupid and ruthless. There are saner voices from the military and from the intellectual community that have always been pointing out the shortcomings of imperial ventures. Colonel Douglas Macgregor had this to say: "The most important choice President Obama must make is to reject future, unnecessary, large scale, overt military interventions in favour of conflict avoidance."

Writing in the Armed Forces Journal, he further explained: "Despite the seriousness of the present economic crisis, the greatest danger to American National Security is Washington's inclination to impose political solutions with the use of American military power in many parts of the world where Washington's solutions are both unneeded and unsustainable. President Obama must arrest this tendency by making pragmatic and methodical changes to the goals of American military strategy. In both Iraq and Afghanistan, America's military action has already produced disastrous consequencesfor US national security interests."

It does not take a rocket scientist to concur with Macgregor when he asserts that US military adventurism has expanded and strengthened Iranian regional power in the Middle East, or that it has caused the alienation of Turkey, an ally almost about to become a foe.

Neither does it take a genius to conclude that US military attacks in Pakistan have almost eroded the delicate cohesion of the country, again almost destroying completely the puppet alliance of Pakistan to the US.

Of course all these developments have increased the imagined and real threat against Israel, itself a muscular but highly vulnerable player in Middle East affairs.

Cynics are celebrating the global anti-American backlash caused by US military adventurism in the last two decades, where the US has had two years of war in every three years, beginning in 1989. The reaction from the rest of the world is a natural expectation, and even the majority of other Westerners evidently enjoy the anti-American sentiment so much.

Everyone with rudimentary knowledge of economics knows that the United States is broke and badly bleeding financially. This is despite the fact that the US is a nation that often mistakes media sound bites for reality. The combusting economy of the United States is a direct result of the country's military adventurism, coupled by manipulation of cash flows by politicians endeavouring to save sinking corporations.

President Obama is now an ardent addict of the killing trump card, and no doubt he will use it unsparingly to win Election 2012. He will eloquently tell US voters that he is hunting for terrorists, and Pakistanis must be ready to bury a little more of their hapless lesser people.

Africa will have its fair share of the Obama warfare, and Libya was only the beginning. Somalia will be next, and Egyptians will be attacked if they threaten Israel badly enough.

President Obama knows how to kill without attracting any casualties on the part of his own army. He is a master of the drone. Africans watched in awe as the NATO exhibited the wondrous works of this murderous unmanned flying machine. We are yet to see more.

Africa we are one and together we will overcome. It is homeland or death!!

Reason Wafawarova is a political writer based in SYDNEY, Australia.


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