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Regular Column

Letters to the Editors

Volume 16, Issue 1  | 
Published 08/06/2019
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A critique (first of three) by Karim Hirji of articles published in AwaaZ Volume 15, Issue 2 2018.

Re: Trump’s New World Order

Focused on the issue of immigration, this article reflects the simplistic Trump-bashing style that has come to dominate current media coverage of Trump. It evades the central fact that the role of every American president since World War II has been to defend the global capitalist system and maintain and expand the US hegemony over the planet. Domestically and globally, all of them have served the interests of dominant US corporations and the billionaires. There were no major differences between them in terms of key economic, political, military and environmental practices and policies. They differed in style, not substance. What each emphasized reflected the changing global situation and how the US sought to deal with it at that point in time.

The author notes the key role of the US and European foreign policies in creating the current migration crisis. But this did not start today. Every American president has failed to acknowledge this fact. Trump is no exception. 

Trump’s and Obama’s immigration policies differ little, except for the rhetoric; the rate of expulsions during Obama’s time was quite high. Obama was no friend of immigrants, Africa, the working people, and the people of colour. He too was a servant par excellence of major corporations, big banks and the super-rich.

This underlying reality, which is absent from the present discourse, needs to stressed, with good documentation, especially in a progressive magazine like Awaaz.

Re: The Voice of Kenya on BBC

BBC was established as the voice of the British Empire. Today it is a principal voice of the global capitalist system. The orientation, priorities and language of BBC programs like Focus on Africa are determined by the priorities of the US dominated imperialist-capitalist system. BBC certainly is better than the more right-wing US media. But it shares the same basic values, assumptions and orientation with them. Its biases are subtle and masked.

BBC is no friend of Africa. This was clear, for example, during the US invasion of Somalia in the early 1990s and the recent violent overthrow of Ghaddafi. Its coverage of African economic, political and security issues in Africa follows the line established by the World Bank, IMF and the US and British governments. With a few minor deviations here and there, it is basically a voice of Western imperialism. Its coverage of China and Russia, for example, is as well infused with unfounded negativity.

Does it make a difference then if you see and hear an African face instead of a European face promoting such views. No, it does not. It just serves to make them more acceptable to an African audience. This article avoids a key question: Has the presence of Sophie Ikenye on BBC helped make the coverage of important African issues more in line with the interests of the people of Africa? If not, why should it be lauded?

To take an analogy: When Madeline Albright was appointed as the US Secretary of State, feminists everywhere cheered it as a step forward in the promotion of gender equality. Yet, she turned out to be a first class war criminal, participating fully in every act of barbarity that the US committed during her tenure. Do women need such heroines?

When Obama became the US president, African Americans and Africans welcomed it as a major achievement in the drive towards racial equality. Yet, under Obama, the economic and social conditions of African Americans continued to deteriorate. There was no marked progress in their access to quality education, health care and social services. Unemployment and poverty swelled in their ranks; police brutality towards the minorities and excesses of the judicial system went on, institutionalized discrimination in housing and employment did not abate. The much lauded Obama Care program made only a small dent in the vast inefficiencies and inequities afflicting the US health care system. African Americans had little of substance to celebrate at the end of his term.

And for Africa, what did Obama change? Not a thing. In fact, his policies meant that African economies went on being exploited by external forces, and its wealth continued to flow outwards. By leading the invasion of Libya, Obama bears the responsibility for plunging that part of Africa into subsequent murderous chaos that goes on to this day. He expanded US military presence in Africa in terms of bases, military training, arms provision and operation of US Special Forces.

By providing extensive support to US weapons manufactures, enhancing the US military budget, promoting military exports to unstable regions, he fanned the flames of global insecurity.  Under him extrajudicial assassination (drone killings) became an entrenched segment of US foreign policy. Somalia was one nation badly affected by such killings.

So, for this article, I ask: Should Africans blindly cheer when one of them is employed by imperialist agencies that continue to dominate them? Is that necessarily a step in the right direction for Africa?

In our days, we would interrogate the words and actions of such a person. Do they serve the interests of Africa? If they were found wanting, he/she would be called a lackey of imperialism. Today we automatically celebrate such personalities.

More in this category: « Editorial cartoons

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