From Venezuela to Ghana, a Call for Activists to Confront and Reject US Warmongering
March 31, 2018 Ajamu Baraka / Black Alliance for Peace & Seth Kwame Awuku, Esq. / MyJoyOnline
Commentary: We need an independent movement to address both the economic needs of poor and working people and the escalating attacks on the Black community, immigrants, women, unions, the LGBTQ community, refugees, Muslims, the physically and mentally challenged, youth, students, the elderly, Mother Earth -- all of us.
AFRICOM, Ghana and the US Invasion of Africa Conference on Foreign US Military Bases
BALTIMORE (January 12-14, 2018) -- AFRICOM / Invasion of Africa plenary at the Conference Against US Foreign Military Bases. Chaired by Ajamu Baraka, Black Alliance for Peace. Presenters: Netfa Freeman, Organizer, Pan African Community Action (PACA); Margaret Kimberley, Editor, Black Agenda Report; Maurice Carney, Executive Director, Friends of the Congo.
In early March, Ajamu Baraka attended a historic meeting -- with over 100 countries represented -- in Caracas, Venezuela that saw the publication of the Caracas Declaration, which "reaffirm[ed] our solidarity and militant support of the Venezuelan people, the Bolivarian Revolution and its popular government." 50 Years in the Making, We Must Again
Confront and Reject US Warmongering Ajamu Baraka / Black Alliance for Peace
50 years ago, on April 4, 1967, Dr. Martin Luther King reconnected with the radical black tradition by adding his voice of opposition to the murderous US war machine unleashed on the people of Vietnam. For Dr. King, his silence on the war in Vietnam had become an irreconcilable moral contradiction.
He declared that it was hypocritical for him to proclaim the superior value of non-violence as a life principle in the US and remain silent as the US government engaged in genocidal violence against a people whose only crime was to believe that they could escape the clutches of French and then US colonialism.
"As I have walked among the desperate, rejected, and angry young men, I have told them that Molotov cocktails and rifles would not solve their problems," Dr. King said. "I have tried to offer them my deepest compassion while maintaining my conviction that social change comes most meaningfully through nonviolent action. But they asked, and rightly so, 'What about Vietnam?'
They asked if our own nation wasn't using massive doses of violence to solve its problems, to bring about the changes it wanted. Their questions hit home, and I knew that I could never again raise my voice against the violence of the oppressed in the ghettos without having first spoken clearly to the greatest purveyor of violence in the world today: my own government."
In his speech at Riverside Church, King not only criticized US actions in Vietnam but identified the cultural pathologies at the center of US society. "I am convinced that if we are to get on to the right side of the world revolution, we as a nation must undergo a radical revolution of values," he said.
"We must rapidly begin the shift from a thing-oriented society to a person-oriented society. When machines and computers, profit motives and property rights are considered more important than people, the giant triplets of racism, extreme materialism, and militarism are incapable of being conquered."
50 years later, what rational person can honestly argue against the position that the US is still the greatest purveyor of violence on the planet?
But what existed in 1967 that helped put moral and political pressure on King was a militant anti-war and anti-imperialist movement; a movement that in many respects was born out of the black-led pro-democracy and social justice struggles and organizing in the South.
Many of the young white activists who took up opposition to the war and built such organizations as Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) cut their activist teeth while working with black activists in the South.
From the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee and the Revolutionary Action Movement (RAM) to the Northern-based Black Panther party, the cutting edge of the Black liberation movement took an early and resolute oppositional stance against the war on Vietnam.
After almost three decades of pro-war conditioning by both corporate parties and the corporate media coupled with cultural desensitization from almost two decades of unrelenting war, opposition to militarism and war is negligible among the general population. The black public has not been immune to these cultural and political changes.
And with the ascendancy of the corporatist President Barack Obama, during whose tenure the US continued its militaristic bent unabated and in fact ratcheted up its aggressive posturing in some parts of the globe, particularly in the Middle East, there was a decidedly rightward shift in the consciousness of the black public and a significantly dampened anti-war sentiment among black people.
Politically the result has been disastrous for the society and for the US anti-war movement. The bi-partisan warmongering over the last two decades has met very little opposition, and the traditional anti-war stance of the black population has almost disappeared.
But once again we are seeing opposition to militarism, violence and war developing among young people. And once again we are seeing young black voices making the connections between opposition to domestic state violence and the moral necessity to be in opposition to the US war machine reflected in the policy statements from the Movement for Black Lives, BYP 100 and the Black Lives Matter network.
Those positions are supported by the Black Left Unity Network, the Black is Back Coalition and other black formations. What is needed at this historical moment is for those forces to be galvanized and given more strategic focus.
What is needed is a Black Alliance for Peace (BAP).
The BAP must be a people(s)-centered human rights project against War, Repression, and imperialism that seeks to recapture and redevelop the historic anti-war, anti-imperialist, and pro-peace positions of the radical black movement. So, on April 4, we are calling for a new alliance to help revive the black anti-war and peace movement in the black community as an essential component of a revived broader anti-war and pro-peace movement.
Moreover, this new movement is even clearer on the connection between state violence and repression and the global war-mongering of the US The pivot to Asia, the rotating of NATO troops on the borders of Russia, the destabilization of the US African Command (AFRICOM), continued support for apartheid Israel, police executions and impunity in the US and mass incarceration are all understood to be part of one oppressive, desperate structure of global white supremacy.
Dr. King also called upon the nation to understand the link between the unfulfilled economic needs of the majority of the population ground down by the ravages of an unforgiving racialized capitalism and the ruling class commitment to direct public funds toward militarism. His call for a poor people's campaign was the human rights foundation of his anti-war position.
Militarism has a direct impact on working people and the poor. Even Republican president Dwight Eisenhower understood this when he issued what in today's right-wing US culture would read as a radical statement: "Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed. This world in arms is not spending money alone. It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children."
There must be an alternative to the neoliberalism of the Democrats and the nationalist-populism of Trump. We need an independent movement to address both the economic needs of poor and working people and the escalating attacks on the Black community, immigrants, women, unions, the LGBTQ community, refugees, Muslims, the physically and mentally challenged, youth, students, the elderly, Mother Earth -- all of us.
We need a new movement to end the wars on black people and people around the world. The BAP is a significant step toward helping to revive the anti-war, anti-imperialist and anti-state-repression movement in the US Let us on this 50th anniversary re-dedicate ourselves to building a movement for social justice that rejects the de-humanizing effects of war on everyone. Protesting the Ghana-US Military
Cooperation Agreement: Letter to Parliament Seth Kwame Awuku, Esq. / MyJoyOnline
ACCRA, Ghana (March 28, 2018) -- Dear Mr. Speaker:
Please permit me to write on a matter that fundamentally hinges on our national sovereignty: on the Ghana-United States military co-operation Agreement which, the Trump administration, per its Ambassador to Ghana, purports to give 20 million dollars a year to Ghana, in return. This offer, Mr. Speaker, and the contents therein, I beg to say, most respectfully, is distasteful to the worth of our national sovereignty.
I do not write to dare challenge, as a non-state actor, the United States security interest, or any nation-state, in International Relations. However, in the contemporary Global Political system, it is not only state actors, like the United States or any Nation-State that play an important role in International Affairs.
In their book, In Search of Theory, Columbia University Press, New York, 1981, at page 68, Mansbach and Vasquez posit that "Actors in Global Politics may consist of any Individual or group that is able to contend for the disposition of a political stake" I dare to assert that many individuals in society have a stake in this international security agreement with this dominant power in world affairs: the United States of America.
For us, Mr. Speaker we have no significant problems of national security affecting our International Relations. For us, our high politics of International Diplomacy lie in moving Ghana beyond aid.
Indeed, President Akufo-Addo's summit with President Qattara of the Ivory Coast was to find ways to add value to our cocoa and how best to price our cocoa on the international market, so was President Akufo-Addo's summit with President Macron of France was to assert in no uncertain terms a demand for fair trade with the west to move Ghana beyond aid, so was our business delegation led by the Vice President Bawumia to China to seek for trade and investment from that country.
Currently, Ghana is playing an active role to bring the secretariat of the new Free trade agreement for Africa to Ghana. Mr. Speaker our International diplomacy in International Relations is characterized by trade and investment, and not characterized by war and security.
We know what constitutes our national interest, Mr. Speaker. We are not a "Banana Republic". We are Pan-Africanists, and a serious leader in African, including Black American Affairs.
We led the whole independence movement in 1957 and succeeded in encouraging 16 Africans countries alone in the 1960s to achieve their independence including Nigeria in October 1960. Indeed, the independence movement that we in Ghana began in the 1950's South Africa ended in the 1990's
At the United Nations level, Ghana has also produced one of the finest Secretary Generals in the person of Dr Kofi Annan- an excellent Secretary General who served that world body with distinction.
Continentally speaking also, we dare say that the role that India's Mahatma Gandhi played in India, President Roosevelt played in the United States, Prime Minister Winston Churchill played in the United Kingdom, Mao Tse Tung played in China and Lenin in Russia, Ghana's Kwame Nkrumah played in continental Africa.
It is pertinent, Mr. Speaker, that we raise the standard in our negotiations with the Americans and jealously guard our sovereignty and our national interest as the Black Star of Africa.
True, when I first heard the debate in the Ghana-United States military co-operation Agreement in the media, my initial reaction was that of political actors doing the usual politicking. I was wrong. I needed to study it. I became curious and solicitous . . . I searched and obtained a copy of the agreement. I held my chin and studied it thoroughly and solicitously.
Mr. Speaker, with the greatest of respect to your office, after a thorough reading, my initial reaction was that President Donald Trump, might have personally written the Ghana-United States Military Co-operation Agreement under his catchphrase, "America First." I was knocked for six, speechless, and thunderstruck by the lopsidedness in favour of the Americans.
I wondered, which individuals were in our Negotiation team during the negotiations with the Americans; I pondered, where was our senior military intelligence officers, senior military historians and former Chiefs of Defence to advise and strategize for our lead Negotiator.
I quizzed: was our lead Negotiator abreast with our previous security agreements with the United States since the time of Brigadier Fitzgerald in July 1942 when we were a colony?
I reasoned: did our lead Negotiator review the Arms Purchase Agreement in 1972 with the United States?
I queried: was our lead negotiator aware of the Military Training Assistance Agreement in December 1985 and February 1986 with the Americans? What knowledge did our lead negotiator have concerning the Ecomog arrangement with the United States, the Africa Crisis Response Initiative agreement in 2005, the arrangement for the establishment and use of United States support capabilities the current security agreement in 1998 and 2015? These are pertinent questions to address when entering a negotiating leading to an agreement with the United States, Mr. Speaker.
Further, how much institutional memory did our lead negotiator have going into discussion and negotiation with the Americans, I held my chin and thought deeply. Were we negotiating from a position of knowledge and strength with our American counterparts? I scratched my heard, in disbelief.
May I ask your good office as head of our second arm of government and most honourably, Mr. Speaker, that we have a National discourse in the interest of our country, not a discourse based on political equalization?
Mr. Speaker, may we recall the Minority to Parliament for a full national enquiry devoid of partisanship? May we, in the spirit of nationalism which, our founding fathers so established for us, search for the greatest truth, not a one-sided truth?
This is the kind of fundamental questions that John Stuart Mills, an English Parliamentarian and Philosopher writing in the 18th century England was asking when he stated in one of his leading books, entitled On Liberty, with these salient words: "the only way in which a human being can make some approach to knowing the whole of a subject, is by hearing what can be said about it by persons of every variety of opinion and studying all modes in which it can be looked at by every character of mind. No wise man ever acquired his wisdom in any mode but this; nor is it in the nature of human intellect to become wise in any other manner."
(see, On Liberty, by John Stuart Mill. 4th ed. London: Longman, Roberts & Green, 1869)
At this juncture, may I respectfully invite, Mr. Speaker to some contradictions and ambiguity between the Preamble and the articles in the current ratified agreement between the Government of the United States of America and the Government of the Republic of Ghana.
On the one hand, the agreement recognizes in paragraph 3 as follows: ". . . Recognizing that such cooperation is based on full respect for the sovereignty of each Party;" In Article 3 on the other hand, the agreement seems to contradict the intent of the preamble -- namely respecting our sovereignty.
Referring to the United States, the agreement stipulates that "Ghana shall accord to military personnel and civilian personnel, the privileges, exemptions, and immunities equivalent to those accorded to the administrative and technical staff of a diplomatic mission under the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations of April 18, 1961."
How can the preamble state that we are a sovereign state but accord American military personnel the privileges and exemptions reserved for diplomats for military reasons on our territory?
For example: American military personnel will not need visas and permits to enter our country, even if they are hundreds of thousand that enter our country at a time.
Respectfully, Sir, our founding fathers will roll in their graves when they read that we have given exemptions and privileges reserved for our military, citizenry and diplomats to the Americans.
Further, in Article 5, it states that "Ghana shall give unimpeded access to and use of agreed facilities and areas to the United States forces." How can we monitor that the US is in compliance with International Environmental Laws if we give unimpeded access of our facilities to the United States?
Article 7 of the agreement adds that: "United States forces are hereby authorized to preposition and store defence equipment, supplies, and materials (hereinafter referred to as prepositioned materiel) at agreed facilities and areas." What constitutes to store defence "materials" at agreed facilities and areas?
Will America's materials to be stored in our country expose Ghana to environmental and health hazards? Will Ghana risk exposure to the toxic waste material and Depleted Uranium like in Puerto Rico and Iraq causing illnesses and sufferings to many in those countries?
Similarly, Articles 15 makes our nationals helpless and at the mercy of the United States government when a US officer commits an offence in Ghana. It states as follows: "Claims by third parties for damages or losses caused by military personnel and civilian personnel shall be resolved by the United States Government in accordance with United States laws and regulations."
Indeed, in an article dated December 6, 2006, in the Guardian Newspaper with the caption, "American soldier jailed in the Philippines," a United States Marine officer stationed in the Philippines was sentenced to 40 years for raping a Filipino woman. Can our ladies, in Ghana, in the unfortunate event of being raped or abused, be able to bring an action in Ghana under this agreement? The answer is no.
Worst still, our Courts are rendered toothless and made impotent by the linguistic construction in Article 18. The said article reads as follows: "Any dispute regarding the application, implementation, or interpretation of this Agreement, or its Implementing Arrangements, shall be resolved at the lowest level possible and, as necessary, elevated to the Executive Agents for consideration and resolution.
Those disputes that cannot be resolved by the Executive Agents shall be referred to the Parties for consultation and resolution, as appropriate, and shall not be referred to any national or international court, tribunal, or similar body, or to any third party for settlement, unless otherwise mutually agreed."
Respectfully Mr. Speaker, how can our laws and Courts be weakened in the face of potential US environmental degradation, sexual abuses and human rights violations in Ghana?
In an article published in The Nation dated January 24, 2018, with the caption: "The United States has military bases in 80 countries; All must close," by Alice Slater, the author writes that, in a conference held in Baltimore University marking Martin Luther King's Day, peace and environmental activities from every region around the globe shared their experiences, protesting the devastating environmental and health cases, which are wreaking havoc to health and wellbeing in so many countries.
Slater goes a step further and states that, "from Agent Orange in Vietnam, depleted uranium in Iraq and ammunition dumps and firing ranges in Vieques, Puerto Rico, to toxic brew of poisons along the Potomac River, communities and soldiers as well as children born subsequent to exposure to these toxic wastes are suffering in a broad range of illnesses and inherited damages while the US government ducks any accountability for harm caused by its mindless and reckless burial of untreated toxic waste."
We must! Mr. Speaker reject this security agreement and its accompanying $20 million a year and demand a higher figure in the amount of $10 billion from Congress in the event of any environmental disaster and human rights abuses to our nationals.
In addition, we ask Congress and the State Department to provide us with modern technological agricultural practices; a 50% budgetary support in education for the next 25 years, as well as technical support in modern technological know-how to process our gold and diamond and mineral resources.
Only then, Mr. Speaker shall the citizenry see the United States as demonstrating good faith and a win-win attitude to enter into an agreement with the Black Stars of Africa.
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