Kissing him today, raining bombs on him tomorrow: the assault on Libya offers important lessons for Africa, and it is to be hoped that African leaders will wake up from their stupor and start to smell the coffee, writes Femi Akomolafe.

Author:Akomolafe, Femi
Position:The Libya debate

IT WAS THE GREAT SIMON BOLIVAR who said: "The United States appears to be destined by Providence to plague America with misery in the name of liberty." As a citizen of the world it is becoming increasingly difficult for me not to think that the gods destined the West to plague the rest of mankind. I have often wondered what it would be like to be a citizen of a Western nation. What does it feel like to belong in a place where friendship fizzles away at the flick of fingers and allegiances are not even skin-deep. I know all about the long-gone British home secretary, foreign secretary, and later prime minister, Lord Palmerston's assertion that: "There are no permanent allies, no permanent friends, only permanent interests." I have also read George Orwell's classic, 1984. But how would I feel to be led by people who I see kissing somebody today and raining bombs on him tomorrow? I really don't know.


I lived in the West and still visit occasionally, but the place remains as incomprehensible to me as if it existed in another planetary system. The mentality of the leadership/scholarship there remains enigmatic to me.

I was old enough to remember the Iran-Iraq war (1980-88) where, as is usual in any troublespot, the West took sides. They supported a rather nasty customer called Saddam Hussein because they were still peeved by their loss in Iran. They goaded Saddam to spend a great part of his national income to buy their arms. They gleefully sold him all he needed to give himself the illusion of grandeur.

A few years later, Saddam had an issue with the West's latest paramour, the British-invented Kuwait. With dizzying speed, the West changed sides. With alacrity, they assembled a coalition that raced to destroy the weapons they sold to their erstwhile puppet.


Jules Henry wrote a really excellent essay that I read during my school days. It was titled: "Social and psychological preparation for war", and was originally published in The Dialectics of Liberation (Penguin, 1968). Henry informed us of the reason why it is very easy for the United States to wage wars at the drop of a hat, so to speak.

He wrote: "It is clear that in preparation for modern war an interdependent world political economy has within it sufficient conflicts of interest to make all nations potential enemies to all others. One of the 'evolutionary achievements' of modern culture has been to make the idea that 'anybody can be my enemy at any time' acceptable. A consequence of the definition of the enemy as part of one's own social system, is a psychological predisposition to accept almost any nation at all as inimical when the government chooses to so define it."

I have on my computer pictures of "democratic" leaders like Britain's Tony...

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