Thursday, August 6, 2009

Clinton, the Pot and the Kettle

Hillary Clinton is in Kenya, lecturing people about democracy and accountability and various other things that the US is hardly in a position to moralize about. She wants the Kenyan government to set up a tribunal to try those involved in the civil disturbances following the elections last year. Well, who doesn’t? Everyone, except those with something to hide or something to gain, wants justice, wants the people involved to be punished, wants the simmering violence that still goes on to stop, wants a stable government.

But when will the US administration be brought to account for the lies that resulted in several countries wiping out hundreds of thousands of Iraqi civilians? Many of the people involved are currently in comfortable positions, doing very well for themselves. Several multinationals have made enormous profits from the Iraq war and various other wars that have been started and stoked up by the US. Will they, one day, be brought to justice? I doubt it.

What sort of moral authority does the US have, given the part they played in most of the serious wars of the twentieth century? The Kenyan government has always been very cosy with the West and with the US in particular. When fighting broke out after the 2007/08 elections, news reports remarked on how surprising it was that such a thing could happen in Kenya, which had been so peaceful before. An estimated 500 people were assassinated in extra-judicial killings in the six months prior to the election. The West just chose to ignore these events.

As for suggesting that politicians and other parties should be sent to the International Criminal Court (ICC), how are the Americans in a position to be insisting on this? They (somebody called Clinton, actually) reluctantly signed up to the ICC but it was never ratified and this signature was quickly suspended under the Bush administration. Since then, the US has got most countries to sign bilateral immunity agreements so they cannot be prosecuted by the court. The last country that should be pushing anyone into the ICC is America.

I notice Clinton is also going to South Africa, Angola, Congo and Nigeria, countries as well known for their human rights records as for their vast mineral and oil wealth. Is it cynical of me to doubt the motives of Clinton and the US? If it is cynical to criticize cynicism, then I am guilty of cynicism. Mr William Samoei Ruto, who is one of the people implicated in the post election violence, is reported to have told Clinton that he has not yet been trained by the US. But I think he has learned a lot about impunity from them.



Tamaku said...

Hi Simon,

I see the UK government has set up an inquiry into circumstances surrounding UK's ventures into Iraq. Many commentators don't hold out much hope for facts emerging. We shall have to just wait and see.
Absolutely agree with you on the US stance: and George Bush's ('you are either with us or against us')was appalling. Incidentally I was a supporter of Tony Blair and campaigned actively for Labour (working in the UK) during his historic 3rd victory but the overwhelming sense was the public felt duped into going to Iraq. As for the subsequent erosion of civil liberties, I believe the West 'sleepwalked' back where generations had fought and died to move from.
Anyway, we are winding down our holiday in England, a most pleasant stay it's been too.

Simon said...

Hi Tamaku
Thanks for your comments. No, I don't see people effectively implicating themselves. Kenyan politicians have very good teachers. When it came to the 'either with us or against us' they were with, as usual. They only get by because they usually do what the big Western powers want. If the West really gave a damn about how ordinary Kenyans were treated they could have influenced things quickly enough. But we know well where their priorities lie.

As for Blair being complicit, the UK is a very small country, it has little strength without the US. Blair was willing to face up to that and take the only real option that was open to him: back the US up 100%. He's a nasty piece of work but he's what people voted for. When Labour had better members people didn't vote for them.

Glad you enjoyed your holiday. Were you in London? I'm there now, you could have looked me up. I'll be in Nairobi from next week, though.
Take care