Tuesday, March 19, 2013

(NEWZIMBABWE) My problem with Ambassador Bruce

My problem with Ambassador Bruce
18/03/2013 00:00:00
by Mai Jukwa

THERE is often a disparity between declared intent and the real motivations behind the actions of governments. Objective political analysis devotes itself to a careful examination of what politicians say and interrogates this against facts. These facts will either support or contradict their declared narrative. We cannot be so gullible as to place full reliance merely on what a politician happens to say.

The American Ambassador Bruce Wharton routinely subjects us to his scripted pieties of concern over human rights, democracy and the rule of law in Zimbabwe. He tells us that it was toward these noble ends, and not without a heavy heart, that the United States felt compelled to impose sanctions on Zimbabwe. These are noble boasts that paint his country in a very generous light.

If these are the Ambassador's real motivations then he is to be applauded, perhaps even encouraged. However, if his claims to goodness were disproved on the plateau of reason then the next natural point of enquiry would be an effort to understand his real agenda. We began by highlighting the case of declared intent versus real motivations; let us carry on along that thread.

Draconian Legislation

Laws are promulgated in response to national circumstances; it is through this lense that they must be viewed. What is considered good law in Saudi Arabia would likely be considered abhorrent and be rejected by a Zimbabwean parliament. This truth extends to all, including the ever-eager champions of democracy in the United States. On their statute books sit laws that many of us would object to as a gross violations of personal liberty.

Take for instance the argument by Eric Holder, the American Attorney General, that it is legal for Obama to put together a highly secretive kill-list of American citizens. This list is not subject to judicial scrutiny nor is any part of the American legislature allowed to examine the processes leading up to an individual being placed on the list for targeted assassination. Imagine the outrage if Robert Mugabe declared that he had the power to secretly tell the military or intelligence services to kill Zimbabwean citizens without any measure of judicial or parliamentary oversight. The United States recently killed a 16-year-old American boy, Abdulrahman al-Awlaki, whose father was accused of involvement in terrorist activities. This unprecedented murder was carried out under the cover of these opaque laws. That child had not been charged with any crime and his voice will never be heard in a court of law.

It is against this bloodied background that Ambassador Bruce’s protestations against the relatively innocuous AIPPA and POSA become all the more amusing. He howls righteous indignation and disapproval at these ‘draconian’ pieces of legislation and demands that we submit to him and repeal these laws. Surely Bruce must have the decency to begin his noble acts of charity closer to home. AIPPA and POSA does not allow for the killing of any man, it is not subject to the vagaries of presidential whim and anyone charged under those acts is allowed to defend themselves in a court of law. Would the good Ambassador be kind enough to tell us how many people have been convicted under these laws that he so hysterically rails against? The fact of it is that the vast majority is acquitted in the same courts of law that the Ambassador tells us lack judicial independence.

Human Rights

The Ambassador’s beating-stick of choice is the noble sounding human rights cause. He tells us with confident moral authority that America will maintain sanctions on Zimbabwe because, in their view, the country violates human rights. Bruce will forgive me for being so prosaic but this is absolute nonsense. The Americans have very little to lecture us on human rights, if anything they should learn from us.

Is there a single Zambian or South African who has been captured by Zimbabwean security services, dragged away to a secret torture chamber and subjected to sadistic abuses such as water boarding? Is there a British national who can claim to have been stripped naked and sodomised by Zimbabwean security forces in a manner similar to what we saw in those ghastly pictures that came out from Abu Ghraib?

Today the British government is facing lawsuits from Libyans like Sami al-Saadi who were captured by MI6 and submitted to torture. Instead of allowing these cases to be heard in court the British want to maintain their dishonest prestige of being champions of human rights and have chosen to pay off these victims to the tune of millions. Has a single citizen of this world filed any similar lawsuit against Zimbabwe? Given these facts, how is it that Bruce has no shame in holding hands with his British mistress to condemn us a violators of human rights? Their hypocrisy stinks to the highest heaven.

Their self-anointed status as human rights ambassador’s looks all the more pathetic when one considers the contradictions of their policy on Zimbabwe. How can Ambassador Bruce justify sanctions on Zimbabwean when Obama dines with the Saudi King? Is America so determined to punish Zimbabwe for its Land Reform policy that it is willing to harass reason itself to justify its patently hypocritical policies? No mind blessed with sanity would attempt to compare a relatively free society like Zimbabwe to Saudi Arabia. That would be ridiculous but for the sake of sport I will indulge the good Ambassador.

Saudi Arabia is not subject to sanctions but is actually a close ally of the United States. How can this be if Ambassador Bruce’s argument is that America imposes sanctions in objection to perceived human rights abuses? Zimbabweans are free to worship any religion of their choice; the state does not interfere in this. Contrast this with Saudi Arabia, a country that continues to enjoy cordial relations with the Americans. In 2005 Mohammad al-Harbi, a teacher, was sentenced to 40 months imprisonment and 750 lashings for contradicting Islam. In Zimbabwe we recognise the rights of women as equals and the new constitution makes positive steps to enforce this equality in all sectors of society including public office. Women in Saudi Arabia are denied all these rights; they are not allowed to vote, they are denied the right to drive and cannot travel abroad without the authorisation of a man. Does the Ambassador charge that this nation has greater freedoms that Zimbabwe? Criminals in Zimbabwe are treated humanely and our constitution is taking steps to eliminate the death penalty. Compare this with Saudi Arabia were hands and feet are chopped off for something as petty as stealing a motorbike. If the United States policy was sincerely informed by a concern for human rights one would imagine that it is Zimbabwe that would be an ally of the Americans, not Saudi Arabia.


The rule of law

Habeas Corpus and the rules of natural justice do not allow the indefinite detention of any individual. The rule of law affords every person the right to be brought before a judge, to be advised of what charge they stand accused and to see the evidence held against them and to equally submit a defense against the same.

Consider that concentration camp called Guantanamo Bay where America employs savage impunity and violates the very foundations civilised society. Men from around the world are captured in the dead of night without a warrant of arrest; many are smuggled out of their countries of residence without any knowledge of the host government. Upon arrival at Guantanamo many detainees have questioned on what charge they were being held. Such is the contumelious self-regard of the Americans that they are not obliged to answer the question.

Shaker Aamer is a Saudi Arabian British resident. He has been held at that beastly facility for over ten years. He has never been charged with any crime nor has the United States offered an explanation as to why they abducted him and are keeping him from his family. He has a son who he has never seen and could very well die in that facility. Such is the nauseating impudence of the Americans, willfully disregarding the rule of law simply because they can.

Has Zimbabwe held anyone without charge? Is there any prisoner in Zimbabwe who has been denied their right to justice in a court of law? Certainly not! So how then does Ambassador Bruce stand up with puffed American ego to lecture Zimbabweans on the rule of law when his nation presides over such gross injustice? Does he feel so entitled as to think that rules apply to the rest of us but not to the United States? We reject that white supremacist spirit in the strongest terms and say no to it. What is good for the goose is certainly good for the gander!

Torture

The American Ambassador made not a small nuisance of himself following the death of Christpower. Even before the police had been allowed the chance to investigate, the said gentleman was already jumping up and down in uncontainable adolescent excitement and wasted no time in issuing a statement instructing Zimbabwe on how to conduct its internal affairs.

If Ambassador Bruce is so eager to poke his nose into the affairs of justice one then wonders why he continues to ignore the overweight elephant in his American bedroom. We have all heard consistent testimony of how CIA agents and American soldiers tortured individuals with simulated drowning in a process they called water boarding. Of all those American agents who forced prisoners to inhale water and suffer such intolerable pain that they wished they were dead, how many have been prosecuted for torture? How is it that Bruce wants to lecture us on our bed-wetting when his own sheets are soiled by his incontinent hypocrisy?

We all watched that shocking video of American soldiers in Iraq firing a helicopter gunship into a funeral procession. Was that not murder in cold blood? Listening to the audio of those bloodthirsty young men toy with the lives of human beings as though they were playing video games, one got a clear picture of the wickedness of American foreign policy and how they view the lives of other nationalities as being of less value.

These killers have not been prosecuted. Instead, they are celebrated as veterans and war heroes and given medals of honour. We are then told to accept this idiotic narrative that Americans are ambassador of peace and justice. As the president once said, they have little to lecture us on and very much to atone for.

It’s our right to monitor your elections

The Americans and British have made for a pitiful sight these past few weeks as they tried every desperate trick in the book to get a chance to send in their election monitors. Their political surrogates were distressed beyond measure when Amai Mujuru barred countries that have imposed sanctions and made it clear they would not be allowed to observe the elections.

In an effort to lend weight to their pathetic argument, their witless surrogates have been jumping up and down declaring that the necessity of ‘international’ observers. I need not remind Bruce that the international community is not defined as the handful of Western white nations that imposed sanctions on us in solidarity with the British farmers that we kicked off the land they stole from us.

The international community remains welcome to observe our elections. The only nations that are crying foul are white Western countries that have imposed illegal sanctions against Zimbabwe. Brazil, Mexico, Argentina, India, Japan, South Africa and the rest of the international community is welcome. Bruce must not flatter himself and imagine that the international community is defined as his racist kith and kin club of white nations. They are not welcome and must keep out.

Consider how these shameless hypocrites want to impose themselves under the guise of international observation yet they are unwilling to equally submit themselves to scrutiny by the United Nations. The case of Bradley Manning makes a perfect example. This is the heroic young man who released thousands of secret American files detailing their abuses around the world. Since his arrest he has been held in an American military facility where is kept in solitary confinement and routinely stripped naked. The United Nations special rapporteur on torture called his treatment cruel and inhuman. Bradley Manning’s defense has requested that the UN torture expert be allowed to give testimony during the trial. The United States refused.

It astonishes how the United States wants to poke its nose into the affairs of sovereign nations but refuses to subject itself to a similar standard. Consider how the United States makes a nuisance of itself ululating at prosecutions conducted by the ICC whilst at the same time refusing to ratify the Rome Statute. Not only so, George Bush signed into law the American Servicemembers' Protection Act of 2002 (ASPA) which authorises the use of military force to free any American agent if they are ever held by that court.

My problem with Ambassador Bruce

I could carry on and speak of the drone attacks that continue to take the cheap lives of Afghan and Pakistani civilians. For every fifty people killed in drone strikes only one is an actual insurgent. One could speak of the illegal invasion of Iraq or the hypocrisy of the Americans in siding with Israel when it continues to violate international law by building settlements on Palestinian territory. In such talk could we miss the hypocrisy of Americans frothing at the mouth at the thought of a nuclear Iran when it has stockpiles of nuclear weapons for its own protection? Such is the depth of their hypocrisy that an exhaustive list is impossible.

When Ambassador Bruce tells us that he is sanctioning us because of human rights, the rule of law or democracy, it is quite clearly not the case. The contradictions are all too plain for all to see. The truth of it is that America cares little for the rule of law as evidenced by their refusal to prosecute the agents responsible for torturing detainees. They are not concerned about democracy as shown by their cosy relationship with Arab despots. We could not accept the argument that they care for human rights when they allow their soldiers to shoot into innocent civilians with helicopter gunships and get away with it.

Ambassador Bruce carefully clothes his real intentions in the admirable language of virtue. However, the facts speak much louder than the eloquence of his voice. His only concern is furthering American economic interests. Their determined campaign against Zimbabwe has nothing to do with their supposed love for human rights. Their punitive sanctions are meant to punish us for daring to kick out the British settler farmers after Britain reneged on the agreements reached at Lancaster.

Bruce can jump up and down and chant the slogans of liberty to his hearts content but it is all in vain. We now see clearly past his empty and self-serving rhetoric. He is the mother of all hypocrites. Let him begin his charity at home before he presumes to lecture Africans on how best to conduct their affairs.

Amai Jukwa is a loving mother of three. She respects Robert Mugabe, is amused by Tsvangirai and feels sorry for Mutambara. She answers questions on Facebook and Twitter

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