Saturday, February 16, 2008

Kenya - Meddle and Muddle

Under British colonialism, the world learned how to divide and conquer. Now, with the American hegemony at hand, that has been replaced by a 'policy' of meddling and muddling. The resulting confusion is very destructive to nations and economies. Kicking off the 21st century, Iraq stands as the sentinel example . Pakistan, with Mushy (the U.S. backed dictator) now creating an unholy antidemocratic mess, is another case in point.

Kenya is an unlikely place to suspect an American hand but the signs have been there for quite some time now. Mwai Kibaki, the previous president, is a typical example of one who seems well intentioned, urbane, well educated, soft spoken, and yet is firmly in the U.S.'s back pocket. The secret is money, though that's hardly a great secret, is it?

Unfortunately for the U.S., even the Kenyan government's official map that purports to explain the strange result of Kibaki's 'win' shows, to anyone who knows how tribes and populations are actually distributed in Kenya that the 'official result' is a farce.
Bush, in the face of an obviously rigged election, wants power to be shared in Kenya. Shared? Did he offer to share his presidency when John Kerry won the popular vote in his own questionable 'win' in his own 'democratic' country? In other words, by whatever means, Mwai should retain the semblance of power, for Raila Odinga is an unknown quantity and looks (from what we can tell of his public persona) to be much less likely to slip quietly into the CIA's silky hands.
Kofi Annan's attempts to help sort things out in Kenya must have really alarmed the Bush administration. Kofi has been a quiet but powerful force in opposition to the American attempts at hegemony. That fight almost destroyed the U.N. itself as the U.S. used its money power to choke the U.N. into submission. Rice is now sent to butt herself in to the delicate situation in Kenya to see to it that Mwai doesn't cave in. The fact that then thousands more may die in the face of a ham-handed attempt to subvert real live democracy, is immaterial.

Also immaterial, it seems, is the fact that perhaps for the very first time in Africa, a country has voted without regards to tribal allegiance. That is the only way for Odinga, a non-Kikuyu to have popularly and decisively ousted Mwai who is a Kikuyu. Kikuyus themselves, and a lot of them too, voted for someone from another tribe - unheard of in Africa, till a couple months ago!
Kenya is a land of vast potential. It has excellent agricultural prospects, good water, regular rains and has a wide range of habitats. The people are intelligent, relatively well educated, hard working, honest, sincere, friendly and very politically active.
Let's not do things the Cheney-me-to-a-Rice Bush way just this once. Enough of this meddling and muddling! Let's give Kenya a chance.

In the meantime, as Kenyans struggle for their independence and their right to decide their own future, let them know that there are many around the world praying for their success and peace and progress.
For the land of my birth, right now though, I am much reminded of the title of a book by a South African writer, Alan Paton:



john doyle said...

"perhaps for the very first time in Africa, a country has voted without regards to tribal allegiance."

Divide and conquer still seems like the strategy of choice for the US. Witness the dismantling of Yugoslavia into separate and distinct tribal entities, the latest being Kosovo. While humanitarian concerns dominate the public discourse, this latest partitioning serves to weaken the Russian-Serbian alliance vis-a-vis the US-EU alliance.

The neocons might have had a different vision of what reality they wanted to install in Iraq, but in light of circumstances on the ground the US has systematically partitioned the country into tribal sectors. Reductions in violence lately can be attributed in part to massive redistributions of populations into segregated territories. These are people who used to get along with each other reasonably well even under Saddam. But it's a duplicitous strategy, as witnessed by the US's complicity in Turkey's invasion of the Kurdish sector. The Kurds have been the US's staunchest allies in Iraq, but Turkey is even more important strategically to US interests. Net result: too bad for the Kurds.

Will the US attempt to push Pakistan into failed-state disarray, then carve off Balochistan as a resource-rich ally in the "war on terror"?

Unknown said...

The theory of "divide and conquer" I think sounds attractive to most, but practicing it successfully is an art that no one perfected like the British did. Even in erstwhile Yugoslavia the genius is arguably more European than US. In Iraq, there is a federalism based on race/religion but it has not been used effectively to swing control in the US direction. In fact with Saddam in power, and from his rise till the breakup of the Soviet Union, he was a good example of a successful US divide/conqueror. Getting rid of him left the majority Shias in control and they are never going to be natural allies of their Satan - the US.

As you point out Turkish interests are obviously more important than the Kurds and recent events in that neck of the woods have shown that the US's "commitment" to the territorial integrity of Iraq that in principle they have sworn to defend, is very suspect. I think that the alliances with tribal leaders have led to some gains against sunni/al qaida 'terrorists' but these are not the longterm problem as much as the Shia militias threaten to be. Al qaida's concentration on attacking the US military directly (mostly with roadside bombs) had had the effect of driving the US to rely on mercenaries like Blackwater to do the dirty work while trying to keep their own troops safely in camp. That strategy proved a failure, necessitating the big push and higher troop levels but the real terrorists know that it is unsustainable and I think are biding their time and getting politically ready for the more important battles for the hearts and minds of the people that are now just round the corner.

The most likely scenario is that as the US has failed to deliver any cultural change in Iraq, the region will swing to a conservative, Sharia ruled direction and given the huge oil wealth there, the Saudis will face a powerful rival axis. Eventually, Syria will join too and this bodes ill for US interests in that region.

I think Pakistan will follow a more democratic path in the same general direction and it's possible that Egypt eventually will too. The Afghanis are already more than half way there as the has Taliban have proved to be impossible to control.

It remains to be seen what the next generation of American politics will be able to make out of the quagmire that one willful and vain president has done. The duplicity is eventually what all will remember and regaining any measure of trust may prove impossible.

Kenya I think will find their way. The opposition has a strong majority in parliament so eventually Kibanga's influence will wane.

It is interesting too that the ingredients of how the destabilisation actually happened are becoming known and increasingly point back towards the US itself. That should prove an interesting tale as it unfolds more completely...

Unknown said...

Sorry, in the second last para that should be Kibaki, not "Kibanga", which was actually an old childhood classmates name!


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