"So far from God, so nearer to the US".

Author:Figueiredo, Antonio de
Position:Lest We Forget

The invasion of Iraq is imperialism by guided missile. It is one more alarm bell awakening our instincts of self-preservation. For now, "marginalisation" in peace could even provide Africa with a useful opportunity for reflection and a strengthening of unity.

As we watched the invasion of Iraq unfolding on TV, what looked new or improved was the super-show of the torrent of guided missiles, alas, invisible in the man-made storm over Baghdad. At times, it even seemed to give war a touch of fireworks splendour.

But the daylight scenes of young, heavily armed American and British soldiers, shouting "down, down!" to rural couples and families, using the butts of their guns to force them to kneel on the ground, with their heads bowed in submission or raised in fear -- as if pleading for mercy -- was a far older and truer image of imperialist subjection.

Soon we might even see suitably programmed robots doing the same job. The excuses might also be different or better disguised by the TV cameras of "mass distraction". But the immorality will always be the same. Moreover, for all the superpower arrogance, the fact is that the US has far more means of destruction than the ability to direct its free profit-making system to a significant interest in the development of the poor.

Capitalism, by definition, is not motivated by altruism, particularly when, as the Senegal-based development economist, Samir Amin, observes in his book, Obsolescent Capitalism: "It has become senile, and has now restricted its ambition to defending the wealth of the wealthier of the world, while the poor are looked upon as a threat and/or demonised as enemies".

So far, despite the insistence that tiny and absent Israel is "neutral", the invasion of Iraq (the and occasional threats that Syria and Iran might be the next targets), confirms a strange phenomenon: While the Middle East looks more and more like a greater Palestine, America mentally looks more and more like a besieged and insecure Israel". Africa, as they say, is "out of the picture", and, since its known oil reserves do not justify the same attention, its peaceful involvement is confined to the ensuing diplomatic battle over the future of the UN, shaken by further American and diplomatic contempt for its rules.

Since "marginalisation", at least, can lead to calmer reflection, I will devote this column to a brief analysis of aspects of more direct African interests.

To my surprise, hardly had George Bush's hawkish...

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