By Jean-Paul Pougala – Gaddafi’s Libya is offering to all of Africa’s first true revolution of modern times: to ensure universal coverage of the continent for telephony, television, broadcasting and many other applications such as telemedicine and teaching distance, for the first time a connection becomes available at low cost across the continent, even in rural areas through the system via radio bridge WMAX. The story begins in 1992 when 45 African countries formed a company to have a RASCOM African satellite and bring down communication costs on the continent.
A- THE REAL REASONS FOR THE WAR IN LIBYA
1- The first African satellite RASCOM 1
It was Libya’s Gaddafi who gave all of Africa its first real revolution in modern times: by ensuring universal coverage of the continent via telephone, television, radio-broadcast and the many other applications such as telemedicine and long-distance learning; for the first time in history, a low-cost connection became available across the continent, and even into rural areas thanks to a bridging WIMAX system.
The story begins in 1992 when 45 African countries created the RASCOM organization to acquire an African satellite in order to bring down the cost of communications across the continent. At that time, calling from or to Africa had the most expensive call rates in the world, since there was a surcharge of 500 million dollars which Europeans collected annually on telephone conversations even within some African countries, just to transmit voice messages via European satellites like Intelsat. An African satellite would barely cost 400 millions dollars payable once and thus avoiding the 500 million annual rental fees. Which banker wouldn’t finance such a project? But the difficult part of the equation remained unsettled: how does a beggar gain their freedom from exploitation by their master by borrowing money from this same master to achieve this?
And so, the World Bank, the IMF, USA, the European Union had needlessly been bilking these countries for over 14 years. It was in 2006 that Gaddafi put an end to the agony of senseless begging from those supposed benefactors in the West who only grant loans at predatory rates; the Libyan leaders put 300 million dollars on the table, the African Development Bank put 50 million, the West African Development Bank contributed 27 million and it is thus, Africa has owned its very own communications satellite since December 26th 2007; The very first communications satellite in its history. In the meantime, China and Russia have jumped in, this time by donating their own technology which allowed the launching of more new satellites; South-Africa, Nigeria, Angola, Algerian and even a second African satellite was launched in July of 2010. And by 2020, we are expecting the very first satellite which would be 100% African and built on African soil, specifically in Algeria. This satellite is expected to be amongst the best in the world, but would cost ten times cheaper, a true achievement.
This is how a simple gesture worth 300 millions dollars can change the lives on an entire continent. Gaddafi’s Libya had cost the West not only the 500 million dollars annually but billions of dollars from debt and interest which this debt would have generated ad infinitum and exponentially, and contributed towards sustaining the obscure system which continues to rob Africa blind.
2- AFRICAN MONETARY FUND, AFRICAN CENTRAL BANK, AFRICAN INVESTMENT BANK
The 30 billion dollars which M. Obama confiscated belongs to the Libyan Central Bank and was earmarked as the Libyan contribution toward the finalization of the African Federation in its three keystone phases: The African Investment Bank to be based in Sitre-Libya, The creation in 2011 of the African Monetary Fund with a startup capital of 42 billion dollars with Yaoundé as its headquarters, the African Central Bank with its headquarters in Abuja-Nigeria from which, the first issuance of legal tender would signal the end of the CFA Franc through which Paris has been able to pillage some African countries for over 50 years. From this we can understand France’s grudge against Gaddafi. The African Monetary Fund would supplant in each and every way the activities of the International Monetary Fund on African soil – a role which, using barely 25 billion dollars in capital, the IMF had been able to bring an entire continent to its knees through questionable privatization policies, as witnessed by the reality of forcing African countries to trade-in one public monopoly for a private monopoly. It was these same Western countries which came knocking at the door trying to become members of the African Monetary Fund (AMF) and its was via a unanimous vote of 16-17 in December 2010 in Yaoundé that Africans rejected this proposition, enshrining that only African countries would be members of the AMF.
It therefore seems obvious that after Libya, the Western coalition will declare its next war against Algeria, since, in addition to its enormous energy resources, that country has financial reserves exceeding 150 Billion Euros. This is much coveted by all the countries which are now bombing Libya all of whom have the same things in common, they are all practically bankrupt, the USA alone has 14.000 billion dollars in debt, France, Great Britain and Italy each have 2.000 Billion in public debt while all the 46 countries of Sub-Saharan Africa have less than 400 billion dollars in total public debt. Launching fake wars in Africa in the hopes of finding the oxygen needed to fuel their economic apnea that would only worsen having the effect of pushing the West further into a decline which began in 1884, during the notorious Berlin Conference. As the American economist Adam Smith had predicted in 1865, in his support for Abraham Lincoln’s abolition of slavery, «the economies of all countries which practice the enslavement of Black people are in the throes of a decent into hell which would be a rude awakening on the day when all the other nations would awaken»
3- REGIONAL TRADE BLOCS AS AN IMPEDIMENT TO THE CREATION OF THE UNITED STATES OF AFRICA
In order to de-stabilize and destroy the African Union which is tending dangerously (as judged by the West) towards a United States of Africa under the guiding hand of Gaddafi, the European Union had tried, unsuccessfully, to create the UfM (Union for the Mediterranean). At all cost, they had to pry North Africa away from the rest of the continent by hammering the same racists themes of the 18th and 19th centuries according to which the African populations of Arab extraction were more “advanced”, and more “civilized” than the rest of the continent. That plan failed when Gaddafi would not play along. He had quickly understood the game from the moment when there was all that talk about the Mediterranean which [only] involved some African countries without informing the African Union, but at the same time, inviting ALL the 27 member nations of the European Union. The UfM without the principal engine of the African Federation was dead on arrival, moribund with Sarkozy as its President and Mubarak, its vice-president. It is this same idea which Alain Juppé is trying to re-launch, as he eyes Gaddafi’s fall from power, of course. What African leaders don’t understand is that, as long as it is the European Union which is financing the African Union, we will remain stuck at the starting-line, because under these conditions, there will be no effective independence. It is in this same vein that the European Union has encouraged and financed the various regional trade blocs in African. It is obvious that ECOWAS which has an embassy in Brussels and which gets most of its financing from the EU, is a major obstacle to the creation of the African Federation. It is what Lincoln fought against during the secessionist civil war in the United States, since, from the moment when a group of nations assemble around a regional political organization, that would only fracture the central governing authority. This is what Europe wanted and it is what Africans did not understand by creating one after the other; COMESA, UDEAC, SADC and the Greater Maghreb Union which never became operational thanks in part to Gaddafi who understood the game all too well.
4- GADDAFI, THE AFRICAN WHO WAS ABLE TO CLEANSE THE HUMILIATION OF APARTHEID
Gaddafi is in the hearts of almost every African as a very generous humanitarian for his disinterested support in the fight against the racist regime of South Africa. If Gaddafi had been a self-centered man, nothing would have forced him to draw the ire of the West by financially and militarily support the ANC in its battle against apartheid. Which is why, shortly after being released from his 27 years in prison, Mandela decided to break with the United Nation’s embargo against Libya in October 23rd of 1997. As a result of this embargo which was also aerial, no plane had landed in Libya over five long years. To go to Libya, one had to catch a plane into Tunisia; get to Djerba and continue by car for 5 hours to Ben Gardane, crossing the border and going another 3 hours by road across the desert to Tripoli. On the other hand, one could go through Malta and then crossover by night, using poorly fitted boats and reach the Libyan coast. A true ordeal for an entire people, just to punish one man. Mandela decided to breach this injustice and responded to the former American president Bill Clinton, who had considered this visit «unfortunate», Mandela argued: «No nation can claim to itself the role of a global policeman, and no nation can dictate to others what they must and must not do». He added: «those who yesterday where friends of our enemies, today have the temerity of demanding that I should not visit my brother Gaddafi, they’re asking us to be ungrateful and to forget our friends from the past». In fact, for the West, South African racists where kindred whom they were trying to protect. It is for this reason that members of the ANC had been branded dangerous terrorists, including Nelson Mandela himself. It was only in July 2nd 2008 that the American Congress passed a law erasing Nelson Mandela’s name and those of his ANC comrades from this black list, not because they had come to terms with the idiocy of such a list, but because they wanted to make a gesture of goodwill to the 90-year-old Nelson Mandela. If today the West has repented its support for Nelson Mandela’s enemies and are truly sincere when streets and places are christened after him, how do they justify waging war against the man who brought victory to Nelson Mandela and to his people, Gaddafi?
B- THOSE WHO WISH TO EXPORT DEMOCRACY, ARE THEY THEMSELVES DEMOCRATS?
And if Gaddafi’s Libya was more democratic than the USA, France, Great Britain and all of those who have a started a war to export democracy to Libya? On March 19th 2003, President Georges Bush dropped bombs on the heads of Iraqis under the pretext of exporting democracy to their country. On March 19th 2011, eight years later and to the day, its is the French President who was dropping bombs on the heads of Libyans under the same pretext of bringing them democracy. Mister Obama, 2009 Nobel Prize winner and President of the United States of America, in order to justify his decision to hurl cruise missiles from sub-marines on the heads of Libyans, the tells us that he is trying to unseat a dictators from power and to install a democracy in that country.
The question which ever human being gifted with the least in capacity for intellectual judgment and reason cannot help but ask: these countries like France, England, USA, Italy, Norway, Denmark, Poland whose only legitimacy to go an bombard Libyans is only based of having auto-declared themselves «democratic» are they truly democratic? If yes, are they more democratic than Gaddafi’s Libya? The answer, unequivocally is NO, for the sole and simple reason that democracy doesn’t exist. Its not me asserting this, it is the very person whose birthplace, Geneva, is home to the organs of the United Nations. That person is of course Jean-Jacques Rousseau, born in Geneva in 1712 who asserted in Chapter IV of Book III of his celebrated «Social Contract» that *: «there has never been a true democracy, and there never will be one»*. In order for a State to be truly democratic, Rousseau lays down 4 conditions according to which Gaddafi’s Libya is by far more democratic than the United States of America, France and all the others who profess to export democracy into that country. These include:
1- *Dimensions of the State*: the bigger any government gets, the less it is democratic, according to Rousseau, the State should be very small to allow its citizens find ways of gathering and to enable each person to easily get to know the next. And so before sending people off to vote, we should ensure that people know each other otherwise voting for the sake of voting would be denuded of all democratic underpinnings, it is a sham of a democracy to elect a dictator. The organizing structure of the Libyan State is based on tribal groupings which by definition involves people in small entities. The democratic sentiment is more present within a tribe, in the village than in the greater Nation, by virtue of the fact that everyone knows everyone else and that communal life revolves around the same common interests bring some kind of auto-regulation, auto censure is brought to bear at each moment, the reactions or the counter-reaction of the other members for or against the opinions which anyone may hold. Seen from this perspective, it is Libya which better responds to the exigencies of Rousseau, one cannot say as much of the United States of America, France or Great Britain, societies which have become strongly urbanized and where a majority of neighbors do not even say hello to each other and hence do not even know each other, even after having lived side-by-side for twenty years. In these countries, we have moved directly into the following phase: «voting» which we have malignantly sanctified so that many quickly forget that this vote is useless from the moment when I start speaking voting on matters affecting the nation’s future without knowing ones fellow citizens. We have thus arrived at the stupidity of citizens voting from abroad. Knowing one another and speaking to each other is the essential condition of communication for the democratic debate which should precede all elections.
2- *It requires a simplicity of values and behaviors* to avoid that we spend so much time talking about justice before courts and seeking redress to the many arguments of societal interest which any complex society naturally gives birth to. Westerner define themselves as civilized people who have complex value systems and see Libyans a nation of primitive people, who have simple value systems. From this perspective, once again, it is Libya which better responds to democratic criteria laid out by Rousseau than all those who pretend to give them lessons in democracy. In a complex society, the manifold conflicts are resolved by the law of the powerful, since the wealthier party can avoid prison because he can afford a better attorney and more so, turns the State’s repressive apparatus against the person who steals a banana at a supermarket, instead of turning it against the greedy financier who brings down a bank. In a city like New York where 75% of the population is White, 80% of the managerial positions are held by White people and they only represent 20% of the prison population.
3- *Equality in rank and in fortunes*. One only has to look at the 2010 FORBES rankings to see the names of the wealthiest people in each of the countries which is throwing bombs on the heads of Libyans and see the difference in salaries with the lowest ranking wage earners in each of these countries and do the same with Libya to understand that in terms of wealth distribution, Libya should be the one exporting its know-how to those who are attacking her and not the other way around. Even from this angle, according to Rousseau, Libya would be more democratic than those who pompously want to export this supposed democracy to that country. In the United States, 5% of the population possesses 60% of the nation’s wealth. It is the most lopsided, unequal country in the world.
4- *No luxuries*. According to Rousseau, for democracy to exist in a country, there must be no luxuries because, luxury necessitates wealth and this last becomes a virtue, the goal to be achieved at all cost is the people’s wealth fare, «luxuries simultaneously corrupt both the rich and the poor, the former by possession, the latter by coveting; it sells the nation to listlessness, to vanity; if serves the citizens up to the State for dinner, the former to meet the needs of the latter, and each is happy in their role ». Is there more luxury in France than in Libya? All those cautionary tales from employees who have been pushed to suicide, even employees of public and para public companies, for “reasons” of profitability and hence of possessions of luxury items by one of the parties, are these more abundant in Libya or in the West?
In 1956, the American sociologist C. Wright Mills described American democracy as « a dictatorship of the elites». According to Mills, The United States of America isn’t a democracy because in fact, it is money which speaks at elections and not the people. The results of any election there is an expression of the voice of money and not the voice of the people. After Daddy Bush and Son Bush, for the Republic primaries of 2012, there is already talk about Bush-Benjamin. In addition, if political power rests on a bureaucracy, Max Weber has noted that there are 43 millions civil servants and soldiers in the United-States who essentially control the country, but who weren’t elected by anyone and who do not respond directly to the people about their activities. Only one person (a wealthy elite) is really elected but real power on the ground is held by a caste of rich people who arrive at those positions simply through appointments to positions such as ambassadorships, army generals etc ….
How many people in these supposedly «democratic» countries know that in Peru the constitution forbids a second consecutive mandate for the incumbent president? How many of them are aware than in Guatemala, not only can the incumbent NOT present himself as a candidate to that position, but none of his/her kin, no member of his family could aspire to that position? How many of them know that Rwanda is the leading nation in the world that is most inclusive of women with 49% of the parliamentarians being women? How many of them know that in the 2007 CIA ranking, of the top-ten best-governed countries in the world, four are African? With the gold medal going to Equatorial Guinea whose public debt represent only 1.14% of its GDP.
Civil war, revolts, and rebellions are the ingredients indicating the telltale signs of an emerging democracy Rousseau argues. Democracy isn’t an end result, it is a permanent process of re-affirming the natural rights of human beings and all over the world (without exception) a handful of men or women, should confiscate the people’s power, and subvert it to help maintain themselves in power. Everywhere, we find various forms of castes which subvert the very idea of a «democracy» which should be an ideal towards which aspire and not a label to appropriate or a refrain to be flaunted just because we can shout louder than everyone else. When a nation is calm like France or the United States that is devoid of any political unrest for Rousseau all of this only means that the dictatorial system is sufficiently repressive to prevent any attempts at rebellion. If Libyans are revolting, it isn’t necessarily a bad thing.
It is when people around the world stoically accept the system which is oppressing them that is very bad. Rousseau concludes: « /Malo periculosam libertatem quam quietum servitium -/translation: If there were ever a godly people, they would govern themselves democratically. Such a perfect system of government does not suit human beings». Asserting that Libyans are being killed for their own good is a delusion.
C- WHAT LESSONS FOR AFRICA?
After 500 years of master-servant relations with the West, there is no room to doubt that we have different criteria for judging good and bad. We have profoundly divergent interests. How could one not decry the “yes” vote by three African countries from Sub-Saharan Africa, Nigeria2, South-Africa and Gabon for resolution 1973 authorizing the new form of colonialism called «protecting the people», validating the racist theories which Europeans have been peddling since the 18th century that North African has nothing in common with Sub-Saharan Africa, North Africa is more evolved, more civilized and more cultivated than the rest of Africa.
Events are unfolding as if Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, Algeria weren’t part of Africa3. Even the United Nations appears to be ignoring the legitimacy of the African Union over its member States.
The goal is to isolate the nations of Sub-Saharan African and to further fragment them and keep them under control. In fact, for the startup capital of the new African Monetary Fund (AMF), Algeria contributed 16 billion dollars and Libya 10 billion dollars which together represented 62% of the 42 billion Dollar capitalization needed. Africa’s most populous nation, Nigeria followed by South Africa came in far behind with 3 billion dollars each.
It is very troubling that this is the first time in the history of the United Nations that it has declared war on a people without first exploring any path of peaceful resolution to address the problem.
Does Africa still have a place in such an organization? Nigeria South Africa are disposed to voting “Yes” to any demands from the West, because the naively believe in the promises made to them by this or that nation to award them a place as a permanent member of the Security Council with equal veto rights. They forget that France has no power to grant such a position. If France did, Mitterrand would have done this long ago for Germany’s Helmut Kohl. United Nations’ reform is not on the agenda. The only way to counter this is through the Chinese option: all 50 African countries should quit the United Nations. They’d have to return another day, and only after they have been granted something they’ve always wanted, a position for the African Union, nothing less.
This method of non-violence is the only weapon of justice that the poor and weak people like us have. We simply have to quit the United Nations, since this organization by its very structure, and via its hierarchy serves the interest of the most powerful members.
We have to quit the United Nations to signal our disapproval of this conception of the world based solely on the crushing of the weaker nations. At the very least, they’d be at liberty to continue doing it as before, but without our endorsement, and not having to suggest that were have endorsed it even though they know well that we were never consulted. And after we have made our point, as we did during the meeting on Saturday 19/3 in Nouakchott through the declaration of opposition to military action, all of which was quietly ignored in order to proceed with the bombardment of an African people.
What is unfolding today is the same scenario already witnessed before vis-à-vis China. Today, they are recognizing the legitimacy of the Ouattara government; they also are recognizing the legitimacy of the insurgents in Libya. It is the same thing which happened at the end of the Second World War with China. The so-called international community had chosen Taiwan as the sole representative of the Chinese people in place of Mao Tse Tung’s China. It took 26 years, that is until October 25th 1971 and resolution 2758 which ALL Africans must read, to put an end to this human absurdity. China was admitted, only after it demanded and obtained permanent membership [on the Security Council] and with vetoing rights, if not, she would not join. Once these requirement were met and the admission resolutions were in force, it took another year until November 29th 1972, for the Chinese foreign Minister to issues his response in a letter to the Secretary General at the United Nations no to say “Yes” or “Thank You”, but to dispel any misunderstandings, in guarantees about China’s dignity and respectability. What can Africans expect from the United Nations without taking strong actions which insist on their respectability? In Cote d’Ivoire we saw an official from the United Nations acting as if he was above the constitutional institutions of that country. We have entered into this organization under conditions that we would be serfs and them believing that we would be invited to the table to eat with other nation on plates which we had to wash is simply wishful thinking, worse, stupid. When the AU recognized Ouattara’s victory without taking into account the contrary conclusions of its own observers on the ground, only to please their former masters, how could we possibly expect any respect? When South-African President Zuma declares that Ouattara had not won the elections and then changed his mind 180° after visiting Paris, we must begin to question what these leaders are worth who represent us and who speak on behalf of one billion Africans.
Force and real freedom for Africa will come from its capacity to acting after thoughtful consideration and them assuming the consequences of those actions. Dignity and respectability come at a price. Are we prepared to pay that price? If not, then our place will continue to be in the kitchen, in the toilets to secure the comfort of others.
Geneva March 28, 2011
(*) Jean-Paul Pougala is a Cameroonian writer, director of the Institute for Geostrategic Studies and Professor of Sociology and Geopolitics at Geneva School of Diplomacy (in Switzerland).