Only some two hundred people in Dublin became rowdy calling for the trial of Tony Blair during the book signing ceremony for buyers waiting with their copies. So book signing in London, gone! For a minute there, we thought he was in Darfur, Africa where people would like to see the President of Sudan Omar Hassan al-Bashir sent to The Hague for trial. But the place and the people looked far-off from Africa on our old black and white TV and we had to watch the color TV to make sure it was not playing trick on our eyes.
Charles Taylor never had any reputation one can compare to that of Tony Blair and most Africans are just happy to see him tried over the killing, maiming and looting of ample raw diamond from Africa. Forget the cat walks of those stars as Naomi Campbell and Mia Farrow over “dirty little stones” that might have overshadowed the way he got the huge stones he is tried for. If anybody could appreciate women’s best friend, Naomi would. He is not tried over those three little pieces of dirty looking stones, could he?
The question remains that if all the inside and outside players in Iraq were Africans, it would be difficult to escape the trial those rowdy folks in Dublin were asking for. After switching from our black and white TV to color TV in order to make sure these were not Irish blacks or recent immigrants from Africa, it was concluded that these Irish share international grievance they want the world to note. No wonder many people in the world wear green on St. Patrick’s Day with banners: We Are All Irish Today.
One of the most charismatic leaders in recent time, at least for the Labor Party in England is Tony Blair. He took the Party to another Labor reign. He was God sent and his Party liberal policies served the working class well, up to a point. It is a pity that from the height of his achievements, even making peace in Ireland, they had to stone him in Dublin with eggs and shoes like a war criminal deserving trial at The Hague. A politician, for a change, should be able to write some truth in his book that devoted profit from them to war veterans. How has the mighty fallen?
Omar Hassan al-Bashir has always been ruthless in Darfur and not many Africans will weep for his trial in The Hague either. But there is a fundamental principle here that Africans resent. It is the double standard used to judge who becomes a war criminal that must be declared an outcast and must be captured when they step into any country for trial. Many African countries have refused to cooperate with International Criminal Court for reasons beyond the guilt of Omar.
These African countries have been seen as encouraging lawlessness and disrespect for the rule of law. This label is not out of sincerity because some of those countries that are quick to judge African countries are not members of the Treaty club that brings justice to war criminals. Many Nigerians remember the visit of former President Obasanjo to the United States when Charles Taylor sought refuge in the Country. The diplomatic pressure on him was so intense, Charles Taylor had to be released across the border after some agreement had been made with some countries that he should stay as a refugee in Nigeria.
The real problem is that many of us do not understand the rule of the game. Simply put: if you lose the war, the victor can declare you a war criminal. The stronger party dictates the rules. Of course there will be double standard, favoritism and whatever as the stronger party sees fit. The danger lies in when the victor becomes the vanquished. It will be difficult to change the rules as we go along, because those coming after us watch and see that our hypocrisy as untenable.
It is a pity that a man of Tony Blair fine character that was well liked worldwide would fall as victim of the circumstances beyond his control. It would be difficult for any Prime Minister of Britain not to support United States in a war. The history behind it went way back. It is true that there was a revolt in United States when the British were enemies. But that did not prevent United States from forming “Supreme partnership” with Britain against Germany’s Hitler after Churchill’s encouragement from Franklin D. Roosevelt.
There is a lesson here, no matter what our differences were in war, sorrow and poverty, Africans must not fight one another as enemies forever. We have to come together at some point and unite against common enemy the way Britain and United States forgot their differences of the Independence War. Indeed, we must go a step further and people of goodwill must come together against common enemies in war, subjugation, slavery and exploitation no matter where we are on the surface of the earth.
Only when we understand how many people, not only the Irish in Dublin feel, even in United States, can we understand the relief of Americans as President Obama stopped their combat role in Iraq. In the same vein, people must put themselves in the shoes of African countries to understand why, Omar has not been arrested. It has nothing to do with his guilt or innocence but more to do with double standard.
Tony Blair was in a very difficult position and he has not told his entire story. When he does, future generation may wonder why our young are sacrificed in the heat of war by his mismatch in Slobodan Milosevic of Slovenia, Charles Taylor, Omar Hassan al Bashir or Augusto Pinochet of Argentina. As long as we have people like George Soros willing to give one hundred million dollars to Human Right Watch, there is reason for optimism.
It may be a good time for African billionaires to join their counter parts in other parts of the world to disgorge their loots into good causes. Charity begins at home, not in foreign universities, many African children will benefit. Nevertheless we have to get rid of our own demons as Ghana, Zambia and South Africa did in a graceful or bloody way to avoid endemic corruption such as we have in Nigeria; before outsiders express regrets for not doing enough to prevent atrocities in Rwanda, Congo or nailing Taylor for Sierra Leone.
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