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Jomo Sanga Thomas is a lawyer, journalist, social commentator and a former Speaker of the House of Assembly in St. Vincent and the Grenadines. (iWN file photo)
Jomo Sanga Thomas is a lawyer, journalist, social commentator and a former Speaker of the House of Assembly in St. Vincent and the Grenadines. (iWN file photo)

By *Jomo Sanga Thomas

(“Plain Talk” May 10, 2024)

In my attempt to understand the current state of our world, I went back to Aimé Césaire’s 1950 essay Discourse on Colonialism. Césaire’, a Martinican intellectual and politician, makes a powerful accusation against “the so-called European or ‘Western’ civilisation” that reigns supreme in the contemporary world.

This civilisation, Césaire argues, is “indefensible” and must be overthrown, and a new international order must be set up in its place. Europe is indefensible because of history: from the 15th through 20th centuries, Western European governments progressively conquered the rest of the world through brute force to amass power and profit. During this conquest, they committed genocides and enslaved native peoples on four different continents.

Césaire cannot help but see the profound hypocrisy in Western Europe and the United States portraying themselves as the world’s saviour. They celebrate themselves for stopping the genocidal policies and imperialist ambitions of Nazi Germany and its allies, while continuing to maintain empires of their own and indiscriminately slaughtering the people they rule over.

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I went back to Césaire’ because of a recent news clip in which US House Speaker Mike Johnson warned the International Criminal Court (ICC) against issuing arrest warrants against Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and other top leaders of his government responsible for executing the current genocide in Gaza.

“We might just turn the table on the ICC. They better be careful,” Johnson said. Imagine that! A court established to set the rules of the game being threatened by the most powerful country in the world! Consider as well that this same court was encouraged by the US government and other Western countries to issue an international arrest warrant for Russian President Vladimir Putin following the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Why was Putin charged with war crimes? The allegation is that he presided over the deportation of 16,000 children from Ukraine to Russia. The Russians maintain that they moved the children into Russia for their safety.

When asked about the ICC’s move, US President Joe Biden said, “Well, I think it’s justified.” He noted that the US is not signed up to the ICC, “but I think it makes a very strong point”. Mr. Putin “clearly committed war crimes,” he said.

Note well. Putin did not kill the children. The children were not imprisoned. Yet Biden claims that the ICC charge is justified.

For the past seven months, Israel has been waging a genocidal military campaign against Palestinians. Israel’s Defence Minister Yual Gaev said that Palestinians will be denied food, water and electricity. He has likened them to animals.

More than 40,000 men, women and children have been slaughtered. Over 80,000 have been injured. Hundreds of thousands of Palestinians have been driven from their homes and made refugees; children are starving to death, and Israel is poised to commit even more genocidal crimes with its murderous invasion of Rafah, the last remaining city in devastated Gaza.

Yet, the American political establishment lines up behind the Israeli murderers with total and complete support. In fact, the Biden administration last week agreed to a US$63 billion aid package; a sizable portion goes to Israel so that it can carry out the further extermination of Palestinians. Yet these ruling elite in the US and Europe have the temerity to declare that it is Israel that faces an existential threat.

Césaire did say that Europeans were not concerned about mass killings and destruction. They only began to pay attention because Hitler and his Nazi stormtroopers brought the mass killings to European with the attempted extermination of the Jews. Césaire reminded his audience that King Leopold of Belgium had massacred over 10 million Congolese a few decades earlier, and not a single European leader batted an eyelid.

The double standard is both glaring and instructive. Across Africa, despotic regimes aided and abetted by American and European governments commit mass killings. The military leaders in Sudan and Jihadists in Mali, Niger, Chad and Nigeria destabilise African states without a hue and cry. Paul Kagame of Rwanda and Yoweri Museveni of Uganda continually help Western powers dismember the Democratic Republic of Congo — no expression of outrage.

The hypocrisy is so in your face that people will hopefully learn and draw lessons. The so-called rule-based international order is for the West and not the rest of us.

On Wednesday, the Israeli ambassador to the United Nations called on the Biden regime to defund the United Nations if the UN General Assembly votes to grant Palestinians de facto statehood status and right as a country. The Assembly vote is slated for today, and Israel says if the resolution passes, it shows that the UN is committed to rewarding terror.

When the ICC was established in 2002, neither the US nor Israel signed the treaty. When the ICC considered issuing arrest warrants for Americans responsible for war crimes in Afghanistan and Iraq, America threatened sanctions against the court.

In the same year the ICC was established, the U.S. Congress passed the American Service Members Protection Act (ASPA), which authorised the President to “use all means necessary and appropriate to bring about the release of any U.S. or allied personnel being detained by, on behalf of, or at the request of the International Criminal Court”.

The act also permitted a U.S. president to authorise military force to free any U.S. military personnel held by the court. The act was later modified to permit U.S. cooperation with the ICC when dealing with U.S. enemies.

Double standards do not make for good or lasting rules. Some people can be fooled sometimes. But you can’t fool all of the people all the time. Haile Selassie, emperor and former leader of Ethiopia, addressed the United Nations and reminded world leaders that “until the philosophy which holds one race superior and another inferior is abandoned, the world will not know peace. There will always be war.”

We hope the stresses and strains in our world do not lead to WW3 and the end of the world as we know it.

*Jomo Sanga Thomas is a lawyer, journalist, social commentator and a former senator and Speaker of the House of Assembly in St. Vincent and the Grenadines.

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