May 2021 is a month of dramatic changes in the actions of world powers. Could competition from China, Germany and Russia be forcing old powers to change their behavior in African relations, Israeli-Palestinian ceasefire, recognition of historical wrongs, fair compensations or vaccines?
Germany, in a stunning move last week, stated that it would apologize for, and recognize officially, the killing of Herero and Nama people in Namibia in 1904 to 1908, as genocide by German colonial troops in Africa and give a “financial package” rather than “reparations” of 1.1 billion euros. The package will go toward infrastructure, health care and training programs for the affected communities to be paid out over 30 years. If approved by both countries, German President Steinheimer will issue an official apology in front of the Namibian parliament.
President Macron of France last week “acknowledged” France’s partial responsibility in the 1994 genocide in Rwanda, where some 800,000 Rwandans were killed by the French-speaking Hutu regime supported by France. He half-washed his hands though, saying, “France did not understand that while trying to prevent a regional conflict or a civil war, it was in fact standing by the side of a genocidal regime.” The French human rights-loving egalite fraternite “did not understand” while nearly a million are killed, hundreds of thousands raped, impregnated or infected with HIV? In 1994? Macron also promised that “no suspected genocide perpetrator will be able to avoid justice,” while France has been charged for years of allowing alleged Hutu culprits to leave Rwanda and live in France.
The US is running around trying to be the broker for peace after China offered to do it for the Israel-Palestinian conflict. So much in a rush that Secretary Blinken did not show up in a meeting of Asean ministers called by the US itself.
This change of heart came after China offered to broker peace over the US vetoing of a UN resolution calling for a ceasefire, supported by all other voting countries.
The UK’s Blair in 2016 took responsibility for joining the US-led invasion of Iraq in 2003, but said it did so on falsifications of facts, not flawed intelligence. This was as Sir Chilcot’s investigation concluded that peaceful options had not been exhausted before the invasion. Is this really an apology?
But Wilkerson, chief of staff of then-State Secretary Colin Powell of the US, supposedly of “unassailable integrity,” has come out to say that the basis of the Iraq war was orchestrated. Former British Ambassador Craig Murray (http://bit.ly/MurrayIraq) has come out to say the same thing about the information the UK had… fabricated. Apparently, verified unassailably fake joint “intelligence” efforts. The takeover of the Iraqi oil resources, funds accounts and dictation to their government are definitely not fake, nor the ISIS wars, suicide bombers, chaos, crushed economy and the estimated casualties of about a million, give or take a few hundred thousand. Right after Iraq, the same Western alliance went for Libya and destroyed it, then several more countries. What about Palestine, Yemen, Iran, Venezuela, Bolivia and the other collapsed states? Obviously, China will try to prevent the same embargos and crippling blockades from being applied to it.
German apologies for past colonial excesses started before China was a power, and it can be fairly said that they were not just a competitive response to Chinese relations-building in the world. Just as Chancellor Willy Brandt on Dec. 7, 1970 knelt at the memorial to the Warsaw Ghetto, Germany also works for its desire to make up, into its public consciousness, the arts and history classes, even built a Holocaust Museum right in Berlin. In 1985, German President Richard von Weizsacker called Germany’s defeat in World War 2 a “day of liberation.” In its diplomacy, Merkel in a 2015 visit to Japan even spoke to the country about Germany’s rehabilitation of its reputation. Germany, the fourth economic power in the world as well, has become ranked first in popularity as a country in the world community, according to a BBC 2014 service poll – arguable but deservedly.
Japan is something in between intransigence and assistance among nations. Its history books rewrite the last war, and the offensive role of Japan is glossed over as it refuses to acknowledge massacres, the tens of millions killed, even in China and Korea alone, blocks even memorials to sex slaves or comfort women. On the other hand, it has invested and shared production technologies all over Southeast Asia and made friends; outside the government, its people have become gentle and peace advocates.
Meanwhile, Rwandan President Kagame has praised Macron for the admission of responsibility. France has been criticized for not raising issues with Kagame’s alleged silencing of opposition leaders who have been imprisoned or have disappeared. A major source of conflict today for Africa is that France continues to control the currency and reserves of 14 African former colonies, forcing them to pay France compensations after their “independence” and keeping military presence in them. In January this year, the French army said it killed terrorists in Mali, while a United Nations report said almost all those killed were civilians.
Yet, France, the UK, the US and Japan can accuse China with a straight face of genocide in Xinjiang where the Uighur population has increased, lifespans and incomes nearly doubled, and the local language is taught in school? Clearly Xinjiang is not genocide but development. The common characteristic of the accusers seems to come from a continuing viral gene from the colonial past, where double standards are a most natural right.
Unexpected outcome of vaccine nationalism.
Also published in: https://www.manilatimes.net/2021/05/30/opinion/columns/germany-russia-china-catalyze-change-in-behavior-of-us-france-uk/1801155