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The Gathering Storm – Facing Reality - Monday-24-September-2001
by David Comissiong

THE WORLD is about to be plunged into an era of war and economic crisis! The political leaders of the United States of America seemingly having convinced themselves that Osama bin Laden and associated extreme nationalist, fundamentalist Islamic forces carried out the recent attacks in New York and Washington, are now preparing for a fearsome military assault on Afghanistan. If the government of the United States was prepared to sacrifice the lives of thousands of totally innocent Panamanian citizens in 1989 in order to get at one man – President Manuel Noreiga – whom they claimed was suspected of involvement in drug trafficking, then one can well imagine the carnage they will be willing to commit in order to destroy Osama bin Laden.

From the point of view of the “power elite” of the United States, the attacks on New York and Washington DC constitute a fundamental challenge to the prestige of the United States as the world’s only superpower, and the leading imperialist nation. And they are only too well aware that this prestige has to be preserved if United States power over the world is to remain intact. The American political and economic establishment are also aware that Osama bin Laden has, in the past, challenged the right of the United States to maintain its almost imperial suzerainty over the puppet regimes of Saudi Arabia and certain other Gulf states (the locations of Islam’s most holy sites), and the tremendous oil reserves of this region of the Muslim world.

It goes without saying that this is an issue of fundamental importance of the “power elite” of the United States. The logic of the type of “power politics” that drives decision-making at the highest levels of the United States, therefore mandates that a massive military response will ensure. It does not matter that Osama bin Laden and the Taliban organisation are virtually creations of the United States government and their Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). Nor does it matter that the brand of militant nationalist, Islamic fundamentalism that George Bush is now declaring war against was honed and perfected by the CIA as a weapon to be deployed against the Soviet Union. Just as it did not matter that Manuel Noreiga and Saddam Hussein and their regimes were funded, supported, developed and used by the United States. But George Bush and his political masters and advisers will never take any of this into account in their calculation of responsibility for the evil events of September 11. So let us prepare to shed tears and hold solemn religious vigils for the ordinary, innocent citizens of Afghanistan, just as we did for the ordinary, innocent victims of New York and Washington.

Let us also prepare to shed tears for ourselves, for our tourism and offshore services based economy is about to be struck a blow that will share it to its very foundations! For years now I and other Caribbean nationalists and Pan Africanists have been warning that Barbados was making a big mistake in putting all of its economic eggs in the basket of North American and European tourism and services. We emphasised that we needed to build a Caribbean production system based on agriculture, fisheries, agro-industry and manufacturing. We urged Barbados to get more ultimately involved with the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) sub-region, and to take the lead in co-ordinating the development of the economic potential of the Eastern Caribbean.

We advocated the need for closer economic relationships and linkages with the continent of Africa and the nations and population groups of the African Diaspora. Indeed, we pushed for the establishment of a Commission For Pan African Affairs and pleaded for it to be given the resources and assistance necessary to carry out its mandate. We turned our eyes to Cuba and insisted that we enter into a meaningful relationship with a country that represents almost one half of the land mass and population base of the entire Caribbean.

Whilst credit must be given to Prime Minister Owen Arthur for having the vision to establish the Commission For Pan African Affairs, and for taking some initial steps in the direction of a Barbados/OECS initiative, we are forced to conclude that as a nation we have not had the wisdom and the healthy sense of enlightened self-interest that was required to break from our old and outmoded ways of thinking and to embrace this new vision. Perhaps, the events of September 11, will cause us to wake up and to examine the reality of our economic, social, political and cultural condition.

David Comissiong is the President of the Clement Payne Movement and director of the Commission For Pan African Affairs.

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