Analysis

Why Sierra Leoneans Should Weep When Wolfowitz Claps

4 August 2006 at 18:50 | 425 views

"It is crystal clear, therefore, that Wolfowitz has a well-documented history of making false statements. In short, he lacks credibility. Why, then, would anyone take the same Wolfowitz’s recent statements about SL seriously?"

By Mohamed A. Jalloh

Anyone who is familiar with the concept of Colonial Mentality would readily recognize its manifestation in the following statement about the recent visit to Sierra Leone by World Bank President, Paul Wolfowitz, made by Alhaji Morikeh Fofana in his July 31, 2006 opinion piece in Awareness Times, under the title "Clap for us, Wolfowitz has spoken:"

“After seeing the peace and tranquility on the streets among the people and on their faces, the great Wolfowitz spoke his mind in plain and blunt manner; the tradition of Americans. He was very much impressed with the performance of this achieving government."

The fatal factual flaw in Alhaji Fofana’s above-quoted statement is rather obvious. It becomes evident upon posing a simple but key question, namely: Does Paul Wolfowitz have any credibility? In order to answer this question, it is necessary to answer an intermediate question — Who is Paul Wolfowitz? Let us proceed to answer that question.

Prior to being promoted by U.S. President George W. Bush to head the World Bank in 2005, Mr. Wolfowitz was Deputy Secretary of Defense in Mr. Bush’s administration that launched a war against Iraq in 2003. That war has now resulted in more than 2,500 American soldiers being killed, and an additional 19,000 injured, all by Iraqis resisting the U.S. occupation. Moreover, the war has cost the U.S. nearly $300 billion — so far. Yet, in advocating for the war against Iraq in 2003, “Wolfowitz said the U.S. would be greeted as liberators, that Iraqi oil money would pay for the reconstruction, and that Gen. Eric Shinseki’s estimate that several hundred thousand troops would be needed was “wildly off the mark.” [Washington Post, December 8, 2005].

In fact, according to the July 27, 2006 edition of The Washington Post, one of the two leading national newspapers in the U.S., the reason for the failure of Iraq to realize the oil exports that Wolfowitz had confidently predicted would materialize after his orchestrated invasion of Iraq, was very revealing: "But continual attacks, including some in the last week, have kept Iraq’s largest refinery in Beiji, about 155 miles north of Baghdad, from producing amid an oil shortage.”

So, if the occupying U.S. army was responsible for security in Iraq, how come it could not stop the continual attacks that had made Wolfowitz’s rosy predictions so wrong?

The answer leads right back to Wolfowitz and his well documented record of making false statements. Specifically, in 2003, prior to the invasion of Iraq, Wolfowitz publicly reprimanded a far more experienced U.S. military commander, who had suggested that more than 100,000 troops would be needed to secure Iraq after the war. Here is how the other leading national paper in the U.S., The New York Times reported the incident on February 28, 2003:

"Mr. Wolfowitz, the deputy defense secretary, opened a two-front war of words on Capitol Hill, calling the recent estimate by Gen. Eric K. Shinseki of the Army that several hundred thousand troops would be needed in postwar Iraq, "wildly off the mark." Pentagon officials have put the figure closer to 100,000 troops.

In his testimony, Mr. Wolfowitz ticked off several reasons why he believed a much smaller coalition peacekeeping force than General Shinseki envisioned would be sufficient to police and rebuild postwar Iraq. He said there was no history of ethnic strife in Iraq, as there was in Bosnia or Kosovo. He said Iraqi civilians would welcome an American-led liberation force that "stayed as long as necessary but left as soon as possible," but would oppose a long-term occupation force. And he said that nations that oppose war with Iraq would likely sign up to help rebuild it. "I would expect that even countries like France will have a strong interest in assisting Iraq in reconstruction," Mr. Wolfowitz said. He added that many Iraqi expatriates would likely return home to help."

Yet, as is evident to everyone familiar with the messy Iraq war started by Wolfowitz and others in the Bush administration, each and every one of Wolfowitz’s statements have again turned out to be totally false. In particular, just last month, confirming the falsity of Wolfowitz’s confident statement, the Bush Administration of which he was a key part, finally admitted that the 130,000 troops it had sent to Iraq are not enough to ensure security in that increasingly destabilized country.

It is crystal clear, therefore, that Wolfowitz has a well-documented history of making false statements. In short, he lacks credibility. Why, then, would anyone take the same Wolfowitz’s recent statements about SL seriously?

The answer to that question leads us back to the reference to Colonial Mentality in the opening paragraph of this essay. Six years ago, I defined Colonial Mentality as "the belief held by an African that anyone and everything foreign are inherently superior to anyone and everything African, for no other reason than their racial differences." And that leads us directly to Alhaji Fofana’s surprising unacknowledged advertisement for the SLPP government.

One would expect that Alhaji Fofana is aware of the well-known fact that since 1996, the SLPP government of President Ahmad Tejan Kabbah, including current Vice-president Solomon Berewa, has received hundreds of millions of dollars from foreign donors for the benefit of the people of SL. Similarly, Alhaji Fofana would be expected to know that, ten years later, despite that unprecedented aid, S/Leoneans live in even greater perpetual darkness night after night, have no electricity during the day, no potable water either during the day or at night, no affordable access to good medical care, and no hope for a bright future under the squandered tenure of the current SL government. Yet, incredibly, in the eyes of Alhaji Fofana, the ten-year long needless suffering of the people of SL under the SLPP is evidence of the performance of this achieving government!"

And why does he see achievement where millions of S/Leoneans see only their pain and suffering? Because a non-African, Alhaji Fofana proudly tells us, specifically, "the great Wolfowitz" told him so! Or, as he explicitly put it: "After seeing the peace and tranquility on the streets among the people and on their faces, the great Wolfowitz spoke his mind in plain and blunt manner; the tradition of Americans. He was very much impressed with the performance of this achieving government."

Which leads to a final question that conclusively indicates the presence of Colonial Mentality in an African: What kind of African would believe that the harrowing ten-year long suffering of the people of SL under the SLPP government of President Kabbah and Vice-president Berewa is not a reality merely because an American (the demonstrably clueless Wolfowitz) says it is not?

Photo: Mohamed A. Jalloh.

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