07.11.2003 Feature Article

Selling Ghana Cheap

Selling Ghana Cheap
Listen to article

So the “agreement” has been ratified by our parliament! After all the warnings and discussions (based on rational arguments and sheer conjecture in some cases) Ghana has given its sovereign seal of approval to what has been seen as serious arm twisting by the government of the United States of America for some paltry top change. How sad! Those who spilled their blood for our independence must be singing a dirge in their graves, seeing what our nation has become in this era of globalization. My beef with the agreement is hinged on the realities of our so-called benefits from appending our national rights to that document. A comparative analysis in this instance would hopefully suffice to underpin a rethinking of how cheaply we have collectively sold Ghana (and this is without prejudice to those who abstained in Parliament). Sitting astride Asia, Europe and the Middle East is a secular state called Turkey. Turkey is 95% Muslim and happens to be the only predominantly Islamic populated state having full NATO membership. It has been fighting “terrorists” since the mid-1980s when the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) took up arms in exercise of their right to self-determination. Before America went back to the primary school dictionaries to look-up what terrorism was, Turkey had been practically living with it as evidence by the murder of 35000 people during the course of the PKK insurgency. Turkey also shares a border with Iraq. In March 2003, the Turkish Grand National Assembly voted overwhelmingly to refuse the United States of America the use of its military facilities especially air bases (Incirlik) in its war against Iraq. This is interesting when juxtaposed against the backdrop of the facts that: 1. Turkey is a NATO member 2. Turkey signed up to fight the war against terrorism on the side of the US 3. 1/3 of Turkey’s national budget goes to the military and security services 4. Turkey’s security needs would be better served by insulating the state from secessionist movements situated in and operating from Northern Iraq 5. The US government had just given the Republic of Turkey $20 billion to “help the economy against the unforeseen effects of the war” If Turkey, a major player in the war against terrorism and a staunch ally of Washington could take such huge funds from the US and refuse to ratify an agreement they had implicitly signed up to, what in the name of our Coat of Arms made us do this despicable deed? I concede we do get some materiel from the US: 17year old ships they do not want anymore, some training facilities at West Point for a few of our excellent officers, periodic joint exercises meant in reality to promote, project and reinforce American global hegemony and some medical equipment for which we are grateful. But for $4 million dollars? The refurbishing of Ghana Air Force MB 339 Aermacchis or our Agusta gunships alone far outweighs the entire $4million that has been mentioned, and that is to avoid mentioning that most of our equipment originates from Europe; Switzerland and Italy being the prime providers in this respect. If Turkey, which gets EVERYTHING from the US, right from F-16, sp! ares to Frigates, Submarines and Patriot Missiles can say “No, No Go away” why did we sell ourselves so cheaply? The US is even refusing to contribute meaningfully to the stabilization of the sub-region. Yes some noises are made here and there but is it not also true that what has happened so far is mere commendation of Ghana for being at the forefront of peace-making efforts while US Special Forces spend their time evacuating Western nationals to the safety of battleships parading the shores of West Africa? Once again, Turkey has been given $8.5 billion “as part of economic reform support” upon cabinet’s approval of a request to send a 10000 man force to help in the stabilization effort in Iraq. Yet, Turkey’s Chief of Staff General Hilmi Ozkurk and Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan have categorically stated that if the US would impose things on them regarding operational matters, they might as well continue in Iraq alone. Does this tell us anything? And these are people ! whose whole national security apparatus is underpinned by US materiel, never mind that Turkey bears that brunt of the quagmire of Iraq due to intransigence of the US.

Ghanaian foreign policy has been one of mutual respect and upholding of the rule of law but it does appear that we are gradually being thrust into the labyrinths of pawns in the chess games of the US. If it is our collective will that offenders are not extradited to the ICC because we have an agreement with the US not to do so, what is our moral justification in calling for attention or screaming ourselves hoarse about our democratic credentials and upholding international legal principles? Are Americans more human than Rwandans or Liberians? Or do we mean to say that it is good insofar as it is the US and its citizens. The agreement is a crafty way of avoiding a guilty conscience based on our lack of decisiveness to say “NO” to Washington. One cannot gloss over the fact that there are other underlying factors to this move, the most important of which as a political-economist I would deem to be the almighty veto of the US at the IMF in these our HIPC days ! but at least we should be open and transparent enough to tell our people what is really going on instead of feeding the good people of Ghana with such infantile widows fables as “we shall lose the $4 million”. In the spirit of South-South cooperation, even the Government of South Africa and/or Libya could give us hundred times more of the facilities that together make up the sum. Legal pundits can worry about the connotations of this agreement regarding the issue of jus cogens but what matters is that Ghana has indeed placed itself in an awkward position. We have tarnished our envious image by kowtowing to the threats of the hawks straddling the corridors of power in Washington. How for instance would we have the “nerve” to ask warring factions in the sub-region to come to the negotiating table for legality to prevail when we have been adorned with the garb of double standards by this agreement? It is indeed distressing that we have sold ourselves so cheap, not because of the monetary issues involved but for the dishonour and damage we have done to our image and prestige by ratifying this piece of “indemnity clauses”. And did I read Prof. George Sarpong right that! agreements made under threat and intimidations are null and void? Would anyone take up this issue by challenging the legality of the agreement in the first place? Somewhere in our national anthem are the words “bold to defend forever, the cause of freedom and of right”. Have we done the right thing? Have we “resisted oppressors rule with all our will and might”? The dirges go on and on and on…. Views expressed by the author(s) do not necessarily reflect those of GhanaHomePage.

ModernGhana Links

Join our Newsletter