Please, please, let President Mahama, and all those people ignorantly and naively mouthing or pontificating about the so-called Ghanaian hospitality and compassion, cut the crap once and for all. Instead, let those uninformed crowds understand that the unfolding soap opera in Ghana involving the two ex-detainees—Mahmud Umar Muhammad Bin Atef and Khalid Muhammad Salih Al-Dhuby—from Guantanamo Bay has absolutely nothing to do with “Ghanaian hospitality.” Not because Ghanaians are unfriendly toward foreigners.
True, Ghanaian hospitality and peace-loving tendencies are legendary. Unfortunately, though, what Ghanaians are witnessing regarding the two Yemeni ex-detainees is clearly one of the world major powers using its “soft power diplomacy” to exploit the timidity, weakness, and gullibility of a third world country leader in an attempt to get what it wants.
People with in-depth understanding of the United States foreign policy or good knowledge of modern international relations are aware that as a powerful nation-state, the US will use its immense global influence and resources to accomplish its strategic national objectives. It may not be the right thing to do, but all the powerful countries like China, Russia, Britain, France, and what have you do it, too, when the need arises. Keep in mind the present-day international relations are based on might rather than right.
As Thucydides, the fifth century B.C. Greek historian, considered to be the father of political realism and international relations suggested in his time-tested book the “Peloponnesian War”: In the chaotic international landscape, “the strong do what they have the power to do and the weak [like Ghana] accept what they have to accept.” In this context, it’s not about “Ghanaian hospitality” but the strongest and richest country using its geopolitical prowess to its advantage. That is the bottom line!
It is unthinkable for a powerful nation such as the United States entering into any form of negotiation with a country like Ghana and the former coming out a loser. Not only does the US know exactly what it wants from other countries, but also it never takes its eyes off its national interests.
There is a compelling reason US strives hard to have its presence (embassies) established in almost every nation around the world; because, it’s in its best interests as a global hegemon. Literally, the supreme national interests always drive the US foreign policy and its relations with the rest of the world. To that end, the US will not hesitate to use any of its instruments of power—depending on the situation—to accomplish its overall national interests.
Among others, the instruments of power in the United States’ arsenals include military, informational/media, economic, and diplomatic. At least, these are the major channels or tools the US heavily relies on in advancing its strategic national interests around the world. If, for instance, the US uses its military capabilities to achieve its national goal, it classifies that as “hard power.” All others, such as informational, economic, diplomatic, cultural, academic institutions, are mainly termed “soft power.” It is obvious in these present circumstances the US uses its “soft power” strategy to coax and suck in the weak and clueless President John Mahama to dump the two ex-Gitmo foot-soldier-terrorist detainees on Ghana. Strangely, if the US, seen as one of the most compassionate societies and the most security-conscious with sophisticated intelligence network system in the world, wouldn’t give a safe haven to its own former two detainees found to pose no security threat because they’re “foot-soldiers,” why dump them on poor Ghana?
Once again it all boils down to power and common sense. Power is one’s ability to influence the action(s) of others with the view to getting a desired result. Indeed, there are number of routes used to achieve what one desires via power. It can be through force (military?), “greasing someone’s palm with kola/money,” and attraction. One international relations scholar had defined soft power “as the ability to obtain preferred outcome through attraction.”
Many will recall that the post-World War II saw the US leading in the establishment of the Bretton Woods institutions as such the World Bank and the IMF. These financial organizations were created (mostly) to help the United States ran the world while also establishing itself as the most influential world power. No doubt, the US has tremendous influence on the IMF or on the World Bank. So it is not just a coincidence that the cash-strapped Ghanaian economy under the corrupt Mahama government which badly needs IMF’s bailout will not be more “attracted” to the pressures from the US to accept the two Gitmo detainees.
It is very complicated and subtle quid pro quo looking from afar but the traces of “soft power” diplomacy can’t be discounted in this scenario. Time and space will not allow us to provide more details in terms of the conduct of the world powers vis-à-vis interstate relations, but for now let’s embrace the premise that the US foreign policy is carried out based on “coercion, payment, and attraction.”
For now, no one (except Mahama and few people) knows for sure or can prove that President Mahama personally gained any monetary benefits for unilaterally making a decision to accept “ex-foreigner terrorists” into Ghana. Similarly, knowing what many of us know now, no one can also disprove that President Mahama merely let the two Yemeni detainees into Ghana out of “Ghanaian hospitality” without some form of “payment, force, or attraction” from the US government.
Mr. Mahama and his arrogant but incompetent foreign minister Hanna Tetteh can spin as much as they want regarding their sell-out and security-compromised decision about the “ex-foot-soldier terrorists” in Ghana, but the smart Ghanaians are not buying that naïve reasoning. Please, don’t go there because it’s not about Ghanaian hospitality or compassion; rather, it’s about the US shrewd soft power against the timid Ghanaian leadership. Ghanaians deserve better!
Bernard Asubonteng is based in the United States. He teaches political science and critical thinking at a university/college-level. He can be reached at: [email protected]