As Ghana welcomes Israel and the Libyan National Transitional Council…
By Dr. Michael J.K. Bokor
Saturday, September 10, 2011
I firmly believe that Ghana has a lot to benefit from this restoration of diplomatic ties with Israel. It must be clear to all by now that any insistence on isolating Israel because of the original factor that necessitated the severance of ties is absurd. The Palestinian cause that was at the heart of the crisis has proved to be an endless conundrum that cannot be resolved through the breaking off of diplomatic ties. More importantly, Ghana is so far removed from this Israeli-Palestinian conflict as to make its continued pooh-poohing of Israeli the highest form of laziness, stupidity, and immaturity.
Again, it is noteworthy that the very countries in the Arab world that have been locking horns with Israel don’t have anything substantial to offer Ghana or the world. I have in mind Syria, Jordan, and the part of Palestine under the PLO or any other authority. What has been any contribution of these states to Ghana’s economic development efforts?
Furthermore, the restoration of normal relations between Egypt and Israel for all the years that the former President Hosni Mubarak succumbed to pressure from the United States to adopt the pacifist approach suggests that those countries not directly affected by the 1967 Egypt-Israeli three-day war (which triggered the mass isolation of Israel) have been fooled. If the main victims of the Arab-Israeli conflict have repaired relations with Israel and could do business at all levels for mutual benefits, what justification should a country like Ghana have not to rethink its stance?
For all that it is, Israel is better established in all departments of life than these countries hating it for its refusal to be destroyed by the Arab World. I am convinced that Israeli technical expertise in industry and agriculture is one of the best in the world that Ghana can profit from. Israeli expertise in agriculture is legendary, which Ghana can rely on to improve its food- and cash-crop production to serve the needs of its large population that is constantly threatened by food insecurity and meager revenues to speed up national development. I agree with the government’s decision to look beyond the routine group attitude to international politics and to make a break with the past. This break is long overdue.
While welcoming this restoration of ties with Israeli, we must, however, act guardedly. Within the context of the US Embassy cables being released by the whistle-blower Wikileaks, we want to caution here that the appearance of Israel on our landscape will bring along with it the almighty intelligence institution, Mossad. This institution is formidable in all that it does and Ghanaians need to know how to handle affairs so as not to create more trouble for the country.
If the embarrassment caused by the contents of the US Embassy cables is not enough to alarm us, then, we can sit back and allow our public officials with loose tongues to go all out to overshoot their mouths. What we have been bombarded with so far is enough to indicate that our public officials are a danger to our national security interests. What we are not given in these reports may be more frightening to the extent that it really borders on concrete national issues of interest to foreign intelligence organs operating in diverse ways in the country.
We can’t fail to fault these public officials with violating the provisions of the State Secrets Act (Act 101); but because our national politics is not guided by principles and the norms of good conscience, we don’t expect any action to be taken against those “okro-mouths.” Nor will they at their own volition acknowledge their petulance and the danger to which they’ve exposed our country as serious enough to warrant their resignation or rendering of unqualified apology to Ghanaians for their misdeeds.
They won’t do so and the appointing authority (President Mills) won’t be expected to do so because he has turned out to be very much subdued by the trappings of office to such an extent as not to know that he has enormous powers at his disposal to use for punishing wrongdoers in his administration or for righting the wrong that they’ve done. And no day passes by without their doing wrong.
Unfortunately for us in Ghana, there seems to be no clean conscience in our national affairs. As the case is now, those who are entrusted with securing the country’s secrets are the very people who leak them with impunity. Rather intriguingly too, those charged with punishing the “okro-mouths” are themselves guilty of that very offence. Who, then, is to bear and defend standards of probity and propriety in national politics? None whatever!!
In recognizing Israel as a partner, Ghana must use this restoration of diplomatic ties as a moment for serious reflection so as not to be lured in future by the herd mentality to take actions that will not benefit the country in any way. I am still not sure how to explain matters, but I think that the decision to cut off ties with Israel was motivated by a herd mentality in pursuit of an agenda that had nothing but a political objective.
But Ghana can’t develop if it allows only political objectives to sway its decisions at such a level. One expects that the economic factor will be the major hallmark to guide our future decisions on whether to maintain or sever diplomatic ties with countries. If we allow only the political aspect to do so, we will achieve nothing concrete to justify that move. Our people can’t survive on mere rhetoric. They need substance, which can come from only the economic factor.
DIPLOMATIC RECOGNITION FOR LIBYAN REBEL LEADERSHIP
In this sense, then, the decision to recognize the rebel National Transitional Council (NTC) as the legitimate governing body of Libya is defensible. Apart from the reasons given by the government to justify its decision, it is obvious that Gaddafi is out of reckoning and cannot return to power to do anything in Ghana’s interest.
Despite the initial hesitation to declare its position, what the government has done now should put the lid on its position. The pendulum has swung in favour of the rebels and they need support to consolidate their hold on affairs so as to restore Libya to its status. What has happened is nothing strange to warrant any more hesitation or twitching of noses in a show of contempt. History tells us that in many countries that have had rebellions, once the rebels succeed in taking over the reins of government, they are no more rebels but something else.
The successes chalked by the Libyan rebels have overturned the table in their favour and Ghana can no more drag its feet in recognizing them. After all, they know best what they want for their country. We may still be unhappy that the West and its military machine took over the war to remove Gaddafi from power, but that’s a reality to be appreciated and lived with. The harm has already been done to the Gaddafi regime and since that harm cannot be undone, there is nothing more sensible and imperative to do now than looking ahead to give the new leaders the support they need to handle the affairs of Libya in the manner that will justify their rebellion against Gaddafi.
At this point, the verdict is clear that the NTC has transformed itself into the administration in a post-Gaddafi era. Giving it diplomatic recognition will not only be a morale booster for it but it will also position Ghana among countries that are likely to be in Libya’s good books. Of course, we need to be there for whatever strategic benefits there might be, whether the government’s decision runs counter to the AU’s position or not.
As to whether the African Union itself will follow suit to announce the collective position of the continental body on the matter is immaterial at this stage that more than 20 of its members have already taken the wind out of its sail. We can tell that any further withholding of assent to the presence of the NTC will be only a show of anger at how the West spurned the AU’s peace-making efforts. The AU may continue to portray itself as a “cry-baby” but its instincts and disdain for the NTC will not make any impact on affairs.
What has happened so far is convincing enough to make us write Gaddafi off as a loser. He may be spitting verbal fire from his hideout but it seems the clock is fast ticking off for him to account for his many years on the throne. Sooner than later, he will face the ultimate: either being captured and taken through the rough road that the International Criminal Court has carved for him or killed in the course of resisting arrest, which will then cap it all for him as the martyr that he has chosen to make himself.
In this sense, then, Ghana has no justification to stick to a lost cause. Its decision to go along with all the other countries to recognize the NTC at the diplomatic level is the most sensible move to make now. What the government has to do hereafter is to position itself to help in any way possible in the reconstruction efforts of Libya so that conditions can become favourable again for Ghanaian workers to have the opportunity to work in Libya.
Continued in the last installment…