Thursday, 31 March 2022

“Military Regimes: The Question of African Governance and Development”. My talk to the Pan-Afrikan Society via Zoom on February 25th 2022.

There have been a succession of military coups recently occurring in West Africa. Burkina Faso, Guinea and Mali have seen the installation of military regimes while an abortive coup took place in Guinea-Bissau.

I examined the wave of present-day coups and compared them with the many coups which took place in Africa during the post-independence era from the 1960s to the 1980s.

I explained why military coups have occurred and whether they can ever be helpful in birthing the conditions which would lead to a level of economic development and the creation of political institutions which would secure for African nations the sort of genuine independence which has eluded them.

Rationale for presentation:

An argument that Africans demand that their leaders pursue a course with the explicit objective of achieving two fundamental things:

1.Economic independence

2.Indigenised political institutions

This will guarantee not only Africa’s prosperity but will also ensure that its people will remain independent from de facto recolonisation by extra-continental powers.

© Adeyinka Makinde

Adeyinka Makinde is a writer based in London, England.



Sunday, 27 March 2022

March 27th 1968: The Death of Colonel Yuri Gagarin

 

Photograph of Major Yuri Gagarin saluting at Vnukovo Airport on the outskirts of Moscow on April 14th 1961 (Photo Credit: TASS).

Colonel Yuri Gagarin, the Russian cosmonaut who became the first man to orbit the earth, died on March 27th 1968 when a MiG-15 UTI trainer he was co-piloting with a flight instructor crashed. 

He was 34 years of age.


Gagarin's feat of orbiting the earth was achieved on April 12th 1961.


An air force officer, the chronology of his promotions were:


. Lieutenant in 1957

. Senior Lieutenant in 1959

. Major in 1961

. Lieutenant Colonel in 1962

. Colonel in 1963


Source: Sputnik Media which summarised declassified archival material released to coincide with "Cosmonautics Day" in 2018.


NB.


The rank of Captain appears to have existed in the Soviet Air Force. If so, he skipped the rank of Captain, because he was promoted from Senior Lieutenant to Major while in orbit (considered "in the field").


© Adeyinka Makinde (2022).


Adeyinka Makinde is a writer based in London, England.




Sunday, 20 March 2022

About Jacques Foccart: "Mr. Africa"

The "Puppet Master"? Jacques Foccart photographed in the background as Felix Houphouet-Boigny is interviewed under the gaze of Foccart on March 30th, 1969. Photo Credit: French National Archives.

Some points about the enforcer of France-Afrique.

1. Jacques Foccart (1913-1997) was a long-term advisor to French leaders on the affairs of the African continent. He was and continues to be a very controversial figure who to many Africans was the sinister face of French neo-colonialism.

2. While he was politely referred to as President Charles de Gaulle's Monsieur Afrique, others acknowledged the malevolent side of his activities. He was referred to as "Rasputin" and the "Grey Eminence Grise of the General". In Chad, he was known as Dopele.

3. Foccart was the co-founder in 1959 of the Service d'Action Civique (SAC), a Gaullist militia which specialised in undertaking covert operations in Francophone Africa. SAC participated in either maintaining favoured African rulers in power or in staging coup d’├ętats. Foccart also involved SAC in aiding Biafran separatists with weapons and mercenaries during their endeavour to breakaway from federal Nigeria. SAC was sent to Algeria to fight the Organisation Armee Secrete (OAS) and are believed to have been involved in the "disappearing" of Mehdi Ben Barka, a prominent member of the opposition to Moroccan king, Hassan II. Foccart also had enormous influence on the operations of the French foreign intelligence service (the equivalent of the American CIA and British MI6/SIS). Foccart admitted that the French secret service assassinated Felix-Roland Moumie. He was instrumental in enabling Omar Bongo to become president of Gabon after the death of Louis M'Ba. He also had close relationships with Felix Houphouet-Boigny of Cote d'Ivoire and Mobuto Sese Seko of Zaire (Congo).

4. Foccart's overriding objective was always to preserve French power and influence in the Communaute Francaise, the 'former' French colonies many of which were endowed with a range of natural resources such as oil, bauxite, tin and uranium. He was an architect of the policy of France-Afrique, through which France bound all of its former colonies apart from Sekou Toure's Guinea.

5. Foccart lost his role as African advisor after Valerie Giscard D'Estaing came to power in 1974, but he made a comeback in the mid-1980s when Jacques Chirac became Prime Minister during Cohabitation with the Socialist Presidency of Francois Mitterrand.

6. The National Interest magazine claimed that "Foccart was said to have been telephoning African personalities on the subject of Zaire right up to the week before his death."

7. He died on March 19th 1997.

© Adeyinka Makinde (2022).

Adeyinka Makinde is a writer based in London, England.



Monday, 14 March 2022

Adieu William Hurt, Thespian and Thinker

William McChord Hurt (1950-2022). Photo Credit: Terry O’Neill.

It is sad to hear of the passing of the Hollywood film actor William Hurt.

I had an extensive correspondence with him that spanned aspects of history, American politics and geopolitics, and was grateful for his words of praise for some of my writings which he had come across when he was researching issues relating to a film script set during the Cold War.

His on-screen persona often reflected what he was in real life: an intelligent critical thinker.

Born into an upper middle-class family of the American Northeast, Hurt’s father was a diplomat who worked for the State Department which meant that the young Hurt lived in locations such as Mogadishu, Khartoum and Lahore. Living in Somalia, Sudan and Pakistan must have contributed to his disposition to inquisitiveness and to an interest in world affairs.

In later life he still had a thirst for knowledge and discovery.

In 2017, he told me that he had just taken a Sociology course at UCLA Extension which was titled "A critical analysis of mass media in modern culture". He did not mind as a 66-year-old sitting alongside 19–21-year-olds taking what he described to me as "a "ringside seat at the 'Coliseum' bedlam of our recent election and how it was manufactured in crucial part by the media".

He was referring to the 2016 American Presidential Election.

He cared a great deal about what he perceived to be the failings of the American political system including the party duopoly and electoral malpractice. He had views about the agenda of newspapers of record such as the New York Times and think tanks such as the Brookings Institute. He was also concerned about what he argued was the failure of the media to reference “psychology and art” as part of punditry.

Through him I discovered Eugene V. Debs, an American socialist and political activist who influenced Bernie Sanders, and I would like to think that I gave him some insight into the recent political history of Ukraine.

I think that he saw in my writing and the stances which I took, a vindication of certain aspects of his world view.

As far as his acting was concerned, I was familiar with his early films such as Gorky Park (1983), Body Heat (1981), and The Big Chill (1983) and as the 1980s progressed Children of a Lesser God (1986) and Broadcast News (1987).

He was nominated 3 times for Best Actor by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS) and in 1986 won the award -the coveted Oscar- for his performance in "Kiss of the Spider Woman" (1985).

My acquaintance with him made me look up his later work with which I was not at all familiar. I enjoyed his role in the TV series Humans in which he played “Dr. George Millican”.

I wasn't aware that his cancer diagnosis was publicly disclosed in 2018, but he appears to have continued working almost to the end.

He was always very courteous and would excuse some extended pauses in responding as he was frequently "on the road".

I am sad for his family that he is gone and so grateful that our paths crossed.

Rest in Peace great thespian.

© Adeyinka Makinde (2022)

Adeyinka Makinde is a writer based in London, England.



Friday, 11 March 2022

Africa Speaks | "Ghana at 65" | Adeyinka Makinde | March 8th, 2022

A dialogue with Steve Mulindwa on his programme “Africa Speaks”. We discussed issues related to the legacy of two of Ghana's most formidable Heads of State: Dr. Kwame Nkrumah and Flt. Lt. Jerry Rawlings

Interviewee:

.  Adeyinka Makinde

The host was Steve Mulindwa.

Tuesday, March 8th 2022.

Original Programme Link

(c) Omega Live TV (2022).



Sunday, 6 March 2022

Forthcoming Interview on 'The Mind Renewed': The War in Ukraine

I will be interviewed by Julian Charles on The Mind Renewed in the coming weeks. The subject will be on the current crisis in Ukraine:

Text: "We shall once again be joined by the lawyer, writer and university lecturer Adeyinka Makinde, this time for an interview on the ongoing crisis in Ukraine. (I am particularly looking forward to this conversation as we had a very interesting chat about Russia and its relationship to Britain a few years back, which will no doubt form a partial backdrop to the upcoming conversation.)

Adeyinka Makinde trained for the law as a barrister. He lectures in criminal law and public law at a university in London, and has an academic research interest in intelligence & security matters. He is a contributor to a number of websites for which he has written essays and commentaries on international relations, politics and military history. He has served as a programme consultant and provided expert commentary for BBC World Service Radio, China Radio International and the Voice of Russia."

The Mind Renewed Schedule

https://themindrenewed.com/schedule

© Adeyinka Makinde (2022)

Friday, 4 March 2022

Russian "War Crimes" in Ukraine and the U.S. “Hague Invasion Act”

The ongoing Russian military invasion and occupation of Ukraine has led to calls for the International Criminal Court (ICC) to launch an investigation into the possibility of the commission of war crimes by the Russian armed forces. A chorus of voices have called for the prosecution of Russian President Vladimir Putin. Yet, whatever the merits of these calls, the reference to war crimes resulting from the invasion of a sovereign nation state by another brings into sharp focus the previous conduct of the United States and its allies in relation to military operations and invasions of countries such as Iraq, Libya and Syria. For while the sentiment that political and military leaders should be held accountable for the violations of international law is a morally sound one, the selectivity in regard to which leaders and militaries should bear responsibility is a glaring one, not only because of the inherent difficulty of indicting leaders from powerful states, but also because almost twenty years ago, the United States passed a law which authorises the president to use military force to liberate any American held by the ICC which is located in The Hague, a city in the Netherlands which is a member of NATO.

Harris Faulkner (Fox News Host):”When you invade a sovereign nation, that is a war crime".

Condoleezza Rice: Nods her head in solemn agreement.

- Exchange during Fox News Sunday, February 27, 2022.

The exchange between the host of an American politics programme and Condoleezza Rice, the U.S. National Security adviser to the administration of President George W. Bush from 2001 to 2005 was a revealing one. For Rice, who had tweeted three days previously that “Russian aggression cannot stand”, was part of the team which oversaw the invasion of a sovereign nation under the false pretext that it possessed Weapons of Mass Destruction.

For many scholars, the invasion of Iraq was a war crime since it amounted to waging aggressive war in contravention of the Nuremberg Principles. It also arguably contravened UN Charter Article 2(4) which provides that all member states must refrain from the use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any state.

Thus, it is that there is a widely-held view that those who were party to the invasion enterprise including Ms. Rice should have been indicted for war crimes by the ICC. However, the preeminent architects including President Bush and British Prime Minister Tony Blair have never faced such indictment.

Apart from the crime of invasion, the subsequent occupation of Iraq by US and coalition forces was replete with allegations of wrongdoings such as massacres of insurgents and civilians during operations, as well as of rape and torture.

The arguments related to the commission of war crimes extend to other countries including the actions taken by NATO states in Libya, an endeavour also undertaken by allegedly false pretences. The claim that forces of the Libyan government were about to commit widespread massacres in the city of Benghazi, is strenuously disputed. Indeed, allegations used to justify the invasion such as “eye witness accounts” of Libyan warplanes firing on protesters were found to be largely false. The intervention, which was permitted under the “Responsibility to Protect” doctrine, developed into an endeavour of regime change using Islamist proxies that included the al-Qaeda-affiliated Libyan Islamic Fighting Group.

Among the alleged war crimes committed by NATO forces was the bombing of forces loyal to the eventually overthrown Head of State, Colonel Muammer Gaddafi in his home town of Sirte where his forces did not pose a threat to civilians. Another example is held to be the airstrikes carried out by NATO in and around the north eastern city of Ajdabiya were directed at stationary units of the Libyan army which were not advancing.

The objective of destroying the Libyan military and national infrastructure thus took precedence over the actual protection of civilians. In fact, NATO forces failed to protect citizens within Libya throughout its intervention. Among those who bore the brunt of suffering during the conflict were black-skinned Africans who were subjected to widespread torture by the NATO-backed rebels. The rebels ethnically cleansed villages populated by black Libyans and also committed mass rapes against black African females in refugee camps outside Tripoli.

Civilian supporters of the Gaddafi government were tortured and murdered by rebel forces.

The record of NATO forces intervening in Syria, a covert operation to support what turned out to be a largely Islamist insurgency against the secular government of President Bashar Assad, is also tainted by numerous allegations of atrocities against civilians. The United States still illegally occupies the eastern part of Syria.

But the United States is demonstrably above the law.

The so-called Wolfowitz Doctrine developed in the post-Cold War era which sought to maintain American global hegemony in the wake of the dissolution of the old Soviet empire, explicitly provided that the United States would use all means at its disposal to prevent the rise of another power including the abrogation of multilateral treaties.

In August 2002, President Bush signed into law an Act of Congress which came to be known as the “Hague Invasion Act”. 

The  American Service Members Protection Act (ASPA) of 2002 empowers the President to use “all means necessary and appropriate to bring about the release of any U.S. or allied personnel being detained or imprisoned by, on behalf of, or at the request of the International Criminal Court.”

It was enacted as part of the Supplemental Appropriations Act for Further Recovery From and Response to Terrorist Attacks on the United States

This means that the United States would be prepared to invade the Netherlands, a fellow NATO member state, to secure the release of persons charged with war crimes regardless of the level of evidence against them.

The United States voted against the adoption of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, because it believed that any member of its armed forces stationed abroad needed to be free from the risk of prosecution because they were acting in the “vital interests” of the country. The Rome Statute also created a risk that the President and other senior elected and appointed officials of the United States Government could be prosecuted by the ICC.

During the present war in Ukraine, the Russian military have been accused of using cluster bombs and themobaric (“vacuum”) bombs. The former is prohibited among the nations that ratified the 2008 Convention on Cluster Munitions which became binding international law among signatory states in August 2010. The latter is not explicitly prohibited under any international agreements for use against military targets, although themobaric munitions have been argued to be impliedly prohibited by the terms of the UN Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons (CCW).

The armed forces of the United States, Russia and Israel have in the past been accused of using prohibited munitions such as white phosphorus but have not been held accountable. That will likely be the case even if the Russians have used prohibited munitions. While the former Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk has denounced President Vladimir Putin as “a war criminal” at a meeting of the Council for Foreign Relations (CFR), the Ukrainian Army has itself been accused of using phosphorus munitions in battles near Kiev. Phosphorus is banned under the third protocol of the UN Convention on Prohibitions or Restrictions on the Use of Incendiary Weapons which was adopted in 1980.

So far, there is no concrete proof of Russia’s use of such weapons and news reports have used words such as “suspected use”, while the US Ambassador to the UN has claimed that Russia was “preparing” their use.

Russian accountability under the Rome Statute is like that of the United States not practicable. Although it was a signatory state, it withdrew in 2016 over criticism of its absorption of Crimea in 2014 after the US-backed coup overthrew the pro-Russian government led by President Viktor Yanukovytch.

On its creation, the ICC was lauded by some as potentially the most important human rights institution created for a long time, but so much lies beyond its scope - including that of the purported future prosecution of President Vladimir Putin.

© Adeyinka Makinde (2022).

Adeyinka Makinde is a writer based in London, England.

Tuesday, 1 March 2022

The History and Legacy of Ukrainian Xenophobia

The Ukrainian Flag with OUN Stripes (Credit: Lord David1996/Deviant Art)

One aspect of the Russia-Ukraine Crisis which has not been dwelled upon by the Western mainstream media has been the abuse and hostility shown by Ukrainian police and border guards towards black Africans and other non-whites including Indians who have sought to be evacuated from the country. Although Ukraine has a small black and non-white population, the question of extremist racial sentiment among the former nations of the Eastern Bloc has been periodically scrutinised. Russian President Vladimir Putin has claimed that part of the rationale for his intervention was to effect the “deNazification” of the Ukrainian state.  It is therefore important to recapitulate on the history of xenophobia in Ukraine which has been a central component of its expression of national identity. 

The country known as Ukraine has a terrible legacy of xenophobia including Jew hatred which led to anti-Jewish pogroms in the 1920s during the era of Symon Petliura and in the 1940s during the era of Stephan Bandera and the Organisation of Ukranian Nationalists (OUN).

It should not be forgotten that detachments of the Ukrainian Auxiliary Police aided the German Einsatzgruppe formations which perpetrated the anti-Jewish massacres at Babi Yar.

Ukranians formed a large proportion (the majority by most estimates) of the Nazi concentration camp guards known as "Trawniki men".

Today in Ukraine large crowds gather at neo-Nazi parades honouring the Ukrainians who fought for the Third Reich in the Waffen-SS Galician unit, as well as for the Nictengall and Roland Divisions which were under the Abwehr (German Military Intelligence).

It is no surprise therefore that one arm of the Ukrainian armed forces, the Azov Battalion, is an explicitly neo-Nazi group. The founder of the battalion, Andriy Biletsky, once stated that “(Ukraine’s) historic mission at this critical juncture is to lead the final march of the white race towards its survival. This is a march against sub-humans who are led by the Semite race.”

The US-sponsored coup d'etat of February 2014 relied on ultranationalist and neo-Nazi militias including Pravy Sektor and Spilna Sprava. The far right Svoboda Party was co-opted  into the anti-Russian opposition by the foreign backers of Maidan. Svoboda  members were seen at rallies wearing T-shirts bearing slogans such as "Bash the Kikes". But all appeared to be forgiven when almost overnight the leader of Svoboda, Oleh Tyahnybok, who had once spoken about  liberating Ukraine from what he described as the “Muscovite-Jewish mafia” told the Israeli ambassador that the party was "no longer anti-Semitic".

It does not sound particularly convincing but the likes of the late Senator John McCain and Victoria Nuland, the Jewish State Department official, had no problems meeting and greeting him.

And using him.

But while the "new" Ukraine can boast of two Jewish leaders of state, President Volodymyr Zelensky and Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal, the undercurrent of ferocious anti-Jewish sentiment prevails. Previous recent Ukrainian political leaders including Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk,  President Petro Poroshenko, and Yulia Tymoshenko are claimed by many sources to have downplayed their Jewish origins.

The presence of persons of Jewish origin in business, politics and other spheres have formed the basis of occasional public outbursts such as that of Nadiya Savchenko, a national war hero, who in 2017 stated: “I have nothing against Jews. I do not like ‘kikes.’” She also said that Jews possess “80 percent of the power when they only account for 2 percent of the population.”

In a nation with such a torrid history of ethnic mass murders (including ethnic Poles in Volhynia and Eastern Galicia) and one in which the Holodomor (mass starvation of Ukranians in the 1930s) is seen as the handiwork of Jewish Bolsheviks led by Lazar Kaganovich, the legacy of anti-Russian and anti-Jewish sentiment provides a powerful backdrop to the naked racism on display against non-whites.

© Adeyinka Makinde (2022).

Adeyinka Makinde is a writer based in London, England.