FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

The New Obama Doctrine: From Gaza to Goma

The Israeli assault on Gaza continues. The death toll rises over 100, infrastructure is destroyed, and the UN relief agencies are at wit’s end. A desperate tone has entered the dispatches from the UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), which has operated in occupied Palestine since 1950. On November 19, the agency noted:

“Israeli Air Force (IAF) strikes were supported by the Israeli navy during the night. The ongoing airstrikes have again targeted leaders of militant groups, infrastructure, the security apparatus, but increasingly residential buildings as well. One hit destroyed a four-storey building belonging to the Al Dalou family in a highly-populated area in Gaza city. The families present in the house were buried under the rubble. At least 11 people died in the strike and over 20 were injured – all of them civilians, including women, an infant, and children. This is an extremely worrying development. There has been a significant increase in civilian casualties during the past 24 hours.”

Israeli air strikes not only hit the UNRWA compounds in Gaza, but they killed a Grade 4 female student from the UNRWA Beach Preparatory Girls’ School.

The UN mission in Goma, a major city in the eastern part of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), removed all non-essential staff from the area. The peacekeepers, with a threadbare Congolese army force, remain to defend the city. On its outskirts sit the M23 (March 23) Movement rebels, backed by the Rwandan armed forces. They moved rapidly to get to this crucial city, the capital of North Kivu. There are already 2.4 million internally displaced people in the DRC, with 4.5 million suffering from food insecurity, and a million children under five suffering from severe acute malnutrition. The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said on November 19, “This new escalation in fighting in and around Goma, and elsewhere in the Kivus, adds to what are already monumental humanitarian needs in the DRC.” The UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF), warned, “The renewed conflict is putting children and their families at risk, leaving them exposed to physical harm and mental distress.”

Over the weekend, the UN Security Council met for an emergency session, listening to the UN Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations Hervé Ladsous. The Council considered a French resolution on Goma, which condemned “the resumption of attacks by the M23 and demand their immediate cessation.” There was a tepid finger raised toward Rwanda, whose armies have not only armed the M23, but they seem to be directing them. In 2010, the UN’s Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights published a comprehensive report, DRC: Mapping Human Rights Violations, 1993-2003. which showed the complicity of Rwanda’s government in war crimes, crimes against humanity and even genocide in the Congo. This damning report, solicited by UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay, was barely given any consideration. It should have been at the center of a UNSC discussion on eastern Congo. But it has not.

Neither Rwanda nor Israel will ever be hauled over the UN coals. The United States will prevent any serious discussion of the military adventures of its allies: Israel and Rwanda. For the former, Israel, there is a formal doctrine (Negroponte Doctrine) that enjoins US ambassadors to the UN to block any criticism of Israel. There is no such formal statement for Rwanda, but there might as well be. Criticism of the M23 movement is allowed, but there will be no allowance to criticise its sponsor, the Rwandan government of Paul Kagame. During the Clinton administration, three heads of government were chosen as the new generation of African Renaissance leaders – Uganda’s Yoweri Museveni, Eritrea’s Isaias Afwerki and Rwanda’s Kagame. All three have atrocious records in their own countries, and as far as Kagame and Museveni go, in the Congo. The DRC’s Lambert Mende said that M23 is a “fictitious force,” and that the “real aggressor” is Kagame’s Rwanda. But there is silence on this, as both Israel and Rwanda are immunized from any serious criticism by the UN, and therefore the “international community.”

Dossiers filled with appaling behavior and genocidal language flood the UN missions. Paul Kagame is on record as having called the Congolese, in his native Kinyarwanda, Ibicucu, nobodies or good for nothings (by Colette Braeckman in Les Nouveaux Predateurs, 2003). He speaks cavalierly about their “removal.” Former Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon’s son, Gilad, whose his a member of the Kadima Party, wrote an op-ed in the Jerusalem Post (November 18), with genocide on his mind, “Flatten all of Gaza. The Americans didn’t stop with Hiroshima – the Japanese weren’t surrendering fast enough, so they hit Nagasaki, too.” Such comments should raise the eyebrows of the UN Human Rights Council, whose silence on both Goma and Gaza is as stark as its loud noises during the lead-up to the NATO intervention in Libya. Navi Pillay, who called for the 2010 report on Rwanda’s behavior in the Congo and who tried her best (along with her legal advisor Mona Rishmawi) to implement the Goldstone Report, was allowed to fulminate about Libya and Syria but is subdued on Goma and Gaza. When atrocities are useful for US foreign policy, morality and outrage are muted.

By November 19, the UN Security Council had not acted on Gaza despite the Moroccan draft that has been before them since November 14. Russia’s Permanent Representative to the UN Vitaly Churkin made it clear to anyone without hearing range when he left the Council that he was frustrated with US obduracy. Palestine’s Permanent Observer Riyad Mansour indicated that absent US resistance there would be a UN resolution, and therefore an official indication to Tel Aviv of its isolation in its pummeling of Gaza. Meanwhile, the UNSC sanctioned the M23, but did not put any pressure on Kagame. That UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon called Kagame and DRC’s Joseph Kabila to come to some kind of accomodation, shows that there is open acknowledgment that the M23 acts with Rwandan backing. Yet, no sanctions on Rwanda.

Obama’s second term opens with the worst kind of display of US power – backing two clients who are hell-bent on creating mayhem against their neighbors. Coming to the defense of Israel in Bangkok, Obama made himself the laughing stock of the world. He said, “There is no country on earth that would tolerate missiles raining down on its citizens from outside its borders,” forgetting, of course, that US drones rain hellfire on Droneland – from Yemen to Pakistan, in violation of the UN’s own position on such extra-judicial assassinations, and it was Israel that began this particular episode with its own extra-judicial killing of Ahmad Jabari. There is no “reset,” no new liberalism. Drone strikes and other exaggerations of US aerial power, fanatical defense of its allies, and refusal to come to terms with the emergent multipolarity – this is the Obama Doctrine, now at work in Gaza and Goma.

Vijay Prashad is the author of Arab Spring, Libyan Winter (AK) and Uncle Swami (New Press).

More articles by:

Vijay Prashad’s most recent book is No Free Left: The Futures of Indian Communism (New Delhi: LeftWord Books, 2015).

September 19, 2018
Bruce E. Levine
When Bernie Sold Out His Hero, Anti-Authoritarians Paid
Lawrence Davidson
Political Fragmentation on the Homefront
George Ochenski
How’s That “Chinese Hoax” Treating You, Mr. President?
Cesar Chelala
The Afghan Morass
Chris Wright
Three Cheers for the Decline of the Middle Class
Howard Lisnoff
The Beat Goes On Against Protest in Saudi Arabia
Nomi Prins 
The Donald in Wonderland: Down the Financial Rabbit Hole With Trump
Jack Rasmus
On the 10th Anniversary of Lehman Brothers 2008: Can ‘IT’ Happen Again?
Richard Schuberth
Make Them Suffer Too
Geoff Beckman
Kavanaugh in Extremis
Jonathan Engel
Rather Than Mining in Irreplaceable Wilderness, Why Can’t We Mine Landfills?
Binoy Kampmark
Needled Strawberries: Food Terrorism Down Under
Michael McCaffrey
A Curious Case of Mysterious Attacks, Microwave Weapons and Media Manipulation
Elliot Sperber
Eating the Constitution
September 18, 2018
Conn Hallinan
Britain: the Anti-Semitism Debate
Tamara Pearson
Why Mexico’s Next President is No Friend of Migrants
Richard Moser
Both the Commune and Revolution
Nick Pemberton
Serena 15, Tennis Love
Binoy Kampmark
Inconvenient Realities: Climate Change and the South Pacific
Martin Billheimer
La Grand’Route: Waiting for the Bus
John Kendall Hawkins
Seymour Hersh: a Life of Adversarial Democracy at Work
Faisal Khan
Is Israel a Democracy?
John Feffer
The GOP Wants Trumpism…Without Trump
Kim Ives
The Roots of Haiti’s Movement for PetroCaribe Transparency
Dave Lindorff
We Already Have a Fake Billionaire President; Why Would We want a Real One Running in 2020?
Gerry Brown
Is China Springing Debt Traps or Throwing a Lifeline to Countries in Distress?
Pete Tucker
The Washington Post Really Wants to Stop Ben Jealous
Dean Baker
Getting It Wrong Again: Consumer Spending and the Great Recession
September 17, 2018
Melvin Goodman
What is to be Done?
Rob Urie
American Fascism
Patrick Cockburn
The Adults in the White House Trying to Save the US From Trump Are Just as Dangerous as He Is
Jeffrey St. Clair - Alexander Cockburn
The Long Fall of Bob Woodward: From Nixon’s Nemesis to Cheney’s Savior
Mairead Maguire
Demonization of Russia in a New Cold War Era
Dean Baker
The Bank Bailout of 2008 was Unnecessary
Wim Laven
Hurricane Trump, Season 2
Yves Engler
Smearing Dimitri Lascaris
Ron Jacobs
From ROTC to Revolution and Beyond
Clark T. Scott
The Cannibals of Horsepower
Binoy Kampmark
A Traditional Right: Jimmie Åkesson and the Sweden Democrats
Laura Flanders
History Markers
Weekend Edition
September 14, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Carl Boggs
Obama’s Imperial Presidency
Joshua Frank
From CO2 to Methane, Trump’s Hurricane of Destruction
Jeffrey St. Clair
Maria’s Missing Dead
Andrew Levine
A Bulwark Against the Idiocy of Conservatives Like Brett Kavanaugh
T.J. Coles
Neil deGrasse Tyson: A Celebrity Salesman for the Military-Industrial-Complex
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail