Friday, June 11, 2010

Shedding Light on Asaba Nightmare

D’Ann Lawrence White

 They were unprepared for the flood of emotions that engulfed them when survivors of the 1967 massacre in Asaba, Nigeria, solemnly stood at the podium and told their stories.

Without tissues on hand, tears streamed down the faces of the men, soaking the collars of both Western suitcoats and traditional Nigerian bubas.

For some in the audience, this was the first chance in 42 years to learn the fate of their loved ones.

“This is the first time in my life that I’ve been told the story of what happened, and my own father was killed in that war,” said Michael Nwanze, a political science professor at Howard University in Washington, D.C. “I buried my father but I was never able to mourn him because I didn’t know the truth.”

The survivors of the Oct. 7, 1967, massacre in Asaba, Nigeria, had been waiting more than four decades to shed light on the nightmare that haunts them still and to tally and honor the dead – estimated by some accounts to be from 500 to 2,000 men and boys. The massacre occurred during Nigeria’s bitter civil war, and those targeted were of Igbo ethnicity.

Helping the Nigerian people piece together the puzzle of the long-buried tragedy is anthropology professor Elizabeth Bird, assistant anthropology professor Erin Kimmerle and Fraser Ottanelli, chairman of the department of history, who are working with the USF Libraries Holocaust & Genocide Studies Center and a Tampa Police Homicide Det. Charles Massucci.

The researchers are gathering documents, recording oral histories and this spring will travel to Nigeria to examine mass graves in the hopes of creating a memorial to the decades-old slayings.

The Oct. 9-10 Asaba Memorial Project symposium at USF kicked off the effort that included launching the Asaba Memorial Project website. The site will serve as an international record of the massacre, including archive images, oral histories, official records, newspaper articles and other materials the USF team gathers.

It will be no small task. Memories of the massacre are hazy and details conflict. Nevertheless, Ottanelli said it’s the oral histories -  the voices of the people - that will make the events of Asaba come alive.

“It humanizes what we’ve been reading,” he said. “It takes an event so far away and puts a human face to it. The testimony is very powerful. We’re honored and humbled by this awesome responsibility.”

For the survivors, a public acknowledgement of the deaths and a permanent memorial to their lost loved ones will bring a measure of justice that has been elusive for more than four decades.

“We can forgive but we should never, ever forget,” said Chinelo Egwuatu, 53, a 15-year Tampa resident who survived the Biafra-Nigerian civil war and post-war famine, although two of her siblings perished. “This is a good thing USF is doing. There is no way you can bring the people back, but you can at least acknowledge that it happened.”

Up until now, little has been recorded about the Asaba massacre. Details were hidden from the international press. Nigerian government officials refused to comment publicly. And an international observer team was accused of conducting a hasty, haphazard investigation in which it concluded no genocide had occurred.

This left survivors, particularly eyewitnesses to the event, with no sense of closure.

Asaba, a key Nigerian town populated by civilian government employees, doctors, lawyers, engineers, athletes and scholars of the influential Igbo ethnic community, was loyal to the Nigerian federal government. Nevertheless, the town was targeted by a faction of that same military government for annihilation.

No one is sure who gave the orders or why. Nor is anyone certain how many lives were lost when soldiers opened fire on the men and boys in town.

For Egwuatu, the war is embodied in the face of a little boy who was once her playmate. She was only 11-years-old in 1967 and, although she wasn’t a witness to the Asaba massacre, she remembers seeing body parts strewn on the village streets. She also recalls coming across the body of her friend.

“I’ll never forget the look in his eyes,” she said, rifling through her handbag for something to staunch the flow of tears. She pulled out a Little Caesars pizza napkin and dabbed her face.

“It was terrible. This was barbaric. You never expected human beings to behave like that. It was evil.”

“Evil” also is the word Ifeanyi Uraih used to describe what he witnessed that day.

He was living in Asaba with his parents and nine siblings when the federal troops came to town.


“They ordered everyone to come out to the town square. (Col. Ibrahim) Taiwo said it was time to dance around town and join our brethren, and he warned that everyone should come along,” he recalled.

The people did as they were told, thinking they were being invited to a victory party. They didn’t realize it was a ruse to coax all the men out of hiding. Suddenly, the celebratory atmosphere evaporated. Taiwo’s troops began separating the men from the women.

“They were honest with us,” said Uraih. “They told us they were going to kill us. They took us to the mounted machine guns. Then it dawned on us that it was true.”

Uraih estimates that 2,000 men stood in the killing field that day.

“I was standing with my older brother at the edge of the crowd. He was holding my hand. He had always taken care of me. We shared the same bed. He was the first to be dragged away by the soldiers. He let go of my hand and pushed me into the crowd. He was shot in the back. I could see the blood gushing from his back. He was the first victim of the massacre. Then all hell let loose.”

Uraih survived because he was buffered by bodies that were shot and fell on top of him.

“I lost count of time,” he said. “To this day, I live with the smell of the blood of my brethren that night. Even the heavens wept for the victims of this holocaust. Finally the bullets stopped.

Decades later, Uraih was in the reception room of a doctor’s office in London when Gen. Yakubu Gowon, head of the Nigerian military government at the time of the massacre, happened to walk in for an appointment.

“We talked and he said he sincerely regretted what occurred that day, that it was one of his greatest regrets,” said Uraih, adding that he believed Gowon.  “I cannot tell this story without tears in my eyes, but I have no bitterness in my heart.”

Chief Philip Asiodu, who hailed from Asaba and was a member of Gowon’s cabinet at the time of the genocide, said he too has no room for bitterness despite the fact that his brother, Sydney Asiodu, a promising Olympic hurdler, long jumper and runner, was a victim of the massacre.

Asiodu, who later became chief economic adviser to the Nigerian president and minister for petroleum, said Asaba should have been the last village targeted by federal troops because it was populated by current and former Igbo civil servants loyal to the federal government.

It’s been reported that Taiwo had a master list containing the names of prominent citizens and civil servants targeted for death. Some believe that Gen. Murtala Mohammed, commander of the Second Division of the federal troops and Taiwo’s superior, wanted to rid himself of opposition so he could launch a coup. Mohammed later toppled Gowon to become head of state.

Like fellow Nigerians assembled at USF for the symposium, Asiodu said he’s supporting the Asaba Memorial Project because he believes the people need to know what happened.

“Once we do, I still have faith we can change the ethics of our current government and become the vanguard for African progress,” he said.

The truth may be a long time coming, however. Like those killed in the Asaba genocide, documents have long been buried or unavailable. “There will always be debate,” said Elizabeth Bird, USF professor of anthropology. “The official records are woefully inadequate.”

Bird pointed to the importance of the book Blood on the Niger as the first publication that drew attention to the massacre. Its author, Emma Okocha, himself a survivor, was crucial to the project – initially contacting Kimmerle, and bringing together the network of scholars, activists, and community members who attended the symposium.

Last year, Kimmerle and a research team traveled to Lagos, Nigeria where they investigated methods for human identification in collaboration with John Obafunwa, provost of the College of Medicine at Lagos State University. Kimmerle has done human rights work throughout the Balkans, Peru and Nigeria and her research team is working on new methods of identification, research for investigations of “cold cases” and forensic science education.

Kimmerle and her team also traveled to Asaba to meet with community leaders and began interviewing witnesses to the massacre.  The work will involve more fieldwork over the next few years and is part of an effort to develop new methods and technologies to solve cold cases both in the United States and abroad. The project is supported financially by the National Institute of Justice.

The USF team hopes to launch the third phase of the project this spring when they travel to Asaba to begin the excavation and collect further information.

Once the project is completed, the people of Asaba can consider what type of memorial they would like to erect “so our children and our children’s children never forget what happened and so it will never happen again,” said Nwanze. “I’ll do whatever it takes to make sure this program succeeds. If you don’t honor the dead, what becomes of the path of the living?”




An Open Letter to Barack Obama

Avi Shlaim

Please take a few moments to reflect on the relations between the United States and Israel in the light of a recent incident

Dear President Obama,

On 16 May, Noam Chomsky, the renowned Jewish-American academic, was prevented by Israeli officials from entering the West Bank to deliver a lecture at Birzeit University near Ramallah. He came from Jordan across the Allenby Bridge, was interrogated at the border crossing for three hours, and was then expelled with his passport stamped "Denied Entry". In response to his question about the reason for this decision, he was told that the Israeli government does not like his views and that it resented the fact that he chose to speak only at Birzeit and not at an Israeli university. The 81-year old professor replied that he had frequently spoken at Israeli universities and that there was no government on earth that liked his views. 

This flagrant violation of academic freedom of an American citizen speaks volumes about the character of the government that committed it. Israel prides itself on being an island of democracy in a sea of authoritarianism. The present government, however, is no friend of democracy, of the rule of law, or human rights. Democracy requires a government to deal with critics not by silencing them but by engaging with them in an open public debate. Preventing individuals from expressing their views, suppression of academic freedom, detention and arbitrary expulsion, are all features of totalitarian regimes. Even from the perspective of Israel's own narrow interests, the decision to expel Professor Chomsky was unutterably stupid because he is not short of platforms from which to denounce Israel's oppression of the Palestinian people. But then stupidity too is a common feature of totalitarian regimes.

This crass and self-defeating treatment of a distinguished compatriot should prompt you to reassess your country's special relationship with the State of Israel. Two main arguments used to underpin this special relationship in the past - the strategic and the ideological. During the Cold War Israel was widely regarded as a strategic asset in the containment of Soviet advances in the Middle East. After the ending of the Cold War, the strategic value of Israel sharply declined. The other main pillar of the special relationship was the ideological one. Israel stood for values with which Americans readily identified: democracy, political freedom, and human rights. But Israel's occupation of the Palestinian territories since 1967 has gradually transformed it from a liberal-democracy into a brutal colonial power. The occupation has eroded the democratic foundations of Israeli society and has resulted in ever more savage treatment of the Palestinian people. As Karl Marx had foreseen, a people that oppresses another cannot itself remain free. Then there is the issue of Palestinian national rights, the right to a state of their own alongside the State of Israel. By signing the Oslo Accord with Israel in 1993, the PLO gave up the claim to 78 per cent of mandatory Palestine in return for what they hoped would be a mini-state on the West Bank and Gaza. But it was not to be. There are many reasons for the breakdown of the Oslo peace process, notably the Palestinian resort to violence, but the single most fundamental reason is the expansion of Jewish settlements on occupied Palestinian land. These settlements are illegal and they are the main obstacle to peace. Land-grabbing and peace-making simply cannot work in tandem. It is one or the other. 

Left to their own devices, Israel's right-wing government will continue to prefer territorial expansion to peace. There is only one power on earth that can compel Israel to change its priorities: the United States of America. This is where you, Mr President, come in. America is Israel's main arms supplier; it supports Israel to the tune of nearly $3 billion a year; and it regularly uses its veto on the UN Security Council to defeat resolutions critical of Israel. It is this almost automatic, some would say blind American support that has enabled Israel to defy the rest of the international community. 

Since your efforts at gentle persuasion have failed, you'll need to step up the pressure in order to compel Israel to suspend its illegal activities on the West Bank and in East Jerusalem and to stop abusing the human rights of the Palestinians living under occupation. For the last 43 years America has given Israel money, arms, and advice. Israel took the money, took the arms, and ignored the advice. All you have to do is make the money and the arms conditional on heeding American advice. It really is as simple as that.

With best wishes, Avi Shlaim


Ozodi Thomas Osuji

This piece is in response to the high incidence of criminal activity in Alaigbo; it says that civilization is skin deep in Alaigbo and that if left alone Igbos would behave like lawless folk; it calls for a period where Igbos are subjected to iron fisted rule of law and forced to  respect human dignity and care for one another.

       I have followed the discussion on Abia state becoming a lawless haven, a place where thieves do their thing in broad day light, kidnappers picking up whoever they want and holding them hostage until ransom money is paid them, and how possibly the government at Umuahia is in cohort with what is going on in that state.  The more I read about what is going on at Abia and other parts of Alaigbo and think about it the more I shake my head in despair. The future does not bode well for Alaigbo. Unless drastic action is taken to arrest the deteriorating situation, I believe that Alaigbo will, sooner or later, degenerate to the like of Somalia: a lawless heaven; in fact, I believe that Alaigbo could be worse than Somalia!  Why so? Put on your thinking hat, if you have any, and let us see why. Please desist from imanjakara; stop the Igbo tendency to talk for the sake of making noise without reflecting on what is really going on in their world.

     Alaigbo did not develop Alaigbo wide governmental structure. Each Igbo town, usually a few square miles and a few hundred persons, more or less, governed itself.  It is actually giving them too much credit to say that they governed themselves for they did not have well defined structures for governance; they did not have legislative, executive, and judicial structures for governance.

       Alaigbo was a stateless society; governance was performed by the entire adults of a village coming together as Umuamala, Umudiala. The gathered adults tried to solve their social-political problems.

      To understand how such primitive societies governed themselves anthropologists devised what is called functionalist methodology whereby instead of going to study the structures for legislation, execution and adjudication in them observers inferred who performed such functions in those primitive societies. In primitive societies that did not develop well defined mechanisms for governing themselves, Levi Straus (the anthropologist most associated with functionalist analysis), urged observers to infer who does what in them by observing their behaviors, not by studying the structures that perform known governmental functions.

      Why is it important to know that Alaigbo did not develop beyond primitive levels of governance?

       Because they did not have Igbo wide political structure they did not socialize their people to know how laws are made in large polities and device mechanisms for implementing laws. Igbos did not have more than primitive mechanism for getting people to obey the law, and for punishing those who disobeyed the law. There were no police, judges, courts, jails, prisons etc in Alaigbo. In so far that criminals were punished it inhered in selling them into slavery. For many centuries Igbos used selling their people into slavery as the only means of removing criminals from their society!

       Igbos also relied on religion, ostracizing and or shaming folk to get them to eschew antisocial behaviors.

      More critically, Igbos were not socialized to obey Igbo wide laws made by Igbo wide political structures that were respected by all Igbos. An Igbo can, more or less, obey the laws made in his village for he understands that his village is Umu-Nnwanna (his fathers children) and he has some sort of affiliation to them and cares for their welfare, but he does not generalize such filial feeling towards persons from other parts of Alaigbo. Thus, whereas an Igbo could desist from stealing from members of his village he does not see anything wrong stealing from other Igbos who are not from his village.

      It was European colonialism that gave Igbos their current shallow sense of oneness. In 1906 the British colonized Alaigbo. The British conjoined Alaigbo with other parts of Nigeria. Igbos, therefore, were forced by the need to make a living in British Nigeria to go to other parts of Nigeria. While in non-Igbo parts of Nigeria those Non-Igbos saw them speaking what appeared to be the same language, Igbo, and grouped them as one people and treated them as one people. But in actual fact Igbos did not see themselves as one people. They saw themselves according to where they came from. Igbo identification at best is clan wide.

      The Igbo from Owerri certainly did not see himself as having anything in common with the Igbo from Umuahia, Onitsha etc.  In fact, the Igbo from Owerri may feel more related to, say, Yoruba and Ijaw people than his fellow Igbos!

      Nevertheless, other Nigerians treated all Igbo speaking people as the same thus a sense of being members of a nation began to take hold. Gradually, Igbos in Hausa speaking parts of Nigeria and Yoruba speaking parts of Nigeria etc began to identify themselves as one people (and formed their Igbo state unions).

       The relevant point is that it was colonialism and the exigencies of living in British Nigeria that gave a disparate people a feeling that they are one people; prior to the advent of the British Igbos did not develop to a point where they had a sense of being one people (which a unified polity gives a people).

      Igbos have a unique character structure: they are very verbally abusive of other persons.  They revel in putting other persons down. In Northern Nigeria they insulted Hausas; in Western Nigeria they insulted Yorubas.

      Igbos tend to have supercilious sense of superiority towards other Nigerians. This sense of superiority is particularly surprising considering that some other Nigerian groups attained higher levels of political development. Arguably, Hausas, Edos and Yorubs attained feudal state (in Karl Marx developmental categories societies go from where Igbos are, primitive communalism, to slave, to feudal, to bourgeois and finally to industrialized society). Given that they are at the lowest step in political development Igbos ought to feel inferior to their neighbors! Perhaps, they feel inferior and compensate with fictional superiority; they mask their inferiority with false sense of superiority to others? (It does not matter how they feel; what is germane is what is true; in truth all human beings: Igbo, Hausa, Yoruba, and Ijaw, white, black, man, woman etc are the same and coequal; superiority and inferiority feeling is delusional.)

      Because of their tendency to degrade other Nigerians and their tendency to feel falsely superior to other Nigerians, other Nigerian hated them. Because they are hated every once in a while they are attacked and even killed. Hausas have on a number of occasions descended on Igbos living in their lands and killed some of them.

      These hatred and killings cumulatively gave Igbos a sense of being separate from other Nigerians and thus contributed to their incipient sense of nationhood.

      Between 1966 and 1970 Igbos underwent a military struggle with Nigeria (Biafra war) and that common struggle contributed to their sense of being a unified group.

     All said, Igbos are beginning to develop a sense of being one people but that sense of nationhood is skin deep; it is not yet burned into their psyche. It takes a long historical process for a people to burn into their unconscious minds a feeling that they are one people. The English, for example, have had over a thousand years of common struggles and now have in their minds a feeling that they are one people. Germans have had over two thousand years of common struggles and now know themselves as one people.

        Igbos have had about one hundred years of living in one polity (the British unified Nigeria in 1914). Igbos have not undertaken many historical struggles that normally give a people a sense of oneness.

      Though they glibly talk about being one people, when they relate to each other they actually do not treat each other as one people. I found this phenomenon out when I stated a business and recruited some Igbo professionals to work with me, trusting them. Unknown to me they were working behind my back not only to take over the business but to clean me out (go to the bank and take the several thousand dollars I deposited as required by state authorities as  bond money for my business). These people treated me as an alien and did not see anything wrong stealing from me and destroying my business. And when I complained about their antisocial behavior, like amoral and shameless criminals they went to the Internet to desecrate my name; they said loads of lies about me hoping to shame me and out of shame I would keep quiet and allow them to continue behaving like criminals while presenting an image of being law abiding persons to the rest of the world.

      I learned that what these wild men did to me is what they do to each other! In effect, they do not really have a sense of being a people hence do not work together.

     Compare and contrast how white men work together. If a white man, say, Bill Gates, has a business idea other white men gather around him and work with him in a cooperative manner to make his business venture succeed.

      Igbos work to destroy each other’s business. They work for white men (and, hopefully, the white men they work for do not give them managerial authority otherwise they would rob them and destroy their business).

     The salient point is that Igbos, as I know them to be, not as they pretend to be, are not yet identified with other Igbos; their professed sense of nationhood is superficial.  They do not have psychological sense of being one people.

      Because they do not have a sense of being one people they find it easy to steal from each other. Hence the current spade of stealing, kidnapping etc going on in Alaigbo.

       It should be noted that Igbos are one of the world’s most self-centered, narcissistic, proud and vain people. These people are incredibly selfish. They work only for their self interests and to the extent that their egos are a bit expanded it is to include members of their immediate families.  They may provide for their wives and children and, perhaps, their siblings (brothers and sisters) but beyond that they have no interest in other people’s welfare.

      So-called Igbo big men masquerade around Alaigbo as very important men but do not feel any urge to put their money to creating economic opportunities that provide jobs for the mass of unemployed Igbos.

      Igbo youth go to school (increasingly to universities) and have no jobs. Unemployment in Alaigbo is over 80% and the so-called Igbo leaders do not care.

      The criminals who call themselves Igbo leaders go to Abuja and collect the moneys that the thieves of Abuja steal from the Niger Delta (oil revenue) and share them among themselves. These criminal governors, chair persons of local governments etc redirect moneys given to them to improve Alaigbo into their pockets and leave other Igbos starving.

      When ordinary Igbos complain about their poverty the criminal Machiavellians ruling them  point accusing fingers at Hausas and Yorubas; they make those two groups scapegoats and blame them for the plight of Igbos; they tell Igbos that Hausas and Yorubas rule Nigeria and are responsible for the poverty in Alaigbo. Igbos then feel angry at other Nigerians rather than at the criminal leaders who are stealing their moneys.

      Igbos refusal to see all Igbos as parts of them; Igbos refusal to work for all Igbos; Igbos permitting Igbo youth to be unemployed and so on contribute to the youths resorting to criminal behaviors.

      Igbo unemployed youth will, sooner or later, start killing the so-called Igbo big men (and should kill them, what are they living for if they do not work for the general welfare of all Igbos?).  It is only a matter of time before Alaigbo becomes a criminal’s heaven where unemployed youth run rampage stealing and killing people. The whole place would revert to Thomas Hobbes state of nature where every man is for himself and no one is for others; people will be at war with each other and life would become insecure for all; folk’s lives would be nasty, brutish and short.

      With the coming breakdown of law and order Alaigbo would become like Somalia and even worse. Folks would live like wild animals; Igbos would revert to jungle living.

      In fact, if care is not taken Igbos would revert to kidnapping their people and selling them into slavery, as they were doing until the British stopped them only in 1902 (the destruction of Aro-Chukwu slavery centered on their juju).

      These people can easily revert to primitive behaviors. If you listened to them talk you would think that they are civilized until you deal with them on one on one and you come to know that they are essentially lawless (they are currently ripping off Americans, stealing from them in a massive manner; I am talking about their 419 scams, bank scams, credit card scams and other scams; if given the opportunity they would destroy the well ordered American society, transform it to the lawless jungle they are apparently comfortable in).

      Given the lack of political development of Igbos; given Igbos lack of unified history; given Igbos tendency to be wildly individualistic; given Igbos tendency not to care for each other, they would soon degenerate to Somalia like lawless place.

      We do not have to wait for this to happen. We can do something to prevent it. We can recognize that we are dealing with wild men and stop listening to their infantile boastings and corral them into modern polities and use iron fisted discipline to get them to obey the law.

      We need to socialize these people into obeying the law. As of now their tendency is to not live by the rule of law; an iron hand must force them to live by the law. If they steal you mercilessly clamp them into jail; if they kill you line them up against a wall and shoot them to death.

       These people are wild men and need to be treated with iron fists until they internalize some sort of law and order. At present they talk about law but are wild men. We can prevent what is looming in the horizon for these people, lawlessness, by eschewing our sentimentalism and becoming draconian in treating them. They are like children who resent rules; their unruliness must be mercilessly stamped out with the whip.

     Ignore their idiot talk and treat them as if they are wild men if you want to help them; this is how I approach to them.

    Every thing in me is itching to punish Igbos; I want to punish them because they sold Africans to Arabs and white men, and, as if that disgraceful behavior was not bad enough, deny responsibility for it and, instead, only blame their partners in that heinous crime against humanity.

      How can people change their bad habits unless they take ownership of them? As long as a people deny responsibility for their anti-social behaviors and blame others for them they cannot change and become pro-social in their behaviors.

       Until these people are punished for their criminal behaviors, past and present, I doubt that they would give up their tendency to easily engage in antisocial behaviors and rationalize them.

       I hate people who live with themselves despite engaging in criminal behaviors. How dare folks be evil and still seem happy? Africans needs a Von Bismarck type leader to discipline them and get them to quake before the law. We must figure out a way to stamp out Africans penchant for criminal behavior, even if it means executing millions of African criminals.

       Criminality is not in Africans genes, as some now suspect, but in their lax societies that condone criminality. Imagine Igbos making folks their chiefs because they stole as much money as is possible from the state or businesses!  I say let us put our boots on some folks heads and force them to fall in line with civilization. The alternative is reversion to the jungle!

PS: The Federal Government should declare state of emergency in the Igbo speaking parts of Nigeria (Imo, Abia, Ebonyi, Enugu, Anambra, and parts of Rivers and Delta states), appoint a military governor with rootless, draconian character to shape Igbo people into desired form. We must make these people fear taking a penny that does not belong to them (off goes the heads of those who steal even a penny).

Britain's compromise revolution

David Hayes, 30 May 2010

Britain’s voters have forced a two-party system to begin to operate by a three-party logic. And it’s about to get even more interesting, writes David Hayes in Australia's Inside Story.

Something happened in British politics in the days after the general election of 6 May 2010 that will generate books, theses, conferences and public argument for years to come. By any routine standards of democratic procedure, its narrative heart was as banal as can be: a series of negotiations that led to the formation of a coalition government between the Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats – respectively the first and third parties in terms of the popular vote and seats won. By the standards of Britain’s brutal majoritarian politics – and indeed in light of the combative month-long election that had just ended – it was a high-level political compromise that felt (and still feels, three weeks later) like a revolution.

So the questions raised by these extraordinary six days in London go beyond (even if they include) the cyclical contingencies of electoral politics. Does the Con–Lib Dem coalition represent a crucial stage in Britain’s progress towards becoming a “normal” democracy, or does it highlight the country’s enduring democratic exceptionalism? Does the core partnership of the respective party leaders, David Cameron and Nick Clegg (now also prime minister and deputy prime minister), offer a true departure from discredited monopolistic governance or its restoration in different guise? More prosaically, will the government succeed in managing the acute public-debt crisis, and rule for a full five-year parliamentary term as it has promised? And how will the Labour Party cope with opposition after the thirteen-year hegemony of Tony Blair and Gordon Brown, and which of its characters will emerge dominant now that the “New Labour” era is over?

It is part of the fascinating indeterminacy of this moment in Britain’s history that these questions have no straightforward answers.

The morning light

It is retrospect’s genius to cast a glow of inevitability over even the most recent past. And indeed, some first drafts of history are already painting the intense post-election week as the fulfilment of a grand coalition scheme whose design was pre-formed in some senior Conservative and Liberal Democrat minds.

The evidence, slender as it is, draws on albeit prescient think-tank work noting the affinities between the localising, smaller-state agendas of the two parties after a decade and more of New Labour’s centralism. But the coalition’s cold political rationale owes more to the bare arithmetic of the election’s outcome, which produced under Britain’s first-past-the-post system the very “hung parliament” that polls had foretold from the start of the campaign. The Conservatives, whose yawning lead over Labour had narrowed in the months before the election, ended with 36.1 per cent of the votes and 306 seats in the 650-member house of commons; Labour with 29 per cent and 258 MPs; the Liberal Democrats with 23 per cent and fifty-seven MPs.

Yet if the forecasts were right on the big picture – and the exit polls released at the launch of an epic night’s media coverage were even more so on the details – there was little immediate sign of preparedness for what was to follow. As the results poured in and predictions and emotions fluctuated, five things became clear: the Conservatives would become the largest party but fail to win an overall majority; Labour would remain a clear second as its heartland vote stubbornly refused to collapse; the Liberal Democrats would hold the balance of power even though the “insurgency” ignited by Nick Clegg’s performance in the first of the party leaders’ TV debates proved phantasmic; the differential patterns of voting in Britain’s four nations would place the “national question” at the centre of post-election calculation; and granular local realities (including incumbency, candidates’ scandal-quotient, and the singular flavour of many constituency contests) would be in many cases, and unpredictably, decisive.

By the morning of 7 May, it was apparent that the British electorate had delivered a verdict to beat them all. After a fashion, everyone had lost – yet everyone was still in the game and had something to celebrate. This dual aspect affected even the smaller parties, among whom (for example) the Greens celebrated the election of their first MP while seeing their vote decline overall. The resulting fluidity was to dominate the frenetic days that followed.

The afternoon glow

Their pattern was set by a quickstep pas-de-trois involving the three leaders who had dominated the campaign, each intent on making a sort of victory from the exhaustion of failed hopes. Both David Cameron and Gordon Brown sought to entice the Lib Dems into supporting their claim to govern by offering movement towards the party’s foundational principle of electoral reform. Nick Clegg, whose pain was the sharpest of all given the scale of the hopes that had come to be invested in him, had stated during the campaign his preference to talk with the leader of the largest party; this gave the Con-Lib Dem option an advantage that – but for a moment after an artful intervention by Brown, announcing his intention to resign as Labour leader soon after a putative Lab-Lib Dem deal was agreed – it never lost.

After all, the electoral verdict made the logic of a joint Con–Lib Dem governing enterprise seem more compelling than any other. Yet when Gordon Brown walked away from 10 Downing Street in the early evening of 11 May, and David Cameron entered an hour later to announce that he would lead a full coalition government – as opposed to one with calibrated levels of Lib Dem support – the words still seemed disconnected from any familiar political reality.

A seismic shift had taken place. What had happened? The initial fuel for the Con–Lib Dem negotiations was that electoral numbers and pre-existing policy overlap made a new centre-right formation appear more plausible than the centre-left realignment which Labour and Liberal Democrat “progressives” had long aspired to. The deep opposition of some influential Labour figures to electoral reform, and demands to the party’s leaders to acknowledge defeat and embrace opposition, also played their part.

But a vital additional factor seems to have been that David Cameron and Nick Clegg realised that a close political bonding suited them both (Cameron especially in relation to a righter-than-he party, and Clegg in the context of his “once-in-a-lifetime” rhetoric and the crushing result that followed); and that their similar social backgrounds and identical ages (forty-three) also translated into a comradely spark. Alongside core teams which (on the Tory side in particular) showed in their hunger for power a striking readiness to adapt and concede under pressure, a deal far more extensive than could have been imagined even a week earlier was forged.

The evening prospect

The recasting of Britain’s political world continues. The landmarks include a Cameron–Clegg press conference in Number 10’s rose garden, where the evident warmth between these fine specimens of youthful, affluent, self-consciously relaxed and modern upper-middle-class English manhood stretched the attending media’s penchant for romantic metaphors to the limit; the creation of a cabinet with five Lib Dem ministers (out of twenty-three in all); the publication of an ambitious and detailed joint program that includes sweeping legislative pledges on civil liberties, welfare reform, fixed-term parliaments, and independent schools; and the Queen’s speech opening the new parliament on 25 May, where the regal lips voiced the government’s commitment to “freedom, fairness, and responsibility” against a background of Liberal Democrat MPs squeezed onto the packed government benches alongside their Tory erstwhile rivals.

The reverberations of the compromise revolution are still working themselves through an ultra-competitive political and media culture whose last experience of coalition politics was the wartime government of 1940-45. In the absence of clear reference-points, all sides – if the word is not too redolent of Nick Clegg’s “old politics” (already, as with “new politics”, a cliché) – are quietly adjusting.

Labour’s task is hard, if perhaps less daunting than often looked likely during Gordon Brown’s three-year premiership or a sometimes bleak election campaign. The challenge of building a post-New Labour party – under one of the four forty-something leadership candidates (David Miliband, Ed Miliband, Ed Balls, Andy Burnham) of the six who have declared – will require reconnecting with the society it has done so much to shape in these thirteen years, and understanding what its defeat reveals about the emerging demands of democratic politics.

For an experimental government formed in such hedged circumstances, the coalition has made a smoothly impressive start. Its deficit-reducing determination, embodied by the chancellor George Osborne’s Lib Dem sidekick David Laws, is signalled by the first tranche of cuts (to, for example, IT programs and consultants) announced on Monday. But its mettle will be severely tested by unresolved internal differences, especially over electoral reform (which the Conservatives oppose and will mobilise against); by tensions between the parties on the ground (as in a postponed parliamentary election in the northern English seat of Thirsk & Malton, where it is bitter Con–Lib Dem business-as-usual); by Scotland, where the Lib Dems’ eleven seats (out of fifty-nine) underline their crucial coalition role yet may leave them vulnerable in an environment hostile to Tory-linked rule; and by inevitable crises, domestic or foreign.

Britain’s voters contrived in the 6 May election to deliver a result that forced a system designed for two-party politics to begin to operate by a three-party logic. To entrench this amazing achievement will now require their government to facilitate new constitutional rules – while managing a perilous economic transition in a way that minimises social hardship and avoids national fragmentation. The strains may force the coalition into attempted self-reinvention earlier than it would like. At that point, will its leaders move further in the direction of democratic revolution, or of elite compromise – or be pressed into an as-yet-unimagined realignment? Watch this tight little island with its multinational state: politics here is about to get even more interesting.

Nigeria - "a mere geographical expression?" or a matter of definition

 Obi Nwakanma

In the last ten years since the faction of the Nigerian military in uniform withrew to the b arracks and handed power to its retired fation, the debate about the future of Nigeria has raged. It is a debate that has been at the roots of the Nigerian enterprise since its formation in 1914, and since its political independence as a nation within the commonwealth in 1960, and since its putative claims as a sovereign republic in 1963: the question has been "what is Nigeria." Obafemi Awolowo called it "a mere geographical expression." This statement - "mere geographical expression" - is semantically meaningless since it fails to convey its particulars. But it hints at the fact that "Nigeria" is simply a named but indistinct entity. Yet, this is entirely curious given that nothing exists until it is named. Many, often playing the game of the the naked emperor, often tend to over analyse and over interpret the significance of this remarkably ineloquent definition of Nigeria. Nigeria as a nation began in 1914, the result of the amalgamation of conquered peoples and principalities subdued to the higher will of nation. Nigeria is thus, in the history of nations, but a mere babe. It is not even a teenager yet. It is crawling and teething. But to say it is without being is to use the terms "mere geographical expression."

Now, thye trouble with Nigeria is that is that wto spirits dwell within it: one, is the dying but equally vigorous spirit of the dead "empires" and "kingdoms" and "city states" that were subdued and brought into the new nation. Romantic adherents to this lost "empires"s still insist on sustaining old loyalties gto these primordial and really useless, and largely symbolic kindoms with their Oonis, Sultans, Obas, etc. One of the inevitable movements in the evolution of the nation of Nigeria will be to permanently abolish such fictitious empires and direct attention to the new myth of nation. It was this myth of the "volk" that politicians like Awolowo relied upon to create the ideas of "nations within nations" in which being Yoruba or Igbo or Edo or Fulani was transcendent rather than complimentary to being Nigerian. You would often hear the paradoxical claim, "you cannot be a good Nigerian until you re a good Yoruba." This is of course hogwash. There is nothing evil about being Igbo or Yoruba or Ijo etc, but within the fundamental charter of Nigeria's sovereignty from Britain - its Republican constitution is the very fundamental, modern idea of being in nation and being in history - it is to be "individual." In other words, it does not matter whether you are Igbo or Yoruba or Hausa, equality and freedom is as guaranteed as individual responsibility. The rights of the individual therefore includes the right of life, of movement, of association, of conscience, to vote and be voted for, and the freedoms that confer dignity to anyone, whether he is Pius Adesanmi living in Yagba or Yemetu or Agenebode or Owerrinta. It is the full rights of citizsenship.

Anyone who prevents that right breaks the fundamental charter of nation. It is an important aspect of this right that Awolowo sought to challenge when he thoroughly misunderstood the meaning of federalism. He was speaking more to a Bantustan nationhood when he declared, "the west for the westerners, the north for the northerners, the East for the Easterners and Nigeria for all of us." Perhaps, indeed, it was not that Awo misunderstood federalism, just that his followers misunderstood his attempts to simplify it, by talking about state rights and the principle of the devolution of powers. But what Awo did not clarify is the meaning of the "westerner" since the political west included even Igbo communities right by the banks of the Niger. Awo also did not take into consideration the nature of the modern nation beyond its affiliations in the "volk," which made it nececssary to fully dismantle all elements that seemed distinctly conflictual with the modern nation - like his support for the "traditional" monarchical institutions of the Yoruba with whom he created what Biodun Jeyifo might call "arrested modernity" or "arrested decolonization." This has haunted the full formation of Nigeria from ikts inception. It is also remarkable to me that Awoists like Dr. Mobolaji Aluko act, vote and affirm the aims of the Democrats here in the US, but given their positions on Nigeria and within the Nigerian context, he acts more like a Tea-Party Republican, on issues of state rights. Indeed, Awo would ave been, were he American, a Republican.  Yet in the Nigerian context, those who have not carefully studied his politics ascribe all kinds of liberal and "progressive" ideas to him. This is not true.

But back to the meaning of Nigeria: Nigeria is a modern nation and registered in the Assembly of nations, until it becomes like Somalia, ungovernable. But even in its ungovernability, Somalia remains geographically intact, and may either be reconstituted by force or absorbed by a higher entity also by force. There have been an attempt to reorganize Nigeria through a civil war. It failed and it is important to mark the anxieties that have followed that failed attempt. But that anxiety will settle in the next two or more generations who will not recollect the war, and who will be confronted by a new anxiety: of being and nothingness - in other words, the existential conflict that afflicts a generation that will give up orthodox religion (they would have had a surfeit of it through their parents and would have seen its hollow and unsatisfying end) and the overwhelming meaning of living in the increasing margins of the postcolony. They will try to make sense of their new urbanity, for there have never been any other time in modern history that a diverse range of people are meeting and knowing themselves and living more intimately together in the space of the nation such as now. They will be guided more by class and economic questions rather than by sub-national or ethnic affiliations. So, all those who think that Lagos will "revert" to the Edo or the Yoruba will have to explain what that means exactly in the context of the nation. Indeed same goes for complex conurbations like Aba-Port-Harcourt, Kano, Jos, etc. We must see the current claims of the moment as the last acts of dissapearing communities which are being replaced by a new, more overwhelming national consciousness. There are those who say Nigeria has too many "nations" within it to fully function. It will not be the first or the only. There are many old nations with "nations" within them. My example will be a very old country like Ethiopia with many ethnicities -the Oromo, the Amhara, the Somali, the Guraje, the Tigray, the Wolata, etc. As for Atueyi's question about Hong-Kong and China: the example is not apt since Hong Kong was returned to China by the Brits at the fullness of the treaty of protection. The more apt question and example should be about Taiwan and China with their remarkable histories, and Taiwanese assertion of independence. With Lagos, the issue will be as complex, in the event that a succesor state other than the Federation of Nigeria lays a claim upon it. Its documents of cession in 1861 as well as it status as a colony ceded to Nigeria as a federal territory at the moment of amalgamation and independence will all come to play. But, we are dealing at the realms of speculation in this regard.

At this time and stage of the Nigerian project, it appears that it is well understood by all Nigerian patriots that Chief Obafemi Awolowo’s statement that “Nigeria is a mere geographical expression” was a “Call To Duty” at a time of challenge and uncertainty in the geographical location now well established as a sacrosanct and bona fide nation. In fact, Chief Awolowo was in the fore-front in the odyssey to Consummate and Stabilize the nation, by working with founding patriots such as Zik, Balewa, Ahmadu Bello, Mike Okpara, Enahoro, etc, and the nation’s stabilizers such as  Yakubu Gowon, Obsanjo, Musa Yar’Adua, Ekwueme, Ukiwe, Bola Ige, Danjuma, Murtala, Joe Garba, Ogbemudia, and several others. So any honest and patriotic Nigerian reviewer MUST evaluate Chief Awolowo’s words and efforts in the proper context to be productive. Awo played his leadership role in establishing the nation of Nigerian, with nobility, courage and a great sense of responsibility; and he should be APPLAUDED and CELEBRATED, not caricatured by frequent allusion to a no-issue.

Besides, at this time of the Nigerian enterprise, the challenge is DEVELOPMENT, as should be evident in progress in Critical sectors, especially key infrastructures such as regular electricity, road networks, mass transit system and self-reliance in food production. Progress in these key areas of national development will achieve two vital milestones: first, provide the foundational infrastructural base to stimulate and unleash the creativity, innovation and entrepreneurship of Nigerians, and set the stage for industrialization and true international recognition in production and world power status (I bet Nigeria will become the 9th Member of a New G9!); and second, progress in development will engender the ELUSIVE national unity Nigerians continue to debate, since national grids of road networks, mass transits, and other infrastructures will provide a NEW SET OF COMMON INTERESTS for all Nigerians, to adore, manage together, maintain, preserve and PROTECT! This is what National unity is all about!

That said, it is unfortunate that Nigeria still lacks a CRITICAL MASS of Visionary and Purposeful Leaders who don’t have to be Perfect! The SEARCH GOES ON! Take care. JUI (providing the vision for a Developed and United Nigerian Nation as envisaged by the founding patriots!)

It is almost madness that Awo's statement  ("Nigeria is a mere geographical expression") at age 38 in  a 1947 book,  BEFORE Nigeria's Independence, before he attended ENDLESS Constitutional Conferences and Independence preparations starting in 1954 or so, before he became Leader of Opposition at the Federal Level in 1960, before he was Finance Minister 1967-71, before he ran for President (twice) in 1979 and 1983, and before he died in 1987, can still be quoted back to him endlessly as if it was his epithet against the impossibility of Nigeria transcending a "mere geographical expression", as if it is his curse on Nigeria.

Na wa o!

Obi Nwakanma says that I am a Nigerian Awoist and Tea-Party Republican, but an American Democrat.  All I know is I am a Social Democrat, and if Awo was a Social Democrat - as I believe he was - then we are/were both Social Democrats.

My admiration for Awo is confined to the POLITICAL AND PERSONAL DISCIPLINE that he exuded, the SUCCESS and BODY OF SPEECHES that he left behind, the CONCERN that he showed for those he ruled over and READINESS to explain his thought process to them, and the IMPRESSION he left in the minds of those who worked with him closely.  I don't even know all of what Awoism stands for, but if it meant Social Welfarism - and I suspect what people mean as Awoism is his wish for political division of Nigeria into ethnic-based regions or states - then I am an Awoist.

But more than anything, I SUPPORT a TRUE FEDERALISM in which as much power as possible is devolved to whatever smaller regions there are (however determined), with local control of resources.  If that is Awoism, then I am an Awoist.

T'okan, t'okan....

Now let somebody tell me what ZIkism is, or AhmaduBelloism, or MaCauleyism. ...

As an American citizen, I subscribe arduously to the right of the individual for the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, the responsibility of the individual to others and to government as determined through regular free, fair and credible elections, and the responsibility of government to ensure the greatest happiness of the greatest number of people within the US borders, particularly those least able to held themselves or most prone to oppression - Children, Women, Minorities and the Physical/Mentally Challenged.

And that is why I am a Democrat, and not a Tea-Party Republican.

And there you have it.

Bolaji Aluko

Now, Awo who is a god, made a statement which does not pass into the narrative that those peddling this revisionism wants us to accept, then an excuse has to be invented for his age and the time of his utterance.

Another example of Bolaji Aluko and his compulsive dishonesty is here at play.

When he accuses Ojukwu of being immature in his decision to defend his people, he never cut the guy a slack in relation to his age and the circumstances surrounding his decisions.

In Bolaji's world and that of his co-wayfarers on this highway of cant: what is gravy for the goose is a luxury unaffordable to the gander. Ha che na mmadu bu ewu.

And he has the effrontery to accuse others of dishonesty; an ocean he swims in.

E jikwa m ogu!!!

Wonders shall never end.

Franklyne Ogbunwezeh



All Three Regions Are Seen Politically Affected by case of Fund Charges.

Politics in Nigeria is in an uproar. The country?s best known politician, Dr Nnamde Azikiwe, is warming up for the official inquiry into charges that he has grossly misused Government funds.

The political circus is three ringed: The Nigerian Federation is composed of three ethnically distinct regions, each dominated by its own political party. The most serious aspect of the crisis is its possible threat to the always precarious unity of enormous British colony of 32,000,000 Africans and 15,000 Europeans.

?Doctor Zik? as he is known, is busy touring the Eastern Region, of which he is the Prime Minister, ?explaining his policy? to his fellow tribesmen. The Ibos are fiercely loyal to their Prime Minister and his Party, the National Council of Nigeria and the Cameroons .

Kola Balogun, the party?s secretary, summed up what is apparently the view of most Azikiwe partisans when he said yesterday ?if we must choose between self-government and good government I choose self-government? Self-government in the Eastern Region means government by ?Doctor Zik?

Azikiwe Called the Issue

Speaking for the Western region, the land of the Yoruba people, Prime Minister Obafemi Awolowo expressed a decidedly different view. ?Nigerian nationalism is now at mortal grips, not with British imperialism, but with the unprincipled philosophy of Doctor Azikiwe,? he said.

Abubakar Tafawa Balewa, who is generally regarded as the most powerful political leader of the third and biggest region, the Moslem North, took a dispassionate but nonetheless disturbing stand. He said the problem was strictly the Eastern Region?s and would remain so until the findings of an inquiry commission appointed by the British Colonial Office in London, last July 24, were known.

But he continued, if the commission should find Dr. Azikiwe guilty of misconduct and if Dr. Azikiwe then should take the issue to the people of the Eastern region and be returned to office, ?other regions would have to find means to protect themselves from association with a region that had shown itself to be without public morality.?

He added that he had said from the outset that ?no matter what the commission may find, Azikiwe will come out of this stronger than ever in his own region.?

There has long been secession sentiment in the North, where more than half of the Nigerian population lives, but Mr Abubakar has consistently supported the federation.

Chief Awolowo said that if self-government for the Western Region should be postponed beyond the end of the year because of Eastern Region?s crisis, Britain ?would forever have placed a premium, albeit unwittingly, on political rascality in whatever might be left of Nigeria .?

The inquiry into ?Doctor?s Ziks? financial maneuvers will begin Monday under the chairmanship of Sir Stafford Foster-Sutton, Chief Justice of the Nigerian Federation. The proceedings have necessitated postponement of a constitutional conference originally scheduled for next month to establish immediate, full self-government for the North and for a federation of the three regions.

The charges against Dr. Azikiwe are that he engineered the investment and deposit of 2,000,000 British Pounds ($5,600,000) of Eastern Region funds in the African Continental Bank, which he controlled and allegedly used for his private business ventures.

Dr Azikiwe has retorted that the investigation is an imperial plot to protect a British banking monopoly and postpone self-government.

However, neutral observers here are generally of the opinion that the British Colonial Secretary, Alan Lennox-Boyd, ordered the inquiry reluctantly only after charges by a disaffected former Azikiwe lieutenant had created a scandal that could not be ignored.



Long time

Just a short contribution before I revert to "siddon look" status.

I seriously doubt that the full and complete story of the process of
reconciliation, reconstruction and rehabilitation after the civil war has been
told, or ever will.

It must necessarily be a continuum of events that predated the war, starting
with an understanding of the post-independence, pre-War economic and social

During the war, many measures were taken by contending antagonists to sustain
their war operations while undermining one another, measures that had short and
long term effects for all involved, intended or not.

On the Nigerian side, for example, decrees were promulgated to better control
the wartime Central Bank by, for example, (a) ensuring that monetary and banking
policies were harmonized at FEC level between the Finance Commissioner and the
Central Bank; (b) ensuring that the CBN could not even open new branches or
appoint agents and correspondents without FEC approval; (c) vest in the FEC,
authority for the CBN to spend more than N100,000, set salaries for employees
etc... (d) authorizing the CBN to purchase, sell, discount and rediscount
Treasury Bills and Certificates of the FGN.

Furthermore, there were selective import controls, compulsory savings schemes,
establishment of the Armed Forces Comfort fund, etc...

But all was not rosy. What was intended as a measure to ensure prompt release of
funds from the Finance Ministry to prosecute the war turned out to become the
beginnings of what later became deficit financing, with implications for
systemic inflation.

Given the pressures created by the projected (partly unfulfilled) expenditures
dating back to the 1962-68 1st National Development Plan, unanticipated war
spending, and projections for post war reconstruction and development, drastic
measures were taken, such as the increase in the statutory limit for Treasury
Bills up to 150% of estimated retained revenue of the entire Federal Government
and gross revenue of ALL 12 states in 1970.

At the same time, in 1968, Treasury certificates were issued and the maximum
permitted level of outstanding Treasury certificates as a percentage of Federal
estimated current revenues was set, first at 50%, and later 60% by 1969. Such
revenues supplemented those raised by the Ways and Means Committee.

In the meantime, credit was liberalized, as discount rates and other interest
rates were reduced to reduce the cost of borrowing. The result was that
inflation was fuelled and it led to an increase in general prices.

Another measure used was to increase the use of promissory notes to delay
repayment/debt servicing on less directly war related expenditures.

Other measures included promulgation of decrees to mediate trade disputes,
enforce trade embargoes, pre-empt the illegal use of Nigerian monies burgled by
Biafran troops from Central Bank vaults in Enugu, Benin, and Port Harcourt.

As you recall, the Nigerian currency was changed in 1968, after which a total of
N173 million naira was redeemed. Of this N173 million, N133 million was from the
9 (nine) non eastern states while N40 million was redemmed on the basis of an ex
gratia award to the 3 primary war affected eastern states. This total amounted
to about 96% of the N180.0 million naira in circulation in the entire country as
of December 1967.

Furthermore, marketing boards operations were financed by the CBN (to replace
the Standard Charter of Britain which had become reluctant to fincne them under
the circumstances). Such financing was uneven, clearly a matter of logistics.
Battle grounds hardly possessed the infrastructure for normal operation of
pre-war marketing boards.

But as sections of the secessionist enclave began to fall, Normalcy
Administration Loans were made available from Military Funds to revitalize
various companies in the East. Public Announcements were made asking companies
to submit estimates for reconstrction and recapitalization, which were
eventually reviewed by relevant rehabilitation committees. Furthermore,
employment opportunities were created for displaced persons who elected to
return home to war ravaged areas. This included opportunities in the Police and
Armed Forces for all sorts of security duties to pump money into the system and
put cash into people's hands. This is quite apart from the controversial £20
flat redemption policy for Biafran currency holdings after the war. In many
states, rents (in Nigerian money) of departing landlords who had escaped in 1966
and 1967 were collected and paid back by individuals and state governments (with
the exception of Rivers State). An example, but
by no means unique, was the Midwestern State. A cursory look at federal and
state budgets in 1970 and 1971 and 1972 will reveal some of these measures
captured in appropriations.

This brief summary will not, however, be complete without identifying some of
the problems and failures in the process. The first post-war Chairman of the
Committee for Rehabilitation and Reconstruction was Allison Ayida - who is still
alive. In the book, Allison Akene Ayida, Nigeria's Quintessential Public
Servant, by Kayode and Otobo (Malthouse Press), it states, on page 78:

" Unbelievably, though, the administration of the East Central State, instead of
cooperating with the federal efforts at aleviating the pervasive suffering in
the area, indulged in acts of commission or omission to exacerbate it. For
example, Ayida cited the frustration and pain of federal authorities in trying
to get the East Central State to accept and install 54 generators to provide
electricity for a number of cities in the area. It took all of three months for
the East Central State Government to agree on where the generators would be
installed. In the end, the generators were not installed at all and they had to
be sent to other towns in Nigeria."

It may be well worth your time to track Ayida down and have him expound on his
experiences as Chairperson of the Committee for Rehabilitation and
Reconstruction, and perhaps provide some additional insights.

I do not have the time to delve too deeply into all facets of Civil War era
economics, but you can certainly get yourself these additional books:

Nafziger: The Economics of Political Instability: The Nigeria-Biafra War,
Western Press 1973

RN Ogbudinkpa: The Economics of the Nigerian Civil war and its Prospects for
National Development (1985)

Nowa, thanks for your contribution. I have read Reuben Ogbudinkpa, but I've been
unable, much As I've tried, to get a copy of the biography of Ayida. I always
thought they were his memoirs but it turns out to be an account of his work
rendered by others. Now, Ayida moved as perm sec from Mines to Economic
development and then to Finance under Shagari as Fed. Commissioner,, and took
over from H. Ejieyutche as SFG. He certainly is worth debriefing. I frankly find
his account interesting about the rehabilitation of the East. He implies that
the problem with the East Central State was that people were fighting over the
installation of generators sent from Lagos. Perhaps there is, here, an example
of administrative lapse or incompetence. If there was really a program of
rehabilitation, the committee would have constituted a task force made of
engineers, sociologist, town planners, administrators, accountants, town council
executives etc - and they would have
identified areas of special and immediate need, where these equipment were to
be installed; where roads where to be rebuilt, where power stations and power
grids were to be re-installed, etc. The point is the Ayida committee did not
rehabilitate the East according to the mandate given to them - in his
confession, they diverted materials meant for Eastern rehabilitation to other
towns in Nigeria. It is a punishabe offence, because the rehabilitation fund was
specifically budgeted for the purpose of rehabilitation and reconstruction of
war ravaged areas. Ayida's confession speaks directly to the damage done to the
public service by those who had inherited it, and who in the flush of post-war
"victory" thought they could do anything to the East. Listen to him again, and
ask yourself if the Chairman of the Rehabilitation committee accomplished the
task, irrespective of his excuse. Meanwhile, that is his view, I shall also ask
Prof. Ukwu I. Ukwu, who was on
the ground as the Commissioner for Economic Development in Asika's regime in
East Central State, and also once Director of the Institute of Development
Studies at the University of Nigeria, Center for Development Studies in Enugu to
clarify Ayida's claims. I salute you.
Obi Nwakanma

The reference I gave you is his biography. What you say you have not been able
to find is his autobiography.

I do not think Ayida was "confessing" anything.

He was expressing a frustration specifically with the government of then East
Central State (under Ukpabi Asika - RIP) and the
politics/infighting/incompetence that bogged down efforts at post-war
rehabilitation in that state.

Many other states were affected by the war (although not as much as East
Central, followed by SouthEast and Rivers, then the Midwest, and then others, in
declining level of seriousness) and they would all have been making demands of
the FG Rehabilitation Committees and the federal budget. It would have been
intolerable to leave dozens of generators lying fallow and deteriorating because
one state could not decide for months on end what to do with them while others
needed them too.

States claimed that they (more than the feds) knew where they most needed help.
The FG thus deferred to them in making decisions about deployment of resources
to communities - except in the case of purely federal establishments. The
responsibility here lay squarely with the East Central government.

Ayida is still alive. You probably do need to talk to him if you want to know


c/o Human Rights, Justice and Peace Foundation (HRJPF)
93, Market Road, First Floor (Back)
Aba, Abia State, Nigeria
E-mail: hrjpfoundation@...
Tel : +234 (0) 803 505 6312
June 9, 2010


With great dismay, we are alarmed by the spinning out of control of the spate of
armed robbery, kidnapping for ransom, ritual killings and rape in Abia State,
particularly Aba, the commercial nerve centre and Umuahia, the State Capital.

Despite heavy security presence in the ill-fated state of Abia, the fear of
armed robbers, kidnappers, ritual killers and rapists is the beginning of

It should be noted that since the emergence of Chief T.A. Orji – a man around
whose neck over hundred count charges of stealing of Abia people’s funds are
hanging – as governor, the ill-fated state of Abia has recorded unprecedented
cases of violent crimes. Between May 14 and June 8, 2010, several banks have
been robbed, security personnel brutally killed, trouser-wearing ladies raped,
and innocent persons kidnapped for rituals and/or ransom under the nose of
heavily armed security men, including the blood-thirsty Abia State Vigilante
Services (Bakassi boys).

As an indication that Abia has degenerated to a failed state in Nigeria, armed
robbers and kidnappers now give NOTICE before they strike, as vividly shown by
the invasion of First Bank Plc and Fidelity Bank Plc, both in Port Harcourt
Road, Aba on Wednesday, June 2, 2010. Recall that they had written to inform
them of their intention to rob them and eventually did, to chagrin of all. And
while the people of Enyimba City, as Aba is fondly called, were still writhing
in the pains inflicted on them by last Wednesday’s robbery attack, which
culminated in the closure of banks and other financial institutions in Aba; no
fewer than eighteen persons were kidnapped along Aba-Ikot-Ekpene Road, Ogbor
Hill, Aba yesterday, June 8, 2010.

The most shocking of this ugly development is that, rather than gear efforts
towards curbing violent crimes in the failed state of Abia, Governor Orji is not
only busy acquiring in a manner most primitive perishable worldly benefits but
also campaigning for a second term in office. We have therefore begun to wonder
whether the spate of violent crimes in Abia are masterminded by him to scare
away political opponents from running against him in the 2011 gubernatorial
election; or whether he lacks the capacity to govern. Whichever way it is
viewed, Governor Orji has abysmally failed in guaranteeing the safety of lives
and property in Abia. Simply put, he is an unmitigated disaster.

Accordingly, we call for the immediate resignation of Governor Orji for lack of
capacity to govern and/or complicity in the criminal invasion of Abia by armed
gangs. This will not only restore peace and tranquillity to the state but also
remove all visible roadblocks to the conduct of free, fair and credible
elections in the state and the country at large.

But if by June 30, 2010, Governor Orji fails to toe the path of honour by
resigning, we shall mobilize Abia people for non-violent civil disobedience.
This is the time for non-violent revolution. This is the time for the
dislodgement of the criminal gang in Abia led by Governor Orji and his partners
of accursed ways. This is the time for the emancipation of the suffering and
dying people of Abia.

Comrade Chidi Nwosu
Human Rights, Justice and Peace Foundation (HRJPF)

Barrister Ukpai Ukairo
Abia Peoples Forum (APF)

Onapuruagu Prince Ukaegbu
Centre for Reform and Public Advocacy (CRPA)

Rev. Emeka Ogbonna
Popular Participation Front (PPF)

Comrade David Kalu
Abia State Chairman
Campaign for Democracy (CD)

Pastor Victor Mnenga
Vice President
Centre for the Advancement of Children’s and Women’s Rights (CACWR)

Engineer Amaka Biachi
Executive Director
Centre for Human Empowerment, Advancement and Development (CHEAD)

Democratise or Die: The status quo is not an option for Labour

Jeremy Gilbert

There is one key reason why we now find ourselves in a new political era; one aspect of the election result which few predicted and which has decisively prevented it from being a re-run of 1979 and 1997. That is the surprising robustness of the Labour vote in various key constituencies up and down the country. Had it not been for the unexpected success of the party on the ground in many constituencies, Labour would have been defeated as convincingly as incumbent governments were at those two critical elections.

Despite the failure of the campaign as it was managed and presented from the centre, in those places where Labour has a vigorous local culture of organising, involving members and politicians in an active and participatory dialogue with communities, the Labour vote remained solid or even increased. This was even more true in Wales, Scotland and London, where devolved power has enabled Labour-led administrations to deliver real social democratic reforms for their electorates in recent years.

These facts are striking because they indicate the final failure of the New Labour strategy. Probably the best term ever coined to describe that strategy was Anthony Barnett’s phrase ‘corporate populism’. New Labour was based on the idea that a new kind of popular politics had to imitate the organisational and communications techniques of corporations, while pursuing a political programme which tried to align the interests of voters with those of actual corporations. When reflecting on this history, it’s striking to consider that New Labour’s full embrace of market liberalism came some time after its adoption of this approach as its own basic organisational mode.

Long before it became clear that New Labour wouldn’t break in any serious way with Thatcherite economics, while Blair still tantalised his supporters with references to Christian Socialism, ethical communitarianism, and the ‘stakeholder society’, the organisational form of New Labour prefigured the models and the value that it would later try to impose on the state, the public sector, and the country at large.

The basic organisational idea of New Labour was that the party membership were the problem and not the solution. Between 1994 and 1997 huge numbers of new members were recruited to Labour, enthused by the prospect of electability which Blair seemed to have brought back to the party. At just the same time, however, a programme of ‘reforms’ saw almost all meaningful decision-making about policy or campaigning strategy taken out of the hands of local parties and their memberships, and handed over to largely unaccountable bodies and officials, appointed by the leadership and only weakly accountable to anyone else.

Key decisions which required some degree of democratic legitimation, most notably the re-writing of the Labour constitution to remove any commitment to the socialisation of the means of production, were to be taken through postal ballots which presented members with the opportunity either to endorse the leadership position unequivocally or to reject it outright (a politically suicidal option for the party), without any significant opportunity for modification or discussion. The ideal New Labour member was someone who paid their membership, who got their messages from the leadership via the BBC or The Guardian, and who might deliver a few leaflets at election-time, but who never even wanted to participate in localised discussions or decision-making.

There was a certain logic to this. The prevalent idea in intellectual circles at the time was that the professionalisation of politics was an inexorable process: like it or not, political parties could no longer be vehicles of mass democracy, but had to fulfil their new historic function of producing and servicing successive generations of a specialised political class. This in itself was based on a partially-accurate, but ultimately lop-sided understanding of the many ways in which the world was changing at the time.

The decline of old forms of social solidarity, old industries, old patterns of geographical settlement, class culture and party loyalty all seemed to have resulted in a situation in which every voter would be a floating voter, and the only way to communicate with them effectively would be through the mass media. Only the experts who knew how to play the media game could be trusted both to formulate and to deliver the party’s message.

At the same time, according to New Labour thinking, those strange individuals who did remain nostalgically attached to ideas like democracy and collective actions were precisely the kind of people to whom the swing voters of middle England could never relate; and unfortunately those were exactly the kind of people who still showed up to Labour party branch meetings. Creating a new body of non-participating members, and removing all power from the party’s own democratic structures, was an understandable response, as was the decision to turn to focus-groups and opinion polls as better guides to policy than the will of party activists.

But there were two problems with this strategy. On the one hand, its basic analytical presuppositions already look antiquated. In the age of Facebook and Twitter, which enable millions of citizens to share ideas, to build campaigns and to communicate across great distances, the idea that a handful of professional politicians touring the TV studios of central London can be an adequate substitute for democratic politics looks clunky and forlorn. And while the televisual persona of the leader clearly remains a crucial factor in determining the success of a party today, the failure of Cleggmania to materialise at the ballot box shows that this is clearly not the overriding issue which can determine electoral outcomes. Add to this the failure of the Suns’s endorsement to deliver a clear majority for Cameron, and we have a mountain of evidence that the era of Spin, when a command-and-control communications strategy could always win the day, is now behind us.

But this isn’t just about shifts in the media landscape. What these changes demonstrate is that New Labour only ever understood one part of the story about the decline of old political forms. While they may have been right that the 19th / 20th century model of mass political campaigning was reaching its end, they failed to notice the extent to which the coming era would present new opportunities for community-building and for democratic action, and new problems for any attempt to stifle democracy and debate. The success and growing political importance of the blogosphere and of sites like this one is just one sign of this!

The second major problem with the New Labour model was this: in politics, as we so often forget at our peril, form dictates content. Lenin’s bloodthirsty, secretive revolutionary organisation produced a bloodthirsty, secretive state, despite the nobility of its aspiration to liberate humanity from servitude. New Labour started off promising to rebuild community, but in the end all it could offer in government was more corporate populism, always putting the interests of capital ahead of those of the people it was supposed to represent, and pursuing an unpopular programme of public-sector ‘reforms’ designed to fit all social relationships into the mould of transactions between corporations and their customers.

This programme never had any democratic legitimacy -  polls showed time and again that most of the public, and the vast majority of Labour voters, didn’t want to have the same kind of relationship to their schools or their government that they had to Tescos - but New Labour pursued it relentlessly anyway. Only where Labour seemed to stand for something different did it escape electoral meltdown at the general election.

The lessons from this history are clear. The details of the programme on which Labour will fight the next election could not possibly be determined now, when so much remains uncertain about the intervening half-decade. What is certain is that unless it is the product of a radically renewed  democratic process, that programme will not have the capacity to inspire the public, to mobilise the membership, and to break the Con-Lib coalition which now threatens to do to Labour what Blair and Ashdown once dreamed of doing to the Tories, shutting it out of government for at least a generation.

As Jon Cruddas, Compass and others have argued, a complete overhaul and reinvention of the Labour Party for the 21st century is the only thing that could achieve this end. In the era of ‘we-think’ and network culture, the collective intelligence of the membership - including the 12,000 who have rushed to join now that the age of New Labour looks likely to have ended - is the greatest possible resource that the otherwise-impoverished party has at its disposal.

New Labour was predicated on the idea that it was the membership that stood between Labour and power, but the election result has turned this assumption on its head. All over the world, from  Brazil to Scandinavia, new experiments in participatory governance and radical democratic renewal (see, for example, Hilary Wainwrights’ book Reclaim the State) are finding ways of developing such collective resources in ways which go way beyond the kinds of mild constitutional reforms which the coalition is now contemplating, which themselves threaten to make Labour look like a democratic dinosaur.

If the party is to begin to learn from such experiments and to empower itself for the 21st century, then it will have to begin at home, with the most radical review of its own structures of decision-making and membership participation in its history. The alternative: fossilisation, petrification, extinction.


Reviving Igbo language and culture

Editorial Index

Governor Peter Obi of Anambra State has demonstrated leadership in the quest for Igbo renaissance by coming out with far reaching measures to revive Igbo language and culture. At the recent launch of Suwakwa Igbo initiative at the Women Development Centre, Awka, Obi enjoined all Igbos to love themselves, their culture and language for their sustenance as a people.

As a demonstration of this love for the language, the governor announced, among others, annual cash award of N250, 000, N200, 000 and N100, 000 to the best three Igbo language students in secondary schools in Nigeria .

He also gave cash donations as well as university scholarship to the best two Igbo language students in the West African Senior School Certificate Examination (WASSCE), Messrs Kevin Anozie and Chika Echeta, of Holy Child Secondary School , Isuofia and Bishop Onyemelukwe Secondary School , Onitsha respectively. Already, the governor has signed into law a bill to enforce the speaking and writing of Igbo language among Ndigbo in Anambra and Diaspora. He has stopped meting of corporal punishment to students who speak Igbo in schools in the state.

Like English Language and Mathematics, Igbo Language will henceforth be compulsory in all educational institutions in the state. The governor will soon send a bill to that effect to the State House of Assembly as well as making a pass in Igbo Language mandatory for employment in the state.
To sustain the renewed interest in Igbo studies, the state government has commenced the building of Chief Chidozie Ogbalu Igbo Language School at a cost of N50.5 million for specialized and holiday programmes in Igbo.

We commend Obi for his foresight in rolling out measures to revive Igbo language now that the language is among those predicted to go extinct in the near future if nothing drastic is done to promote its usage. By this action, the governor has added another feather to his cap. He has actually shown what responsible leadership can be. Obi’s example deserves applause because among the three major Nigerian languages, Igbo is the most neglected in terms of writing and speaking.

That is why most Igbos have been alienated from their language and culture. More interesting is the fact that of all the governors of Igbo speaking states, Obi is the only one that would take note of this cultural anomaly and make a move to address it. Obi’s effort is therefore a clarion call on all Igbos in Nigeria and Diaspora to take more than a passing interest in their language and culture. We say this because people perceive the world through their language. A people’s world view is encoded in their language.
If the Igbo lose their language, they have invariably lost their cultural heritage and identity. There is no doubt that the speaking and writing of Igbo has steadily declined over the years at home, in school and in social fora.

To the average Igbo, it has become more fashionable to speak English and other languages except Igbo. Regrettably, most Igbo hold their town union meetings in English. Government business in Igbo states is entirely conducted in English. This pitiable but funny attitude must change before Igbo language can regain its lost pristine glory. For this attitudinal change to occur, governors in Igbo states should emulate the Peter Obi example and encourage the speaking and writing of Igbo in their domain.

We call on all Igbos to wake up from their linguistic slumber and take great pride in using their language. Obi has shown the light. Let other Igbo governors take a cue. The declining interest in vernacular languages is not peculiar to Igbo language. Other Nigerian languages face similar problems. Let there be a rejuvenation of interest in these seemingly endangered languages. That is the only way we can protect them and preserve our cultural heritage.

All the government cultural agencies should be involved in the promotion of our indigenous languages. Why can’t we use the local languages in our state legislative houses? Lagos State House of Assembly now conducts its business once a week in Yoruba. That is good. But, we believe that there is the need to go beyond this mere tokenism.

Earlier research by former Education Minister, Professor Babatunde Fafunwa, has established that a child learns better and faster in his indigenous language. Most industrially developed nations reached their technological heights through their local languages. We too can do so by deploying the resources of our local languages to bear on the study of mathematics and the sciences. The time to key into this initiative of reviving our indigenous languages and cultures is now.

America and the world’s jungle

Paul Rogers, 27 May 2010

An official directive that grants the United States army expanded counterinsurgency powers reveals Washington’s imprisonment in an exhausted vision of security.

An early decision of Bill Clinton after he became president in January 1993 was the appointment of R James Woolsey as director of the CIA. At his Senate confirmation hearings, Woolsey was asked how he would to characterise the current era, following the end of the cold war and the collapse of the Soviet Union. He replied that the United States had slain a "large dragon" (the Soviet threat) only to find itself living "in a jungle filled with a bewildering variety of poisonous snakes" (see “A world beyond control”, 22 May 2008).

George W Bush made a similar point in his own style during the campaign for the United States presidency in 2000:

“When I was coming up, it was a dangerous world and we knew exactly who the 'they' were. It was us versus them and we knew exactly who ‘them’ was. Today we're not so sure who the 'they' are, but we know they're there.”

The identity of some of the “they” became apparent on 11 September 2001. The United States chose not to respond by studying and searching “the jungle” and seeking them out, but by tearing through that jungle and waging two multi-year wars in the process (see “If it’s good for America, it’s good for the world”, 27 January 2002).
A new script

In the early months of 2010, it had begun to look as if at least one of those destructive wars - that in Iraq - might at last be easing. The number of US troops in the country fell below 100,000 for the first time since 2003, a symbolic reduction that was accompanied by a military surge in Afghanistan that exceeded the same figure (see Ben Farmer, “US troops in Afghanistan surpass number in Iraq”, Daily Telegraph, 26 May 2010).

But the violence in Iraq is continuing and perhaps even intensifying. Much of it may be due to the release of many thousands of prisoners detained without trial for months and years in US-controlled prisons. There are disturbing signs that many of them have enhanced their sense of purpose and organisation while in prison, and are now re-invigorating the Sunni-based insurgency (see “Iraq says prisoners released by US rejoined Qaeda”, AFP, 18 May 2010). This may become so serious that it could even check the Barack Obama administration’s intention to reduce the number of American forces to barely 50,000 by September 2010 (see Borzou Daraghi, “Iraq’s middle class short on hope”, Los Angeles Times, 21 May 2010).

Meanwhile, the reinforced US presence in Afghanistan is gearing up to try and take control of the key Taliban centre of Kandahar city, just as the Taliban themselves accelerate their own policy of selective assassinations of those deemed close to the American purpose (see Richard A Oppel Jr & Taimoor Shah, “A Killing Further Erodes Afghan Faith in Leaders”, New York Times, 20 April 2010).

This latest tactical change by the paramilitaries is especially significant. In many previous such switches of emphasis, the militants have been responding to US operations (such as when retreating before the Nato/Isaf offensive in Marjah, central Helmand, in February 2010); but the Kandahar assassinations are designed to help pre-empt any possibility of US success in a conflict yet to come (see Ulrike Demmer & Matthias Gebauer, “The Taliban's New Threat to NATO”, SpiegelOnline, 26 May 2010).

Kandahar is one of the two main areas where the US is focusing its counterinsurgency efforts. The tactics include deploying special forces in night-time raids on houses and compounds where they kill or detain presumed insurgents (see “Washington vs Waziristan: the far enemy”, 14 May 2010). The other key zone is north Waziristan, across the border in northwest Pakistan, where armed drones are the more common weapon of choice (see “The AfPak war: failures of success”, 8 April 2010).

These are targeted efforts to address threats to American (or Pakistani) control in specific localities. A much wider issue is the existence of al-Qaida-connected groups in areas well beyond the “AfPak” theatre. The Pentagon’s reaction to this phenomenon includes a directive signed on 30 September 2009 by General David H Petraeus, the head of US Central Command, permitting the expanded use of special-force units across the broader region (see Mark Mazzetti, “U.S. Is Said to Expand Secret Actions in Mideast”, New York Times, 24 May 2010).

The directive - formally entitled the Joint Unconventional Warfare Task Force Execute Order - is reported by the New York Times to authorise:

“the sending of American Special Operations troops to both friendly and hostile nations in the Middle East, Central Asia and the Horn of Africa to gather intelligence and build ties with local forces. Officials said the order also permits reconnaissance that could pave the way for possible military strikes in Iran if tensions over its nuclear ambitions escalate.”
An old dream

At first sight, a reasonable response to this news is “so what?” After all, the United States staged cruise-missile raids in the 1990s against targets in Iraq, Afghanistan and Sudan; and in the 2000s the CIA has carried out drone-attacks in Somalia, Yemen, Pakistan, and Afghanistan.

More generally, the US marines and the CIA operated in numerous countries across Latin America and the Caribbean during the cold-war years. The marines in particular were in the frontline of protecting US interests throughout central America even in the 1920s and 1930s (see Max Boot, The Savage Wars Of Peace: Small Wars And The Rise Of American Power [Basic Books, 2003]).

The Latin America specialist Jenny Pearce chronicles much of that in her book Under the Eagle (Latin American Bureau, 1982). She also reproduces the testimony of marine-corps General Smedley D Butler, speaking in 1933:

“I spent thirty-three years and four months in active service as a member of our country's most agile military force - the Marine Corps. I served in all commissioned ranks from a second Lieutenant to Major-General. And during that time I spent most of my time being a high-class muscle man for Big Business, for Wall Street and the bankers. In short, I was a racketeer for capitalism. Thus I helped make Mexico and especially Tampico safe for American oil interests in 1914. I helped make Haiti and Cuba a decent place for the National City Bank to collect revenues in… I helped pacify Nicaragua for the international banking house of Brown Brothers in 1909-12. I brought light to the Dominican Republic for American sugar interests in 1916. I helped make Honduras 'right' for American fruits companies in 1903.”

Many connecting features link General Butler's experience in the first decades of the 20th century, and the US military’s adventures in the “greater middle east” in the first decade of the 21st (see James R Arnold, Jungle of Snakes: A Century of Counter insurgency Warfare from the Philippines to Iraq [Bloomsbury, 2009]). But the current plans also represent an important departure from the cold-war days (when the CIA played the leading role in non-conventional foreign projects) in that the US army and special forces will be allowed to take the initiative in operations in friendly - as well as hostile - states (see Rupert Cornwell, “US to launch covert strikes on terror targets”, Independent, 26 May 2010).

In a range of countries - Iran, Somalia, Yemen, Saudi Arabia - the United States army’s regular forces will now be engaged in a further extension of the “war on terror”. True, it is more than likely that this has been covertly the case for several years; but that the process is now being formalised marks an important moment.

This, moreover, comes at the very time when the US seeks to put multilateral diplomacy and "new partnerships" at the centre of a new natural-security strategy published on 27 May 2010. Barack Obama's introduction to the sixty-page document even says: "Our long-term security will not come from our ability to instill fear in other peoples but through our capacity to speak to their hopes" (see Toby Harnden, "President Obama declares the War on Terror is over", Daily Telegraph, 27 May 2010).

The tension between this sentiment and the explicit counterinsurgency directive that preceded it is obvious. The latter is but one part of a transition which the United States deems necessary if it is to respond successfully to the challenge of irregular or asymmetric warfare in the early 21st century. In the context of the dominant thinking of the post-cold-war period enunciated so vividly by R James Woolsey, the policy represents a deepening of the desire to “tame the jungle”. It is certain that the jungle will, in due course, find its own ways to adapt and respond.