Monday, August 31, 2015


My previous article was about the Iranian nuclear deal, and the dangers it poses if it goes into effect. In line with the subject of nuclear weapons, I decided to go further back in history, and help us understand the genesis of the atomic bomb.
As a post-graduate student studying for a master’s degree in Diplomacy and Strategic Studies at the University of Lagos, I had the privilege, together with my classmates, of being tutored by some of Africa’s best minds in the field of Strategic Studies. One of them was Professor Charles Dokubo. It was he, who gave me some of my fondest postgraduate memories- I will never forget the one million and one questions I had to answer in all of his classes- and it was he who first mentioned to me, one of the most defining occurrences in history i.e., “the Manhattan Project”. In my master’s class, we learned about “brinkmanship” and how John Foster Dulles added that term to the vocabulary of diplomatic language. But those were the days when rationality prevailed…at least somewhat. In today’s world where leaders seem to be increasingly eager to outdo one another in political and military showmanship, the threat of danger and of a doomsday scenario is increasingly heightened. When leaders make inflammatory statements that raise red flags to the trained ear, one begins to wonder, “How did we get to this point?” This brings me back to the issue of the Manhattan Project.
When Professor Dokubo first mentioned it in class, my first thought was that it was a Steven Spielberg movie, or maybe a John Grisham novel. But in the next few moments, I and my classmates were to discover that it was the origin of the creation of the most devastating weapon the world has ever seen- the atomic bomb! The Manhattan Project was started as a result of the “Einstein letter” in which the renowned physicist had warned President Franklin D. Roosevelt of the potential creation of a deadly bomb by the Nazis. As WW2 raged on, it seemed inevitable that warring powers would seek the creation of the ultimate weapon against their adversaries. After sitting on the sidelines of “isolation” since the 1930’s, President Roosevelt with the gift of foresight, had begun to take necessary steps to engage Americans in the international discourse , and to make them see that isolationism was not exactly feasible as the scourge of war raged on. And if there was any further reluctance on the part of the American public, all that was about to change in December of 1941, when the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor. This brought the USA into the theatre of combat, and it was within this atmosphere of increased tension that the green light for the Manhattan Project was given. The Manhattan Project kicked off fully in 1943, drawing the best and brightest minds from America’s top universities…physicists, chemists, engineers…young men with their hopes and dreams in front of them. These young minds, most of them in their early 20’s got drafted and made their way to what would become the epic center and defining moments of their lives…the middle of nowhere…the New Mexican desert…Los Alamos…the Manhattan Project. They assembled under the leadership of one man- J. Robert Opppenheimer, who would become known as the father of the atomic bomb. Research turned into more research, and time flew by. And as trials and theories proved wrong and despair loomed, finally, there was a breakthrough in the ‘implosion’ theory…in 1945. You see, these young men were not soldiers…they were scientists…but they were concerned about the rise of Hitler and his third Reich, and saw their contribution to the creation of the bomb as a way to put an end to not just WW2, but to any future global war. As Oppenheimer had calculated, the devastating effects of the created atomic bomb would be so tremendous, that it would serve as an effective deterrent against any future global wars. Was he correct? Only the future will tell.
In any case, Roosevelt passed on unexpectedly, and Harry S. Truman became President. Hitler committed suicide in his bunker, and America now faced a new enemy…Japan. The critical center of the war had shifted to the pacific, and Truman gave the order for the completed ultimate weapon to be used. And the rest they say is history. When the dust of the nuclear cloud settled over Hiroshima and Nagasaki, more than 250,000 people were dead, and many more were forever scarred by the radioactive fall-out. It would take 30days for people to venture into those cities in the aftermath. Some historians have argued that the bomb did not have to be used…that Japan would have ultimately surrendered…that Truman just wanted to make a showing of America’s capabilities. I would not attempt to venture into further explanation of their argument because I do not have all the facts. But what I do know is that from a political and military standpoint, the bomb achieved what it was supposed to- the unconditional surrender of Japan, and the end of the war. From a moral point of view though, that is a much different story, and my conscience has thoughts of its own.
After the use of the atomic bomb and the end of the war, it was thought that everlasting global peace had been purchased. But alas, it was not to be so. Instead of peace, Pandora’s Box had been opened, as world powers rushed to gain the necessary technology to acquire the bomb for themselves. At the moment, there are about 9 nuclear states in the world, and this includes all the permanent members of the United Nations Security Council. And a few more (including Iran) are standing in line to join this elite club. This bring me to my plea…the bomb MUST not be used again! During the Cuban missile crises, the world came very close to witnessing another nuclear catastrophe; but thanks be to God that rationality prevailed, and JFK and Khrushchev were able to sheath their swords, and preserve humanity as it were. Can the same level of rationality be ascribed to world leaders today? I’m not so sure. When Russia annexes the territory of another sovereign state, when the North Korean dictator (whose name I refuse to dignify by mentioning) carries out tests in the de-militarized zone (DMZ), and when the mullahs in Iran decree that their nuclear programme will not be stopped, while also calling for the total annihilation of other sovereign states, my faith in humanity and my hope for the prevalence of reason, further weakens. I believe in diplomacy, but I also know that power- tough power- is the currency of international politics, and that states would do everything in their means, to acquire and retain power.
So what can stop a nation with the financial means and technical know-how from getting a nuclear bomb? Virtually little, as Iran and North Korea have shown. What would happen if rogue states with irrational leaders, acquire this weapon of mass destruction? Well, some day, in the event of escalated conflict with perceived enemy states, we will not be wrong in projecting the deployment of these weapons. What would be the outcome? Collateral damage on a scale the world has never seen before. In the words of a prominent American long deceased, “the living would envy the dead!” But is the world listening? It doesn’t seem so. 
We Africans have a saying that when two Elephants fight, it is the ground that suffers. While leaders make contingency plans for war, they are far removed from its epic center in the event of its occurrence; and they also have special facilities (underground nuclear-proof bunkers and the likes) fitted for their survival. It is you and I, the common-man that suffers! It has been estimated that there are more than 20,000 nuclear weapons in the world today, hundreds of which are more powerful than those dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki! Can you now begin to imagine the destruction, death and carnage a nuclear war will cause in the 21st century? So while nations fan the flames of war, let us also do the math and ask ourselves these important questions- “does the end justify the means, and are we willing to trade humanity as we know it, for the sake of grievance, ego and prestige?” Think about it.

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Monday, August 24, 2015


For months, the eyes of the world were fixed on Vienna…and the issue at stake was the Iranian nuclear deal and negotiations with the P5+1. Being a diplomat myself and a concerned global citizen, it was only natural that my interest and curiosity was aroused. The issue of the deal is definitely a very sensitive one, laden with so many misunderstandings and misconceptions. To give a little background on the players, Iran is a Middle Eastern Persian theocracy governed by a handful of mullahs, led by the Ayatollah Khamenei. Since 1979, Iran and the United States have not had meaningful diplomatic relations, due to the overthrow of the Shah of Iran and the Iranian Revolution (remembering the American embassy siege that ultimately contributed to the defeat of Jimmy Carter). Since then, countless sanctions have been imposed on the regime which overtime, have led to the crippling of the Iranian economy.
Iran has always sought nuclear technology; and it has done little to dispel doubts in certain quarters that its quest for nuclear power poses grave dangers for the world. And one of the many antagonists of this nuclear deal is Israel, the tiny, sole democratic nation in the Middle East. Even though Israel was not a party to the talks, it has certainly been a major player behind the scenes (and even out front), as its interest is clearly at stake…and rightly so. Israel has repeatedly stated that its national security is at stake and that the deal is a very bad one! And for a nation that is constantly being vilified and attacked, I can understand Israel’s plight. Russia on the other hand, is a player that stands to gain economically- together with China- from the lifting of sanctions and especially of the weapons ban on the Iranian regime. And its stance all through the negotiations certainly reflected this. Germany, France and the UK are staunch allies of the US, and would usually always vote in tandem with them. So this begs the question, what is the deal about? Well, the answer varies depending on whom you ask, but it is supposedly a deal to curb and roll- back Iran’s nuclear capabilities over a 10- 15 year period, as sanctions are lifted due to compliance. To summarize, it aims to do the following:
1. Reduce Iran’s 19,000 centrifuges (10,000 of which are still spinning today) to 6,104, with only 5,000 allowed to enrich uranium over the next 10years.
2. Iran’s centrifuges will only be allowed to enrich uranium to 3.67%, enough for only civilian purposes, over the next 15years.
3. Extend break- out time from 2-3 months to 1year. Note that Research and Development on nuclear enrichment would continue, but would be limited to keep break- out time within one year, and Iran still gets to maintain its current nuclear facilities.
4. Iran would be required to grant access to IAEA inspectors at all facilities, including its military site at Parchin.
5. After the IAEA verifies that Iran has taken the key steps, the US and EU would then lift sanctions on the Iranian economy. If there are violations, sanctions would be rolled back.
Now at face value this all sound so lovely, but closer inspection reveals many problems. To start off, in my opinion, the US did not go into the negotiations from a position of strength which is quite disturbing because Iran is the one with a lot to lose or gain! Intelligence reports have overtime shown that Iran is a major exporter and supporter of terrorism in the Middle East and this has only gotten worse, as Iran seeks to gain dominance in the region. Added to this, Iran’s hostile antics in the Persian Gulf and the Strait of Hormuz should convince any observer of Iran’s true nature. Keeping this in mind, they ought to be dealt with, with cautious pessimism. Nowhere during the course of the talks, was Iran brought to book on this issue of state- sponsored terrorism, even as 4 American citizens are still being held in Iranian jails, under false charges. For a nation that chants “death to Israel and to the USA”, the almost child-like faith -exhibited by the US negotiators led by John Kerry and under the directions of President Obama- in the “supposed” good will of the Iranians, is highly alarming! To be clear, no part of the terms requires Iran to denounce its sponsorship of terrorism, recognize Israel’s right to exist, or even firmly ascertain that the so-called inspectors will have complete and unfettered access to nuclear facilities, whenever they so choose (let us not forget that closer investigations revealed that Iran and the IAEA have cut something of a backyard deal and that Iran was only recently accused of making changes to one of its nuclear sites, in an attempt to cover up its activities). By the way, Iran would be given a 24day notification period before (any) inspections take place. May I ask, just who would be able to accurately verify what happens during this time frame? Also, Iran gets to provide it's own soil sample from suspected sites! Are you kidding me? This is no way to check Iran...this is a pathway to a bomb! In reality, what this deal actually does is to push billions of dollars into the purse of the Iranian regime- billions of dollars to keep on acting negatively in the region and pursuing a hostile nuclear programme (keep in mind that even if Iran is seen to pursue a peaceful nuclear programme, it takes a shorter period of time to convert civilian nuclear technology to military nuclear technology)- once sanctions are lifted, boost Iran’s arsenal of ICBM’s and conventional weapons via the lifting of the weapons ban, all the while giving Iran international legitimacy! Netanyahu has every reason to be terrified!
Certainly, every nation has the right to define its own destiny and maintain its own sovereignty, but this should be done within the confines of international law, and with respect to the sovereignty and the territorial integrity of other nations. The issue of ownership of nuclear weapons provides a deterrence factor for nuclear states from would-be aggressors and increases respectability in the comity of nations. But it would also be a grave danger for the world if certain states of questionable behavior are allowed to possess them. If this deal goes forward, we would be right in predicting a pre-emptive strike by Israel against Iran, just as it did against Iraq, in defense of its national security. If the deal is killed, then maybe…just maybe, the USA would have another chance to drag Iran back to the negotiating table, and make the right demands this time! To give credit where credit is due, Iran does have a fine team of negotiators…but they are just as dangerous as they are skillful. I do feel the pain of the Iranian people who have had to bear the brunt of the crippling sanctions; but I also know that it has all been due to the actions of their leaders who are far removed from the pain and suffering.
As President Obama makes his rounds on capitol hill and continues to ascribe blame for any failure of the passage of this deal to Prime Minister Netanyahu of Israel and on all other imagined enemies alike, he should be mindful of the fact that a nuclear armed Iran is not just a threat to Israel alone, but also to the United States and all other nations that Iran’s leaders view as hostile to their leadership! I believe that Iran is poised to get nuclear weapons no matter the outcome, but we must not let them achieve this with the stamp of approval of the larger international community. It is now the duty of the US Congress to act right. We cannot be so quick to forget the lesson of Munich. A bad deal is a bad deal; and “no deal” is far better than a “bad deal”.

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Monday, August 17, 2015

Not so long ago, President Muhammadu Buhari of Nigeria made an all important foreign trip to the USA. Amidst all the pomp and pageantry surrounding the trip, and the President’s eventual arrival when he was received with honors and accommodated in the very prestigious Blair House, a number of important events stood out during that trip; one of which was the brouhaha about the Leahy Law. During a speech at the United States Institute for Peace, the President had stated that the guidelines of this particular law was hindering efforts in the fight against Boko Haram and by so doing, contributing in no small measure to the continued perpetuation of heinous acts, by this terrorist group! That particular remark immediately drew reactions from so many, amongst whom, was the originator of the law itself, US Senator Patrick Leahy. Like so many curious observers, I myself was eager to find out what all the “excitement” was for, so I set out to understand this piece of legislation known as the Leahy Law.
To summarize, the Leahy Law (or Leahy Amendment) is a 1997 amendment to a US foreign aid bill, which bars the US from providing training or equipment to foreign troops or units who commit gross human rights violations. The law was spearheaded by the man whose name it now bears- Senator Patrick J. Leahy of Vermont. The law actually covers foreign military aid provided via 2 United States departments i.e., the Department of State and the Department of Defense, and has been in effect for 18 years now. Now, though the spirit of the law is noble and commendable, the letter of the law itself has drawn criticism from many quarters, even within the hierarchy of the US military command, as it has been said to impede military efforts in the war against terrorism especially as US President Barack Obama has pulled out military personnel from war-torn countries like Afghanistan. Military commanders’ have voiced frustration over the fact that training cannot be adequately provided to certain foreign military units who are supposed to step in and fill the void left by the exit of US troops, and this is due to the strict wording and enforcement of the Leahy Law. And as they have correctly noted, the irony of the entire situation is the fact that most of the foreign militaries implicated in human rights violations, are those who need military aid the most!
Every year, the US State Department vets military personnel and units from all over the world who are in line for US military assistance, and the number runs into hundreds of thousands. If “credible” evidence is found showing that individuals or units have committed human rights violations, aid is immediately denied; and it is resumed only when the government of the indicted personnel(s) has taken effective steps and dealt with the culprit(s), and this has been ascertained by the United States. To be fair, the law has not only barred US military assistance to countries like Nigeria, but also to US allies like Pakistan and Indonesia.
Now, while I also commend the spirit of the law, as I do believe that no nation’s military force should be allowed to disobey the laws of war and inflict abuses on non-combatants all in the name of fighting guerrilla wars against modern day insurgents, I must also note that the collateral damage due to the strict enforcement of the law, does more harm to the non-combatants themselves, who the government is trying to protect in the first place, as I will explain shortly. According to the Leahy Law, if a unit which has been earmarked for US military aid is suddenly found to harbor even one or two military personnel implicated in human rights violations, the aid to the “entire” unit is immediately suspended pending an investigation, and when the culprits are dealt with. This could take weeks or months, depending on the movement of bureaucratic red tape! Now apply this in a country like Nigeria. Let us say unit XYZ of the Nigerian Army’s fifth battalion is locked in a fight against Boko Haram, deep in the wastelands of Borno…the army is gaining ground, and re-enforcements are expected i.e., supplies from the US to aid the efforts of the troops, when all of a sudden, the troops are told that there would be none such forthcoming because a certain Sergeant Ndubuisi Olawale Danjuma has been implicated by the US Department of State or Defense, of having committed gross human rights violations against the civilian population in a previous combat (N/B: do indulge my vivid imagination)! Now, what do you expect would happen? Do you imagine that the insurgents are honorable members of the human community who would suddenly understand the plight of XYZ unit and put the battle on hold until all is sorted out and the re-enforcements (eventually) arrive? I dare say that in a country where the military has previously been found to be considerably less equipped than the insurgents they fight- the Nigerian military is said to still employ obsolete equipments while Boko Haram boasts of modern day hardware- XYZ unit is as good as doomed, except there is supernatural intervention! Okay, maybe the scenario is not so dramatic and the finding is made before the unit is actually engaged in the theatre of battle; still, you get my point.
Now, in defense of this law, Senator Leahy in responding to President Buhari did state (rightly), that the law has done a lot to protect human rights around the world, and then went further to state (maybe a little bit derogatorily) that the President should rather concern himself with cleaning up the army and punishing those military personnel implicated in human rights violations. As I would repeat again at this juncture, while I commend the spirit of the law, I do have a problem with the enactment in reality. And this is because of time…time spent investigating culprits while insurgents who commit even more heinous crimes are allowed to continue their rampage with impunity! Now, do you begin to see the danger this poses to the civilians caught up in vicinities harboring extremist elements? The way I see it, if the culprit(s) is identified, why can’t conditionality for receiving aid be hinged on immediate withdrawal of that person(s), and aid resume while an investigation is conducted? Will that be so bad? Why will an entire unit have to pay for the sins of a few- or even just one- and languish without adequate support for weeks or months until the issue is resolved? Some years ago, Nigerian troops in Mali were even prevented from receiving “non-lethal” military aid such as helmets, because of the indictment of some military personnel by the US.
Thank goodness, the multilateral effort to tackle this 21st century evil known as Boko Haram is recording significant progress. God bless and protect our new military chiefs and every military personnel risking their lives daily in defense of the motherland. In conclusion, I may not be a military personnel, but I am a concerned citizen; and I sure am glad that the President has given an order for the Nigerian Army to begin to take steps to produce its own weapons. This will no doubt be a long process, but it is a step in the right direction. At least this way, if XYZ unit is caught up in the snares of the Leahy Law while in the theatre of battle, they would not be so helpless!
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Hello there. Welcome to 1812global. I must say, it feels surreal finally having this site up and running. For those of you who have been my friends on Facebook for a long while, you’ll probably know by now that politics- especially international politics- is my one true love. I relate with politics almost the same way a maiden relates with her lover…*chuckles*…but it’s true. Like so many people, I watch the news on a daily basis, but I am more interested in making sense of it all. Politics can be a very tricky arena, and politicians are some of the greatest magicians in the world! That’s why it’s important to understand the “esoteric” nature of politics so you don’t get fooled. I am here to help you do that. I read politics, I watch politics, and I write politics…my job is to help you understand the world we live in, to give you a glimpse- via my words- of the maneuverings and conversations that take place behind closed doors in the halls of power, and to help you make sense of the eventual outcomes, which affect your personal lives.
I watch the news, and most times, I am amused. I chuckle whenever I hear a news anchor or analyst go over and over a particular point. Maybe you haven’t realized that while the main-stream-media claims to be unbiased, in reality, their job is not just to report the news, but also to direct your thought process by orchestrating the outline of the news so that ultimately, you begin to see things from a particular point of view. Clever right? It is.
1812global is my labor of love. Not everyone is as fascinated with politics, or with writing about it, as I am- no, I am not trying to portray myself as being too smart- but every one of us, everywhere in the world, is ultimately affected by the decisions of our political leaders…the men and women who call the shots in the halls of power. I am here to help you understand these decisions, so you can hold these leaders accountable. And I promise you, I will never mislead you with ambiguous words…it does not suit my character. I have no monopoly over the store-house of knowledge, and I do not pretend to. I am humbly inviting you to take this journey with me. Come learn with me, come talk with me, criticize me when necessary, challenge me, and inspire us all. The world of politics is a vast domain and to understand the present, most times, we must look to the past. History will guide us, and I will do my best to help you understand; because it is in all our interests to understand the international community we live in, and the politics of this international community. I am here to help you…and I call you “friend”. So, welcome, my friend…welcome to 1812global.
N/B: This is strictly a political/ international affairs site. Because of the lengthy, thought-provoking analytical process that goes into putting an article together- not forgetting pain-staking research and deciphering which particular subject to talk about at the appropriate time- while juggling all the other affairs of life, I will not be able to have an article up daily. My goal is quality, and not quantity. In light of this, 1812report will be a weekly journal i.e., I will post articles on a weekly basis- precisely Monday's. But as you know, the internet never goes to sleep; readership and comments on ALL uploaded posts are allowed every single second of every single day, and I will be a part of the interactive process. I look forward to meeting you here. Please enjoy the next post already uploaded...ALL THE FUSS ABOUT THE LEAHY LAW!
N/B: it has come to my attention that some people are having problems leaving comments here. Please, if you can upload your comments here, do so...but if you can't, kindly visit my Facebook profile page via this link and drop a comment-
Please bear with me, while I work to rectify the situation. Thank you.