Posts tagged ‘Self-Determination’

04/06/2012

American Samoa: Reunite with Samoa

American Samoa, some 2,600 miles southwest of Hawaii, and nowhere near the continental U.S., is an American territory in the South Pacific, which should either become an independent free state, or be reunited with the separate island-nation of Samoa, 84 miles to the west, from which it was forcibly severed by the United States in 1899.

Western intervention in Samoa dates back to the 18th Century. After Dutch navigators first sighted Samoa (1722), French sailors arrived (1768), followed by English missionaries, who erected a permanent settlement (1830). A visit by an American Expedition in 1839, was followed by a U.S.-Samoa Friendship Treaty (1878).

In the First Samoan Civil War (1886-94), the German Navy raided the island, causing the U.S. and Britain to support the opposition in 1887. A battle between the U.S. and Germany was narrowly avoided in 1889, as a typhoon damaged both fleets. A resolution was reached, under the Treaty of Berlin (1889), which created a three-power protectorate to jointly govern the islands, but soon the deal fell apart, and fighting resumed.

In the Second Samoan Civil War (1898-99), Germany, Britain, and the U.S. finally settled the dispute, by partitioning the islands under the Tripartite Convention (1899), which transferred Fiji to the UK, Western Samoa (now Samoa) to Germany, and Eastern Samoa (now American Samoa, east of the 171st meridian) to the U.S. Republican President McKinley, an imperial expansionist, had no trouble annexing the islands, even though his conduct went against the grain of over 100 years of anti-colonial U.S. policy.

In WWI, New Zealand seized German Samoa, renamed it Western Samoa, and governed for 48 years (1914-62), under a League of Nations mandate (1921), and subsequent UN Trust (1945), until independence was granted in 1962. The name Western Samoa was later shortened to simply “Samoa” (1997).

Although the U.S. has not granted independence for American Samoa, in 1967, self-rule was allowed, and in 1981, the territory received a non-voting seat in the U.S. House. Since American Samoans are not U.S. Citizens, they cannot vote in American elections, or hold public office, but as U.S. Nationals, they may reside or work in the U.S. without restriction, and may apply for U.S. Citizenship, as resident aliens.

The colonial relationship between the U.S. and American Samoa should now come to an end. It started in 1899 when there was no Panama Canal, and ships needed to sail around the horn of South America into the South Pacific, to ultimately reach the West Coast. The reason we took American Samoa is now long gone.

American Samoa, 4,770 miles from San Diego, has no chance of becoming a U.S. state, and it should now either merge with the nation of Samoa, or gain recognition in the UN as an independent country. Their population of 65,628 could easily assimilate with the 219,998 who live on one of 14 inhabited Samoan islands, and it is time for the U.S. to let go and allow American Samoa reunite with Samoa.

Advertisements
04/05/2012

UK Falklands Violate Monroe Doctrine

The Falkland Islands, a British territory in the South Atlantic, is a cold, windy, and rainy place (more than half the year), as temperatures range between 30 F and 55 F. They neighbor Argentina, 300 miles to the west, the uninhabited Sandwich Islands, to the southeast, and Antarctica, 700 miles to the south. There is virtually no work here, except fishing and shepherding.

The Falklands War broke out in 1982, some 30 years ago, when roughly 3,140 English citizens on the islands witnessed an invasion by thousands of Argentine troops. After ignoring a UN Resolution calling for a withdrawal, a British submarine sank the Gen. Belgrano, an Argentine ship, causing 362 sailors to die at sea, and soon thereafter, Argentina’s military junta surrendered. 13 years later, a different government agreed not to invade again, as weekly flights between the islands and Argentina resumed.

Today, Argentina continues to assert that they own the Falklands. They point out Spain was the first European power to claim them, when Magellan sailed past in 1502. Although Englishmen erected a settlement in 1766, they argue Spanish forces evicted them in 1779, just four years later. While a 1771 treaty gave Britain a right to return, they note the English voluntarily gave up the place again in 1776. Argentina asserts Spain subsequently governed the islands, until Argentine independence was declared in 1811. Argentina alleges an unbroken chain of title flowing through Spain, their predecessor-in-interest, all the way back to Magellan.

Britain, on the other hand, has a claim traced back to Capt. Davies who visited in 1592. After Viscount Falkland, a Royal Navy treasurer, went ashore in 1690, the islands were named after him. Although a newly independent Argentina opened a penal colony on the islands in 1828, it was closed down when British citizens started arriving in 1833. The UK argues English descendants have continuously occupied the Falklands since 1833, and the islanders have voted to remain a territory of the United Kingdom.

At the time of the 1982 Falklands War, President Reagan, a light-weight in international affairs, sided with Britain’s Margaret Thatcher, and her Conservative government, because he simply did not know any better. He could have reminded Britain that when the people of Latin America rose up against Spanish colonialism, in the early 19th Century, and won their various wars of independence, the U.S. through President Monroe, issued the Monroe Doctrine in which the Americans sided with Argentina, and the other newly independent Latin American republics.

President Monroe declared in 1823, ten years before the British started colonizing the Falklands: “The American continents, by the free and independent condition which they have assumed and maintain, are henceforth not to be considered as subjects for future colonization by any European powers.”

When the British started colonizing the Falklands in 1833, they were in direct violation of U.S. Foreign Policy, under the Monroe Doctrine. At that time, Monroe would have sided with the Argentines and against the British, and if he were alive in 1982 or today, he would take the same anti-colonial stand.

While giving the islands to Argentina now would go against 179 years of ongoing British rule, and the self-determination rights of the islanders, the Falkland Islands will have a more stable future, if they established permanent relations with Argentina, their only real neighbor. The era of colonialism is over, and it is time for Britain, Argentina, and the people of the Falklands to work out a new arrangement.

03/24/2012

Mali Struggle Against the Tuareg

As the nomadic Tuareg of northwest Africa initiated another rebellion, the Mali military started to respond, but soon turned on their own president, and removed him in a coup, claiming he was failing to give them the materiel they needed to succeed.

The important question arising from all this is not about the deposed president, or the military officers who conducted the coup, but rather the Tuareg. Just who are they, and what do they want?

The Tuareg of northern Mali have resisted authority on and off for nearly 100 years. In the colonial era, when France ruled Mali from Dakar, the French quashed an anti-colonial Tuareg uprising in 1916.

As the winds of change swept French colonial rule from Africa, Mali gained independence in 1960, and soon the new nation confronted what became known as the First Tuareg Rebellion (1962-64). As Tuareg, Berber, and Arab peoples in the Saharan region in the north demanded a separate state, Mali’s first president, Modibo Keita (1960-68), defeated them in a two-year struggle.

Following a 1968 junta, Keita was removed, and replaced by Lt. Moussa Traore, a dictator who kept the Tuareg under control for the next 22 years, until a Second Tuareg Rebellion (1990-95) erupted, triggering a second coup in 1991, that took out Traore.

Upon returning to free and fair elections in 1992, the people chose President Alpha Konare (1992-02), who ended the Second Tuareg uprising in 1995, and gained re-election in 1997 for another five-year term.

The 2002 elections were interesting, because Amadou Toumani Toure was selected, even though he had led the 1990 Tuareg Rebellion. After his re-election in 2007, he proved himself as an able leader of all of Mali, as his forces successfully subdued a Third Tuareg Rebellion (2007-09).

This year, however, as a Fourth Tuareg Rebellion (2012-) arose, the military lacked confidence in Toure, and took him out on the allegation he had denied them the supplies they needed to win.

In the short run, Toure should not be reinstated, even though he was removed by a coup, because he already served two terms over a 10-year period, and term limits should be applied in every democracy. Open elections for a successor should be conducted promptly.

In the long-run, the recurrent problem as to the Tuareg cannot be ignored, and their demand for a separate state must be resolved. Legally, they do not have a right to self-determination, as they would have had under external colonial rule. Their situation is like the attempted secession of South Carolina in 1861, when the U.S. government had every right to preserve the union. Since complete independence may not be granted, perhaps some kind of virtual self-rule may be the answer, through the creation of an autonomous government in the northwest. After roughly 100 years of resistance, it is certainly time to try something new.

09/26/2011

Palestine: Abbas Seeks Statehood In UN

Although the UN should grant the Palestinian application for statehood, submitted by President Abbas on Sep. 23, 2011, it will most certainly be vetoed in the Security Council by the U.S., because this is what the Israeli Lobby wants.

Abbas nevertheless made a plea to the UN, by reminding the world the Palestinians have been the victims of injustice since 1948. Although the Palestinians want a comprehensive peace, the last round of negotiations in 2010 broke down within weeks, because Israel disregards UN Resolutions, rejects international law, and continues to settle in parts of occupied Palestine.

Abbas reminded the UN that the late Yasser Arafat of the Palestinian Liberation Organization signed a statement of principle with Israel, in Oslo and at the White House in 1993, but after 18 years, no Palestinian State has yet been created, despite an international consensus for a two-state solution.

Abbas said the absence of an agreement is because Israel systematically confiscates land and constructs settlements along the West Bank and East Jerusalem, while refusing to allow the Palestinians to build. Israel erected an annexation Wall through the West Bank, which separates Palestinian communities. They made Gaza a virtual prison, by imposing a blockade around it. They engaged in ethnic cleansing, by deporting Palestine’s elected representatives, and have allowed Jewish settlers to engage in acts of violence against Arabs without consequence.

It has been difficult for the Palestinians, said Abbas, who was personally forced from his home in 1948, with just the cloths on his back, and the things he could carry. Palestinians eventually realized they could never obtain an absolute justice regarding the historical injustice imposed upon them. They instead adopted a path to relative justice. They made major concessions by agreeing to compromise for only 22% of historical Palestine.

Abbas said the Palestinians have repeatedly tried to negotiate with Israel, but it is now futile. After 63 years of suffering, Abbas said, enough is enough, and business as usual cannot continue. Although Abbas said peaceful resistance will continue, as long as the occupation remains, the Palestinians are willing to return to the table, if Israel stops creating new settlements in Palestine.

Abbas said the Palestinians are entitled to an independent state in the West Bank and Gaza, with East Jerusalem as their capital. They want a release all political prisoners. They want refugees dealt with in accordance with UN Res 194. In exchange, they will renounce violence and reject terrorism in all forms, including state terrorism, and they will agree not to delegitimize Israel.

Abbas asked the UN: Are you going to permit the world’s last occupation to go on forever? Are you going to allow Israel to remain above the law, and let them continue to reject UN Resolutions, and the rulings of the International Court of Justice?

Abbas said it is time for the Palestinian Spring and for the Palestinians to gain independence. Accordingly, Abbas exercised the right of the Palestinian to self-determination and submitted an application for full membership to the Assembly, which he asked the UN to grant immediately, based on the June 4, 1967 borders.

09/23/2011

Palestinian Statehood In United Nations

The UN currently has 194 independent member states. Although the Palestinian Territory is not now an independent sovereign, the United Nations has the power to recognize them, and to make them a UN member. Palestine’s request for statehood would give them rights, and the ability to make claims in international courts. It would allow them to enter into treaties with other countries, and would make them subject to international obligations.

The criteria for statehood were set forth in the Montevideo Convention on Rights and Duties of States (1933). A state must have: 1) a permanent population; 2) a defined territory; 3) a government; and 4) a capacity to enter into relations with others.

As to population, although Antarctica has temporary visitors, it has no permanent population, and is the best example of a land that cannot become a state. The Vatican cannot become a state, since no one was born there, and it has no permanent residents. Western Sahara, with roving nomads, also fails in this regard.

Since Palestine has had a permanent population for over a thousand years, it clearly meets the first criteria for statehood.

A state must have a defined territory. Not all places with defined territories are independent states. Taiwan is a well-defined island that acts like a free state, but it is part of China. French-speaking Quebec has borders, but it is a Canadian province.

In the case of Palestine, their territories include at least the West Bank, Gaza, and East Jerusalem. Other lands occupied since 1967 may also be claimed. Although the boundaries with Israel are now disputed, that is no bar to statehood, and the second test is met.

A state must have a government, as every nation must speak with one voice. If Somalia had to re-apply for statehood today, they would have a problem, because they are governed by warlords, and not by a central government.

Palestine has long had elected governmental bodies in the West Bank and Gaza. Despite Israel’s disapproval of the freely-elected Hamas Party in Gaza, Palestine satisfies the third element.

A state must have the capacity to enter into relations with other nations. Palestine certainly has the ability to do this, and it therefore meets the fourth element of statehood.

The people of the occupied Palestinian territories have a right to self-determination under the UN Charter and the United Nations should proceed to recognize a Palestinian State.

05/09/2011

Morocco: Sultans, Sahara & Insurgents

The news reported a bomb blast at a café in Marrakech, Morocco that killed 14, and wounded 23. Although the perpetrators are not known, the bombing could be in protest of the monarchy, linked to the Western Sahara, or part of the Insurgency in the Maghreb.

A monarchy has ruled Morocco since independence (1956). Sultan Mohammed V held the throne (1957), followed by his son, King Hassan (1961). After he survived two assassination attempts (1971-72), his son, Mohammed VI, took over (1999-now).

During the recent Arab Spring (2011), Mohammed VI pledged reform, but refused to step down, or install a republic. Whether or not the recent bombing was specifically directed at the king, he should now abdicate in favor of a republican form of government.

The recent bombing could also be related to Western Sahara, a territory south of Morocco, previously governed by colonial Spain. After the UN called upon Spain to allow a vote on self-determination (1966), the Spanish instead set the area free (1975). After both Morocco and Mauritania seized Western Sahara, Mauritania gave it up, and Morocco gained sole control (1979).

The International Court of Justice gave an advisory opinion as to Western Sahara (1975), saying the people there favored independence, and though there was a historic legal tie to Morocco, they had an overriding right to self-determination.

Guerillas in Western Sahara, formed a Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic (SADR), which has since been recognized by 81 UN states, and the African Union. SADR fought Morocco, in the Western Sahara War (1975-91), until a ceasefire was monitored by a UN Mission for a Referendum in Western Sahara (1991).

Although the vote as to whether Western Sahara would become independent, or be integrated with Morocco, was set for 1992, Morocco never permitted it. Morocco should now finally allow a vote and eliminate this possible cause for domestic violence.

The third source of the recent bombing could be the Islamist Insurgency in the Maghreb (northwest Africa), which started in 2002. It includes a Moroccan Islamic Combatant Group. Since the insurgency started, there were a series of suicide bombings in Casablanca (2003), a second set of Casablanca bombings (2007), and now a deadly bombing in Marrakech (2011).

Morocco needs to work on all three issues. First, it should deal with the things it can control, and then tackle the more difficult issues. Morocco should: 1) eliminate the monarchy and replace it with a republic; 2) solve the lingering issues regarding Western Sahara, by allowing a self-determination vote; and 3) deal with Islamic groups who have been barred from the political process.

03/29/2011

Kenyan Colonial View Deserves Respect

Former Republican House Speaker Newt Gingrich, said President Obama may be harboring a “Kenyan, anti-colonial” worldview. I don’t usually pay much attention to right-wingers like Newt, but his comment was so profoundly ignorant that it has stuck with me, and it has bothered me for six months now. I finally decided to write about it.

The first questions I would ask Newt are: Don’t you have a Kenyan anti-colonial view? If not, why not? Shouldn’t all Americans have an anti-colonial view? After all, wasn’t the U.S. the first anti-colonial? Don’t you realize Kenya and the U.S. had a similar experience with colonialism?

Anyone who has ever studied basic history knows England colonized the world and that Britain had an empire that spanned the Americas, Asia and Africa. What they may not know, is that scores of colonies were liberated from their European masters during the third quarter of the 20th Century. The Netherlands, France, Britain and Portugal all faced revolutions against colonial rule between 1945 and 1975.

Gandhi struggled with Britain, as he brought independence to India (1947). Indonesia, (a place where Obama actually did live), had to fight to remove Dutch colonial rule (1949). After bloody wars in Southeast Asia and North Africa, French colonialists were defeated in Vietnam (1954) and Algeria (1962). When Britain refused to leave the Egyptian Suez Canal (1956) and Kenya (1963), guerilla tactics had to be employed. Such measures were also used in Guinea-Bissau, Mozambique and Angola before Portugal finally gave up their colonial ghost (1974).

In Kenya, yes, the Mau Mau was a secret society that used guerilla tactics against British colonial rule (1952-60), but that needed to be done. The Kenyan people had a right to be free from London. They had a right to self-governance. Over 10,000 died in their struggle against English colonialism and they deserve the respect of all who believe in freedom and the principle of self-determination. I hope President Obama, and all Americans, including the clueless Newt Gingrich, would respect the Kenyan anti-colonial viewpoint, because it was inspired by George Washington, and is really no different than our own.