VISIT: David Cameron with Barack Obama (right)
A FEW weeks ago six British soldiers were tragically killed in Afghanistan. On hearing the news I felt like anyone would feel: saddened, disgusted and sorrowful. The soldiers were all very young men – one of them was 19 (which means he was nine when the war started).
The atrocity coincided with Prince Harry’s absolute bender of an official visit to the Caribbean. In light of the atrocity, the buoyancy of the Prince’s visit was toned down as a mark of respect to the fallen soldiers. Absolutely no one could argue against this action. It was the most appropriate and honourable thing to do.
Weeks after the murder of the six British soldiers (and also after Prince Harry had returned home) an American soldier went door to door and murdered, in cold blood, 16 Afghans. Including children who were sleeping in their beds.
This is an absolute and undeniable war crime that would have had the leader of an African country (only an African country) indicted by the International Criminal Court and endlessly condemned by the global media. In fact, I’d go as far as saying that if an Iranian, any random Iranian, went door to door (or even prison cell to prison cell) and killed 16 British people we would have invaded their country and collectively punished all of them.
Days after the killing of the 16 Afghans, David Cameron visited Barack Obama in the US. And boy did they lay it on. The visit commenced with an exciting attendance at a basketball game, which included the happy couple (Cameron and Obama) scoffing down hotdogs and a jolly interview during half-time. They had a party which was attended by celebrities. Cameron and Obama were having the time of their lives.
Not a soul in the mainstream media or politics pointed out the total insensitivity or crassness of the whole circus. The bodies of the 16 dead Afghans were not even cold in the ground yet the two men in charge of the main military forces in Afghanistan were having a ball for the world to see. Patently inappropriate.
Compare that to the respect shown to the slain British soldiers during Prince Harry’s visit to the Caribbean. Or, dare I say, compare that to the outrage that would have been expressed if, say, George Bush was still in power.
If Bush was in power when this crime occurred, and he then had the audacity to throw a series of parties for the British Prime Minister, many would probably call him a racist. I mean, ‘how dare he celebrate whilst the bodies of innocent brown children murdered by one of his officers are being buried?’ Remember Abu Ghraib? Yet, with Obama, all he needs to do is sing an Al Green song and all is forgiven and forgotten.
The families of the 16 murdered Afghans have been paid $50,000 each as compensation. When compared to the $10m each the families of the victims of the Lockerbie bombing were paid by the Libyan government – following decades of sanctions, threats and actual bombings – it becomes clear how much America and Britain value the lives of others.
Barack Obama’s greatest political manoeuvre was to separate himself from America’s failures. In George Bush’s America, when things went wrong Bush was to blame. In Obama’s America, when things go wrong America is at fault. But if history fairly judges George Bush’s time at the top, based on his presidency to date Obama cannot be fairly assessed to be any different. Or, indeed, any less racist.