“Youth development, provision of free school uniforms, free text books, the elimination of schools under trees, control of non-communicable diseases, scaling up of the National Ambulance Service”, etc.
Having followed the speech of President Mills at the United Nations on 23 September 2011, one is left wondering where Ghana’s foreign policy direction is heading.
It is generally understood that a country’s foreign policy is determined by how that country safeguards the interests of its citizens, the nation and moral principles within the international environment. It is determined by how a country would act in relation to other countries. For Ghana, the government’s foreign policy should show how the country sees itself on the world stage in relation to how that position will secure the interests of the people of Ghana.
There were times when Ghana was known for having a foreign policy predicated on self-determination of African peoples and nations, African Unity, non-alignment and solidarity with the oppressed peoples of the world.
After President Kwame Nkrumah was overthrown in 1966, our foreign policy direction was watered down considerably to play second fiddle to US foreign policy. This watered-down policy was diluted even further when the Busia government decided to frolic with the apartheid and racist regime of South Africa by abandoning support for the liberation struggles in Southern Africa.
However, the policy direction changed when under Kutu Acheampong; we reverted to the policy of non-alignment and support for liberation struggles in Africa and the world.
The Limann PNP administration vacillated between sucking up to the more powerful countries and supporting the oppressed peoples of the world. When the PNDC came in 1982, the Rawlings regime initially adopted a policy of supporting the liberation of oppressed peoples such as those in Palestine. However, the succeeding NDC government later turned round to acquiesce to the Zionist policies of the government of Israel against the Palestinians. In other words, the foreign policy of the Rawlings governments adopted the dual policy of running with the hares and hunting with the dogs.
Under President Kufuor, his government declared its total support for most US and other “western” policies in Africa. Indeed, his once foreign minister, Nana Akufo Addo, pledged the NPP’s unflinching support for US African policy when he pledged that the NPP is a natural ally of the US.
However, to the credit of Kufuor, his government would not cross some foreign policy lines.
From the US embassy cables revealed by Wikileaks, we now know that every time there was going to be a vote at the United Nations, the US embassy in Accra would lobby or attempt to instruct the Kufuor administration to support the US position. They call such encounters a “demarche”.
According to the Wikileaks report, the US believed that the Kufuor’s government policy on Iran was “generally supportive of the U.S. position regarding sanctions and we (the US) expect this to continue”. The US added, “Ghana will continue to advocate a diplomatic approach to this issue (on Iran), and support sanctions that are clearly focused on those responsible for Iran’s nuclear activities” (Ref. Cable 08ACCRA118).
However, there were times when the Kufuor administration stood up to the US when Kufuor was uncomfortable with the US line.
On Iran, although Kufuor seemed irritated with the Iranians for building clinics in Ghana, his government told the US that the Ghana Government “was in favor of a negotiated solution to the on-going dispute, although he was non-committal on support for a resolution”.
On 10 September 2008, the US government through their Embassy in Accra tried to prevail upon the Kufuor government to support the US-sponsored resolutions against Zimbabwe and Iran at the UN General Assembly Third Committee (Cable 08ACCRA1168). The response of the Kufuor government to the US request was that the Government of Ghana “will adhere to the general African Union position and let negotiations take their course” on Zimbabwe. The Kufuor government informed the Americans that “other actions on (i.e. against) Zimbabwe… would not be helpful at this time”. This was a clear indication that on some issues, the Kufuor administration was prepared to defy the instructions of a foreign power and instead, support a collective African approach. On the US intention to establish the US Military Command in Africa, Kufuor asked the Americans to look elsewhere since he would only support the African Union’s (AU) line. Then to tone down his opposition, he proposed to the Americans to contact Morocco, which is not a member of the African Union (AU). Readers will remember how, in the face of opposition to the establishment of the US AFRICOM headquarters in Ghana, then President Bush became so irritated in Accra that he described the opponents as “baloney”.
Then came the NDC government in 2009. Since the NDC government came into power Ghana foreign policy appears to be strongly embedded with US foreign policy. The Ghana government did not waste time in inviting the racist Foreign Minister of Israel, Mr. Avigdor Lieberman to Ghana in 2009. This is a Minister, whose hatred for Palestinians is so extreme that he proposed for Israel to drive Palestinians into the sea.
Currently, the Ghana Government has allowed the establishment of an Israeli embassy in Ghana, something ex-President Kufuor did not do. We now know that President Kufuor was so alarmed about the relationship between his National Security Minister, Mr. Francis Opoku, and Israeli security that he sacked that Minister, among other reasons.
The Ghana Government has allowed KOSMOS Energy to walk over Ghana, obviously in the wake of pressure from the US government. Readers may recall that when the GNPC tried to bring KOSMOS to order, the US Government refused visa to some officials of the GNPC.
I can imagine what happened at the “demarche” that the US embassy in Accra had with our Foreign Ministry just before the recent UN meeting. Ghana would have been instructed to keep away from mentioning Palestine, or the invasion of Libya by US and NATO forces under the phoney claim to “Responsibility to Protect”. As far as the US is concerned, the “responsibility to protect” does not apply to the murders going on in Yemen in Bahrain. It only applies to Libya under Gaddafi.
Ghana defied the AU when, along with other appendage governments in Africa, when we recognised the rebels in Libya even before the Libyan government had completely fallen. No wonder, much later in the day, the AU, was left with no choice but to recognise the Libyan rebels.
This was the same Libyan government, to which we ran in 2009 and 2010 whenever we had problems with oil supplies. Did the Ghana not know then that Gaddafi was a “dictator” who had been in power for forty years?
Just imagine if a similar situation should arise in Ghana. In the course of an anti-government demonstration, the demonstrators pick up arms; and other nations come to the aid of the rebels by bombing Ghana Government troops. If, as the rebels push on with the aid of foreign air support, they reach the outskirts of Accra and other countries start recognising the rebels as the legitimate government of Ghana, what will the NDC government say? Is that the new way to conduct world affairs?
To please our western masters, we had to choose our words carefully at the recent 64th session of the General Assembly of the United Nations, which President Mills attended.
That is probably why our President had to confine himself to internal issues of youth development, provision of free school uniforms, free text books, the elimination of schools under trees, control of non-communicable diseases, scaling up of the National Ambulance Service, etc. Ghana is no longer interested in what happens around us in the world if that would mean offending some powerful countries who are bullying the less powerful nations and peoples of the world. Where then is our sovereignty?
Someone should tell Ghanaians wither we are bound on foreign policy. Definitely, eliminating schools under trees and equipping the National Fire Service, however important they may be internally, cannot be a foreign policy.
By: Nana Akyea Mensah