In March, the South Africa Communist Party (SACP) denounced what it described as the ‘imperialist bias’ of the International Criminal Court (ICC). Many intellectuals and activists in the Global South find the ICC’s moral inconsistency lopsided.
In the 21 years of its existence, “the ICC has not issued a single warrant of arrest for or prosecuted any United States or European president, prime minister or monarch as head of state,” protested Africa’s oldest Communist Party, echoing the cries of numerous organisations, politicians and activists who, for years, pointed out that Africa has received the lion’s share of ICC investigations and arrest warrants.
This argument is not intended as a blanket defence of Africa. Many alleged war crimes have been committed on the African continent — in fact, in other regions in the Global South — many of which are associated with old and new civil wars, mass scale governments’ repression and violent crackdowns.
Western wars in Iraq and Afghanistan
But why should Africa be the exception, when numerous and, at times, even more, alleged grisly war crimes and crimes against humanity were affiliated with Western governments?
Western wars in Iraq and Afghanistan alone have resulted in the death of hundreds of thousands of people — some studies suggest even millions — most of whom are civilians. The consequences of these wars destabilised whole regions and led to other crimes, including that of genocide.
None of this has been legally pursued in any serious fashion. The mere attempt at investigating alleged war crimes in Afghanistan led to an executive order by the Trump Administration to impose sanctions on the then-ICC Chief Prosecutor, Fatou Bensouda, and other court officials. Though the US is not a member of the ICC, its Western allies at the Court are ensuring the Afghanistan war chapter is never to be opened again.
Africa, the Middle East, Asia — in fact, the entire Global South — have every right to be outraged.
Yet, this hypocrisy does not only apply to war, politics and economic exploitation. It reaches every aspect of global relations, including sports.
Newspapers and other media outlets in the US, Britain and throughout the Western world are bothered by the fact that top European players are signing contracts with Middle Eastern clubs. A writer in the British tabloid, The Mirror, compared it to “Hitler’s 1936 Berlin Olympics” and to “Russia’s 2018 World Cup”.
Considering the hypocritical attacks on Qatar before, during and after the hosting of a successful World Cup in November and December 2022, one wonders if Western writers have the slightest degree of self-awareness.
One must insist on reminding the angry, and I am sure, handsomely paid writers of Western corporate media, that sportswashing goes both ways. The London Summer Olympics of 2012 was arguably the greatest act of sportswashing in recent memory.
Role of the UK?
The British role in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars can hardly be overlooked, and the devastation resulting from these wars is fully acknowledged even by mainstream British society.
But why is it okay for Britain, the US, Canada and all other Western governments, without exception, to create a separation between sports events, politics and war, while such separation is forbidden for non-western governments?
While the “sports and politics don’t mix” pretence is readily infused when calls for justice come from nations in the Global South, or racial minorities in Western countries — for example, African Americans — mixing the issues seems to pose no moral dilemma when the party in question is perceived to be anti-western nations.
Now that we are on the cusp of a new world order, we must confront this hypocrisy with the clearest language — and action — possible.
It is, either we develop a fair and just global paradigm that applies to all of us, or refuse to abide by the selective Western paradigms that only apply to some.
Ramzy Baroud is a journalist, author and editor. He is the author of six books