By Stanley Collymore
The following is a transcript of a Face to Face Press TV interview by His Excellency Bruce Haile Goodwin the ambassador of Antigua and Barbuda in the Caribbean and an accredited diplomat to the African Union, which was given by him directly after the first international conference on terrorism sponsored by Iran and held in Tehran on the 25 and 26 June 2011.
It was an excellent conference and I have only good things to say about the way that the conference was organized and how it proceeded. We had an opportunity to exchange views and ideas, with delegations from different countries; altogether we had about 60 delegations, that is to say about 60 countries were represented. It is noteworthy however that the [several] representations came from countries in Africa, the Caribbean and Latin America. These were to the greatest extent the countries represented; also Eastern and Central Europe.
I did expect to have a broad representation at the conference, however there are one or two aspects that surprised me somewhat, and that is particularly in relation to the fact that on the opening day when the diplomatic community of Tehran was invited to the conference it is noteworthy that ambassadors of the European Union were conspicuously absent, because certainly what we had there I think was a boycott by these EU diplomats.
[On terrorism itself]
Of course you’re quite right; terrorism is a global phenomenon and when it comes to matters of this kind [which are] important to the global community I think we have to leave behind these petty tendencies and understand that today’s problems will be resolved principally though dialogue and cooperation, not by unilateral action and [certainly] not by unnecessary confrontations.
[The definition of terrorism?]
It’s a very important question that was looked at by several delegations in their presentations at the conference as to what really is an acceptable definition of terrorism? [All the same] I don’t think we’ve come up at this conference with an answer [which is a definitive one] and I think the question is still looming and that we’re still grappling with what is the best answer to this question. For instance I was very intrigued by a suggestion made by the Zimbabwean Foreign Minister in his presentation that when we finally decide on a definition the idea and issue of unilateral sanctions must be a part of the definition of terrorism.
His country as we all know, has suffered greatly and [still] continues to suffer from sanctions imposed upon it by certain nations; [exclusively] the white members of the Commonwealth, the United States of America and some European Union countries, and he, of course, is in a perfect position to speak of the violence done to [both] his country and to his people by these unilateral sanctions. So his suggestion that countries which have suffered, who have been the victims of unilateral sanctions can say they’ve suffered violence in a terroristic manner; and we speak of countries like Iran too and also Cuba, and he did mention that the definition of terrorism must be broad enough to include this idea of terrorism.
[The current world order]
It goes without saying that the [current] world order is not fair or just, and we have to recall that even the various manifestations of terrorism today are a reflection of the unjust world order that we’re living under today. Of course we recall that the world global history has been dominated for the last 500 years by the systems of colonialism, systems of imperialism and, of course, the Cold War which dominated the world since the [end] of the Second World War, and that these unjust systems of control and domination have resulted in some very grave asymmetries in terms of the economic development and the social aspects of various nations in the world.
Terrorism and other forms of violence against humanity have their roots principally in this unfortunate history that has plagues the world for half a millennium. Today as we [attempt] to move beyond that unfortunate past, it behoves all nations, including those nations which benefited from the colonization of other nations, which benefited from imperialistic policies, to understand and appreciate that the world is entering into a new era characterized by the independence and the sovereignty of various nations on all continents and in all seas.
Therefore, the fundamental principle that should underline international relations today is the fact that every nation, every community, every people has the right to be independent, to be sovereign, and to have their independence and sovereignty respected by all; and that we also have the right as nations, big or small, to control our natural resources and to use these natural resources to develop ourselves as independent nations, as well as to develop our people as communities and individuals who [although] struggling for our own dignity [must nevertheless] be recognized as human beings in the world; this is very fundamental.
[Are the moral pronouncements of the western countries and other powerful nations genuine?]
They should be but it’s not [so] because it’s clear that this matter is characterized by a certain amount of hypocrisy, and I reflect on what I see to be a new stage in the whole system of state terrorism, of state sponsored terrorism; and I speak about the invasion of Libya, I speak about the use by certain powerful nations of a United Nations resolution as a fig leaf to invade a sovereign country by a third powerful military alliance NATO, and I think this is a very dangerous development in terms of state terrorism, because under no circumstances did UN Resolution 1973 authorize the invasion of Libya; it was a question of protecting civilians and so forth, we know all about that. But then, unilaterally, certain powerful nations who have a vested interest in controlling resources, an in particular oil resources in other nations around the globe, were able to distort the UN resolution and use it as a fig leaf to mount a terrorist attack against a sovereign and independent African nation, Libya; and, as I say, I think this is a new stage in the development of state terrorism and augurs a very dangerous matter for the future.
[Contemptuously bypassing Africa on the African Continent]
This is very clear and in fact it presents a very embarrassing situation for the African Union that in its own territory on the Continent of Africa you have the old colonial forces returning; the old imperialist are returning to assert domination over an African country when we had all imagined that perhaps the domination and the colonization of Africa were things of the past, and this is why I say it’s a very dangerous new development with respect to the matter of state terrorism. And what it signifies of course is as I said earlier those nations that built themselves [up] and created their wealth through the colonization of Africa, Asia and Latin America; those countries which became wealthy and powerful not because of developing their own resources, of which they have very little compared to Africa and Asia, but became rich and powerful by dominating and exploiting the resources of Africa in particular, these nations have made a decision apparently that they’re going to return to the old methods of exerting influence and domination through violence and militarism to secure control of vital economic resources such as oil.
[The insidious and destructive nature of state sponsored terrorism]
[State terrorism is more dangerous] because the state has so much at its command; so many resources at its command. It has military resources and economic resources at its command; it has regional, national [and even international] networks that it can [readily] draw on; it has skills; highly skilled individuals that can be brought into the ambit of terrorism, and therefore when a state decides to sponsor terrorism or to support terrorist groups [that it favours] it means that the danger, the potential danger, the fallout and the horror to the victims [that are targeted] can be that more catastrophic.
[What ought to be the response of the international community?]
The international community cannot [afford to] have any interest in violent confrontation. In today’s world we have put colonization and imperialism behind us [and as such] all conflicts or potential conflicts must be solved through dialogue and cooperation, and this must be the hallmark of international relations; this must be the foundation of international law; and any nation that considers itself too powerful or so powerful that it can [undertake to] thwart the international will misrepresents international law, undermines [consensual] decisions [made] and manipulates decisions of multilateral organizations [in the process]. I think this needs to be exposed; we need to talk about it openly; we need to condemn those nations openly, and we need to do so in a fearless manner; because the overarching influence of some of these nations is such that other nations and individuals are actually afraid of exposing the [devious] manipulations, the illegalities and the unjust policies of these [serial offending] nations.
[The penchant for blackmail by nuclear, colonialist and imperialist states]
As I said before there are certain nations who have benefited so tremendously from the colonial and imperial history of the world that they cannot understand that it’s time to hold off in terms of their will to dominate; their will to control; and their will to manipulate. The [realistic] fact remains that some nations have built up such a high level of consumer type living, consume so much of the world’s resources; and their society and daily livelihoods are based so much on the consumption of resources, an unsustainable situation when you look at the broad range of the world [itself] and what is essential in terms of its development the rate of consumption of resources by these nations is untenable, yet they take the view that to maintain that unsustainable standard of living they must dominate resources which they do not have, which are held in other terrirtories and other countries, and therefore the idea of stigmatizing nations using the label of terrorism falls into that pattern to manipulate and dominate.
[21st Century plunder of the Developing World]
This is one of the irrationalities of the e [skewed and rather perverse] economic and political systems that characterize countries like the United States, Britain and other European states. They have built up huge military industrial complexes that feed on the blood of other people. You have to have wars in order to sell weapons! If you have no wars; if we abandon wars; if we outlaw wars where will the markets for weapons be? So [continuous wars, and the more protracted they are the better] serve the interest of these countries well; it serves the interests of their economies that are [intrinsically] founded on their military industrial complexes. So [understandably from their sick perspective] it’s in the financial interest of these countries to foment wars and conflicts in other parts of the world. Africa is a typical victim of this, where African development has been completely stymied and held back by a vast number of stupid civil wars that had no objective in terms of advancing the African people but were fomented by third parties, [predominantly] by outside forces that had an interest in exploiting African resources, and [callously] using proxy groups, some of them terrorist groups, within African countries to generate this order, so that the continued domination and exploitation of African resources will continue.
[Will the 21st Century objectives of this new breed of colonialists and imperialist succeed?]
Perhaps [short time] they may consider that they’re succeeding, but how can this policy succeed over the long term? As I’ve said previously the world is changing, we have put the half millennium past of colonization behind us, and when I say we I’m speaking about the Developing World, the Non-Aligned World. We have put this behind us and are [absolutely] determined that the new world order must be [one that is] multi-polar; respects every nation and community’s right to dignity, sovereignty and independence and [equally as important] the [unchallengeable] right to control its own resources for its own development.
This is the new world that we’re seeking to fashion; one that is rational and just and [which] will be acceptable to all right thinking people. [A new and equable world order that] through our [voluntary and mutually beneficial] alliances - South, South alliances; the building of our own economies and powerbases, and through creating our own [political, economic, military and diplomatic] alliances such as the African Union we will come to the position in the world where the old [intransigent] order that refuses to let go of its violence, of its terrorism, of its irrational dominance of global resources, will be made to understand that it must conform to the new global order of dignity and respect for human rights.