Thursday, December 22, 2005

Hale and Neo-colonialism

Hale in his Bloggin' the Maghreb in a recent posting "I Don't Trust the Polisario" makes this argument: 1) "my wish is that the Sahrawi wind up with as much freedom and justice as is possible. 2)"I have now come to the conclusion that Polisario can not to be trusted to lead the Sahrawi in a free and democratic country." 3) "The Sahrawi deserve better than Polisario." 4) ergo, the Western Sahara must be ruled by Morocco. This argument doesn't hold sand for all kinds of reasons.

Reason 1

His demonization of the Polisario is based on Moroccan propaganda and cheap-shot hatchet jobs such as the recent report on the Polisario by the European Strategic Intelligence and Security Center (ESISC). While I will deal in detail with ESISC in a future posting, I refer you here to the chapter titled "Polisario and the SADR" in Toby Shelley's recent book, "Endgame in the Western Sahara," which is a far more balanced and sane treatment of what is in most respects a "model" national liberation movement.

Reason 2

Hale holds the Polisario to standards that Morocco doesn't come close to meeting. He criticizes the Polisario for lack of democracy, when Morocco is run by a corrupt and autocratic monarchy accountable to no one. He accuses the Polisario of torture, when Human Rights Watch and others have written extensively about Moroccan torture. He doesn't trust the Polisario, when the monarchy has a long sad history of lying and duplicity. In the final analysis, Hale is just hypocritical.

Reason 3

Hale's argument that the Western Sahara should be part of Morocco for the good of the Saharawi people is just plain neo-colonial and patronizing. Here are my comments from Hale's Blog.

Hale writes: "But in this case, Morocco is definitely the lesser of evils. And I firmly believe that the Sahrawi have a much better chance for a good life under Morocco than under Polisario."

But isn't this the logic of the colonizer? The colonizer always feels that it is providing a better life for the colonized. There was a time that the French felt strongly that their rule over Morocco provided a better life for the Moroccans; and you can probably make a good argument that they were indeed providing a better life for the Moroccans. According to your reasoning France should have denied independence to Morocco. And didn't the slaveowner before the American Civil War also argue that he was providing a better life for the slave.

My point is of course that international law just does not allow the stronger, more viable, or more democratic countries to invade and rule over what they consider "lesser" countries. That Morocco might provide a better life for the Saharawi (which I vehemently contest by the way) is absolutely no reason to deny the Saharawi the same right to self-determination that Morocco enjoyed.

It is not for you or for Morocco to choose. All the Western Saharans have ever wanted is the referendum that has been promised them, so they can choose.

1 comment:

  1. Chasli -

    Since this post is about my opinion, I want to respond briefly.

    First, the reason I distrust the Polisario has nothing to do with the ECISC report or Moroccan 'propaganda". I first started feeling this way when I learned how the Polisario was treating Moroccan prisoners, keeping them as slave laborers for up to thirty years, and only then freeing them when the US got involved. If they have so little concern for human rights or international opinion, how can you have any trust in their honesty and integrity? IF THEY ENSLAVED MOROCCAN SOLDIERS FOR THIRTY YEARS, THEY WILL CERTAINLY ENSLAVE THE SAHRAWI IF PUT INTO CONTROL!!!

    In your Reason #2, you campare Polisario and Morocco. I know Morocco government are not angels, but believe they will treat the Sahrawi better than Polisario would.

    In your reason #3, you accuse me of neo-colonialism, saying:

    "But isn't this the logic of the colonizer? The colonizer always feels that it is providing a better life for the colonized."

    Logic of the colonizer? It may be what some of them say, but there is a difference between me and a colonizer. A colonizer has something substantial to gain, and so the argument is in their best interest. I have nothing to gain from the argument, and am only expressing an honest opinion.

    Aren't you also saying the same, that the Sahrawi would lead a better life under the Polisario? Since the Polisario is an outside force, aren't they acting just as a colonizer? (One man's freedom fighter is another man's insurgent!)

    Doesn't wash, Chasli. I have no hidden agenda. Since you publish an obvoiusly pro-Polisario blog, you do have an agenda, and it is clear to everyone who reads your blog or comments.