Chris Moerdyk

Poor join the army to protect the rich

2013-04-01 08:06

Chris Moerdyk

I am at a complete loss to understand why South Africa's opposition parties are insisting on an inquiry into what South African soldiers were doing in the Central African Republic.

The answer is dead simple and it's what soldiers have been doing for centuries. With very few exceptions, such as the first and second world wars, countries send their soldiers into other territories to either protect commercial interests or steal commercial interests.

Think about all the military conflict that's been going on in the past few decades - it's basically all about money.

After all, why would South Africa continue to keep its troops in the CAR to protect a president who gained power by military coup and then ran away leaving South African soldiers protecting an empty palace.

A silly way to die

Sounds quite absurd until one digs deeper, as the media have been doing in the past few days, and finding out that a lot of wealthy, influential South Africans have got a lot of wealth tied up in the CAR which of course, is rich in natural resources.

Some of those wealthy South Africans apparently have their companies registered in safe havens like the Virgin islands which, if true, means that South African soldiers were protecting  South African wealth that won't ever really actually be in South Africa or of benefit to anyone in South Africa.

I would hate to be the parent of a soldier who died protecting a rich countryman's offshore bank balance. It seems such a silly way for a kid to die.

Of course, this sort of thing is nothing new - it has been going on for centuries. Politicians and big business the world over have, over time, become very good at creating insurance packages with very affordable premiums. Human life.

It is indescribably sad that the South Africa that Nelson Mandela created is no more. It was a South Africa that was different to other nations because in it had a moral backbone. Now it has now become a South Africa that is no different to most other nations that put money before morality. Nations that bomb the living hell out of other countries on the flimsiest of excuses such as thinking that maybe the poor baggers might have weapons of mass destruction.

Countries that, as Wikileaks has proved, are conniving liars behind the diplomatic scene.

Beware the nanny state

And worst of all is the way that these countries make up for being corrupt lying bastards is to turn themselves into nanny states, mollycoddling their citizens in an attempt to show that they really care about the well-being of their people.

In my opinion, we should beware the nanny state - because these are the countries that behind a curtain of "caring", send soldiers to their deaths to protect the wealthy well-connected among them.

Yes, there occasions that one has to use soldiers. To protect trade routes, to protect the future of strategic raw materials and resources.

But, the trouble is that the protection of national interest is often just a red herring in the protection of the wealth of the politically well-connected.

Am I bitter? You bet I am. I am bitter because I really believed that South Africa changed when it moved from the apartheid era to a democracy.

In the past decade it has changed again and is getting to the point where the similarities of today and the apartheid era are growing.

Not learning from the past

As George Bezos pointed out to the police commissioner at the Marikina hearings; after the Sharpeville massacre the police also used self defence as an excuse.

And the chief of police at that time, also praised the police for a job well done.

It is sad to see a country that simply refuses to learn from the past. It will even sadder if it turns out that young men had to die in battle just so that some rich, connected people could become richer.

- Follow Chris on Twitter.

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