US President Joe Biden on Wednesday told world leaders virtually on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly that America would donate another 500 million doses of the Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine to lower-income nations.
It was one of a series of commitments to save the world that the rest of the world was looking to America and other rich nations to commit as the UN General Assembly annual ritual plays out.
It was not only the virus that the “international community” and its western foot soldiers were demanding the rich nations to fix. The money for feeding the world’s rising number of the hungry, that too they are supposed to pony up.
Then there are the refugees, the vaccines against the diseases that are destroying the lives of millions of the world’s children, the victims of war, the education of girls in countries ruled by women-hating mullahs in places like Afghanistan, and a locust invasion of eastern Africa, all those and more, the rich nations are supposed to underwrite.
They have a moral obligation to, the argument goes, and it’s in their selfish interests to do so — vaccinating poor nations against Covid-19 ensures that the virus can’t circle back to them. And, of course, some of these problems the rich nations, especially the West, brought upon the world. They invaded Afghanistan, and have cut and run for the hills, leaving a humanitarian crisis behind.
While there is a case to be made for the West to save the world, in recent years it has reached a level where the developed countries have become zombified. They come across as helpless nations that have almost zero to bring to the world table of solutions, except self-pity, whining, accusations of rich nations of being evil, and all sorts of cries for help.
It is impractical to want to be treated as an equal on the world stage yet play shamelessly play second fiddle and go about on that same stage waving a pan in hand before the same people you are demanding should treat you as members of the global premier league.
It’s one reason why the recent debacle the US and its North Atlantic Treaty Organisation allies faced in Afghanistan, and their seeming shrinkage in the world, might be a good thing. Their moving to the sidelines creates space for new players to come to centre stage. Hopefully, some of the new shakers and movers will be African.
Secondly, without the west saving the rest of us, we might be shocked into marshalling the effort and creating the resources to dig ourselves out of the many perils we face.
There will be a lot of pain along the way. Many of the millions facing starvation in Africa could die, not because there is no food or money, but because corrupt, incompetent governments will not take the necessary actions to avert the disaster.
Somaliland is not internationally recognised by anyone and doesn’t get international aid. Unloved, and knowing it won’t get a handout, it has got on with it, and is one of the best run “states” that isn’t best by the crises bedevilling the many countries getting billions of dollars in aid.
May the decline of America and the West continue.
Charles Onyango-Obbo is a journalist, writer, and curator of the “Wall of Great Africans”. [email protected]