Nancy Lovedale writes from Beijing China
THE failure by former Australian Prime Minister John Howard, in his bid to become International Cricket Council vice president and subsequently president in 2012 is a sign of the waning influence of the western world on the international scene.
It is also a sign that international power relations are being reconfigured.
Mr Howard tried almost every trick in the book in his bid to become vice-president of ICC, yet failed.
The power players in the ICC could not accept the idea of having a man who once lobbied against imposing sanctions on the Apartheid regime of PW Botha and his predecessors in South Africa taking a key role in cricket — a sport that is supposed to be unifying nations across the globe.
In fact, Mr Howard himself overstretched his importance in a world where the South and the East are increasingly becoming key players, and where the likes of him are no longer needed.
The days of the Empire are gone.
His naivety in this regard was amazing.
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The Telegraph of India reported that Mr Howard personally spoke to the Presidents/Prime Ministers of at least three of the seven Test-playing nations opposed to his candidature.
He even had the nerve and audacity to secretly jet into Zimbabwe to solicit support from the people who are "hungry" courtesy of his inhumanity.
That intense lobbying came to nought. No amount of diplomatic or other pressure could alter his chequered imperialistic history; or erase our experience with his regime.
Mr Howard even “threatened” to use his influence and get Australia to terminate “all aid” to Zimbabwe. He has terminated significant support already, and pushed millions of people in that country to abject poverty already.
The former Australian PM should know that Zimbabweans have developed some resilience to such pressures and the threat of further sanctions does not move Zimbabweans in any way. They have seen the worst and suffered the most.
In any case, Zimbabweans know that Australia needs our beloved country (and continent). Canadian companies are busy mining our diamonds. Why don’t they pull out? Why are those companies not on the sanctions list?
EMBARASSED: Former Australian PM who campaigned against Nelson Mandela and against imposition of sanctions on the apartheid regime in South Africa, but imposed illegal sanctions on Zimbabwe for refusing to reverse the land reform policy that stood to benefit millions of blacks
Mr Howard’s arrogance was shocking. He refused to back off even after Cricket Australia (CA) and New Zealand Cricket (NZC), who’d nominated him, apparently advised that the numbers just weren’t in his favour.
As far back as April, Mr Howard should have heeded the alarm bells ringing against him when the ICC’s Executive Board kept his nomination on hold. At that point, he should have called off his bid; but he didn’t. With the arrogance akin to that of Britain, which still sees it appropriate to view itself as an "Empire", Mr Howard kept on fighting until he was embarassed earlier this week.
He reminds me of another former pime minister, Gordon Brown, who tried to push the UN Security Council to pass a sanctions resolution on Zimbabwe. Brown ran around with pictures of MDC activists who were allegedly tortured by Zanu-PF, when he was killing thousands in Afghanistan.
Mr Howard’s “friends” in the Foreign Office in Canberra could not even wield enough clout to push for his presidency of the ICC. They simply can’t. India is a powerhouse, South Africa is also one. They are emerging economies with enough influence on the global scheme of things.
Even "Great" Britain this year could not resist the temptation to invite Cde Jacob Zuma to the palace. They need South Africa, and needed those lucrative deals at the World Cup. Unfortunately, Cde Zuma "sold off" some of the major contracts to Tesco, etc which is the official food supplier at the 2010 World Cup, among other Anglo-American contractors.
Mr Howard and his friends got it very wrong, and suffered defeat indeed.
India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, South Africa, Zimbabwe and the West Indies didn’t want to have anything to do with Mr Howard. His tenure as PM was controversial and no amount of public diplomacy would have rescued him.
Anglo-Saxon countries, Australia, New Zealand and England, were the only ones backing Mr Howard. That, too, owing to compulsions.If it wasn’t for that, they would have also saved themselves the embarassment of supporting such a caustic character.
Mr Howard should realise that the days of the "Empire" are gone. The west can still claim superiority, but at its own demise.
China and India have over half the world population and together wield a lot of economic and political power. Africa has all the mineral resources the west needs: platinum, copper, gold, diamonds, etc. The Middle East has almost all the oil.
This leaves the west with "nothing". Global relations in this century are exciting and the shift in the balance of power to the East and the South is a sure sign that global politics is no longer business as usual; and the likes of Mr Howard are merely "tiny dots".
When countries like Britain and the U.S. struggle to change the political landscape of a country like Afghanistan, can they be entrusted with managing international conflicts?
With all their military might, the Taliban with its archaic weaponry can still claim that they are winning the war.
Strange occurences indeed! To Mr Howard we say, "Bon voyage! You won’t be missed".
Nancy Lovedale writes from Beijing, China. She is an avid supporter of Dynamos FC and Arsenal FC and can be reached via: email@example.com