Cape Town - Are you watching, Madam Mayor? When The US of A launches its next instalment of “Shock and Awe” on the nation of Syria, will Patricia de Lille be in front of TV with her popcorn, as her honorary Capetonian leads the charge into glorious battle?
It wasn’t so long ago that The Great and The Good of this fine city rose in unison to applaud a particular hero.
Upon him had been bestowed The Freedom of the City – Cape Town’s highest honour – in the footsteps of Nelson Mandela and Desmond Tutu.
Mayor Patricia de Lille, in the citation, swooned: “For this city, as for the entire world, President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama are the guiding stars to our eventual destination.”
Ah… such beautiful words…
Before the 44th President of the United States of America arrived on these shores, we already knew a whole lot about him, from his Democrat values to his resonant baritone. The side De Lille wanted to see – only.
But we also knew that he represented American interests, and wasn’t afraid to do what it takes to do so. At the time of his visit, Obama had reportedly also authorised 283 drone strikes in the Middle East, allegedly six times more than the number during George W Bush’s eight years in office.
The death toll from these strikes was already more than 400 percent higher than under Bush – somewhere between 1 494 and 2 618, the majority of them civilians, CNN reported.
Next? The man awarded the Freedom of Cape Town is now threatening imminent military action against Syria. This for a chemical weapons attack, using sarin gas, which reportedly killed hundreds of people.
Adviser to the president of Syria, Dr Bouthaina Shaaban, was asked on Sky News yesterday: “Did your government and its forces use chemical weapons on August 21 or at any other time during this conflict?” She replied: “Why don’t you leave it to the UN Commission to investigate and analyse?”
And will our honorary Capetonian wait? Or will he start another war? Or, instead, should we listen to Obama’s fellow freeman, The Arch, when he said: “The violent crises in Syria and Egypt are crying out to people across the world: ‘Please help us!’
“But despite all our technological and scientific advances and all our collective cleverness, humans have yet to evolve the means to settle such crises without resorting to violence. The pictures on our television screens are a flashback to the days preceding the 2003 invasion of Iraq. UN chemical weapons inspectors are on the ground in Syria, but need more time to finish their work.
“The crises in Syria and Egypt require human intervention, not military intervention.
“Those who selfishly wield economic, ideological and religious power cannot continue to subvert the interests of the majority of ordinary and well-intentioned members of our human family.
“We need to talk, to avoid further bloodshed, not to fight,” urged The Arch.
Who would you follow, Madam Mayor?
*Murray Williams is a journalist for the Cape Argus
** The opinions expressed here do not necessarily reflect those of Independent Newspapers.