Black Agenda Radio Commentaries
News, analysis and commentary on the human condition from a black left perspective.

Desmond Tutu is Wrong: The AU Should Quit the International Criminal Court

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by BAR executive editor Glen Ford

He might just as well argue for the return of colonial rule, which established its own kind of law and order in Africa.”

The African Union is on a collision course with the International Criminal Court, a tribunal that has indicted only Africans since its founding in 2002. In an extraordinary meeting of the African Union at it headquarters in Addis Abbaba, Ethiopia, the AU took the position that no sitting head of state should be prosecuted by the ICC while still in office. In the immediate term, the AU calls for the postponement of the trial of Kenyan president Uhuru Kenyatta, scheduled to begin in the The Hague, next month. Kenyatta and his deputy president are charged with crimes against humanity stemming from election violence in 2007. Last weekend, President Kenyatta told the African Union that the International Criminal Court “stopped being the home of justice the day it became the toy of declining imperial powers” – a clear reference to the United States and Britain.

And that is the heart of the matter. It is a travesty of justice that the ICC only indicts Africans, but even more importantly, the International Criminal Court also only indicts those politicians that get on the wrong side of the United States and the former colonial powers in Africa. The ICC is a tool of U.S. foreign policy, an instrument of neocolonialism.

Among the apologists for the ICC is South African former archbishop Desmond Tutu, who says African leaders are “effectively looking for a license to kill, maim and oppress their own people without consequence.” Tutu says it all boils down to a question of “who should represent the interests of the victims?” However, in the real world of imperial power, Desmond Tutu’s reasoning is specious, shallow. He might just as well argue for the return of colonial rule, which established its own kind of law and order in Africa. The question is, whose law and whose order? The ICC represents U.S. foreign policy masquerading as law.

The ICC is a cog in the imperial machinery.”

Tutu maintains that, without the deterrence of the ICC, African “countries could and would attack their neighbors, or minorities in their own countries, with impunity.” Well, that is, in fact, the case right now in Africa, and it has occurred with the complicity of the ICC, which has sanctioned and morally assisted mass murder and outright genocide by American allies on the continent.

And here lies the great irony. The very nations that most strongly oppose the ICC – Rwanda, Uganda and Ethiopia – have the blood of millions on their hands. Rwanda and Uganda are principally responsible for the death of six million Congolese over the past 17 years, an ongoing genocide armed and financed by the United States and Britain. The Ethiopian regime’s brutality toward its Somali and Omoro ethnic groups has also been described as genocidal. But, because the United States is also deeply complicit in these crimes, there is no threat of prosecution by the International Criminal Court. The court is only deployed against those countries and leaders targeted by the United States.

So, why are Ethiopia, Rwanda and Uganda worried? Clearly, they understand that, if the United States can give impunity, it can also take it away. They remember that Iraq’s Saddam Hussein used to be a U.S. ally, and that Libya’s Muammar Gadaffi and Syria’s Bashar al-Assad cooperated with the U.S. war on terror – until the U.S. turned against them. The worst purveyor of crimes against humanity in Africa and the world is U.S. imperialism. The ICC is a cog in the imperial machinery, which recognizes no law, but only its own interests. You can’t fight U.S. Empire and its crimes and, at the same time, defend the International Criminal Court. They are one and the same.

For Black Agenda Radio, I’m Glen Ford. On the web, go to

BAR executive editor Glen Ford can be contacted at

Direct download: 20131016_gf_AUvsICC.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:46am EDT

Roll Over & Die, or Shut Up & Sell Out: HBCUs & the Talented Tenth in the Obama Era

A Black Agenda Radio Commentary by BAR managing editor Bruce A. Dixon

HBCUs constitute three percent of America’s colleges but produce 20 percent of black graduates, 50 percent of black public school teachers and lawyers, 80 percent of black judges, and 90 percent of black BA’s...”

If there is a talented tenth, the phrase W.E.B. Dubois coined a century ago to denote the black elite whose success will enable them to somehow lift up the other 90% its beating heart lives those black colleges and universities. But the first black president is no fan of historically black colleges and universities.

Back in 2011, the Obama administration, more in tune with what its Wall Street contributors want than what its voting constituents need, made student loans significantly more difficult to get. Its new policies immediately caused 28,000 mostly African American students to drop out of historically black colleges alone for lack of funds to continue their education, and denied historically black colleges and universities a crucial $150 million a year in revenue. In the two years since, historically black colleges have begged for the restoration of the old rules on college loans but to no avail. The Obama administration has compounded the injury by releasing what it calls “college scorecards” that rank schools by graduation rate at a time when poorer students are dropping out in huge numbers nationwide due to economic stress.

Under these circumstances, the only way for historically black colleges to survive is to do the impossible --- to attract ever wealthier students at a time when overall black family incomes are dropping. This is a financial crisis that HBCU trustees across the country know they cannot survive unless something changes.

Many have noted the past two years that if these things happened under a Bush-Cheney administration the black colleges, their alumni and traditional civil rights organizations would have been in federal court a long time ago. But the black misleadership class's true causes are the careers of its own members and seeking the favor of those in power. So despite the title of an otherwise pretty good New Republic article “Why Black Colleges Might Sue the Obama Administration.” the spectacle of black colleges suing a black president to restore their students' access to higher education is just never never never going to happen.

What's their alternative? Jarret L. Carter of HBCU Digest is absolutely in tune with a large section of this class when he suggests that Condoleeza Rice be named the next president of Howard University, bringing her blood-stained rolodex of contacts from the board of Chevon, which once named a double-hulled oil tanker after her, and her record of lying and genocidal warfare around the world to that office. Rice, he contends, can sell corporations on the proposition that “investing in” --- basically taking over the cream of historically black colleges and universities will somehow benefit them. How any of this “uplifts” more than the tiniest fraction of African Americans who become admirals, generals and corporate fixers is unclear.

Those are the choices our black misleadership class sees for historically black colleges and universities. They can roll over and die. Or they can shut up and sell out. This is the corner they've led themselves into, and why we call them the black misleadership class.

For Black Agenda Radio, I'm Bruce Dixon. Find us on the web at

Bruce A. Dixon is managing editor at Black Agenda Report, and a member of the state committee of the Georgia Green Party. He is NOT an HBCU alum, and lives and works near Marietta GA. Contact him via this site's contact page, or at bruce.dixon(at)

Direct download: 20131016_bd_talented_10th.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:41am EDT