Pan-African News Wire editor, Abayomi Azikiwe, delivered a major address to the US Imperialism & Africa Conference sponsored by MECAWI on Feb. 23, 2008 in Detroit. (Photo: Cheryl LaBash)., a photo by Pan-African News Wire File Photos on Flickr.
Clinton’s Africa Tour Advances U.S. Militarism and Attacks on China
Secretary of State responds negatively to continent’s needs for greater independence
By Abayomi Azikiwe
Editor, Pan-African News Wire
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton toured eight African countries over an 11-day period where the United States top diplomat advanced Washington’s agenda of militarism and attacks against the People’s Republic of China. Clinton’s visit comes just two weeks after a major Africa-China summit meeting in Beijing that was attended by 50 countries on the continent and the leadership of the government in Beijing.
During the first stopover in the West African state of Senegal, which has been a close ally of the U.S., Clinton immediately launched into a tirade implying that the White House is more concerned about the well-being and human rights of African people than China. This assertion comes at a time when the Wall Street bankers and corporate chiefs are facing the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression and consequently Africa and other developing regions of the world are looking for alternatives outside the western capitalist states.
The movement toward economic and political independence from the U.S. and other imperialist states derives from the clear observation that the capitalism system is in crisis and that even the leading economists in the West predict that there is no end in sight to the downturn. U.S. diplomatic officials must not only overcome the present situation facing the European and North American countries, but must also avoid the scrutiny of their involvement in centuries of slavery and colonialism.
Therefore it seems absurd when Clinton said in Dakar upon arrival from the U.S. that we “will stand up for democracy and universal human rights, even when it might be easier or more profitable to look the other way. Not every partner makes that choice, but we do and we will.” (News24.com, August 5)
This is the same U.S. government that overthrew the sovereign North African state of Libya last year resulting in the assassination of its leader Col. Muammar Gaddafi. At the same time that Clinton was touring Africa U.S. drones were bombing areas in Somalia under the guise of fighting “terrorism.”
China immediately responded to Clinton’s attacks noting that “Whether Clinton was ignorant of the facts on the ground or chose to disregard them, her implication that China has been extracting Africa’s wealth for itself it utterly wide of the truth. Her remarks betrayed an attempt to drive a wedge between China and Africa for the US’ selfish gain.” (Xinhua, August 2)
In characterizing its relations with Africa, Xinhua noted “China’s booming economic relations with Africa have stemmed both from their time-honored friendship and complementary needs of development. Its genuine respect of and support for African countries’ development paths are lauded and welcomed across the continent. The friendly and mutually beneficial interaction between China and Africa gives the lie to Clinton’s insinuation.” (Xinhua, August 3)
More Militarism to Ensure Profits
The degree to which the U.S. can stifle growing partnerships and alliances between China and Africa the more domination Washington will have over the economic and political direction of the continent. The U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM) is designed to enhance the presence of the Pentagon and Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) in all regions of Africa.
Clinton’s visits to South Sudan, Uganda, Kenya, Malawi, South Africa and Ghana were in line with the efforts of U.S. imperialism to dominate the next phase of resource exploitation. New discoveries of oil and natural gas in West, East and Central Africa are estimated to be worth trillions of dollars in investments and trade.
In South Sudan Clinton urged the government to reach a deal with the Republic of Sudan to get the oil back flowing again. South Sudan is a close ally of Washington and the partition of the oil-rich state has provided an opening for the U.S. to re-enter the oil industry there which had been dominated by China.
Throughout Central and East Africa the U.S. has dispatched Special Forces units to purportedly track down members of the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) which was formed in northern Uganda over two decades ago. There are plans to train an additional 2,000 AU troops to pursue Washington’s policies within the region.
In Uganda and Kenya Clinton stressed the need to maintain a military presence in Somalia, where thousands of regional troops from Uganda, Burundi and Djibouti, which are financed and trained by the U.S., are attempting to prevent the collapse of the Transitional Federal Government (TFG). Somalia and its breakaway regions are now producing oil and the potential for deeper capital penetration are enormous.
Although the U.S. has firmly supported the TFG government in Somalia and engineered the Kenyan and Ethiopian invasion into the country during 2011, the security situation remains precarious. Al-Shabaab resistance fighters are still hitting back at U.S.-supported regional troops and the puppet governmental forces based in Mogadishu (the capital).
An August 4 Associated Press report pointed out that “The U.S. has killed al-Shabaab militants in special forces raids, offered $33 million in bounties for the capture of its leaders and supported the interim government, which this week passed a draft constitution despite suicide bombers’ attempts to blow up the venue where they met to vote.” The Brookings Institution drew the link between corporate interests and the Pentagon by saying “There is increasing commercial interest in East Africa from the U.S., which sees its national security interests tied to security energy supplies.” (AP)
This same AP report went on to note that “U.S. oil and gas companies are increasingly taking on acreage in East Africa. Houston-based Marathon Oil Corp. paid $35 million to Africa Oil Corp. for stakes in two Kenyan prospects last month, while Anadarko Petroleum Corp., also based in Houston, has made the decade’s biggest gas discovery off Mozambique and has rights to explore off Kenya’s coast.”
In Malawi Clinton praised the new woman President Joyce Banda for her commitment to so-called democratic reforms. Banda recently declined to hold the 54-member African Union Summit in Malawi because an enemy of the U.S., President Omar Hassan al-Bashir of Sudan, was planning to be in attendance.
In South Africa, a business summit between corporate interests and U.S. capitalists took place in Sandton where governmental and business officials were seeking clarity on the continuing eligibility of Africa’s largest economy to participate in the American Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) initiatives. AGOA proponents in Congress are concerned about South Africa’s joining the BRICS states (Brazil, Russia, India and China) which has plans for economic relations outside Western dictates.
Peter Draper of the South African Institute of International Affairs said of U.S.-South African business relations that “there have been rumblings over the years concerning whether South Africa should be part of AGOA….US industrial and agricultural groups want certain products excluded, or South Africa totally out.” (Business Day, SA, August 6)
South African Ambassador to the U.S., Ebrahim Rasool, said that the “consequences for our companies and our country would be enormously unfavorable should the act and South Africa’s participation in it not be continued after 2015.” Rasool also said South Africa’s membership in BRICS was problematic and that “There is a feeling that South Africa, having joined BRICS, is in another league and does not qualify.” (Business Day, SA, August 6)
U.S. Has Limited Options in Africa
In light of the deepening economic crisis in the U.S. and the growing role of China in Africa, the Wall Street bosses and their government functionaries have very little in the way of new policy overtures for Africa outside militarism and disadvantageous business deals. Mass unemployment in countries such as South Africa represents the limitations of capitalist economic methods for even advanced post-colonial states.
Military policy that places emphasis on the broader intervention of AFRICOM will only bring about more instability. The current situations in Libya, Mali, Sudan and Somalia are evidence of the futility of forming partnerships with the Pentagon since inevitably the economic and humanitarian situations worsen.
Africa must break with imperialism to place itself on a trajectory of genuine development and progress. Workers and farmers must be empowered to form governments based upon their own interests and not those of the imperialist states.