Thursday, February 21, 2008

MECAWI Conference: What's Behind the Bush Trip to Africa?: The True Role of US Intervention on the Continent, Saturday, Feb. 23

Media Advisory
African-American History Month Program

Event: Conference on US Intervention in Africa
Date: Saturday, Feb. 23, 2008, 9:30am-3:00pm
Venue: 5922 Second Ave. at Antoinette, Detroit
Admission: Free and Open to the Public
Sponsors: Michigan Emergency Committee Against War &
Injustice (MECAWI)
Contact: 313.671.3715

MECAWI to Host Conference on the Growing Threat of United States Intervention in Africa

Despite the claims of the Bush administration that it does not wish to establish military bases in Africa, the history of United States involvement on the continent has been in support of the forces of colonialism, neo-colonialism and non-democratic forms of government. Come out to a conference on Saturday, Feb. 23, to learn the true history of America's centuries-old relations with the African continent and its peoples.

Bush is currently touring several African states in order to promote an image quite contrary to the actual foreign policy aims of the administration. Yet the peoples of the continent have rejected the militarism and globalization policies advanced by the American government after experiencing the brunt of successive regimes that have failed to address the systematic problems of poverty, underdevelopment, the lack of health care facilities and the refusal to write-off crippling debts based on predatory lending by the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank.

The Michigan Emergency Committee Against War & Injustice (MECAWI) is an anti-war and anti-imperialist coalition that opposes United States military intervention in Iraq and Afghanistan. Moreover, MECAWI has responded to further interventionist maneuvers by the Bush administration in Somalia, Haiti, Zimbabwe, Sudan, Colombia, Cuba, Venezuela and other geo-political regions of the world.

Based upon recent political events on the African continent such as:
-the US-backed invasion of Somalia in 2006;
-the escalation of destabilization efforts against Sudan, Zimbabwe, Kenya and Chad;
-as well as the much publicized American plans to establish military bases on the continent through the Africa Command (AFRICOM) that is directly administered from the Pentagon,
many of us in the anti-imperialist and anti-war movements see the mounting danger of greater United States military intervention in Africa.

Recent Bush administration plans to implement AFRICOM has been met with rejection among various African countries. Two of the largest nations in Africa, Nigeria and South Africa, have refused to allow the American military to set up AFRICOM bases in their respective territories and have come out solidly against any other country allowing such intervention.

Consequently, MECAWI is holding a conference to address the political and historical context in which these events are occuring in Africa and to discuss action proposals to ensure that these concerns are fully addressed by the anti-war and peace movements here in the United States. In addition, we wish to advance activities that will express solidarity with the peoples of Africa and other regions that are subjected to imperialist intervention and manipulation.

This event will feature presentations on various nation-states on the continent as well as a panel on the need to defeat AFRICOM. A presentation from the National Conference of Black Lawyers (NCBL) will discuss the legal and political implications of American governmental efforts to build permanent bases on the continent of Africa.

In addition, a new BBC documentary film entitled: "Cuba, Africa, Revolution!" will be premiered in the city of Detroit. This film reviews the history of Cuban solidarity efforts on the continent and how they played an instrumental role in the defeat of colonialism and apartheid in Africa.

For more information please contact the numbers listed above.

Abayomi Azikiwe,
Media Liason, MECAWI

Bush Says No New US Military Bases in Africa

By Scott Stearns
20 February 2008

President Bush says the United States has no plans to build new military bases in Africa. VOA White House Correspondent Scott Stearns reports, Mr. Bush is in Ghana where he is trying to head off concerns about the creation a new U.S. military command for Africa.

President Bush says the new command structure known as AFRICOM is unique because it is meant to help African armies better respond to conflict without the need for outside forces.

"The purpose of this is not to add military bases," he said. "I know there are rumors in Ghana: all Bush is coming to do is to try and convince you to put a big military base here. That's baloney. Or as we say in Texas, that's bull."

Libya, Nigeria, and South Africa say they have serious reservations about the new command because it would expand American military influence and could draw Africa further into the U.S. fight against terrorism.

AFRICOM was created last October to better coordinate U.S. military operations that had been split among three other regional commands. It is currently based in Europe, and may open an office in Africa. But President Bush says that does not mean a new base.

In a press conference with the American leader, Ghanaian President John Kufuor said he was happy to hear Mr. Bush dispel any notion of new U.S. bases in Africa.

"I believe the explanation the president has given should put paid to the speculation so that the relationship between us and the United States will grow stronger and with mutual respect," Mr. Kufuor said.

So far, only Liberia has publicly expressed an interest in hosting AFRICOM headquarters. President Bush says he is seriously considering that request and will discuss it further with Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf during talks in Monrovia Thursday.

1 comment:

Pan-African News Wire said...


No new US bases in Africa - Bush

Olivier Knox
Thu, 21 Feb 2008

US President George W. Bush on Wednesday tried to dispel African concerns that he wants to build new US military bases on the continent, and downplayed worries about mounting US competition with China.

"I know there's rumours in Ghana — 'All Bush is coming to do is trying to convince you to put a big military base here.' That's baloney. Or as we say in Texas: 'That's bull'," Bush said. "We do not contemplate adding new bases."

"That doesn't mean we won't develop some kind of office somewhere in Africa. We haven't made our minds up. This is a new concept," he added, amid deep suspicion about a new US military command for the region, Africom.

The US Defence Department says it is centralising all US military and security interests on the continent — previously split among commands focused on Europe, the Middle East, and the Pacific — into one.

Some African critics have tied the project to the fact that by 2015 Washington expects that 25 percent of the oil it imports will come from the continent, basically from the Gulf of Guinea.

Bush rejected the premise: "It is a command structure that is aiming to help provide military assistance to African nations, so African nations are more capable of dealing with Africa's conflicts, like peacekeeping training."

He cited the joint African Union and United Nations effort in Sudan's Darfur region.

The US president also batted away concerns about a growing US rivalry with China in Africa over access to the continent's oil, metals, and other raw materials, saying that Beijing was not a "fierce competitor."

"I don't view Africa as zero-sum for China and the United States. I think we can pursue agendas without creating a great sense of competition," Bush said during a joint press conference with Ghana's President John Kufuor.

"Do I view China as a fierce competitor on the continent of Africa? No, I don't," Bush said.

Kufuor warned against trying to "ostracise" China, which he said was "coming not as a colonial power, as far as we can see. It's coming, if I may put it, as a guest, and I believe on our terms, on the terms of the African nations."

'Mission of mercy'

Kufuor also said he accepted Bush's explanation on Africom and declared that it should "put paid" to the rumours that Washington seeks to expand its influence on the continent by constructing new military installations.

The only long-term US base in Africa is Camp Lemonier, in Djibouti, a former French Foreign Legion post that is now home to about 1800 US soldiers.

Bush made no specific mention of increasing Sino-US tensions over Sudan — Beijing has resisted Washington's push for increased sanctions on leaders in Khartoum over what Bush calls "genocide" in Darfur.

Pursuing what he has called a "mission of mercy", Bush also unveiled a new five-year, $350-million plan to fight "neglected tropical diseases" including elephantiasis and river blindess worldwide.

And he signalled that he might be open to dropping his anti-HIV/Aids strategy's controversial insistence on teaching sexual abstinence if he finds it is ineffective — but not now, because the programme is working.

"If it looks like it's not working, then we'll change. But thus far I can report, at least to our citizens, that the programme has been unbelievably effective. And we're going to stay at it," he said.

The US president, on the second-to-last leg of a five-country Africa tour, goes to Liberia on Thursday before returning to the United States. He has already been to Benin, Tanzania, and Rwanda.

Flag-waving Accra schoolchildren lined the ocean-side roadway along Bush's motorcade route to Osu castle — girls in yellow dresses, boys in khaki shorts with blue or yellow shirts.

On Thursday, Bush was to hold talks with Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Africa's first elected female president, whose country is the only candidate to host Africom.