The US/China/France/UK/Israel “Scramble for Africa” vie for “Humanitarian” Honors in Nigeria

[IRecent years have seen the insertion of imperialist forces and inter-imperialist hegemonic claims into every corner of the world, under the guise of “humanitarianism” or “disaster capitalism.”  The US has been most prominently displayed in this practice, having honed the method as a public doctrine after failing the “winning hearts and minds” test in the Vietnam war, and then doing medical rescues in the period of recovering from the so-called “Vietnam Syndrome” (ie, reversing the functional anger and opposition to imperialist wars).  In recent years, as the world imperialist system has become more crisis-ridden and internally contentious, other imperial powers have entered the “humanitarian imperialist” contest as well.  Today, the new “scramble for Africa” is focused on the struggle to rescue the Nigerian girls abducted by the diabolical and malevolent “Boko Haram” gang which grew in the vacuum of elite corruption and sectarian power, and mass poverty in Nigeria, which are the fruits of colonialism and neo-colonialism, and of a regime that cannot or will not keep Nigerian people out of harms way.  The US has drones from its nearby drone base in Niger, and some troops and “advisors” from AFRICOM; France has some forces on the ground, a legacy from the French colonial (and more recent neo-colonial) wars in neighboring countries; Britain has some surveillance planes; Israel has sent Special Forces commandos/shock troops, at Goodluck Jonathon’s invitation; and China, not one to be left out or to forget their massive recent Nigerian investments, has sent a PLA frigate, and given a new satellite to Nigeria to run their media and tele-communications and surveillance ops.  See the 4 articles below for more self-determination-breaking-news on these opportunist/imperialist relief efforts from the US, China, Israel.  —  Frontlines ed.]

Obama in South Africa: Washington tells Pretoria how to ‘play the game’ in Africa

Protesters greet Obama, June 28, 2013.

By Patrick Bond, Durban

July 1, 2013Links International Journal of Socialist RenewalUS President Barack Barack Obama’s weekend trip to South Africa may have the desired effect of slowing the geopolitical realignment of Pretoria to the Brazil-India-Russia-China-South Africa (BRICS) axis. That shift to BRICS has not, however, meant deviation from the hosts’ political philosophy, best understood as “talk left, walk right” since it mixes anti-imperialist rhetoric with pro-corporate policies.

Overshadowed by Nelson Mandela’s critically ill health, Obama’s implicit denial of a US imperial agenda could not disguise Washington’s economic paranoia. As expressed on June 25 by White House deputy national security adviser Ben Rhodes, “What we hear from our businesses is that they want to get in the game in Africa. There are other countries getting in the game in Africa – China, Brazil, Turkey. And if the US is not leading in Africa, we’re going to fall behind in a very important region of the world.”

Over a century earlier, another Rhodes – Cecil John – explained that very game: “We must find new lands from which we can easily obtain raw materials and at the same time exploit the cheap slave labour that is available from the natives of the colonies. The colonies would also provide a dumping ground for the surplus goods produced in our factories.” Although there is no longer formal slave labour within formal colonies, this sentiment readily links the neoliberal agenda of both the BRICS and the US.

Perhaps embarrassed, Obama himself retracted Ben Rhodes’ confession of inter-imperial rivalry when asked by the White House press corps: “I want everybody playing in Africa. The more the merrier. A lot of people are pleased that China is involved in Africa.”

This must have raised cynical eyebrows, because he added, “China’s primary interest is being able to obtain access for natural resources in Africa to feed the manufacturers in export-driven policies of the Chinese economy.” Continue reading

Washington in Africa: Who will Obama ‘whack’ next?

[An important and detailed look at Washington’s Obama-era African policy initiatives.  Lengthy, but well worth reading.  The conclusions drawn from the information provided are the author’s, and do not necessarily imply Frontlines’ perspective.  —  Frontlines ed.]

Graphic from The Economist

 

by Patrick Bond, Address to the Muslim Youth Movement 40th Anniversary Conference, University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban, September 30, 2012.  Article was posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal with the author’s permission.

 

At a time when popular revolutions are sweeping the globe, the United States should be strengthening, not weakening, basic rules of law and principles of justice enumerated in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. But instead of making the world safer, America’s violation of international human rights abets our enemies and alienates our friends. – Former US president Jimmy Carter, 25 June 2012, New York Times

US actions since 9/11 represent the final stage in the US’s century-long effort to complete the project of making US-led globalization a concrete reality across the world through three historical moments: 1) the attempted creation of a global Monroe doctrine between 1898 and 1919; 2) the Roosevelt administration’s creation of the Bretton Woods Institutions – the World Bank and IMF – and the UN; and 3) globalization – the US-led effort to establish a new global regime based on free trade, deregulation, and privatization. – Neil Smith, The Endgame of Globalization, 2005

The US Assistant Secretary of State for Africa and former three-time ambassador, Johnnie Carson, was feted by Brooks Spector recently at Daily Maverick, in an article entitled “America’s Mr Africa”. While it is always fitting to honour African-Americans who persevere to the top despite that country’s deep internal racism, Spector makes contentious political and economic claims about the “new” US Africa policy. “For some observers at least”, he says, “Barack Obama’s new partnership with Africa was announced in his speech in Accra [July 11, 2009], when he declared the era of the authoritarian African big man to be over – kaput!”[1] As described below, however, Washington has maintained extremely cozy relationships with a variety of African dictators.

Spector then endorses Carson’s claims that “US interests in the continent fundamentally stem from its interest in strengthening trade to help African states grow their economies and meet development needs”, and that “the US wants to work with African nations to strengthen democratic institutions, good governance and efforts to stamp out corruption [and] to spur economic growth through market-driven, free trade principles”. Sorry, but we recall Washington’s deregulatory support for Wall Street’s market-driven binge, which in 2008-09 contributed to the worst global economic crash in 80 years, resulting in around a million South African job losses. We know that only the wealthy recovered so far, and that in the US, the top 1 per cent received 93 per cent of all new income since 2009, because the system wasn’t fixed. And who can forget White House hypocrisy when it comes to vast and often illegal US agro-corporate subsidies which continue to thwart African production? And is there any capital city whose political system is more corrupted by corporate (especially banking) campaign contributions than Washington, resulting in such extreme malgovernance that Obama cannot even make an effort to convict a single banker for world-historic economic misdeeds?

Spector’s most flawed assumption is that by increasing trade with (and vulnerability to) the world economy, “Africa” grows. Although a few elites have certainly grown rich from extraction, the opposite is more true, if we make a simple, rational adjustment to GDP: incorporating the wasting of Africa’s “natural capital” (a silly phrase but one used increasingly by powerbrokers eyeing the ‘Green Economy’). Measuring this loss is something that 10 African leaders agreed to start doing so in May, in the Gabarone Declaration initiated by Botswana president Ian Khama and the NGO Conservation International. The adjustment entails counting the outflow of natural capital (especially non-renewable mineral/petroleum resources) not only as a short-term credit to GDP (via “output of goods” measuring the resources extracted and sold), but also as a long-term debit to the natural capital stocks, as non-renewable resources no longer become available to future generations. Number-crunch the resource depletion, and net wealth declines in Africa as well as the Middle East. Continue reading

Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa: BRICS and the new Scramble for Africa

fadjbjaeXi Trip Highlights China’s African Influence

China’s new president Xi Jinping heads to Africa as his country’s influence on the continent soars, but with its big money is provoking resentment.

21 Mar 2013 08:21 – Kelly Olsen

Xi will visit Tanzania, South Africa and the Republic of Congo as part of his first overseas trip, which begins in Russia on Friday and will include an emerging economies summit in Durban, South Africa. Continue reading

Niger: US considering new drone base in Africa

[Other reports have said that the US is already utilizing numerous remote airstrips throughout Africa for drone surveillance, and are actively preparing them for armed drone deployments. As this article points out, the utilization of drones is accompanying the AFRICOM deployment of military trainers to nearly every African Union country, to enable the US and EU’s intensified “scramble for Africa” against competing imperial countries whose efforts have been largely confined (so far) to the economic seizure of African resources. — Frontlines ed.]

30 January, 2013

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton holds a small US-made drone drone that the Ugandan military uses in Somalia to fight al-Qaida linked militants (AFP Photo / Pool / Jacquelyn Martin)

[Photo:  US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton holds a small US-made drone drone that the Ugandan military uses in Somalia to fight al-Qaida linked militants (AFP Photo / Pool / Jacquelyn Martin)]

The US is planning to consolidate its position in Africa with a new drone outpost in Niger, with the stated purpose of providing unarmed surveillance support to French efforts in Mali and keeping tabs on al-Qaeda elements on the continent.

The robotic unmanned aircraft would likely be based in Niger, on the eastern border of Mali, where French forces are currently waging a campaign against Al-Qaeda, AFP reported, quoting an anonymous official.

If the plan is approved, up to 300 US military servicemembers and contractors could be sent to the base to operate the drone aircraft, the New York Times reported. US Africa Command is also considering another location as an alternative to the base in Burkina Faso, the official said.

However, State Department spokesperson Victoria Nuland reiterated that there are no plans to commit US troops to any fighting on the ground.

In the future, the US command does not rule out using the base to conduct military strikes if the situation deteriorates or the extremist threat increases, military officials told The New York Times. Continue reading

Secret Wars, Secret Bases, and the Pentagon’s “New Spice Route” in Africa

Nick Turse, Middle East Online, July 12, 2012

They call it the New Spice Route, an homage to the medieval trade network that connected Europe, Africa, and Asia, even if today’s “spice road” has nothing to do with cinnamon, cloves, or silks. Instead, it’s a superpower’s superhighway, on which trucks and ships shuttle fuel, food, and military equipment through a growing maritime and ground transportation infrastructure to a network of supply depots, tiny camps, and airfields meant to service a fast-growing U.S. military presence in Africa.
Few in the U.S. know about this superhighway, or about the dozens of training missions and joint military exercises being carried out in nations that most Americans couldn’t locate on a map. Even fewer have any idea that military officials are invoking the names of Marco Polo and the Queen of Sheba as they build a bigger military footprint in Africa. It’s all happening in the shadows of what in a previous imperial age was known as “the Dark Continent.”
In East African ports, huge metal shipping containers arrive with the everyday necessities for a military on the make. They’re then loaded onto trucks that set off down rutted roads toward dusty bases and distant outposts.
On the highway from Djibouti to Ethiopia, for example, one can see the bare outlines of this shadow war at the truck stops where local drivers take a break from their long-haul routes. The same is true in other African countries. The nodes of the network tell part of the story: Manda Bay, Garissa, and Mombasa in Kenya; Kampala and Entebbe in Uganda; Bangui and Djema in the Central African Republic; Nzara in South Sudan; Dire Dawa in Ethiopia; and the Pentagon’s showpiece African base, Camp Lemonnier, in Djibouti on the coast of the Gulf of Aden, among others.
According to Pat Barnes, a spokesman for U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM), Camp Lemonnier serves as the only official U.S. base on the continent. “There are more than 2,000 U.S. personnel stationed there,” he told TomDispatch recently by email. “The primary AFRICOM organization at Camp Lemonnier is Combined Joint Task Force — Horn of Africa (CJTF-HOA). CJTF-HOA’s efforts are focused in East Africa and they work with partner nations to assist them in strengthening their defense capabilities.”
Barnes also noted that Department of Defense personnel are assigned to U.S. embassies across Africa, including 21 individual Offices of Security Cooperation responsible for facilitating military-to-military activities with “partner nations.” He characterized the forces involved as small teams carrying out pinpoint missions. Barnes did admit that in “several locations in Africa, AFRICOM has a small and temporary presence of personnel. In all cases, these military personnel are guests within host-nation facilities, and work alongside or coordinate with host-nation personnel.” Continue reading

Did Wikileaks just reveal the US blueprint for Libya?

[Documents released by Wikileaks have revealed that, since 2003, the US had high hopes for Gaddafi’s collaboration with US/EU economic and military power and designs.  These hopes were based on expectations that Gaddafi’s control of Libya was entrenched and unshakable–but this was sharply challenged and undermined by the 2011 Arab Spring-inspired revolt among the Libyan people.  As a result, imperialism sought to preserve its position by cutting the now-unreliable US-Gaddafi relationship, and sought to influence, buy, and usurp control of the rebel forces, as the way to keep Libya as a dependable resource for the imperialist world. — Frontlines ed.

An excerpt from the following document:  “Nothing in the leaked documents reviewed here suggests that the NATO-backed removal of the Gaddafi regime was premeditated. On the contrary, the documents show that the United States was more enthusiastic about working with Gaddafi than perhaps Gaddafi was with the Americans – though clearly both stood to gain…..The Americans sought to expand their military presence in Africa and Gaddafi wanted to secure his regime against external threats….

…The documents support the view that the decision to go to war against Gaddafi – in the name of “protecting civilians” was more opportunistic – riding on the back of the “Arab Spring.”……It is likely that after the toppling of the Tunisian and Egyptian presidents by popular uprisings in January and February respectively, top American and NATO decision makers believed that once protests started against it, the Gaddafi regime would be too unstable and unreliable to deal with….

….But just as the Americans were happy to work with Gaddafi, they will be as keen to work with his successors, who now owe their positions to foreign intervention……]

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former US Secretary of State Rice and Muammar Gaddafi

by Ali Abunima, Electronic Intifada, August 26, 2011

The US administrations of Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama were set on developing deep “military to military” ties with the Libyan regime of Muammar Gaddafi, classified US diplomatic cables released by Wikileaks on 24 August reveal.

The United States was keen to integrate Libya as much as possible into “AFRICOM,” the American military command for Africa which seeks to establish bases and station military forces permanently on the continent.

“We never would have guessed ten years ago that we would be sitting in Tripoli, being welcomed by a son of Muammar al-Qadhafi,” Senator Joseph Lieberman (Ind.-CT) said during an August 2009 meeting, which also included Senators John McCain and Susan Collins.

John McCain promising US weapons to Gaddafi in a time of collaboration

The records confirm that McCain, the Republican presidential candidate in 2008, strongly supported US arms sales to Libya and personally pledged to Muammar Gaddafi (also spelled “al-Qadhafi”) and his son Muatassim that he would push to get such transfers approved by Congress. McCain also revealed that the United States was training officers in Gaddafi’s army.

While the Americans pursued the relationship vigorously, they met with a cautious and sometimes “mercurial” response from the Libyans. In particular, the mistrustful Libyans wanted security guarantees that the Americans appeared reluctant to give.

“We can get [equipment] from Russia or China,” Muatassim told the visiting senators, “but

UK's Prime Minister Tony Blair played a major role sealing the 2003 relations with Gaddafi

we want to get it from you as a symbol of faith from the United States.”

In hindsight, given the US support for the NATO war against the Gaddafi regime, it is not difficult to understand why the Libyans wanted these guarantees.

Nevertheless, Gaddafi received high praise for his “counterterrorism” credentials from US officials.

The documents also reveal that the United States was keen to court Gaddafi’s sons, flying them to the United States for high level visits.

And, notably, none of the cables regarding high level meetings quoted in this post made any mention of American concerns about “human rights” in Libya. The issue never appeared on the bilateral agenda.

Does the removal of the Gaddafi regime now clear the way for the United States to pursue the plans for integrating Libya into AFRICOM under what the Americans must hope will be a pliable regime? Continue reading