A Change To Believe In?
[This article from the German press traces many of the historic features of the imperialist relationship with Africa. It also claims that neo-colonialism, like its colonial prequel, is on the way out. But readers may see that while the packaging of imperialism is again changing, its interests have not. “A luta continua!” – “the struggle continues!” – “amandla awetu!” – “power to the people!” –ed.]
Africa’s neocolonial era ending as US and France seek new partnerships
For generations, Africa’s fate lay in the hands of self-interested foreign powers. Today, the US and France promise a fresh approach to the continent that puts Africans in charge of their own security and development.
During the post-World War II period, the world’s major powers championed African independence in word, but undermined it in deed. As the Cold War broadened, the two superpowers manipulated the continent’s liberation movements for their own political ends.
Meanwhile, former imperial powers such as France pushed a hidden agenda that turned newly independent colonies into de-facto protectorates. Although African independence existed on paper, in reality the continent’s fate was still decided in foreign capitals.
The interests of imperialism have not changed
The consequences of this neocolonialism are far reaching. In a continent politically engineered by foreigners, national borders often are not worth the map they are drawn on. Many African states, designed in the mind of a European, cannot maintain legitimacy before competing indigenous interests. Some have become failed states in which government authority often does not reach beyond the capital city.
This instability has bred transnational crime and terrorism that jeopardize global security. The US and France have responded by initiating a strategy that seeks to stabilize the continent by strengthening African institutions instead of undermining them. In the 21st century, African unity – not division – serves the interests of world powers.
Drift into chaos
As the Soviet Union careened toward collapse, the governing principle of US policy in Africa became obsolete. Washington no longer needed to cultivate African allies to contain Moscow’s influence on the continent. As a result, the US began to refocus its involvement on humanitarian assistance.
But a policy driven by humanitarianism proved unsustainable after the botched Somalia intervention in 1993, in which 18 US soldiers died. Washington pulled back and remained aloof from African affairs even as genocide gripped Rwanda.
“After the Cold War you could say Africa was basically very low and this was strongly reflected by the management by the Clinton Administration,” Roland Marchal, an expert on Sub-Saharan Africa with the Center for International Studies and Research at SciencesPo Paris, told Deutsche Welle. “For the European Union the situation was never like that because of the colonial past.” Continue reading