AFRICOM And Modern Day Colonialism: The Precaution Yar’Adua Should Take

by L.Chinedu Arizona-Ogwu

So, with East Africa, North Africa, and the Maghreb (northwest Africa) already directly manned or within striking distance, one of AFRICOM’s goals is to expand the Pentagon’s influence to the regions outside of its military dominance. This is where AFRICOM faces the stiffest resistance. States in southern Africa almost unanimously oppose AFRICOM. Both South Africa and Nigeria have vowed to resist the new command and are rallying other countries to this cause. As the Financial Standard, a leading Nigerian paper, put it: “Several African countries’ resistance to the United States‘ proposed African Command is one which the African Union should spearhead in order to spare the continent the agony of being the sparring ground for the United States.”

South Africa, an aspirant to regional leadership, has flatly rejected to cooperate with AFRICOM. South Africa also leads the Southern African Development Community, which has taken a firm stand against a permanent U.S. military presence in the region. Mosiuoa Lekota, the South African defense minister, has refused to meet with General Ward, the head of the new command. “Africa has to avoid the presence of foreign forces on her soil,” he said.

Mozambique, Botswana, and Zambia are also following South Africa and Nigeria‘s lead. Mozambique is strategically located, and its long coastline is an ideal location for U.S. warships. The country also has large untapped natural resources for which outside powers are competing. But even after recently receiving $500 million as humanitarian aid, Mozambique remains opposed to the idea of giving AFRICOM space for a permanent base. The perception of America in southern Africa was neatly summed up by the chief spokesman of Zambian government, Mike Mulongoti, who said that allowing America in would be “like allowing a giant to settle in your home” (Telegraph, Oct. 2, 2007). All of them complain of not being consulted by Washington before the launch of AFRICOM.

So, in a region where a higher level of U.S. engagement has been long overdue and ought to have been welcomed by all quarters, AFRICOM has elicited widespread suspicion. Given its emphasis on using the military and its interventionist framework, AFRICOM will in all likelihood be counterproductive for U.S. strategic interests in the region. The remote command has already divided African countries along pro- and anti-AFRICOM lines. Instead of bringing stability and peace, many African leaders argue that AFRICOM will exacerbate Africa‘s already precarious security situation. This argument is based on the lessons of Washington‘s recent military incursions in Iraq, Afghanistan, and in Somalia.

It is not clear what U.S. policy objectives the new command is geared to achieve. Some U.S. officials describe AFRICOM’s mandate as aimed at prevention of conflict, rather than at military intervention. “Some people believe,” said Theresa Whelan, deputy assistant secretary of defense for African affairs, “that we are establishing AFRICOM solely to fight terrorism or to secure oil resources or to discourage China. This is not true” (Telegraph, Oct. 2, 2007). But so acute is the credibility deficit of the Bush administration that its words are often taken to have the opposite meaning. When Washington says it’s not talking about terrorism, oil, or China, then that’s exactly what many people perceive it to be talking about. At least, most African countries believe so. They see military motives behind Washington‘s rhetoric of peace, cooperation, and humanitarianism.

AFRICOM is also marred by a lack of clarity in its objectives that arises mainly from the administration’s doublespeak. Likewise, it is also incongruent with the challenges America faces in and from Africa. Terrorism, competition for resources with economic powers like China and India, Africa’s civil wars and other military conflicts, and the assortment of humanitarian crises afflicting the continent—none of those warrants a military response of the kind and scale that AFRICOM signifies.

The neo-colonial situation, which demands the elimination of the native pseudo-bourgeoisie so that national liberation can be attained, also offers the petty bourgeoisie the chance of playing a role of major and even decisive importance in the struggle for the elimination of foreign domination. But in this case, by virtue of the progress made in the social structure, the function of leading the struggle is shared (to a greater or lesser extent) with the more educated sectors of the working classes and even with some elements of the national pseudo-bourgeoisie who are inspired by patriotic sentiments. The role of the sector of the petty bourgeoisie which participates in leading the struggle is all the more important since it is a fact that in the neo-colonial situation it is the most suitable sector to assume these functions, both because of the economic and cultural limitations of the working masses, and because of the complexes and limitations of an ideological nature which characterize the sector of the national pseudo-bourgeoisie which supports the struggle. In this case it is important to note that the role with which it is entrusted demands from this sector of the petty bourgeoisie a greater revolutionary consciousness, and the capacity for faithfully interpreting the aspirations of the masses in each phase of the struggle and for identifying themselves more and more with the masses.

It seems like the step-by-step historical process of the colonization of Africa is repeating right before our eyes. 14 and 15th century Africa saw the entry of adventurers sponsored by European monarchs to go and explore the new lands. Then Africa saw the entry of missionaries sponsored by the monarchs to go and pacify the new lands. The last stage was the forceful military incursion into Africa, which saw slavery and the intensification of plunder of natural and human resources. The endorsement was formalized through the slicing of Africa into little European colonies at Berlin in 19th century German.We have seen the process gradually repeating itself in the 20th century. Even with formal political independence the neo-colonial grip has always remained unshakable.

First we had Peace Corps and other volunteers going to live and know Africa and Africans. The same people with Peace Corps experience became employable in the NGOs, which like the missionaries of years past was the second phase of the new entry. NGOs just like the mission stations have documented and mapped every inch of the continent and have ground knowledge of Africa in and out. Then the international financial institutions came in to indebt and entrench the economic grip. Like the previous colonization processes, it is Africans themselves who are employed to run — not the decision making — but the ground work for the financial institutions. But in typical divide and rule, an African from Zimbabwe will be told to implement IMF/WB policies in Liberia, a Kenyan will implement policies in Zambia, a Zambian will do technical advisement and project management in Nigeria and so forth. The “experts” who implemented the policies that indebted and crippled Africa through the IMF/WB are actually Africans and other people of the so-called developing nations in the South. Just like someone pointed out recently, is it a coincident that the formalization of the military incursion to recolonize Africa is in Berlin, Germany one more time?

AFRICOM is again the last phase in the process of instituting a military grip, which will speed up the second recolonization. Military bases are little independent colonies with laws that are different from wherever they are stationed. The inhabitants of these little colonies do not observe the laws of the countries where they are. A prophetic scenario inspired by the vision of the ancestors goes something like this: With the military industrial complex connection, it is not far fetched to say, Africa will become the dumping ground of toxic wastes from the developed nations. Some have argued, with sound reasoning, that the last century’s emerging viruses of mass destruction like Ebola and AIDS are thought to have been experimentally produced as weapons of biological warfare and were tested for mass extermination effects in Africa. The presence of military bases through out the continent will see the emergence of newer and even deadlier viruses that will exterminate large sections of our populations at the same time. Being who we are, and blind to all historical evidence, we will refuse to believe that this is possible, that human beings can do such things to other human beings. Just like in the present, where the NGOs are calling insane anyone standing up or even questioning institutionalized knowledge for understanding these deadly viruses, we will again be driven to our deaths like sheep and even aid to speed up the process of self-extermination….so says the ancestors.

With a looming AFRICOM in view, the stage seems set for the mad struggle and final conquest of Africa. Who will control the influx of dangerous drugs and toys to Africa? Europe even created a new slogan of equal partners as the renewed face of an old cheat that had stolen directly and indirectly from Africa over the centuries. Africa is in a serious dilemma! The lack of will and the absence of quality leadership in Africa therefore continue to expose Africa to neo-colonialism and imperialism. Africa remains a dumping ground for all sorts of wasteful European, American and Asian experiments. With the prevailing economic and political woes resulting from tasteless and rubbish leadership in Africa. However, the police and military in many African countries still violate the rights of citizens, electoral commissions need more independence, shortages of manpower limit the ability of governments to function effectively and costs and red tape greatly hinder business in Africa.

The greatest impediment to governance in Africa is the lack of our own common sense usage. This limits the extent to which leaders can deliver on their promises and often results in interference from central government. Also, in areas where local structures are dominated by corrupt politicians or elites with allegiances higher up the political chain, results have been less encouraging, but we should put our self governance practically unstilted and straight.

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Aminu Wouba January 3, 2008 - 9:22 pm

I am shocked to hear that African leaders are complaining that AFRICOM was created w/o their input.How can you expect someone to respect you when you depend on that person.How many African governments can create a national budget w/o a good portion coming in the form of aid?They treat us like children because WE behave and act as such!We give them the chances to want to come back and recolonize us.We Africans are completely blind and oblivious to what is happening to us and the calculations and machinations geared towards us. If that is not the case,how are we just sitting there and not pushing like mad to achieve self sufficiency?Why does Africa need foreign aid?Why are most ex-governors in Nigeria being investigated for fraud?WE AFRICANS are responsible for all the ills that has happened to us.We are ignorant of the workings of the world and very dependent on someone else other than ourselves.We must very critically look at ourselves and how our societies are structured.Unless we act respectfully and maturely and command respect,we are just anothe pawn on the chess game. So AFRICA wake up up up up………

Habu December 22, 2007 - 7:18 pm

what does the u.s. want again in africa? i hope that african leaders are not cowards to let bush lies become realities by creating nightmares for africa? imagine recirculing so called general william, african [american] (slave decendent) as an american agent to help white people recapture his ancessetrial home. Shame on the general; i though he learned from collen powell. Bush made him look like the real black man telling lies on behalf of white people’s future.

for any reason must american be allow by african leaders. if americans are that creative, they should stay home and create substitute for their greeds that they are looking for in africa. you have the technologies, create all and leave africa alone. the lynch doctrines at work!


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