Pt. II: Africa, Obama and AFRICOM

US President Barack Obama recently made a visit to Ghana. In his first official trip to Africa, he left a strong impression on the world. An analysis of his remarks and policies regarding Africa itself is in order.

We have Obama’s most hard hitting remarks: Africa should stop blaming colonialism for its problems; Africa should stop relying on foreign aid and do for self. We also have Obama’s policy, a continuation of Bush era militarism in the form of AFRICOM, the US Africa Military Command. This policy presents the most severe plan related to structural readjustment.

Of course a direct link to structural readjustment and AFRICOM cannot be suggested without understanding the economic challenges faced by African states. The relationship of these states to capital has alienated them from the masses. Nigeria and Kenya, for instance, have felt snubbed because Obama by-passed them. At the same time, these countries have governments whih have failed to move their societies forward in a way that reflects the best use of their own natural and social resources.

This is not to say that Africa has to develop along Western industrial methods. However, it does mean that certain infrastructure deficiencies from health care to water purification and agriculture have gone neglected. This contradiction prevails in nearly all African states.

Nkrumah is very instructive on this period. When he described neo-colonialism as the last stage of Imperialism, his critique was mainly confined to conditions in our Motherland. Yet we now have to apply that analysis to the United States and its relationship to the world. The current president was elected because of his mantra of “change”. Increasingly, we see Obama as rescuing all the most odious forms of US political culture: militarism, international finance, and expansionism. Which means he represents just a mere changing of the guard.

AFRICOM is a plan to place military bases in Africa. Now Obama has already made comments about US policy, in comparison to Cuba. In those comments he compared Cuba favorably, noting that Latin American leaders have stated that while the primary form of aid they receive from the United States is weapons shipments, they really could not survive without the medical aid and physicians that Cuba has sent them over the years. Obama expressed his intention on changing that imbalance.

Africa, being a destitute region, has its share of problems. Parasitic worms plague people; women daily walk miles to carry drinking and cooking water home to their families; war, rape and AIDS have intensified during the post-colonial era. It does not seem as tho AFRICOM can provide any answers for African people.

Some folks might point this out as a form of selective memory but, clearly, the black prez suffers from Politically Acquired Ideological Deficiency Syndrome (PAIDS) as do many of his African counterparts.

The strategic importance of AFRICOM to the US does not concern the people of Africa, except to the extent that it will be imposed upon them. As an African born in America, my black consciousness is primary. It means more to me to see the rise of our people at home than the continuation of a durable Imperialism. The US continues to produce strong expressions of racism in media, in culture, economics and in politics. Police murders of blacks have become outrageous since the Obama election. Obama was elected because people, white and Latino and black, have become disgusted with the policies in American political life. Yet he has miserably failed to take any strident steps and turns away from this. His rhetoric often says one thing, as in the words he spoke to the Organization of American States, tho the policy continues to maintain the historical status quo.

Indeed, even his rhetoric often belies his genuine stance. Following his Ghana visit, Obama met with AIPAC (American-Israel Political Action Committee). Brother president did not tell them to stop blaming the Holocaust for their problems (?) nor did he suggest that Israel cease relying upon US foreign aid — which amounts to over half the US foreign aid budget — and do for itself. Still, that is what he said while in Ghana. Obama said Africans must stop blaming colonialism and begin to depend upon their own devices, even while pushing AFRICOM. His statements in Ghana are reminiscent of last year’s Fathers Day speech, wherein he castigated absentee fathers in the black community, while ignoring conditions like unemployment which cause social disintegration and black family instability.

While the US GDP is about $13 trillion, the current military budget is $969 billion. The US maintains 737 bases around the world. It seeks to ring bases around Africa (AFRICOM) to guarantee access to oil. By 2015, it is estimated the US will receive 25% of its oil imports from Africa, which has already become the main supplier to the United States. Other strategic resources that AFRICOM will defend include coltan, gold, platinum, diamonds, timber, agriculture, political allies and labor.
African does not need foreign troops on its soil. While Obama says stop blaming colonialism, he forgets how the former colonial powers have behaved in the post-colonial period. This involves the overthrow of Nkrumah, Azikwe, Tolbert and others. During this period, history records the overthrow and physical liquidation of Patrice Lumumba for the long-term destabilization of Congo for Imperialist interests. Agents killed Cabral, Neto and Mondlane in newly independent Portuguese colonies, severely the path of development for Guinea-Bissau, Angola and Mozambique, respectively. Apartheid South Africa waged war against neighboring countries and its black population right up thru the Nineties, routinely invading Mozambique, Namibia, Botswana, Zimbabwe and Angola.

The US has had its own sordid background in Africa, hunting down Somali President Mohammed El Aidid and flying vicious sorties over Mogadishu neighborhoods. The US has sent gunships to Liberia and Sierra Leone. CIA agents have played a role in many coups in Africa. The US benefits from the destabilization of DRC, backing the occupiers of Eastern DRC, Uganda’s Yoweri Musaveni and Rwanda’s Paul Kagame. The effects of a US military presence are already obvious to anyone with a critical eye.

The solution for Africa’s problems is not AFRICOM. It is not foreign aid. It is in what Kwame Nkrumah stated and so tirelessly worked towards, the unification of Africa under a singular socialist state. That is not on the agenda for the majority of African leaders, who seek to maintain their despotic grips on power to control fiefdoms for Imperialism. Such leaders maintain the status quo, with Africa remaining a begging bowl ravaged by guinea worm, schistosomiasis, AIDS, war, malnutrition, rape, and ignorance. Cheik Anta Diop, John Henrik Clarke and other great historians had great suggestions for redeeming our Motherland from the chokehold of capitalism. We have to accept their advice to free our people.

When Obama attended the OAS conference a few months ago, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez gave him a book, Eduardo Galeano’s prosaic, polemic tour de force, The Open Veins of Latin America. Had Obama read it, that would signify the beginning of real change in the United States White House.