Friday, May 18, 2007

Our New Scramble for Africa

Throughout recent history the continent of Africa has been cut into various slices suited for the imperial appetites of European powers. With the fall of European colonialism and a second wave of challenges to French and British neo-colonialism, the 21st century is witnessing a new scramble for Africa by the great powers. The United States, in sharp economic and cultural decline has turned to its military might to sustain its waning influence over International Affairs. In recent months President Bush has outlined his plans to create a new military command base to oversee Africa which will be known as AFRICOM. The scarcity in oil- resources and sky rocketing prices, have led both China and the U.S. to position them selves for strategic control of the region. Richard Haas the president of the Council on Foreign Relations notes,

“By the end of the decade sub-Saharan Africa is likely to become as important as a source of U.S. energy imports as the Middle East.”

In light of the mayhem recently unleashed by the Bush Administration in the Middle East perhaps Africa would rather China as a business partner.

The focal, permanent U.S. military base in Africa lies in Djibouti in the Horn of Africa, giving the United States strategic control of the maritime zone through which a quarter of the world’s oil production passes. In West Africa, the U.S. military's European Command has established forward-operating stations in Senegal, Mali, Ghana, and Gabon as well as Namibia, involving the upgrading of airfields, the pre-positioning of supplies and fuel, and agreements for swift deployment of U.S. troops. The Pentagon is thus moving aggressively to establish a military presence in the Gulf of Guinea that will allow it to control the western part of the extensive trans-Africa oil strip and the crucial oil reserves now being discovered. The U.S. has found itself in the position of financing, and aiding corrupt and dictatorial African governments to protect its capital assets in Equatorial Guinea, Chad, and until recently, Mauritania.

According to the Wall Street Journal in its April 25th issue, the U.S. military’s European Command is also working with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce to expand the role of U.S. corporations in Africa as part of an “integrated U.S. response.” Britain and France are working closely with the United States to secure Western imperial control of the region against other actors including India and China. An action fueled by China’s growing influence on the continent. The Council on Foreign Relations maintain,

“China has altered the strategic context in Africa. All across Africa today, China is acquiring control of natural resource assets, outbidding Western contractors on major infrastructure projects, and providing soft loans and other incentives to bolster its competitive advantage.”

The new scramble for strategic hegemony in Africa is non-unique in that it remains a struggle among great powers for cheap resources, pillage, and stratagem not for the measurable development or welfare of the African people. The words oil and terrorism have replaced food and justice in the rhetoric of greedy kleptomaniacs in Africa looking to profit from new interventions in their countries.

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