Head, from the Treasure of King Kofi Kakari. Akan people, Asante subgroup. Ghana. Gold. London: Wallace Collection.

The thinking of the Bush/Cheney Administration is so 19th century that I find it staggering.

In 1873-74 the British fought the Ashanti in the name of “free trade”. What that meant then was, rather than the Ashanti controlling the gold trade, the British should control the gold trade.

Henry Stanley probably offered the best short explanation of the origins of the Anglo-Ashanti war. “King Coffee”, (Asantahene Kofi Kakari) he said, “is too rich a neighbour to be left alone with his riches.”

And that seems to be the approach the Bush/Cheney administration has taken to Africa in creating Africom. Africa is too rich a neighbor to leave alone.

Not only does the Bush/Cheney administration want to control African oil in the name of free trade. When you read the proposals, it also looks like they want to turn Africa into a vast plantation, think 19th century Caribbean sugar plantation, or think of the rapacious labor and environmental practices of Florida’s Big Sugar, to grow sugar cane bio-fuel for the US market.

b real said… (in the comments on the previous post)

here’s a heritage foundation paper that came right before hallinan’s article

Africa’s Oil and Gas Sector: Implications for U.S. Policy

two of the key recommendations made in the paper that stood out to me are:

1.) “The Department of State, Department of Energy (DOE), Department of Agriculture (USDA), and Agency for International Development (USAID) [local interests need not apply!] should develop a comprehensive strategy to improve the investment climate in Africa, focus­ing on privatization of the oil and gas industry’s assets and reserves.”

and

2.) “The DOE, U.S. Trade Representative (USTR), and Department of the Treasury should work with Congress to remove tariffs and quotas on sugarcane ethanol before 2009.”

“Africa offers the ideal tropical climate for pro­ducing ethanol from sugarcane.”

“To tap Africa’s potential and expand U.S.–Africa energy cooperation, real barriers will have to be overcome, especially the U.S. 54-cents-per-gallon tariff on ethanol. This tariff violates the principles of free trade and undermines U.S. energy security.”

they also recommend that all the euro energy companies form a “coordinating forum”, led by the u.s., to promote privatization & apply leverage to african energy producers.

it’s essentially all laid out there in the open…

And the effect of this free trade?

. . . the impact of free trade on Africa will be profound. “The majority in Africa . . . will be faced with losses in both agricultural and industrial goods,” and small African farmers will be unable to compete.

As part owner of small farms in Ghana, I find this terrifying.