ECOWAS HQ

An article in the US Defense News quotes the Chief of Air Staff of the Ghana Air Force, Air Vice Marshal Julius Otchere Boateng:

But a military official from Ghana, an African nation that had serious doubts about AFRICOM, now says American officials have done enough to resolve his concerns.

“I have had the chance to hear [U.S. officials] explain what is the reasoning behind the command, and it’s all about partnership,” Ghana Air Vice Marshal Julius Boateng said.

The biggest problem, Boateng said, is that his countrymen have not been well enough informed by Washington and government officials in Ghana about the specifics of U.S. plans for AFRICOM.

I think Air Vice Marshal Boateng is quite correct that his countrymen have not been well enough informed about the specifics of AFRICOM. IF he is being quoted correctly, Air Vice Marshal Boateng is still not sufficiently well informed himself. He may have heard sweet words from US officials that soothed his fears, he has not looked at the history, or the larger picture. If he actually believes the talk of partnership, he is easily fooled.

When AFRICOM is covered by the US news media, which is rare, the explanation for it is always oil, terrorism, and China. When US officials speak about AFRICOM to African leaders they say it is not about any of these, it is about aid, stability, and partnerships.

There has been no public explanation for AFRICOM that makes sense. Calling it an aid organization is laughable. There are already aid organizations, including USAID, that work quite well if they are funded. Nobody needs AFRICOM for diplomacy. Diplomacy has long established institutions in place.

The Bush administration think the only persuasion they need is the right marketing approach. They don’t seem to be aware that people can see the truth of what is going on if they are willing to look. The concept of truth may be a bit alien to the Bush administration. At the AEI forum on September 20, Bushco seemed to think their marketing of AFRICOM had been flawed, and that was the reason African nations are hostile to the command. It did not seem to occur to them that several decades of pouring arms into Africa, and not much else, makes people skeptical about your good intentions. During the Bush administration humanitarian aid has decreased, and the tide of arms has increased exponentially, especially to countries with oil.

While the U.S. ranks number one in global weapons exports, it falls dead last among industrialized nations in providing non-military foreign aid to the developing world.

More arms do not mean more stability.

At the same time the US has been pouring arms into Africa, US and European, and now Chinese, trade policies have undercut African farmers and businesses, dumping heavily subsidized agricultural and other products on Africa, while maintaining tariffs and trade policies that kill any possibility of African competition. The west piously preaches to Africa about “free” trade, and how Africa (but only Africa) must have “open markets”.

In addition to US arms, Europe and China have also poured cheap arms into Africa. And US activities in Iraq do not win friends anywhere. Africa does not need the US bringing terrorism into African countries again.

Both the President and Vice President of Liberia have endorsed AFRICOM. But Liberia has always been a US client state, and this looks like a continuation of that relationship. You can look at recent decades of Liberian history to see how well that special relationship with the US has worked for Liberia.

And it also looks like the US is trying to entice Nigeria as a host by dangling membership in the UN Security Council.

The United States (US) Government has said Nigeria has the possibility of becoming a permanent member of the United Nations (UN) Security Council if it follows through electoral reforms, strengthens the institutions of democracy, ensures stability and contributes to international peace and security.

The Bush administration is certain to continue a combination of threats and enticements, divide and conquer, to get African countries to accept AFRICOM. Unless US foreign policy and military policy turn in a dramatically different direction than they have taken for the last half century, any country that hosts AFRICOM surrenders its own sovereignty, and threatens the sovereignty and stability of its neighbors. AFRICOM will become the new colonial master. Military bases ARE American colonies.

As Isdore Guvamombe writes:

Stories about the army being set up to step up humanitarian assistance to Africa are mere rhetoric meant to hoodwink African governments into accepting a force that will eventually destabilise the whole continent.

Events in Kenya and Somalia are cases in point.

Africom must not be touched with a 10-foot pole by all in Africa

. . . if allowed to establish their permanent military force in Africa, the continent will be left stinking with endless conflicts.

Whichever country will be tricked into accepting to host Africom will automatically lose its sovereignty and integrity and will be judged harshly by history.