A U.S. Army Special Forces soldier uses GI Joe toys to demonstrate tactics during a training session with Chadian soldiers south of the capital. It is part of a $500 million Pentagon initiative to provide counterterrorism training to soldiers in North and West Africa.
U.S. Army photo, 2005

Added March 2008:
For an update on this topic, see:
AFRICOM, US military bases, and Ghana or
US maintains a robust military presence in Ghana

President Bush just announced the creation of a Department of Defense US Africa Command.

Ghana is certainly the most stable and progressive country in West Africa, and the Bush administration has expressed an interest in West Africa, specifically mentioning both terrorism and oil as its primary interests. This makes Ghana very attractive as a place to establish a US military base. It is very difficult to find out what intentions or planning are going on regarding a base. The Bush people are the most secretive and undemocratic of any government the US has had. And Ghana’s government has not been forthcoming on this subject.

The DoD Africa Command could have some positive effects. According to the liberal Democratic Senator Russell Feingold:

“Our national security strategy needs to evolve, and so does our capability to meet new and emerging threats,” he said. “An Africa Command is vital to strengthening our relations with African nations and preventing them from becoming staging grounds for attacks against the U.S. or our allies.”

There are many in the US who understand that an attempt to recolonize Africa in order to exploit her resources is a big mistake. Unfortunately, none of those people play key roles in the Bush administration. Cooperation between the US and Ghana would be an excellent thing. But Bush and company do not believe in cooperation. The net effect of a US military base in Ghana is likely to be recolonization and destabilization. In fact, more enemies and more terrorists mean more business for the US defense industry, in which Bush, Cheney, and their associates are heavily invested.

When Bush went into Iraq, he did not even know there was any difference between Sunni and Shiite. And for the most part the Bush people aren’t interested. Africa is far more varied and complex, and is far less understood in the US. What Bush and friends want is profits. Since before the Iraq war Cheney and his oil buddies have been working on the Iraqi Hydrocarbon Law, that would allow US oil companies to suck most of the oil profits out of Iraq. And they don’t really care who they deal with, so long as they get the deal they want.

As . . . Iraq’s hydra-headed, multi-sided civil . . . war goes on – and it will go on and on – the Bush administration will continue to side with whatever faction promises to uphold the “hydrocarbon law” . . . If “Al Qaeda in Iraq” vowed to open the nation’s oil spigots for Exxon, Fluor and Halliburton, they would suddenly find themselves transformed from “terrorists” into “moderates” – as indeed has Maliki and his violent, sectarian Dawa Party, which once killed Americans in terrorist actions but are now hailed as freedom’s champions.

The thing to remember in ANY dealings with the Bush administration is –

. . . the Bush Family and their allies and cronies represent the confluence of three long-established power factions in the American elite: oil, arms and investments. These groups equate their own interests, their own wealth and privilege, with the interests of the nation – indeed, the world – as a whole. And they pursue these interests with every weapon at their command, including war, torture, deceit and corruption. Democracy means nothing to them – not even in their own country.

This is what Ghanaians must keep in mind in any dealing with the Bush administration, and particularly in any discussion of military bases.

There are plenty of Americans who do understand the issues:

“you don’t want a lop-sided, security-heavy engagement in Africa, and you don’t want the Defence Department setting policy. Our military engagement needs to be integrated into a much broader engagement of diplomacy, development assistance, governance, and human rights.”
. . .
“There are some sophisticated military thinkers who know that it’s not just guns,” . . . “They’ve spent enough time in Africa to understand some of the fundamental challenges, such as peacekeeping and governance. They could be advocates for a stronger civilian role, and their voice is one that brings with it a great deal of clout and capacity.”
. . .
“if we wrap our arms around a particular leader who’s cooperative on the security front, but has a very poor record on governance and human rights, then we’re likely to create problems over the long term, as we often did during the Cold War.”

Let us hope both Ghanaians and Americans will look at the long term.