from the first Scramble for Africa
AFRICOM offers Africa 3 Ds: defense, diplomacy, and development.
With the rise of abolitionist movements in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, Europeans gradually turned their attention to what the explorer David Livingstone called the ‘3Cs’ as an antidote to the slave trade. Commerce, Christianity, and civilization would be Africa’s salvation.
. . . (in the 1880s) After some initial hesitation, European politicians began to see Africa, a continent about which they knew almost nothing, as a place where they might play their power games with little or no risk. (Rumba on the River p.6&9)
The 3 Cs, commerce, christianity, and civilization didn’t work out so well. Livingstone, with his 3 Cs, then Stanley more aggressively, led the way into the Congo allowing King Leopold to establish:
. . . a rule of terror that would culminate in the deaths of 4 to 8 million indigenous people . . . he used his mercenary army to force slaves into mines and rubber plantations, burn villages, mete out sadistic punishments, including dismemberment, and commit mass murder.
In the 1980s Reagan and Brezhnev saw Africa, a continent about which they knew almost nothing, as a place where they might play their cold war power games with little or no risk, resulting in arms races and proxy wars, displacing millions of Africans, burning villages, meting out sadistic punishments, including dismemberment, and committing mass murder.
Once again, with AFRICOM, the US engages Africa with guns. The Senate held hearings on Wednesday on AFRICOM. b real read the introductory statements and nails it with this comment:
- b real said…
i’ve only had a chance to read through the prepared stmts from the panel members in that hearing wednesday, but i’ll point out a couple items which i find remarkedly support an analogy w/ the first scramble for africa.
the retired usaf major general, gration, stated:
With US interests on this continent clearly defined and a united voice in Washington to advocate for requirement and resources, I believe we’ll be able to advance America’s interests in Africa better and build strong partnerships with African government to eliminate poverty and accelerate Africa’s integration into the global economy.
wasn’t that the purpose of global colonization during that earlier period? to bring africa into the global economy, rather than as simply a peripheral area that was previously known only as a key source for the international slave trade? by growing export commodity economies the colonizers indeed brought africa into the global economy. so what’s the general talking about? he’s from south africa, after all. perhaps it’s just rhetorical justification for increasing a US footprint on the continent.
and, speaking of justifying rhetoric, the USAID official stated
We believe that AFRICOM can significantly advance the “Three D” concept, and facilitate the coordination of defense, diplomacy and development to advance American foreign policy interests on the continent of Africa.
the “3 D’s”? well, that’s hardly a step above the “3 C’s” of the earlier scramble, isn’t it? whereas livingstone’s plea for bringing commerce, christianity and civilization to the indigenes led to a plethora of euro humanitarian colonizers in the late nineteenth century, even bringing up the idea that the u.s. would like to bring “3 D’s” to the continent strikes me as an inside joke on their part.
so they’re gonna tell the peoples of africa that this unified combatant command will have a humanitarian face that really wants to “help africans help themselves” (more like “helping u.s. american elite to help themselves to africa’s resources”) and this will entail bring three shiny new D’s?
are they serious? this project seems to be failing rapidly. they have many weaknesses that need to exploited both domestically & internationally. the negative reactions across the globe are having some real effect. part of their problem is that those who actually know what the real impetus was behind the formation of the command have to find other reasons for public dissemination (or risk an even greater public fury) and those that don’t know are struggling to fit a square peg into a round hole & make sense of their nonsense rational & ignorance of the real africa.
i’ll tell you what though, if they do suceed in establishing a larger military presence (w/ civilian trimmings), it will not be used to bring those 3 D’s to the peoples of africa. it will be used to take another set of 3 C’s out of africa — crude, capital and china!
Helping the US American elite to help themselves to Africa’s resources is the genuine AFRICOM mission.
3 Ds don’t look like much of an improvement, or even much of a change from 3 Cs.