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20.10.2022 Author: Oleg Pavlov

New US strategy in Africa: serious program or another bluff?

On October 12, just a couple of months before the loudly announced US-Africa summit, the White House released a rather lengthy document, “The US Strategy toward Sub-Saharan Africa”. It defines Washington’s main objectives on the African continent, and details the goals it intends to pursue and the mechanisms of cooperation.

            The novelty of this document to the outside reader is that for the first time it is officially recognized that Africa will play a critical role in solving global problems and for many reasons at once. Both because it contains up to 30% of the world’s natural resources, has a large, young and rapidly growing population, and because the region occupies an important geographical position. It is emphasized that US “allies and partners in Europe, the Middle East, and the Indian-Pacific increasingly regard Africa as integral to their national security”.

However, it must be said straight away: the document is replete with the traditional “democratic” rhetoric of the current Democrat team running US foreign and domestic policy. Even if you look under a microscope for something new there, you are unlikely to find it. The authors are at once ambitious in stating that the goals of their action on the African continent are: to promote openness and open societies; to ensure the benefits of democracy and security; to promote post-pandemic reconstruction and economic empowerment; to preserve the environment, adapt to climate change and a just energy transition.

As we can see, the entire globalist agenda has been shifted without any tricks to the African continent and it is already clear that Washington will be prescribing a single cure for all diseases, mixing democracy, vaccination and an energy “green transition”.

How easily Africans will “swallow” all this remains to be seen.

 Yes, Washington was known to be in favor of dismantling the colonial system and was even against apartheid in South Africa. However, it did so for selfish reasons: it needed to break into the markets of the former metropolises, especially England and France, in order to expand its goods into markets, including those of African states. However, US business has been reluctant to enter Africa even after the collapse in the early 1990s of its old rival, the USSR. There are too many risks, too little room for high-tech products that Washington could supply. Even in the military goods sector, Washington has not made much headway because Africans have long preferred (and still prefer) simpler, more reliable and effective Soviet, and now Russian, weapons.

In addition, US actions in the region cannot be called successful. Whether it was meddling in Somalia in the nineties, or defeating the Libyan state with their active participation, when they watched with undisguised gloating on live television the murder of Libyan leader M. Gaddafi, who encroached on the most sacred thing for the US – the dollar, and pushed for the introduction of a single African currency – the gold dinar. More recent examples include the failed mediation between Egypt and Ethiopia over water sharing in connection with the construction of the Renaissance hydropower plant, the brutal interference in the same Ethiopia over the internal conflict, and the almost overt support for the TPLF (Tigray People’s Liberation Front) insurgency. The numerous unilateral sanctions that were imposed on many African states for cause and without cause are well remembered in Africa. Just as they are now being introduced against Russia in connection with the conflict over Ukraine.

So pompous rhetoric about partnership and working for Africa will fool few. The real aims of the US Africa strategy are different: to return the region to a time of unquestioning subordination to Washington, to drive China and Russia out of Africa, to whom the document attributes the darkest designs. How else could it be? China is accused of wanting to challenge the “rules-based” international order under the auspices of the US, while Russia is said to have resorted to the involvement of parastatal and private entities, “often destabilizing the situation”. Moscow, the strategy stresses, “uses its security and economic ties, as well as disinformation, to undercut Africans’ principled opposition to the Russia’s further invasion of Ukraine and related human rights abuses”.

Of course, shifting blame from the guilty to the innocent, engaging in widespread disinformation, is one of Washington’s most successful roles. As if he did not encourage the use of “wild geese” – simply put, mercenaries – to do the dirtiest things on the African continent.

Isn’t Africa stuffed with private military companies of the Anglo-Saxons, who make huge amounts of money from it?

 But the US has not yet got rid of its imperial syndrome and believes that “Gods may do what cattle may not”.  In other words: they and their European allies are stung by Russia’s effective assistance to a number of countries such as Mali, the Central African Republic and others in stabilizing the situation quickly and effectively. The White House is completely oblivious to the decline of the credibility of its European allies, above all France, which has failed to prove the effectiveness of its armed forces in the fight against terrorists. Therefore the US, like Paris, chooses a strategy of not admitting its own mistakes, but of blaming others for all mortal sins. It is good for propaganda, but not for serious politics.

Africans are unlikely to fall for these cheap tricks. At the same time, they are willing to cooperate with Washington, which is still the issuer of the leading currency, the dollar, and has a decisive influence on the Bretton Woods mechanisms – the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund – and from time to time gives a lot of money to the countries in Africa that need it. But they should realize that these handouts are not free; Africa will have to pay for them with its sovereignty, by agreeing to steps that are contrary to its own national interests.

And what it means to promote democracy in Africa, many Africans have experienced for themselves. Democratization embedded under the skin of globalist liberals, especially those representing the US Democratic Party, is certain to be accompanied (and this almost directly follows from the text) by support for often destructive opposition forces through NGO and social media mechanisms in order to bring political forces loyal to the West to power. Often the US, like its British counterparts, actively supports several candidates at once in elections, giving them a variety of support in the hope (and not without reason) that one of them will then become an agent of Western interests. Naturally, all this will be accompanied by loud slogans about helping to fight corruption, which is what the current US strategy on the African continent abounds.

The document does not ignore the pandemic agenda, which the authors have “married” to economics. Having horrified Africans with a massive campaign on the dangers of COVID-19, then inundated the continent with its vaccines (partly for free, partly for money, and a lot of it), having imposed measures to combat a pandemic of unknown origin that have seriously crippled the continent’s economy, the US now offers it assistance in restoring sustainable growth. However, those with not a very short memory remember that back in December 2017, then President D. Trump issued an executive order on US efforts to secure US access to African resources, primarily rare earth metals, which their military-industrial complex needs above all. And this now explains very well the broad gestures of aid to countries like the DRC, and the efforts to create a “favorable investment climate” on the African continent.

Of course, the “green energy transition”, which has received considerable attention in the US strategy, should also be mentioned. The intensified imposition of Western energy standards on countries is unlikely to excite African partners. They have seen from the US example that when the opportunity arises to capture traditional hydrocarbon markets, Washington does not shy away from anything. Recent events around Europe’s gas markets demonstrate this well. By profiting from the exorbitant sale of its LNG to the Europeans, who have abandoned cheap Russian energy in favor of Washington, the US is pushing hard for the “energy transition” of Africans, effectively creating an obstacle to their industrialization. This is because it is clear to many that such clean sources as solar and wind energy cannot supply the large industrial facilities, factories and plants that Africa so badly needs today.

In conclusion, the outwardly plausible and democratically rhetoric-laden US strategy on the African continent is primarily aimed at suppressing competitors, pushing them (Russia and the PRC, above all) out of African markets, imposing its own standards of democracy, preventing the continent from developing effectively independently and gaining control over its resources.  It seems that the African capitals are well aware of this.

Oleg Pavlov, a political observer, exclusively for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook.”


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