Feature

How they see us: Does the U.S. help Africa for oil

Africans warmly welcomed President Bush during his recent visit to their continent. But if they

Africans warmly welcomed President Bush during his recent visit to their continent. But if they’d known his true goal, said Elem Eyrice and Caglar Dolek in Turkey’s Journal of Turkish Weekly, they wouldn’t have cheered quite so enthusiastically. Bush stressed U.S. support of efforts to fight AIDS and other humanitarian campaigns, but that was just a cover for the real U.S. aim: “to establish permanent military bases in sub-Saharan Africa.” The U.S. already has strategic command centers for other parts of the world—CENTCOM for the Middle East, PACOM for the Pacific Ocean area—and now it wants AFRICOM for Africa. Why now? Because Africa is one of the last relatively untapped sources of oil, and the U.S. is afraid that China will get to it first. “Africa has been increasingly becoming a new battlefield for the two hegemonic powers.” Construction of a new U.S. base with a central command would put America ahead in that battle.

Tanzania wisely refused to host such a base, said Tanzania’s African in an editorial. “We believe that AFRICOM is nothing short of a sovereignty and resource grab,” a continuation of the same policy “that has brought destruction and terror” to the Middle East and Afghanistan. Boosting the U.S. military presence here would “be extremely damaging to Africa’s own security.”

Bush now seems to realize that it’s not going to happen, said George Kyei Frimpong in the Ghanaian Chronicle. By the time he got to Ghana during his multi-nation tour, it seemed that his main purpose was to “dispel wild speculations” that the U.S. planned to build a military base here. On the contrary, Bush insisted, the AFRICOM project was simply a way for the U.S. to provide military assistance to African countries and glean intelligence from those countries. “The purpose of this is not to add military bases,” Bush said. That rumor was “baloney—or, as we say in Texas, that’s bull.”

In fact, the site of the new command won’t even be in Africa, said Kunle Somorin in Nigeria’s Leader­ship. And that’s a shame. Africans reacted so negatively to the plan—there was particularly “scathing criticism” from Nigeria—that the U.S. “dropped the idea” of putting any new military structures on the continent. Instead, AFRICOM will be based in Stuttgart, Germany. So long to the jobs and to the foreign currency that a new U.S. base would have brought to Africa.

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