Time To Demilitarize US Policy in Africa
Since the end of the Cold War, the
U.S. has fomented no less than fourteen wars in Africa -- enough is
It's time to demilitarize US policy
toward the African continent. Since the end of the Cold War in 1989,
Republican and Democratic administrations alike have provided
military aid, military training, military assistance and arms
transfers to at least 50 out of 53 African nations, and fomented no
less than fourteen wars. Bipartisan US policy until now has been
about arming Africans, and keeping the continent hungry, sick,
desperately poor and permanently at war with itself. Thanks to our
policy of flooding the African continent with arms, the price of an
AK-47 assault rifle
is lower on the African continent than any place else on earth.
Of the nine countries where armed
conflicts are now in progress, US-supplied arms and training are a
factor in every one. In the Ethiopian civil war, in the invasion of
Somalia by Ethiopia, in Chad, in Morocco and Western Sahara and
Sudan, in the continuing Algerian civil war and of course in the
Congo's holocuast, which has accounted, conservatively, for six
million dead since about 1996, the highest death toll of any
conflict since World War 2. The US has equipped, trained and
supplied every one of the national armies that have invaded and
occupied parts of the Congo, from Kenya and Uganda to Rwanda,
Burundi, Angola and even Namibia. US arms are also in the hands of
non-government gangs and private armies that ravage and depopulate
whole regions to facilitate the extraction of the coltan for our
cell phones and computers, the titanium for our aircraft, and the
uranium for our nukes.
America's militarized foreign policy
on the African continent does not benefit Africans. The inauguration
of AFRICOM, the US military headquarters for the African continent,
was met with universal condemnation and scorn by ordinary Africans
across the continent, and their governments. Africans don't want US
arms, they don't want US intervention, and they don't want US bases.
African opposition to US military
presence was the reason Bush did not set foot in the continent's
most populous country, Nigeria or in South Africa during his recent
visit, and why he stayed only a matter of hours in Kenya, Tanzania
and Burundi. Not one African country has dared the wrath of its
people by requesting to host AFRICOM. But the ring of US bases, from
Mombasa to Djibouti on the east to Angola and the Gulf of Guinea on
the west, continues to grow. US forces regularly fly bombing
missions over Somalia in support of the Ethiopian invasion.
America's foreign policy elite, its
multinational corporations, the Pentagon and its constellation of
military suppliers and mercenary contractors know what they want.
They want the coltan, the oil, the gold, and the diamonds. They want
to privatize every state and social resource, down to the water
supplies. They want to tie African agriculture to
genetically engineered American crop varieties, and collect
royalties for the use of these "patented" plants. They want to
prevent African nations from spending their own wealth from their
own resources on health and education infrastructure, on food
subsidies, on growing jobs and healthy internal economies. And they
want to keep Africa a war-torn hell on earth, because it's good for
business. If you're not a "failed state" yet, they'll make you one.
On the other hand, Africans know what
they want for themselves. They are keen observers of the US
political scene, and well aware that the next president may be a man
with more direct ties to the African continent than most of us.
Africans are waiting for the American people, especially African
Americans to speak up and support their demands for the US to keep
its bases, its military "assistance" and its arms to itself. How
long will they have to wait?
It's time this year to build a
from-the-ground-up movement to hold the little clay feet of the
Congressional Black Caucus to a higher standard on Africa policy, on
African demilitarization, and on African debt, pressing the US and
international bodies to cancel the debts and loan-shark interest
owed by African nations, many of which have already been repaid
several times over.
The Jubiliee Movement is one such
effort on the part of hundreds of churches and community
organizations to do just that.
Next year a new administration will
be in the White House. Should we wait and see what its elite
advisers, its policy wonks and campaign contributors and contractors
convince it to do in Africa? Or should we make it plain what ought
to be, what must be done?
For now, a good start would be
calling your Congressman, and a random member of the Black
Caucus about the Jubilee Act now before that body.