BUSH IN AFRICA: The U.S. Road Map For Globalization, Militarization, Recolonization and Depopulation
By Elombe Brath
Bush’s visit to Senegal was followed by a trip to South Africa on Wednesday, July 9. South Africa, the last country in Africa to divorce itself from direct European domination, is the African country most saturated with Western capital and foreign corporations. Its population is 43,647,658. It is overwhelmingly African (including the so-called Coloreds), with a minority of Europeans and Asians (mostly of Indian background). The country has one of Africa’s highest GDPs at $9,400, which is a deceptive and eschewed statistic because the vast majority of impoverished people in the country are the Africans and the wealthiest are the white minority. This ratio is also reflected in South Africa’s HIV/AIDS population, which is 19.9 percent. The most afflicted are, of course, Africans, and the least suffering from the disease, no doubt, are non-Africans. As I have maintained for over a decade, the real decoding of the acronym AIDS should be an Acquired Imperialism Dependency Syndrome!
The Times reported that the purpose for Bush’s trip to South Africa was to “promote foreign investment and trade and urge President Thabo Mbeki to go all out to fight AIDS.” The false premise that Mbeki is insensitive and lax in responding to the HIV/AIDS crisis in South Africa is often used by the media to tweak him as a reminder that they can demonize his integrity anytime they desire if he continues to be what the United States feels is too stubborn in not cooperating with their agenda in southern Africa. This translates to mean that the United States is only interested in pursuing its objectives in Africa of further entrenching foreign capital and the continued extraction of exorbitant profits, as well as removing from state power those leaders they deem to be inimical to vested Western interests.
In regards to Bush’s promise to authorize $15 billion within the next five years to eradicate AIDS, the Republican-controlled Senate voted to appropriate only $1.9 billion rather than the $3 billion expected for fiscal year 2004, refusing to add $1.1 billion dollars that they claim had to be used in the defense budget to update and replace military equipment needed for the continued occupation in Iraq. One can look forward to the eventual downplaying of U.S. promises of serious consideration of South Africa’s request for U.S. financial assistance in its New Partnership for African Development (NEPAD) and the Millennium Challenge Account, two major development projects slated to lift Africa out of poverty and reconstitute a long- overdue African Renaissance.
Unfortunately, U.S. assistance in eradicating HIV/AIDS from Africa in general and South Africa in particular is predicated on what is most rewarding for American pharmaceutical corporations – one of the Bush regime’s major financial benefactors – rather than what is best for the health-care considerations of impoverished people in Africa.
If you don’t believe that, then explain the appointment which Bush made just before he left for Africa. He chose Randall Tobias, a former CEO of Eli Lilly and a major Republican Party contributor, to become the head of the aforementioned $15 billion program – with the rank of an ambassador. As CBS News reported, Tobias will coordinate the administration’s AIDS activities for all governmental departments and agencies, as well as faith-based community groups. His appointment is expected to be approved by the U.S. Senate in spite of the protests of Sen. Tom Harkins (D-Iowa), Sen. Robert Byrd (D-West Virginia) and 22 other mostly Democratic members. This is the same Senate which just voted 76 to 24 to not increase the appropriation to the called-for first installment of $3 billion for fiscal year 2004. If confirmed, Tobias will report directly to Secretary of State Colin Powell. Appalled by such an arrangement, Dr. Paul Zeitz, a representative of the Global AIDS Alliance, described Tobias as a “henchman for the drug industry.”
Prior to Bush’s arrival in South Africa, there was no prior mention in the Times about Bush continuing to exert pressure on Mbeki to persuade Robert Mugabe to step down from his presidency in Zimbabwe, much as he has been able to get Charles Taylor to do in Liberia. Besides the fact that the situation in Liberia is not similar to that in Zimbabwe, Taylor’s history is definitely not the same as that of Mugabe. Nor was there any confirmation of a rumor that the U.S. delegation, possibly either Secretary of State Colin Powell and National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice, was trying to arrange some sort of congenial rapprochement (or at least a photo-op) between Bush and former South African President Nelson Mandela, who had said that he had no intention of meeting with the American president and reportedly left the country to avoid any such chance encounter as Air Force One was arriving.
In any event that was a meeting that many of us had wagered would not happen, more so because of the principles of Mr. Mandela rather than any lack of opportunism by George Bush. However, the media did imply that Bush tried to convince President Mbeki to agree with the White House’s stated plan to engage South Africa’s complicity in convincing Mugabe to step down from his presidency. They offered $10 billion to rebuild the Zimbabwean economy if he agreed. How much of this was reported accurately is not known, but the fact remains that the plan was a dismal failure. However, the public discussion of the issue during a press conference did reveal an uneasy and embarrassing televised attempt to insinuate an agreement on a resolution of the crisis-in-the-making in regards to Zimbabwe. The action would be spearheaded by South Africa because the problem was in Mbeki’s “neighborhood.”
Bush tried to jokingly mask his disappointment that there was nothing that he could report that would satisfy his obsession and avowed attempt to remove Mugabe from office and have him replaced with Morgan Tsvangarai, the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) leader, in a fashion much like that during the transition period between the Eisenhower and Kennedy administrations which took place four decades ago when the CIA deposed Patrice Lumumba, the democratically-elected prime minister of the newly independent Democratic Republic of the Congo, and replaced him with Washington’s choice of Col. Joseph-Desire Mobutu (later Mobutu Sese Seko). Tsvangarai and the MDC are also backed by Britain, the European Union, Australia, the former Rhodesian Commercial Farmers Union, former Rhodesian Front racist leader Ian Smith and his good friend, former North Carolina Senator Jesse Helms, and his Dixiecrat confederates in the United States. As a matter of fact, Bush’s attempts to promote the MDC leader’s case became so obnoxious that Tsvangarai had to alert him to back off because his close association with the Western cabal was becoming very detrimental to his credibility and more and more people were viewing as an agent of Western imperialist interests. This is supported by the fact that in spite of the Western media refusing to report unbiased information on the situation in Zimbabwe that does not correspond with Western interests, Tsvangarai was defeated in his own constituency in the June 2000 parliamentary elections and therefore was not able to become a member of parliament as a part of the opposition.
Add to this the fact that Tsvangarai was arraigned in February of this year on the charges of treason and has been on trial since the MDC leader was shown on a videotape conspiring to assassinate President Mugabe.. The six-hour videotape was made in Montreal, Canada, on December 4, 2001, by Ari Ben-Menashe, a former renowned Mossad agent hired by a Canadian political consultancy firm of Dickens & Madison that was damaging to Tsvangarai’s aspiring career. Thus, it is understandable why Mugabe’s opponents are now contemplating a sort of regime change within the MDC itself and are now fishing around for a popular religious personality to replace Tsvangarai as the new figurehead leader to continue the destabilization of the ZANU-PF government.
The major media chooses to chase any planted negative story defiling Mugabe while ignoring documented evidence that exposes the desperation of their candidate Tsvangarai and the comparative weakness of the Bush-Blair campaign to oust Mugabe. The fact that the U.S.-U.K. case is supposedly based on an alleged rigging of the 2001 Zimbabwe presidential elections is
ironically being leveled with the beneficiary of the most notoriously fraudulent election in the history of the U.S. and his main foreign supporter would be hilarious if it didn’t place the lives of billions of people around the world in jeopardy. In my view, only New African magazine has been consistent in its coverage of Zimbabwe, as well as the bitter legacy of the trans-atlantic slave trade and its requisite restitution measure to repair the historical damage, reparations, along with its general coverage of Africa at large from a progressive perspective that is based on alleviating the suffering of the masses of African people around the world.
I must include the fact that the MDC is also supported by a considerable number of disgruntled Zimbabweans who, unfortunately, have been inveigled into believing that all of the problems which Zimbabwe is currently undergoing has nothing to do with the pressure of international financial institutions and donors but are merely the problem of incompetence, corruption and poor governance of the government of the day. Many frustrated members of the opposition seem to have chosen to ignore historical precedents where a number of leaders have been totally undermined by covert activities initiated by the U.S., in league with Britain and other western European countries, by which authorities in Washington can make the economies of targeted countries scream. Such is the current situation in Zimbabwe.
The policy of systematic, well-coordinated campaigns of demonizing political leaders that former colonial powers feel will not prioritize and/or secure vested foreign interests, or others they have had a falling out with, has long been applied by the U.S. to undermine and successfully bring down political leaders of legitimate administrations. The U.S.-Britain duo and their embedded media refuses to cite the well-known cases of Presidents Dr. Mohamed Mossadegh in Iran (1953), Jacobo Arbenz Guzman in Guatemala (1954), the aforementioned case of Lumumba in the Congo (1960-61), Kwame Nkrumah in Ghana (1966) and Salvador Allende in Chile (1973), who are only a few of the most notable “regime changes” in the last 50 years, as well as the most recent example of Iraq, the character and personal conduct of Saddam Hussein, notwithstanding.
The targets were usually those who had self-determined, noncapitalist development priorities that the United States and its Western imperialist allies felt were in conflict with the unfettered exploitation of supposedly poor, undeveloped countries of the world, whose natural resources and cheap labor pools are, to say the least, inviting.
Bush arrived in Botswana, a large geographically landlocked southern African country, on Thursday, July 10. Botswana is a major diamond exporter that lies just north of South Africa, with its western border next to Namibia, whose Caprivi Strip [all diamond exporters] and Zambia share adjacent borders and cover Botswana’s northern border. Zimbabwe and a part of South Africa make up its eastern border. The country’s area is 231,805 square miles, not a small country by world standards but with a population of 1,591,232 people makes it one of Africa’s most sparsely populated states. Botswana used to be derided as a country that had more cattle than people. Neither the Batswana or the San (or Khwe) people think this is funny – and neither do I. Nor should anyone else who take Africa’s current plight very seriously.
Because of its brisk diamond industry and small population, the country’s GDP per capita is $7,800, one of the higher GDPs in sub-Saharan Africa. But its HIV/AIDS rate is 35.8%, which seems quite high since with its financial statistics, one would anticipate that the country should have a more adequate health-care system, as well as expenditures to develop a first-class research and development program in regards to the social needs of such a small population.
According to The New York Times, Bush’s reasons for going to Botswana was to “promote trade and urge environmental conservation in one of Africa’s most vibrant economies.”
But how does urging environmental conservation correspond with the possible pollution from militarization of one’s natural environ. The Times – allegedly the U.S.’s “paper of record” – has been lapsed in its duty to report all of the relationships between the U.S. and certain countries in Africa and Botswana is an example.
Even before the post-9/11 tragic events and more so after Bush’s declaration of his alleged “war against terror”, the U.S. government had been trying to shape new leadership in Africa that it considers favorable to globalization and privatization. In other words, shaped to corporate interests and the need to protect those interests with a network of forward-positioned military bases to be used for possible missions.
A couple of issues most readily come to mind, particularly in Africa and specifically southern Africa. First, the U.S. is interested to see the leadership in the region replaced, particularly those leaders who achieved state power as the head of political parties who had engaged in protracted armed struggles which were guided by following a path of noncapitalist – i.e., socialist-oriented – development. The U.S. views the announcement by President Jose Eduardo dos Santos of Angola that he will not run for reelection in his country, and a similar indication by President Joaquim Chissano in Mozambique, as an opportunity to disrupt the domination of the MPLA and FRELIMO, the governing political parties that defeated imperialist aggression and intrigue to establish governments in the respective territories of the two former Portuguese colonies.
Bush is also interested in trying to get a similar accommodation in the case of President Sam Nujoma in Namibia. And once again, I must reiterate that it is no secret that one of the main reasons that Bush went to South Africa was his continuing effort to try to get member states of SADC to assist the campaign that he orchestrated along with British Prime Minister Tony Blair to terminate the presidency of Robert Mugabe. Mugabe’s successful final reclamation of the land in Zimbabwe and restoration of that fundamental resource for the broad masses of African people to develop, as well as his decision as the head of SADC’s Committee on Politics, Defense and Security to intervene against the invasion of the Democratic Republic of Congo by Uganda and Rwanda to change the government of President Laurent Kabila, thwarted Washington’s plan to reinstall a Mobutuist regime in Kinshasa during 1998 after the death of Mobutu Sese Seko.
These issues are the real reasons for the U.S. chagrin and invective against Mugabe, not any genuine interests of election results [Let’s be real], alleged human rights violations, corruption, good governance, etc. Mugabe is considered a very bad example, as well as an even worst omen for those whites in other African countries still trying to retain the colonial status quo 45 years after the era of decolonization.
This should be fairly self-evident for anyone following the internationally coordinated systemic campaign to promote the idea that radical land reform is incompatible to the interests of globalization and its large international agribusiness sector. But I am surprised that Bush did not look into a joint project that the U.S. has with Botswana, unfortunately a project that does not seem to be on the political radar of most Black Congressional representatives and many self-promoting pseudo-Pan-Africanist scholars and NGOs concerned with civil society, but is a key concern of the futuristic warmongers in Washington, D.C., and the military industrial complex.
It is hard to believe that Bush’s trip to Botswana did not provide him with an opportunity to review the development of the U.S. role in building a military base in Botswana. As quiet as it has been kept, since 1994 Botswana has collaborated with the U.S. in the building of “Contract 15”, a large multimillion-dollar military air base located in Mapharangwane, a desert [and deserted] area near the town of Molepolole, some 55 miles northwest of Gaborone, the country’s capital. It is an important story that the major media has paid little attention to, but not Wayne Madsen, a Washington, D.C.-based investigative journalist who specializes in national security and intelligence issues.
Madsen clinically exposed this U.S. covert action in his 1999 book Genocide and Covert Operations in Africa-1993-1999. Known to some as “Operation Eagle” and “Project Eagle,” because of its U.S. origins, this development was simply not what is derisively called a “white elephant.” It is an important project that consecutive administrations have lent their support to. It stands to reason that if a country with as small a population as that of Botswana had requested millions of dollars from the United States for its own defense, then the IMF, the World Bank or the U.S. Treasury and Commerce Departments, all with their structural adjustment program (SAP) conditions, would never have approved such an undertaking. Many people felt that “Contract 15”, which the project was officially called, was “much too large for Botswana’s defense needs.”
Dr. Theo-Ben Gurirab, Namibia’s foreign minister at the time (today he is the country’s prime minister), was very clear in his country’s suspicions when he stated, “We have seen reports which suggest that it is a huge military base which, on the face of it, goes beyond the needs of Botswana as a country. Some people even suggest it goes beyond the needs of southern Africa as a region. If it is confirmed beyond any doubt that it is a huge military base, that creates suspicion. What is the purpose? Whom is it intended for? Who is going to use it? Then we would be very much concerned, because we want to close the chapter of militarization in southern Africa.”
Dr. Gurirab’s concern was not out of paranoia, although Namibia and Botswana have serious irredentist claims and counterclaims that concern things like having equal access to water in a region that affects both countries which have large desert areas. Gurirab is a longtime representative of SWAPO, the Namibian national liberation movement which waged a 24-year national liberation armed struggle against the racist regime of South Africa and which has dominated the government in Namibia since its independence in 1990. Thus, he also knew full well that it was the U.S. which surreptitiously gave military support to apartheid South Africa, Rhodesia, Jonas Savimbi’s UNITA and the then-fascist Portugal in their attempts to block the people of southern Africa which took up armed struggles [e.g., Namibia, South Africa, Zimbabwe, Angola and Mozambique] to gain their independence from those forces whom never intended for them achieving their liberation. And Gurirab also knew that the U.S. tried its utmost to make sure that the former colonial regimes got the best deal it could get when they were forced to surrender power to the African majorities in the respective territories they ruled, as was later exposed in a National Security Study Memorandum 39, authored by Dr. Henry Kissinger and bore the pejorative nom de guerre as “the Tar Baby Memorandum.”
Nor was the criticism only from members of the SWAPO-led government. Geoffrey Mwilima, the leader of the opposition Democratic Turnhalle Alliance, which the former apartheid regime supported against SWAPO, raised questions as to what the Namibia’s Intelligence Service was doing to forestall a potential military threat from Botswana. As Madsen wrote, Mwilima, the DTA representative said, “We can only hope they are providing the government with useful and accurate information about any possible military build-up in Botswana, as has been suggested by that country’s big air base funded by the United States.” And even several members of the Botswana opposition had their own criticism as to “why should we [the Botswana people] put up such a sophisticated and costly facility when people are starving?”
It still is hard to believe that the only thing that Bush saw in Botswana that really tickled his fancy were two elephants in the act of mating at a game reserve. Was anybody from the Bush party sent to assess the development of “Contract 15”?