(This part of the series on Africa will review Bush’s current trip to that continent –– the first was in 2003 –– which took him to Tanzania, Rwanda, Liberia, Ghana and Benin.)
Bush’s trip was supposed to highlight U.S. “aid” to fight AIDS, Malaria and poverty in Africa. This “aid,” like all imperialist aid, mainly helps pharmaceutical corporations and other businesses making big bucks from selling drugs and helps local bosses who profit from the misery of Africa’s super-exploited masses. But that’s only a sideline. Bush’s main purpose is fighting China’s growing influence on that continent.
In 2007, oil represented over 90% of SubSahara Africa’s exports to the U.S. Today, 10% of all U.S. oil products imports come from Africa, mainly from the Gulf of Guinea region. By 2015, it’s expected to grow to 25%. That’s what’s behind the formation of AFRICOM, the Pentagon’s newest command center, which now operates from U.S. bases in Germany but which the U.S. wants to transfer to Africa itself.
Presently, the U.S. only has a base in Djibouti, in a former French colonial outpost. Bush’s Ghana speech denied that the U.S. is aiming to build military bases in Africa, trying to placate key countries (Nigeria, Algeria, and South Africa) which object to U.S. troops on that continent. Only Liberia — just recovering from a bloody civil war over diamonds — has offered itself for U.S. bases, which is why Bush included it in his visit. Liberia was founded in 1847 by freed U.S. slaves, but for a long time was basically a colony of the Firestone Tire company.
Bush also labeled as “bull” the charge that the U.S. was competing with China in Africa. (Reuters, 2/20) But that’s exactly the reason behind his trip. China has become a key player in Africa, investing billions, particularly in the oil-rich Sudan.
China’s support for the Sudanese government is the reason for the “Free Darfur” campaign in the U.S., including liberal entertainment stars like George Clooney, Mia Farrow and Steven Spielberg. (Bush repeatedly blamed the Sudanese government for the massacres there, while ignoring the 5.4 millions slaughtered in the Congo since the 1990s as well as massacres in Ethiopia and other pro-U.S.-ruled countries).
Imperialism and capitalism have meant endless bloody wars in Africa, like the recent one in Chad where Exxon, Chevron and PetroChina operate while the French Army keeps the bloody Déby regime in power (see CHALLENGE, 2/27). No “aid” from any imperialists will liberate Africa’s masses. The only long-range solution is for workers, students and peasants to unite, breaking with all tribal and national divisions and building a revolutionary communist movement. Communists must concentrate on the huge proletariat of South Africa, Nigeria and Egypt, which can lead the way. That’s what PLP fights for.