Africa’s Future: The Gravest Untruth Will Tell

21 May 2020 — New Eastern Outlook

By Phil Butler

AFR4342There is a 21st-century scramble for the remaining resources of Africa. The Anglo-European scavengers who drained African blood the last two hundred years are telling us it’s the Russians and the Chinese who seek fortune there. The reality is, as it has always been, an ongoing tragedy perpetuated for profit. And the biggest profiteers are familiar ones.

Perspective is an interesting thing. For instance. If you work with US backed institutions, almost everybody and everything outside America has a huge black cloud hovering over it. Or, the sun only shines on American ideas, I guess. Take the think tanks. Even the smartest people working there in Washington seem to believe the rest of the world is pure evil. A good example comes in the form of an intern set on becoming part of the US national security brotherhood. Dylan Yachyshen, an intern at the Foreign Policy Research Institute writes:

“The world faces a renewed struggle for influence in Africa. Notably, China, Russia, some Gulf States (Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Qatar) and Turkey have employed private entities, state-run companies, and predatory lending and diplomacy to secure economic and political power across the continent.”

Well, there’s an A+ for Dylan from the University of Colorado, and kudos from FPRI for carrying on the mission of the intellectual prosecution of Cold War II. There’s a job at the NSA sitting waiting, probably for Africa research. Like 1,000 of his job-seeking collegiate colleagues, the intern preaches US State Department propaganda like a Baptist minister on a roll. According to the high priests of the hegemony, Russia under Vladimir Putin is hell-bent on world domination. Yachyshen rolls Mr. Putin’s Africa Summit in Sochi in with Russia’s Syria moves, and everything but the kitchen sink of Russophobic propaganda. China gets the same treatment, only with a bit more fear-mongering laced in. But what is the reality? Are Amerca and her Europe buddies really the good guys?

If you cover your ears and turn your head away from the newsreel, you might just see or hear the distant muttering of truth about Africa. The constant US propaganda portraying America’s geopolicy as run by John Wayne on his trusty American saddlebred steed is not real. My country and the colonial European ones, their “efforts” shape Africa’s legacy as surely as Stanley and Livingston shaped it. Sure, Russia and other nations have deals going on, but nowhere near the shenanigans going on to feather Anglo-European nests. ESI Africa, May 20th:

“The board of directors of the Export-Import Bank of the United States (EXIM) has unanimously voted to amend the agency’s previously approved September 2019 direct loan supporting US exports for the development and construction of an integrated liquefied natural gas (LNG) project in Mozambique.”

Elsewhere, headlines read like these:

  • “Gambia wins World Bank aid to reform the energy sector” – As if the new puppet Adam BaRrow is going to be less of a tyrant than predecessor Yahya Jammeh.
  • “Mali First In Africa To Win Paris Club Debt Moratorium” – Let’s consider the French military intervention in Mali in context, shall we? Operation Serval. Why just the French?
  • “PARIS CLUB CREDITORS GRANT SOMALIA DEBT RELIEF” – In big BOLD letters, no less. The fine print tells us of new debt the Paris Club expects to leverage in the ruined nation.

Meanwhile, the UK government pays for events like the recent UK-Africa Investment Summit so that private investors and corporations can sop up more African gravy. Funny thing, some activists are complaining about the high cost of wining and dining everybody at these conferences. From the story, the event cost £3.14 million, but raked in “£6.5 billion worth of commercial investments in infrastructure, energy, retail, and tech.” Make no mistake here, the House of Lords is ever busy discussing how Africa can feed the coffers of UK investors. The elites make no secret of their intentions, they only rely on the fact the world is distracted by the COVID or other crises.

The Brits are the busiest of those busy scraping the last vestiges of profit from a continent stripped almost bare by imperialists. If you look for a few minutes, recurring logos and brands appear in any search for the UK investing. Africa Global Funds is but one of dozens of hubs focused on everything from agriculture to nuclear power. Researching is a bit like watching sharks slashing in to finish off a great whale. It’s disgusting, just to be honest. Armadale Capital, Apollo Agriculture, Ethiopia power, Kamoso Africa, Vast Resources, the list of players governmental and private only searching for this month, is endless.

And then there’s the good old U.S.A. While the Brits still seem to swarm at new and old “opportunities,” the United States just sucks Africa’s blood as if connected by a feeding tube. This report on Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) from the US International Trade Commission lists commodities like petroleum and minerals as if Africa were a cereal box’s nutrients panel. While the US State Department, think tanks and owned media harp about Russia and China taking over Africa, the facts show America selling more tanks, planes, guns, and other products to SSA nations than anybody on the planet. Let me quote exports from 2016 to 2018:

“The sectors in which US exports of goods to SSA experienced the most growth in absolute value terms between 2016 and 2018 were petroleum products; aircraft, spacecraft, and related equipment; certain motor vehicle parts; motor vehicles; natural gas and components; and poultry.”

Yes, America is sending Africans chickens, right along with the F-16 fighter planes. And, of course, the United States is importing; crude petroleum; precious metals and non-numismatic coins; natural and synthetic gemstones; spices; ferroalloys; and certain ores, concentrates, ashes, and residues, as always. But, what about the new COVID-19 crisis? What’s to come from all the debt restructures and forgiveness from the Anglo-European investors? This Brookings Institute story hints at the coming debacle. What’s about to take place will be the finishing off of any hopes Africans can have of prosperity. The Paris Club and the others are going to do Africa a huge “favor” to help beaten governments “cope” with the coronavirus. The payoff will be in diamonds, gas, coal, rare minerals, and African blood.

The $11 trillion in external debt and about $3.9 trillion in debt service due in 2020 the emerging nations of the world owe is not going away. You read that correctly. $3.9 trillion owed just for servicing this year. In contrast, China’s investment in Africa is only about $400 billion. Russia’s role is even smaller, but the propaganda says otherwise. The reasons are obvious. The imperialists don’t want anybody else in their game. And while this seems natural from a business sense, it’s the style and ideology of investment principles of the west that are the problem for Africans. I’ve discussed this many, many times before. China and Russia’s investments are much more “user friendly” compared to those of the Paris Club, etc.

As I said, perspective is everything. For Luxembourg, Frankfurt, Paris, London, and New York investors in Africa, I guess Russia, China, and the Saudis represent a real crisis. I mean, put bean counters in charge of policy and you can expect a world war or two over squabbles over a few loads of diamonds or coal. This is what you are witnessing. The feeding frenzy grows more hectic. This is clear as I research in the changed time of COVID-19. The UK seems particularly scared that the lifeblood of the British Isles might get diverted somewhere else. Americans still seem arrogant and just downright greedy. Not even the think tanks in the US have caught on. They will soon. What’s sad for me is thinking about that kid somewhere in Mauritania or Somalia, who will never, ever have the privileges the rest of us enjoy. We are rich even though we only get the crumbs from Lords and oligarchs, compared to the people of the original continent. Untruth has a way, you know?

Phil Butler, is a policy investigator and analyst, a political scientist and expert on Eastern Europe, he’s an author of the recent bestseller “Putin’s Praetorians” and other books. He writes exclusively for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook.”

One thought on “Africa’s Future: The Gravest Untruth Will Tell

  1. Interested Party says:

    Hey Mr Butler,

    By mischaracterizing the article as “carrying on the mission of the intellectual prosecution of Cold War II,” it seems as if some of the points the article made have gone over your head.

    A “Cold War II” perspective would have treated Russia as an existential threat to the U.S. However, the article clearly states that Russia’s predatory activities run contrary to certain U.S interests in Africa, not internationally, or existentially, and argues that the U.S should increase positive activity in Africa through supporting democracy, collaborating on counterterrorism and contributing to Africa development. Instead of a reactionary, tit for tat response to Russia’s activities (as usually happened in the Cold War), or saying that Russia activity in Africa poses a threat to the U.S homeland, the article shows how Russia’s activities are harming African states and people, and advocates for a proactive response that furthers both the U.S’s, and African states, interests.

    Casting off valid criticisms of Russia by labeling Dylan a Cold Warrior seems appealing, but if you would like to discuss a Cold War II perspective, perhaps you should look at Russia’s activities in CAR, Libya, Sudan, Madagascar or Equatorial Guinea, which remain truly reminiscent of activities undertaken by both sides during the Cold War. You should not continue to confuse light being shed on contemporary, Russian backed Wagner malpractice with the thinking of a Cold Warrior. You are putting an argument about regional activities into one of an international context while attempting to circumvent real, predatory advances on the African continent.

    Moreover, Russia does not pose a Cold War threat to the United States. By making that comparison, you elevate Russia to a level unfit for its capabilities. And, if you wish to deny parallels between Russian activity in Syria and other power vacuums, like Libya and CAR, so be it. Cognitive dissonance can help with a weak argument.

    Furthermore, if the article were actually proselytizing about a Cold War II, it would concern China, not Russia, as China, arguably, proves the only other power fit for the Cold War II analogy. However, the article does not make this analogy. The article discusses several opportunities for collaboration with other, non Western powers. For example, it argues “Instead of viewing the BRI as a mission to counter, the U.S. should consider it a mission to work with.”

    It also discuss several undertakings in Africa by U.S allies, like Saudi Arabia, and argues for U.S involvement to ensure its allies investment are not predatory either.

    Hopefully, your warmth to Putin will not cause any more misunderstandings of articles in the future.

    Have a good one.

    Like

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