By Jeff J. Brown
Pictured above: the Great Continent of Africa is so big that most people underestimate its size, especially using Mercator projection world maps, which magnify the Northern Hemisphere several times. Africa is the equivalent of THREE continental Unites States, among other geographical juxtapositions.
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Sixteen years on the streets, living and working with the people of China, Jeff
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Note before starting: I lived, worked and traveled all over Africa for ten years, 1980-1990. I’ve been to most of the countries there, as well as the Middle East. I learned Arabic and French fluently to enhance my life and contact with the people and immersed myself in the local culture. Add to that 16 years in China, and I consider myself fortunate to have lived all these wonderful experiences.
I was asked by a Chinese think tank to write a monograph on the United States’ new African strategy. Here it is in English.
Four topics concerning the United States’ new African strategy and its implications for China’s long-term cooperation and development on the Great Continent will be analyzed in this study:
- The implementation of the new African strategy of the United States.
- The evaluation of the strategy by African countries.
- Does the strategy infringe upon the interests of African countries in the process of implementation?
- What is the impact of this strategy on the cooperation between China and Africa?
- The implementation of the new African strategy of the United States.
In order to fully understand the United States’ strategy in Africa, it is essential that a proper look at the historical context be conducted.
First, the United States is the current, reigning leader of the West’s 500-year old global empire, which started in 1402, when Spain began its campaign of war in the African Canary Islands. The Native people, called Guanches, fought heroically until 1496, during which time they were systematically exterminated in a campaign of ruthless genocide. Having come from Northwest Africa, and after 3,000 years of peaceful existence, tens of thousands of Natives were murdered, along with their civilization and language being extinguished. The handful of survivors who remained were forced to assimilate into the invading Spanish culture. Almost nothing of the Guanche people remains.
The methods the Spanish used to wipe out the entire Native Canary population were adopted and improved on in the 15th century, becoming known as the “Canary Model”. Continuing waves of bloodthirsty European pirates and profiteers, dubbed “explorers” invaded Western Africa, looting trillions (in today’s dollars/euros) in natural resources and kidnapping tens of millions of African Natives into slavery in Africa, Europe and the Americas. It is estimated that European and then US slave trade killed 60 million Africans, who died during kidnapping, ocean transportation, disease, hunger and abuse.
This is the legacy of the United States’ strategy in Africa, which was handed up to it by the European colonialists: Portugal, Spain, France, the United Kingdom and the Netherlands. Truth be told, this genocidal conduct by the West, now with the United States as their imperial supremo, has not changed much during the last 500 years, hiding behind their “Western Racist Superiority Paradigm”, which tells us that:
Western civilization is intellectually superior to the rest of the world.
Western civilization has no technical rival on Earth.
Western civilization is morally and spiritually above all other peoples.
As the postwar leader of this genocidal declaration, the United States even makes this paradigm paramount over its Western vassal countries. They are empire’s second-class citizens and are expected to take orders and sacrifice their national interests for Washington. And they do.
This self-serving manifesto has given the United States carte blanche to practice the “Six E’s of Racism: Expansionism, Extermination, Expropriation, Extraction, Enslavement and Evangelism” in Africa and across the rest of the capitalist world. It was true starting in the 15th century and it is still true today.
Unless this continuing legacy is fully taken into consideration during the rest of this study, the reality on the ground in Africa can easily be lost.
On 13 December 2018, with some fanfare in foreign relations circles, the Trump administration rolled out its new strategy for relations with Africa. It was laid out by Trump’s then National Security Advisor John Bolton, in a speech given at the hawkish, neoconservative Heritage Foundation.
What was so remarkable about John Bolton’s speech and the thrust of Trump’s new African strategy was that is was not really focused on mutually beneficial, win-win cooperation with the United States’ African partners, but was mostly an obsession about countering China’s presence there.
The United States battled with the Soviet Union during the Cold War, 1945-1990, for influence, military bases, capture and control of Africa’s pharaonic wealth of natural and human resources. Then for the next 22 years, the United States, with France and the UK in their usual subordinate, vassal position, had free reign to invade, attack, subvert, expropriate and extract at will across much of the Great Continent, most of it in secret. Without the Soviet Union to act as an honest counterweight to Western global capitalist imperialism, it was open season to rampage across Africa.
In 2008, the United States conducted 172 military operations in Africa. By 2013, this number had ballooned to 547 and in 2014 alone, there were 634 military operations across Africa, almost two a day. The key point to understand is that most of these were secret, undeclared operations that were only discovered by excellent investigative journalists, who work with whistleblowers and use the United States Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) to pry hidden information from government files.
These secret military operations include infrastructure sabotage, assassinations, drone strikes, false flags and arming and training terrorist groups (like Boko Haram, ISIS and Al-Qaeda) to destabilize African governments resisting Western imperial subjugation. On any given day, there are 70-90 secret armies conducting operations in Africa, all under the direct control of the White House, out of a total of about 130 at the president’s directive. They have existed since 1980, as the Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC), have a top-secret budget and zero oversight from the United States Congress.
The United States’ vassals are also there to keep Africa colonized. France does not deny that its DGSE-DRM has assassinated 22 African heads of state since 1963, with Britain’s MI6-MI5 working with the CIA to kill many more. They work hand in hand to increase the destructiveness of the White House’s secret armies, and the US helps France and Britain infiltrate and exfiltrate their own secret armies across Africa.
No one even knows how many United States military installations there are in Africa. Released documents showed that in 2019, the United States had 15 “enduring” bases and 20 “non-enduring” facilities, the later likely used and moved around the continent for the all the secret armies wreaking havoc in their wake. This of course does not even include many more French and British military installations across the continent, focused on their historic, pre-independence colonies West and East Africa, respectively.
With all this subterfuge, sabotage, assassinations, false flags and color revolutions being secretly conducted in Africa on a daily basis, totally unimpeded by any outside interference, it is easy to see why Uncle Sam is taking a very dim view of China’s rapid move to greatly expand commerce and diplomatic ties there, which started during the Mao Zedong Era and kept a steady and growing pace during the administrations of Deng Xiaoping, Jiang Zemin and Hu Jintao.
From the point of view of imperial United States, the first salvo across its African bow started with Chinese President Xi Jinping’s maiden international trip in March 2013, which focused on Africa. He tellingly visited Tanzania, a former British colony and Republic of Congo (Brazzaville), a former French one, as well as the up and coming Republic of South Africa (RSA). From then on, Xi’s administration went into overdrive to cultivate and cooperate with African friends.
At the time, United States President Barak Obama was mostly focused on his and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s 2012 launch of their anti-Chinese Pivot to Asia. However, it is known that Obama made great use of the White House’s 130 secret armies in Africa and elsewhere.
Since Xi Jinping’s big initiative in Africa, all this nefarious and destructive American military presence in Africa has not been effectively countering China’s growing influence there. With the abject failure of the US Pivot to Asia and China’s growing commercial and diplomatic influence around the world, President Trump’s new anti-Chinese Africa strategy was only a matter of time.
Part of this new strategy included Trump creating the new International Development Finance Corporation (IDFC). It is pegged to have $60 billion available to finance projects in low-income countries all over the world, not just Africa. It is not an additional sum to add to the United States’ international efforts, since the IDFC absorbed the long-standing (established in 1971) Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC) and the Development Credit Authority (DCA), the latter being part of the CIA’s well-known front, (established in 1961) United States Agency for International Development (USAID).
True, $60 billion is double the funds that were available under the two now defunct programs. Nevertheless, this is for the whole world and happens to be the same amount of money China has pledged to invest in Africa alone, in 2019-2021.
The other complicating feature of US overseas government aid and finance is that they first serve for-profit American corporations, that apply for the funding. Much of this is distributed according to political spoils and “sunshine bribery”, meaning big donations to the president and congressmembers. Thus, the best partners for projects in Africa often lose out to bigger, wealthier, better connected businesses.
Unlike China, there are no state-owned enterprises, nor is there a long-term, comprehensive strategy to work with partners in Africa. Instead, US government funding is inclined toward short term gain and infighting among the US vendors.
- The evaluation of the strategy by African countries.
When John Bolton presented Trump’s new African strategy, he was quoted as saying,
“China uses bribes, opaque agreements, and the strategic use of debt to hold states in Africa captive to Beijing’s wishes and demands”.
He also talked about China’s “white elephant” projects in Africa that cause “disturbing effects” which “bend countries to its frequently illiberal goals”. Thus, Africans should “take ownership over peace and security in their own neighborhood”.
Furthermore, he stated,
“The United States will no longer provide indiscriminate assistance across the entire continent without focus or prioritization, and we will no longer support unproductive, unsuccessful, and unaccountable U.N. peacekeeping missions. We want something more to show for Americans’ hard-earned taxpayer dollars. Under our new Africa strategy, we will target U.S. funding toward key countries and particular strategic objectives. All U.S. aid on the continent will advance U.S. interests and help African nations move towards self-reliance”.
In fiscal year 2017, the Department of State and USAID provided approximately $8.7 billion in development, security, and food assistance to Africa. In fiscal year 2016, we provided approximately $8.3 billion dollars. Between 1955 and 2006, U.S. aid to Africa was roughly equal to the amount of assistance provided by all other donors combined… From now on, the United States will no longer tolerate this long-standing pattern of aid without effect, assistance without accountability, and relief without reform… Our … priority, therefore, is ensuring that all U.S. assistance dollars sent to Africa are used efficiently and effectively to advance peace, stability, independence, and prosperity in the region”.
And in grand, haughty fashion, Bolton threatened,
“Countries that repeatedly vote against the United states in international forums or take actions counter to U.S. interests should not receive generous American foreign aid,” assessed Bolton. “[We] will ensure that all U.S. foreign aid in all corners of the globe advance U.S. interests”.
It is important to notice Bolton spoke the whole time about “aid”, not investment in Africa, which is a classical imperial point of view of the world. “Effect” now means kicking China out of the country. “Accountability” means becoming an occupied, vassal puppet state. “Reform” means to privatize everything in-country, including state assets and public services. It is all to be bought up by Wall Street at a huge discount. This is usually done by pushing corrupt, overpriced World Bank (WB) and International Monetary Fund (IMF) loans. These can then be defaulted on, to harvest the country’s public and private assets and infrastructure.
It is true that the United States invests more in Africa than China. Notwithstanding, China’s investment is more balanced, 29% mining, 22% manufacturing, 15% construction, 14% finance, 19% other, while increasingly using more local labor, management and providing vocational training. This while the United States in Africa invests 32% mining, 9% manufacturing, 8% finance, 29% holding companies, 22% other, with construction not listed in the official statistics. Since holding companies are financial entities to own other companies’ stock, and usually do not get involved in goods and services, this really skews America’s statistics even more.
What does this all mean for Africa’s evaluation of the United States’ new strategy? African leaders and their peoples know all too well how the West has behaved evilly and criminally in their countries for 500 years and continues to do, albeit them having official political independence and seats at the United Nations.
They know that France’s former colonies are forced by the Bank of France to use its CFA franc, instead of their own national currencies. They know the CFA is kept artificially overvalued, so that these victim countries cannot easily export their produce and manufactured goods, and are forced to import expensive goods and services from France. As well, if a CFA country wants to use its national reserves, it has to pay interest to the Bank of France to “borrow” its own money!
It is understood that the same control over Britain’s “former” African colonies happens, via the overwhelming presence of the United Kingdom’s large private banks in each country, that effectively control each country’s central bank.
Africa’s leadership of course knows all this, as do at least a plurality of the populations. Nonetheless, the very powerful influence of Western colonial fifth columnists in the halls of government, media, military, education and local transnational corporation partners cannot be underestimated. The United States, France and Britain collectively have hundreds of years of command and capture in Africa and have made sure that since “independence”, these countries are full of corrupt, imperial compradors, who are more loyal to the West than they are to their homelands.
This is true for every country in Africa, except Eritrea, which was victorious in its Cuban style socialist revolution, and less so in Angola and Mozambique, which had their revolutions aborted by the West’s deep state (CIA-MI6, gangster banksters, Wall Street-London and NATO), but still have surviving socialist democracies.
Fear is another huge factor. As mentioned, the United States and its vassals do not hesitate to assassinate any Africans, public or private, who have decision making power. The US deep state does not hesitate to use blackmail, extortion, bribery, as well as assassinations to maintain control over key local people. The US having 70-90 secret armies rampaging across Africa every day of the week to wreak terror and havoc also plays a huge roll in “formulating policies and opinions”. America, France and Britain have hundreds of agents embedded in Africa’s television, radio and print media, and can destroy a decision-making target with fake news and psyop propaganda.
China’s foreign policy and investment are much preferred to this brutal and destructive imperialism. China does not make any quid pro quo neoliberal, global capitalist demands to do business, nor does it ruthlessly and incessantly instigate color revolutions to destroy national governments, in order to install pro-American quislings in positions of power. China also focuses much more of its investment on infrastructure and manufacturing than the United States and the West, which is what Africa wants and needs to develop and modernize.
In sum, Africans know from bitter experience that President Trump’s “new” strategy is old Cold War wine in new anti-Chinese bottles, but while working hand in hand with China and the Belt and Road Initiative, which they clearly prefer, they have menacing blowback and existential dangers to confront, in dealing with the United States and its vassals. African government and business leaders literally have an American (and French-British) gun pointed to their heads, with the real existential threat of assassinations, extortion, blackmail and bribery confronting them 24/7.
- Does the strategy infringe upon the interests of African countries in the process of implementation?
Of course, the American strategy infringes upon the interests of African countries. America’s Western empire has been oppressing, violating and controlling Africa since the 15th century.
The United States-NATO creating AFRICOM in 2007, to impose its imperial designs on the Great Continent, which was not welcomed by even the most pro-American countries. This was expressed by no African leaders agreeing to allow AFRICOM to establish its headquarters in their countries, forcing the United States-NATO to work out of Stuttgart, Germany, in spite of a major American charm offensive, and undoubtedly threats behind closed doors. It is quite surprising that Africans were able to resist this demand, but then the United States wreaks havoc and sabotage there anyway, with the White House’s tens of secret armies working across the continent 24/7.
Since African government-business leaders and at least a plurality of Africans know the reality of America-NATO’s brutal, racist and extractive imperialism, this is extremely humiliating for them. Chinese would call it a serious loss of face. Africans are nominally “independent” since their postwar “liberation”, but Western colonialism is still fully in force with its imperial toolbox of intimidation and violence, and via fifth column compradors in-country, who are more loyal to Washington, London and Paris, than to their compatriots.
This horrible situation for all Africans also creates among them serious problems of self-esteem and victimization, where they end up blaming themselves for American-NATO oppression. The Black Panthers in the United States always preached against this, that Black, Red, Brown, Yellow and poor peoples cannot let America’s systematic, racist genocide and ethnic cleansing rob them of their manhood, womanhood and brother-sisterhood. But, after centuries of imperial propaganda, one of the first manifestations is a loss of self-esteem, self-worth, and a tendency to blame oneself for the situation.
What is so troubling for Africans with Trump’s new African strategy is that American-NATO imperial policy has “come out of the closet” now. What used to be conveyed to Africans behind closed doors is now a matter of public pronouncement. Trump, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and White House eminence grise Peter Navarro are psychopathically racist against all peoples of color, but especially Blacks and Yellows, which for the latter, puts the Chinese at the top of the list.
Even though John Bolton and Steve Bannon are no longer members of Trump’s administration, their extreme imperial anti-African anti-Chinese racism still has a huge impact on United States government policies and initiatives.
All these American leaders, as well as congressmembers now openly insult, denigrate and threaten Africans, via press conferences, media interviews, articles and social media. In other words, Trump’s new African strategy is openly normalizing 500 years of the West’s Racist Superiority Paradigm and its Six E’s of Racism, which used to be meted out behind closed doors. Of course, Africans are fully aware of all this, even though they may largely internalize it, for sake of saving face and preserve their careers, families and businesses.
All of this gives China’s long-term plans and initiatives many headaches and pitfalls (Libya being a prime example), but it also affords many asymmetric strategic opportunities, which will be discussed below.
Africans are crying out for Chinese win-win leadership and mutually beneficial commercial, STEM and cultural cooperation. In 2018, twice as many African presidents and government representatives attended China’s Africa Summit than those who went to the United Nations General Assembly that year. This was a powerful signal to the whole world about where Africans hope to achieve their dreams of true, meaningful liberation from still very real Western colonialism, as they march into the 22nd century.
- What is the impact of this strategy on cooperation between China and Africa?
More than anything, Africans want to be treated as equals at the negotiating table and in business, STEM and cultural affairs. For 500 years and counting they are treated by American-Western empire as racial inferiors to be captured, controlled and exploited.
However and critically, this is America’s historic Achilles heel that China needs to strategically address, to win the hearts and minds of all the great peoples of Africa.
When talking with American businesspeople in their 5-star hotels in Africa’s capitals, from which they usually do not venture very far, one hears bragging about “nothing less than double-digit or triple-digit profits for my company”! This is the old and current imperial mindset of the United States, as well as France and Britain. The only easy way to get those kinds of returns on investment is by extortion, exploitation, corruption and theft, which necessarily means their African partners get ripped off or at best a minimum profit. Since World War II, the West was really the main commercial game in town, with the Soviet Union and China being decent developmental partners, but lacking the consumer markets to complement their efforts. With the fall of the USSR in 1990 and until 2013, with Xi Jinping’s visionary Belt and Road Initiative, China was still mostly offering its traditional model of support to Africa, although it did increase incrementally in the interim as China’s economy became richer. As well, recently, Russia is becoming more involved in win-win cooperation in Africa. But, the United States had almost a generation of suzerainty across the Great Continent, especially starting in 1980, with the increasing use of its secret armies.
China’s African Chambers of Commerce and Embassies can help China “achieve victory” over the West, by not resorting to using the US-NATO imperial toolbox of secret invasions, false flags, violence and intimidation. If Chinese businesses can honestly make a handsome profit while making sure their African partners are getting equal benefit, all the better. But, if margins are thin, China needs to adopt a long-term strategy of patience and forbearance, looking to mutually better days ahead. If the current return on investment is less than ideal, China’s long-term cooperative vision will pay manifold more dividends in the decades to come, especially as US-led Western empire continues its slow and convulsive fall, as transnational capitalism’s Globocop.
This strongly suggests that China should rely on its state-owned enterprises as much as possible in Africa, where marginal returns today can be better managed at the broad, strategic level, until there are better outcomes in the future.
It is clear when talking to Africans at all levels of society and responsibility, that they more than anything appreciate China’s big focus on infrastructure development for the masses. For 500 years, the West built infrastructure in Africa only to the extent that it could rape and plunder its natural and human resources, and to provide an elitist, racially superior lifestyle for the colonists and soldiers living there.
Of course, like the rest of the world, China wants to benefit from Africa’s pharaonic natural and human resources, and needs to build infrastructure and facilities to satisfy these objectives.
But, to the extent possible, the real long-term dividends for China and Africa, as equal partners in the Belt and Road Initiative will come in abundance via public roads, rail, transport, maritime ports, power, schools, medical facilities and telecommunications. If both sides can achieve marginal to break even financial profit on these types of infrastructure projects today, then the potential mutually beneficial gains from the visionary Belt and Road Initiative have unlimited win-win potential, going into the 22nd century.
Through it all, the Chinese must be very empathetic about the brutal 24/7 reality facing Africa at the hands of America-NATO. Everywhere China works and cooperates in Africa, the imperial West is going to continue to asymmetrically respond with its secret armies and imperial toolbox of assassinations, extortion, blackmail, bribery and color revolutions.
This was true in Libya in 2011, where almost 35,000 Chinese living and working there had to be evacuated, after the US-British-French color revolution and subsequent plunder and pillage of what was once the richest, most prosperous and developed (socialist) country in Africa.
It is not an accident that as soon as China signed contracts for $23 billion in 2010 to build three oil refineries in Nigeria, that the once small, ragtag criminal gang known as Boko Haram got trained by the CIA in what was then completely destroyed Libya, and came roaring over the horizon, driving a flotilla brand new, armed trucks to terrorize and destabilize the second biggest PPP GDP economy in Africa, after Egypt.
China needs to appreciate the fact that when it made efforts to cooperate with Sudan starting in 1995, US-NATO went to work to greatly aggravate religious tensions via a civil war, with the goal of separating the oil rich Christian South from the Muslim North, to make it easier to corrupt, capture and exploit. In fact in 2011, the US achieved this goal of creating South Sudan.
What this all signifies is that every one of China’s African partners can pay a heavy asymmetrical price for their Sino-cooperation. Every time China signs a contract in Africa, that country tacitly understands that it gets a big imperial bullseye painted on its back, with US secret armies, psyops, color revolutions, propaganda and illegal sanctions waiting for them. Therefore, every Sino-African cooperation project, at least the larger commercial and infrastructure ones, should include an offer of the Ministry of State Security for support, including signal and human intelligence, and training to counter the US-NATO imperial toolbox.
So, how can China and the Chinese people win the hearts and minds of 1.3 billion people living, struggling and dreaming of a better, more prosperous and peaceful future, in their 57 African countries? This can best happen by showing sincere empathy with them.
“We are the same. Western empire brutally exploited, drug-addicted and invaded us during our century of humiliation, 1839-1949. We know how it feels, because we’ve suffered through the same rape and plunder.
Like you, starting with our liberation in 1949, we fight every day against Western propaganda, subversion, sabotage and color revolutions. You are being invaded by secret armies. We are being attacked via Taiwan, Tibet, Hong Kong, Xinjiang and the South China Sea. We are just like you, being punished with bogus sanctions that are meant to limit our mutual development. Our African friends are being persecuted in the West’s International Criminal Court. Chinese citizens are being persecuted in US and European courts. Just look at how the United States and Canada kidnapped Huawei’s CFO, Ms. Meng Wenzhou!
We’ve both had centuries of experience in dealing with and beating Western empire. How can we work together to continue to succeed in spite of them? African friends, what can we do to help you?”
In the end, empathy is the most powerful tool to developing meaningful and mutually beneficial relationships, when it is sincere. If it is phony, it soon becomes transparent and contemptible. But this should not be a problem with the Chinese, since they have suffered and continue to suffer the same indignities and intimidation as their African partners.
Extensive people-to-people empathy and cross-cultural training for all Chinese working with Africans and/or hoping to travel and live there should include a full understanding of Africans’ and Chinese’s history with Western empire. Otherwise, all of these efforts are void of proper perspective, and therefore are less efficient and more likely to fail.
If Chinas does this and extends counter-color revolution support, United States-NATO will, over the years, be exposed for who they really are: using their Western Racist Superiority Paradigm, Six E’s of Racism, imperial global capitalism to destroy Africa, China in order to plunder their natural and human resources.
China has been a friend of Africa, going back 2,000 years with Silk Road commerce and 500 years, with maritime trade and cooperation. With China’s visionary Belt and Road Initiative, the Silk and Maritime Roads have been reestablished. China is winning the development battle with US-NATO.
But that is not enough. Now, it needs to bring Sino-African history to its common nexus, especially since 15th century Western colonialism, to mutually bind sincere, lasting, empathetic friendships into the 22nd century.
To succeed in the future, one must comprehensively understand the past in its proper perspective.
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