The Herald (Harare)

Africa: How Obama Has Betrayed Africa

opinion

Prof Soul Gaika Kuni

There is indeed nothing that the ordinary African or revolutionary Africa has gained from President Obama, except a backlash for failing to support gay rights, to observe Eurocentric and American ethnocentric values of democracy, good governance and accountability. When Barrack Obama was elected the first United States of America black president, Africans welcomed him and expected a lot of hand extension from him but ask every African today and you will be shocked how attitudes have changed.

Apparently, Africa is more scared of the US than ever before and is more worried about increasing US military presence and footprints in Africa. The war of attrition on the exploitation of natural resources between China and the US has made Africa a continent placed between a hard surface and a hard rock. In fact, the US has gone overdrive to try and outwit China when it comes to Africa's resources but the Chinese have a more effective non-military and friendly approach that has left the US trailing behind, hence Washington has gone physical through a cocktail of sanctions in the case of Zimbabwe.

The military intervention in Libya and elsewhere plus regime change agenda disguised as military co-operation has also been used. Under President Obama, in fact, military operations in Africa have accelerated far beyond the more limited interventions of the Bush years.

What with continued illegal sanctions and military threat on Zimbabwe, last year's war in Libya, a regional drone campaign with missions run out of airports and bases in Djibouti, Ethiopia, and the Indian Ocean archipelago nation of Seychelles? What with a flotilla of 30 ships in that ocean supporting regional operations, a multi-pronged military and CIA campaign against militants in Somalia, including intelligence operations, training for Somali agents, a secret prison, helicopter attacks, and US commando raids, a massive influx of cash for counter-terrorism operations across East Africa?

What with a possible old-fashioned air war, carried out on the sky in the region using manned aircraft, tens of millions of dollars in arms for allied mercenaries and African troops? What with a special operations expeditionary force (bolstered by State Department experts) dispatched to help capture or kill Lord's Resistance Army leader Joseph Kony and his senior commanders?

Now with the careful but steadfast inroads being made by Africom, the US superior military command for Africa, it is clear that Africa is critically under the eagle eye of the US natural resource microscope.

In a recent speech in Arlington, Virginia, Africom Commander General Carter Ham explained the reasoning behind US operations on the continent: "The absolute imperative for the United States military is to protect America, Americans, and American interests; in our case, in my case, protect us from threats that may emerge from the African continent." Really?

As an example, Ham named the Somali-based al-Shabaab as a prime threat. "Why do we care about that?" he asked rhetorically. "Well, al-Qaeda is a global enterprise. . . we think they very clearly do present, as an al-Qaeda affiliate . . . a threat to America and Americans."

"Fighting them over there, so we don't need to fight them here" has been a core tenet of American foreign policy for decades, especially since that fateful September 11. But trying to apply military solutions to complex political and social problems has regularly led to unforeseen consequences. For example, last year's US-supported war in Libya resulted in masses of well-armed Tuareg mercenaries, who had been fighting for Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi, heading back to Mali where they helped destabilise that country.

So far, the result has been a military coup by an American-trained officer; a take-over of some areas by Tuareg fighters of the National Movement for the Liberation of Azawad, who had previously raided Libyan arms depots.

They had also raided other parts of the country being seized by the irregulars of Ansar Dine, the latest al-Qaeda "affiliate" on the American radar. One military intervention, in other words, led to three major instances of blowback in a neighbouring country in just a year.

With the Obama administration clearly engaged in a twenty-first century scramble for Africa, the possibility of successive waves of overlapping blowback grows exponentially. Mali may only be the beginning and there's no telling how any of it will end. In the meantime, keep your eye on Africa. The US military is going to make news there for years to come. In addition, the US is conducting counter-terrorism training and equipping militaries in Algeria, Burkina Faso, Chad, Mauritania, Niger, and Tunisia. Africom also has 14 major joint-training exercises planned for 2012, including operations in Morocco, Cameroon, Gabon, Botswana, South Africa, Lesotho, Senegal, and Nigeria. So looking back at Obama as he goes for another term means patriotic Africans are no longer excited about the prospect of him winning yet another term, especially after it emerged that Obama is just like any other American president.

There is indeed nothing that the ordinary African or revolutionary Africa has gained from Obama, except backlash for failing to support gay rights, to observe Eurocentric and American ethnocentric values of democracy, good governance and accountability.

So with or without Obama being re-elected, Africa's dream of fair market economy negotiations for its array of unexplored natural resources remains a long pipe dream.

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