On Africa Visit, Bush Pushes Agenda
of Continent-Wide U.S. Military Expansion
interview with Professor Horace
AMY GOODMAN: President Bush is
back in Africa for the second and presumably final time during
his presidency. He began a carefully selected five-country tour
of the continent Saturday.
0. PRESIDENT BUSH: We're going
to Benin, Tanzania, Rwanda, Ghana and Liberia. Each of these countries
is blessed with natural beauty, vibrant culture, and an unmistakable
spirit of energy and optimism. Africa in the twenty-first century
is a continent of potential.
AMY GOODMAN: The reaction on the ground has been mixed. Many in
the eastern African country of Tanzania welcomed the $700 million
grant in foreign aid President Bush signed Sunday. But some 2,000
Tanzanians also protested his visit and question whether it will
bring US military bases closer to African soil.
AFRICOM, the US military command
for Africa, was created last year and is based in Germany. Liberia
is the only African country that's publicly offered to host AFRICOM.
National Security Adviser Stephen Hadley told reporters Thursday
not to expect any major announcements about AFRICOM on this trip.
But many anticipate the President's visit is an opportunity to
shore up support among African allies for America's strategic
and economic interests.
To find out more on this subject,
we're joined on the phone from Kingston, Jamaica by veteran Africa
analyst, Horace Campbell, professor of political science and African
American studies at Syracuse University.
AMY GOODMAN: Can you talk about the significance
of this five African nation trip?
HORACE CAMPBELL: Yes, this is a sign of
the weakness of the President Bush administration. After spending
thirty years vilifying the Tanzanian government and trying to
remove the policies of Ujamaa by President Julius Nyerere, Tanzania,
after the inheritance of Nyerere, is one of the only stable serious
countries that United States could go to, because it has a legacy
of having a cohesive society. And the government of the United
States believed that several hundred million dollars would reinforce
the new conservative agenda around those in the political leadership
of Tanzania by promoting conservative ideas about market forces,
abstinence in the fight against HIV, and bringing the Tanzanian
political leadership into the web of conservatism and neoliberalism.
And it's very significant that the major
players that the United States considers to be their allies in
Africa, such as Nigeria, South Africa, Angola, that the United
States would not be welcome in these countries, because the governments
of these countries are very, very clear about the way in which
this trip is tied to the militarization of Africa and the spread
of the AFRICOM.
So the tacticians in the State Department
want to undermine countries with progressive legacies, countries
such as Tanzania with a legacy of Julius Nyerere, countries such
as Ghana, where there is still some legacy of Kwame Nkrumah. But
the demonstrations in Tanzania on Friday showed that the African
peoples are very aware that this administration of George Bush
has been fighting an illegal war in Iraq and is supporting the
occupation of Palestine, that African governments cannot support
a conservative and neoliberal project that is being promoted in
AMY GOODMAN: AFRICOM, overall, explain
its origins, Professor Campbell.
HORACE CAMPBELL: Yes, AFRICOM is called
Africa Command. When Africa fought for independence in the 1960s,
the United States did not believe that Africans could control
their destiny. So the United States left their military efforts
in Africa to the European countries. So most of Africa fell under
what is called the European Command, based in Germany.
And then, after the Iranian Revolution
in 1978, the United States set about establishing what they call
the Central Command. The Central Command then had responsibilities
for eight countries in Eastern Africa-Kenya, Djibouti, Somalia,
Sudan, Egypt and Ethiopia. These countries were brought into Central
Command, and it is from Central Command that the United States
is launching its illegal and unjust war against the people of
Iraq and the people of Afghanistan.
As a result of the failures in Iraq and
because the projection of the United States is that Middle Eastern
oil will become more problematic in the next ten to fifteen years,
there is a major thrust to control African oil resources. So,
while in the past African militarism by the United States was
divided into three commands-that is, the European Command for
fourteen countries, the Central Command for eight countries, and
the Pacific Command that involved Madagascar, Seychelles and Mauritius-now
the United States want to bring all of African countries under
the Africa Command, except for Egypt, which would still be under
the Central Command.
And under this AFRICOM, all agencies of
the United States of America would be under the United States
Department of Defense, so that whatever work is being done in
Africa by the United States Agency for International Development,
the United States Treasury, the United States Department of Agriculture,
the United States Department of Commerce, all agencies, Peace
Corps, university work, will come under the US military. In other
words, this will be the new step for the militarization of the
continent of Africa.
And more-even more serious is the fact
that behind this, mercenary firms, like Dyncorp, Blackwater and
Lockheed Martin, and the other military contractors will then
come in behind the US Department of Defense to set up military
contacting organizations to protect US oil companies in Africa.
So the militarization of the African continent
is something that those in the peace movement need to pay close
attention to. We in the universities, we have to be very sensitive
to this, because under the language-training programs, the US
is now going to universities all around the United States of America
to weave young students into language-training programs for AFRICOM.
And it is very essential that universities and those who get grants
from the government make very clear statements about their opposition
to AFRICOM and the way in which all other agencies are being brought
under the Department of Defense.
AMY GOODMAN: Professor Campbell, I wanted
to ask you about that moment on the Indian Ocean in Tanzania when
President Kikwete was asked about the progress of Barack Obama
and-by a reporter-and he answered, "Of course, people talk
with excitement about Obama." Then, edging away diplomatically,
Kikwete said, "For us, the most important thing is, let him
be as good a friend of Africa as President Bush has been."
The significance, Professor Campbell, of what he was saying, and
also if you could talk about what's happening in Kenya as President
Bush makes his way through these five African countries, which
are not Kenya, though Condoleezza Rice is expected to go to Kenya,
where Kofi Annan is involved in negotiations with the government
and the opposition forces?
HORACE CAMPBELL: Yes. As we speak, Condoleezza
Rice is in Kenya. But the Obama question that was posed to Kikwete,
Kikwete, I'm sure, is saying one thing to President George Bush
in English and saying another thing to the people of Tanzania
in Kiswahili, because the Tanzanian society is very divided over
this question. I lived in Tanzania for six years, and I know the
depth of the feelings against imperialism in this country because
of the destabilization and the crimes that were committed by former-the
father of George Bush, Chester Crocker and those who were supporting
the apartheid regime. So this is not something that George Bush
can wipe out away in the memory. And although Kikwete is celebrating
this $700 million, we know that this $700 million is an attempt
to erode the last vestiges of Ujamaa in Tanzania.
Now, President Bush would have liked to
have gone to Kenya, because Kenya is a country where the United
States has built up assets for the past thirty years, political
assets, military assets and those alliances that brought Israel,
the United States and South Africa into the Kenyan society.
Now, the Kenyan people intervened decisively
in the elections on December 27th. In these elections, the people
overwhelmingly voted against a government that has been associated
with corruption, that's been associated with extraordinary rendition,
rendering Kenyan citizens to Ethiopia in their attempt to support
the United States' war against the peoples of Somalia. Now, after
stealing these elections-and this is a government that has stolen
billions of dollars, and there are reports called the Anglo Leasing
reports that has brought this out. The Kenyan people voted decisively,
but this government stole the elections, and there was uprising
in the country. This uprising went out of control and regrettably
thousands of people have lost their lives in Kenya.
Kofi Annan is leading negotiations to
bring peace to Kenya. The government is being most intransigent,
insofar as the government is renegotiating while stalling, believing
that there is a limit to which Kofi Annan will stay in Kenya.
Now, because of the tenacity of the Kenyan people and because
the United States understands how delicate the situation is, at
first the government of the United States recognized the Kibaki
government, but in the face of opposition from all the allies
of the United States-European Union, the Canadians, the Australians-United
States backtracked and supported negotiations. So these negotiations
have been going on.
A month ago, the Assistant Secretary of
State for African Affairs went to Kenya and made a very alarming
statement that ethnic cleansing was going on in Kenya. Now, without
taking time to study the situation, the US government has been
making a number of blunders. Now, Condoleezza Rice is in Kenya,
as we speak, and this morning she met with Kofi Annan, and she's
now meeting with Kibaki and Raila Odinga, and they're calling
for power sharing. Power sharing is well and good, but it holds
great dangers. Power sharing without democratization of the society,
without a new constitution, without holding those who have stolen
money accountable, without ending Kenya's alliance with the US
war on terror, without presenting people of Islamic faith as terrorists
in Kenya, then there will be continuous problems in the Kenyan
society. So those in the peace movement in the United States,
those in the peace and justice movement, should be supporting
efforts for peace in Kenya, but not peace at any cost-peace with
justice, peace to ensure that there's no impunity in Kenya.
AMY GOODMAN: Professor Horace Campbell,
I want to thank you for being with us, speaking to us from Jamaica.
He is a professor of political science and African American studies
at Syracuse University in New York.