Friday, June 28, 2013

False Friends

Obama in on his African tour, a safari to promote America's interests.

There are three types of African leaders: those who want to be on the "right" side of Washington in order to have US support for their particularistic (and often non-developmental or non-democratic) agenda; those who engage with Washington but who part company with the US when fundamental interests are at stake; and those who refuse to deal with Washington either because their national interests are at loggerheads with the US agenda or because their country has been unduly targeted with sanctions by the US

The need for imported oil in the US, along with China's determination to secure energy sources for its super-hot economy, has elevated interest in Africa. China appears to be winning this game because of its "pragmatic" approach of not "interfering" in the domestic affairs of countries. Although the US still gets a significant amount of its oil imports from Africa, China has gained a substantial foothold with new oil producers such as Ghana, Uganda, and Sudan , and has made some headway with older ones. In spite of these setbacks for the US in Africa, the guardians of US policy in this regard are the big oil companies, whose position and influence on African policy have not gone through any transformation simply because a person of African origin occupies the White House.

The prospect of America's becoming more energy independent should not suggest that its interest in African resources, or Africa's geopolitical importance to the US, will fade any time soon. China's strategic growth in Africa will remain a key factor for the US government, and that is why the American military presence in Africa since Obama came to power has increased.

From the Clinton years to the present, a new breed of African Americans has occupied senior positions in Africa policymaking; the Department of State's Africa team has included Susan Rice, Jendayi Fraser, and Johnnie Carson. It appears that these individuals are driven by mundane career aspirations rather than political ideals of serving America and Africa in mutually beneficial ways. Many of them see their African heritage not as a moral and ethical signifier that carries with it great responsibility to right injustice, but rather as a resume entry that makes them more attractive than other members of the establishment. This new breed of African American diplomats is joined at the hip with the established order and may in fact not be more favourably predisposed toward Africa than their predecessors. Their worldview is no different from that of their white counterparts and that Africans must be aware of the meaninglessness of race or ethnic politics.

From here 

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