The United States, like its allies Britain and France, has long maintained influence and indirect control in Africa through financial institutions such as the World Bank, International Monetary Fund, and African Development Bank. It has exerted political influence using aid organizations such as USAID and NGOs like the National Endowment for Democracy, Freedom House and others.
With programs such as the Pan-Sahel Initiative, later broadened into the Trans-Saharan Counterterrorism Initiative, Washington managed to provide military and financial assistance to compliant countries in North Africa – a policy whose practical application meant that the US military became the dominant force in the Sahel region, supplying the human and material resources for which the governments of the region were starved. Naturally, this meant an implicit subservience to US military command. In 2013 alone, AFRICOM conducted joint exercises with fourteen African nations, leading land, sea, and air-based operations.
In 2007 the Bush administration created US Africa Command (AFRICOM) to act as the umbrella organization under which all US military activity in Africa would fall. AFRICOM became an officially independent command a year later, and in the seven years its scope of activity has broadened tremendously, with its direct or indirect presence extending into nearly every country on the continent. “AFRICOM advances US national interests and promotes regional security, stability, and prosperity.” Ostensibly, the US military acts to defend ‘democracies’ in Africa for the collective betterment of the people of the continent. As Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense Theresa Whelan stated in 2007, “AFRICOM is about helping Africans build greater capacity to assure their own security.”
However, a more critical analysis would question exactly how Washington defines “security, stability, and prosperity,” and perhaps most importantly, whose prosperity they’re principally interested in. Vice-Admiral Robert Moeller, military deputy to former commander of AFRICOM General William ‘Kip’ Ward, provides the answer when he told an AFRICOM conference in 2008 that AFRICOM’s goal was “protecting the free flow of natural resources from Africa to the global market.” Furthermore, Moeller wrote in 2010, “Let there be no mistake. AFRICOM’s job is to protect American lives and promote American interests.”
AFRICOM is to provide a military presence to ensure the continued exploitation of Africa for the enrichment of finance capital, and the maintenance and expansion of US hegemony on the continent. China is rapidly challenging US economic hegemony in Africa. Having invested in a variety of sectors from mining and oil, to telecommunications and banking, China has made itself into a viable alternative to US, World Bank, and IMF investment and aid. Naturally, this has upset the political and corporate establishment in the US who see in China a threat to their power. Professor and China scholar Deborah Brautigam noted in 2013,“Chinese imports and exports, outbound investment aid, and export finance are all sharply on the rise. For example, trade between China and Africa rose from $10 billion in 2000 to $166.3 billion in 2011… [In 2012] Chinese leaders announced a goal of $20 billion in finance to African countries by 2015. If carried out, an average of between $6 and $7 billion would flow to Africa per year.” Brautigam’s numbers illustrate the fact that it is only slightly below yearly US total investment in the continent ($9 billion) and so US policy in Africa should be understood within the context of checking China’s growing power and influence.
One example is the US-sponsored break up of Sudan and the creation of South Sudan. n order to power its massive industrial sector and population, China has become the world’s leading energy importer, with lucrative contracts all over the world. However, Beijing’s primary oil source in Africa was Sudan, which accounted for 8 percent of China’s total oil imports (China being the recipient of a whopping 78% of total Sudanese exports). With the oilfields being located primarily in the south of the country, the US led the charge to dismantle Sudan and create a South Sudan that would be dependent on US finance and military muscle (provided by AFRICOM and US clients such as Uganda and Rwanda) for its very survival. The continuing violence and bloodshed in South Sudan – a result of internal power struggles between competing US aligned factions – is merely collateral damage in Washington’s growing proxy war with China.
All over Africa, the United States has tried to check the growing influence of China [ who choose to prefer the tactic of money in the banks of those it courts rather than boots on the ground - Socialist Banner]. From Nigeria to South Africa, Angola to Sudan, the US is engaging in a widespread proxy war with the expressed intention of maintaining its dominant position in Africa. Using its vast military resources, Washington seeks to cement its African hegemony using the same colonial tactics as every other empire that came before it.