OPINION | U.S. African Command: the return of colonialism to Black Africa?


Eight months ago, just before the outbreak of hostilities in Libya, and with little fanfare or coverage by European or American press, the Obama administration quietly announced General Carter Ham’s appointment as supreme commander for the U.S. African Command, to deal with the increased presence of terrorists in the middle part of Black Africa.

The command is now making its presence and authority known in Black Africa from the Indian Ocean to the Atlantic Ocean, through the heart of Black Africa, as American military recon teams stake out territories of involvement. This includes pursuing and destroying the chief rebel band in Central Africa, the Lord’s Resistance Army.

Its leader, Joseph Kony, is wanted by the International Criminal Court for acts of terror and murder in Uganda, in northern Democratic Republic of the Congo, and in the Central African Republic. He has been killing and raping fellow Black Africans for 10 years.

News reports indicate American Special Forces are providing a broad neck of military presence across Black Africa, including in Chad, Mozambique, Niger, Nigeria, and Senegal, while keeping an eye on the soon-to-be-oil-rich Liberia. Does this mean lucrative opportunities for White companies or Black companies?

When you think about the riches of middle Africa, do you think in terms of helping African economies and African companies to set up their own pan-African OPEC-like union of producers? Or do you think of helping European and American economies get back on their feet through American and European companies with African branches, colonial style? Or will African companies with African branches prevail?

I applaud Senegal President Abdoulaye Wade, who, at a 2010 mining conference in Senegal, said to 500 delegates from foreign mining firms, ”I never said, enrichissez-vous [enrich yourselves]. I said enrichissons-nous [let’s enrich one another].” We see listed as needs in Africa what is also needed in North Minneapolis: “Hire more locals, adhere to stricter environmental rules, [and] build more roads and schools for local communities.”

Will the projected oil revenues in the offshore oil fields of Liberia be for Big Western White Oil or for the Black people of Liberia? Is oil production revenue to help develop Liberia or to help stabilize economically paralyzed Europe at Africa’s expense? Is this administration saying Europe is more important than Africa?

African riches spans the five major mineral categories: precious metals and minerals; energy minerals; non-ferrous metals and minerals; ferrous minerals; and industrial minerals. Besides oil and coal, the riches of Africa include some of the earth’s largest deposits of phosphates, iron ore, bauxite, copper, platinum, gold, silver, diamonds, uranium, chrome, manganese, zirconium, vanadium and titanium.

The U.S. Africa Command has already stated it expects to utilize military resources and assets from Britain, France, Belgium, Spain, Portugal, Italy, and, for the first time since 1916, Germany, all in Black Africa again. Is this to stabilize Africa or Europe?

Now, one has to assume that there are some military leaders and heads of intelligent agencies in Black African countries raising this question amongst themselves: If the United States doesn’t have respect for the color of the skin of its own leader, how can it care about people of color 8,000 miles away? Happily, the more progressive intelligence agencies, such as in Nigeria, Kenya and Tanzania, are already asking such questions among themselves.

With its recollection of conflict between Blacks and Whites during and after Apartheid, how will South Africa’s experience help answer these tense questions?

The question I ask in this column is: Will this be America’s commitment and program for the next 10 years for Africa or Europe?

But before White House, State Department, Pentagon, and corporate and think tank experts act to answer that question, it first needs a serious and open discussion among Black Americans, now and through the lead-up to the 2012 election. We want to know.

We still remember the significant number of Black Panamanians and Black Granadians laying dead, lining their countries’ highways when we entered them in the 1980s. We well remember how easy it was for American politicians and American media to dismiss the staggering number of Black nationals slain, executed, and killed, often under very questionable circumstances, including the execution of Granada’s Prime Minister Bishop.

Whether in America or Africa, it is too easy to look at persons of color as if they are terrorists. Keep an eye on the U.S. African Command.

And stay tuned.

Ron Edwards hosts “Black Focus” on Channel 17, MTN-TV, Sundays, 5-6 pm; hosts “Black Focus” on Blog Talk radio Sundays at 3 pm; and co-hosts Blog Talk Radio’s “ON POINT!” Saturdays at 4 pm, providing coverage about Black Minnesota. Order his books at www.BeaconOnTheHill.com. Hear his readings and read his solution papers for community planning and development and “web log” at www.TheMinneapolisStory.com.