Chinese investment may come with strings attached, but Africa deserves an alternative to U.S.-led neoliberalism and militarization.
John Bolton’s recent unveiling of the Trump Administration’s “Prosper Africa” plan did what is typical of such U.S. foreign policy announcements. It performed the balancing act of admitting motives to protect vague “U.S. interests” while dishonestly claiming benevolent intentions for the other country, region, or continent concerned. In this case the continent is Africa.
The “new” Africa policy, National Security Advisor Bolton suggested, is an adjusted U.S. strategy to “assist” African economic independence from the predatory designs of China and Russia. In reality it is the Trump’s administration taking the baton from the Obama administration in the new Scramble for Africa, a sequel to the proliferation of conflicting European claims to African territory during the New Imperialism period, between the 1880s and the start of World War I.
Bolton admits as much when he calls the administration’s new plan a response to “predatory practices pursued by China and Russia [that] stunt economic growth in Africa; threaten the financial independence of African nations; inhibit opportunities for U.S. investment; interfere with U.S. military operations; and pose a significant threat to U.S. national security interests.”
He divulged this and the “new” U.S.-Africa policy in a speech he gave at the far-right Heritage Foundation.
It should be obvious that Bolton cares little about predation — he just doesn’t want other predators to compete with. He made no mention of the U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM), which has put most African nations under the effective military control of the United States. AFRICOM is the re-colonization of Africa by the U.S., with thousands of U.S. troops now stationed in some 30 African countries and dozens of U.S. bases across Africa. The total estimated cost for AFRICOM in 2018 is $236.9 million.