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Africa and the Bush doctrine

By Monica Moorehead, Workers World, 3 October 2002

Where does Africa fit in the scenario of the insane, aggressive Bush doctrine?

A Sept. 18 New York Times article headlined U.S. Moves Commandos to East Africa to Pursue Al Qaeda in Yemen reported that hundreds of U.S. Special Operations forces have been quietly stationed at a military base in Djibouti, a former French colony located where the Red Sea intercepts the Gulf of Aden. Along with these Special Forces, there is also a U.S. assault ship, the Belleau Wood, off the Horn of Africa facing Yemen to pursue whoever caused the blast on the USS Cole a few years ago.

The following day the New York Times ran a front page article headlined In Quietly Courting Africa, U.S. Likes the Dowry. And what might that dowry be? Oil, oil and more oil. This outrageous admission cannot be separated from the growing U.S. military presence in East Africa—which is an integral part of the U.S. military build-up against Iraq—or from Secretary of State Colin Powell’s recent trip to Africa, where he visited Angola and Gabon, two oil-producing countries. Nor can it be separated from the recent announcement that Bush plans a major visit to Africa next year.

Ever since Sept. 11, 2001, the Bush administration has sought venues other than the Middle East for getting oil reserves. This is based on the mounting social instability of their puppet regimes, especially Saudi Arabia. And now, with the United States just itching to invade Iraq, home to 10 percent of the world’s oil reserves, Washington has once again set its sights on Africa. The aim is not only to get their hands on more oil but to expand their oil-importing markets.

Thirty-three out of the 41 countries categorized by the World Bank as Heavy Indebted Poor Countries are in Africa. The total African debt owed to the International Monetary Fund and World Bank is an estimated $350 billion. One-fourth of Africa’s export earnings go to pay off the debt.

There is a debt owed not by the African people but by the banks and imperialism. They owe a long overdue debt to the African people. The $350 billion, with no political strings attached, should go toward rebuilding Africa—including health care, education, housing, food production, transportation, etc.

African women are playing a leadership role in forwarding the class struggle. Women have been in the forefront of the national liberation movements and the struggle for socialism from the Russian Revolution to the revolutions in Vietnam, Cuba and China—and Africa is no exception.

Nigeria is the world’s sixth-largest exporter of oil, the fifth-largest supplier of oil to the United States. Imperialism has intervened many times in regime changes in Africa by Balkanization—breaking up bigger countries into weaker, smaller states. During the 1960s the United States provoked a civil war that led to a breakaway of the mineral-rich Biafra region.

During this past summer, hundreds of indigent Nigerian women took hostages including management for weeks at Chevron-Texaco oil facilities to demand jobs for their sons, paving of roads, and construction of hospitals and schools. These heroic takeovers showed the importance of direct action and exposed the intolerable conditions that African people, especially women, are forced to endure. Those affected most severely by poverty and the HIV/AIDS epidemic in Africa are women.

On the cover of the Sept. 16 New York Times Magazine there was a picture of a top government official in Rwanda who happens to be the first woman to face charges in an international court for inciting genocide against the Tutsi people in 1994. The Times described this official as the Minister of Rape. To say that this is blatant racism and sexism is an understatement. The Nigerian women helped to expose who the real rapists and plunderers of the African peoples and continent are: imperialism, dating back to the trans-Atlantic slave trade in the 16th century and up to the current role of the IMF, World Bank and transnational corporations. The Times Magazine piece was an attempt to incite further imperialist intervention—and to divert attention away from the real issues, which are rooted in the divide-and-conquer legacy of colonialism and neo-colonialism that has cost the lives of hundreds of millions of African people.

If we want to show our solidarity with Africa as well as with Latin America, the Middle East, Asia, the Caribbean and elsewhere, we must do everything that we can to defeat imperialism in the belly of the beast—by instilling class consciousness among all sectors of the workers and oppressed, including bringing out as many people as possible on Oct. 26 to stop the war against Iraq. U.S. out of Africa! Cancel the debt! Reparations for the African people!