the ‘Great Competitor China’: in Africa

This is indeed a bit of a tome as I reckon it needs to be given the subject matter, but I’ll offer a shortcut in a bit.  I’d like to start with ‘The Bolton Speech on Africa: A Case of the Wolf and the Foxes’, Ajamu Baraka, Dec. 19,, and will quote liberally for background, and since BAR content is all CC.  (click image for larger)

“The Trump administration claims China and Russia are exploiting Africa, but US policy offers nothing but more guns, more bases and more subversion.

Malcolm X reminded us that we had to be careful about the difference between the wolf and the fox. The wolf for black people were the hardcore, racist white folks with the hoods and clearly articulated stance in support of white supremacy. The fox, on the other hand were the liberals who were supposed to be our friends. Their ultimate support for white supremacy was always just as deadly but sugarcoated in diversionary language like “humanitarian intervention” and the “responsibility to protect.” The game, according to Malcolm, was that black folks would recognize the danger of the wolf and run from the wolf straight into the jaws of the fox with the consequence being just as fatal because both the fox and the wolf are members of the same canine family.

This captures in many ways not only the nature of the ongoing saga of U.S. politics in general where there is really no substantial difference in the class interests and fundamental priorities of the two capitalist parties, but specific policies like U.S. policy in Africa.

In a speech last week before an audience at the right-wing Heritage Foundation, John Bolton unveiled the Trump administrations’ “new Africa Strategy .” In what could only be characterized as another example of the White supremacist racial blind-spot, Bolton revealed an understanding of Africa and the role played by the U.S. and Europe that was a compete departure from the reality of the systematic underdevelopment of that continent by Europe and the U.S.”

Baraka characterizes Bolton’s world as (ahem) not getting that the colonial powers that had divvied up Africa in order to enslave black bodies to create more European wealth, and that it wasn’t Amerika that overthrew black leaders and install brutal neo-colonial dictators.  Instead, in Bolton’s world it’s the Chinese (and Russians for some reason) who are the predators who are stunting African economic growth and threatening the financial independence of African nations.

“Therefore, in typical colonialist arrogance in which Bolton’s analysis represents objective truth, he states that African states have a choice. Either surrender to Chinese and Russia interests, or aligned themselves with the U.S. to secure “foreign aid” and avoid subversion from the U.S.!’” [snip]

“Bolton didn’t mention in his statement that U.S. strategy for Africa which centers military recolonization would be a continuation of the U.S. policies of the last few decades and in particularly during the Obama administration that saw the expansion of the U.S. military presence by 1,900 %.

It is clear that the Trump “strategy” offers nothing substantially different. The policy continues to be more guns, more bases and more subversion.

The destruction of Libya that resulted in the enhanced military capacities of al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, Boko Haram in Nigeria, Ansar al-Sharia in Libya, the disastrous decision to carve up the Sudan and create yet another colonial entity called South Sudan, military and political support for President Kagame of Rwanda, President Kabila of the Democratic Republic of Congo, President Museveni of Uganda and expansion of AFRICOM reflects the murderous continuity of U.S. African policy.”

He then notes that the Joltin’ Bolton claims that the current administration is developing a new initiative known as “Prosper Africa” to increase Amerikan investment that will grow the middle class, and ‘improve the bidness climate ‘in the region’.

“This approach is not in any way a departure from the Bush-Obama “African Growth and Opportunity Act, ” which made similar claims and focused on extractive trade policies to exploit African natural resources and served as basis of continued conflict over those resources in nations like the Democratic Republic of the Congo where more than six million Africans have died in resource based conflicts.”

Yeppers, as Ajamu notes: same policy, different and more crude verbiage is afoot this time…but so is the same rape, plunder and pillage.

“We say to Bolton, Trump and the neoliberal democrats – U.S. out of Africa, Shut down AFRICOM, Africa for Africans at home and abroad! “

Now in glen Ford’s Dec. 20 ‘Bolton Threatens to Force Africa to Choose Between the US and China’,, he writes in part:

“The Americans wager that they can exercise veto power over African political alignments by force of arms, through AFRICOM’s massive military infiltration of the region.”

“Access to new markets for its raw materials has spurred Africa’s exports, which quintupled in real value over the past twenty years ,” the staffers wrote in their in house IMFBlog . “But maybe even more importantly, sub-Saharan Africa’s trade engagement with China and other new trading partners has reduced the volatility in its exports. This helped cushion the impact of the global economic crisis in 2008 and 2009, when advanced economies experienced a deep economic deceleration, and thus curbed their demand for imports. At the same time, China actually increased its contribution to the growth of sub-Saharan African exports, which helped cushion the impact on sub-Saharan Africa growth during the Great Recession. On the import side, access to cheap Chinese consumer goods, from clothing to mopeds, has boosted African living standards and contributed to low and stable inflation.” [snip]

“There is no question that China’s deep penetration of African markets has caused lots of dislocation of existing African enterprises, or that China’s policy of importing its own workforces to staff major projects is cause for resentment among Africans in need of work. It is also true that Chinese entrepreneurs have flooded the nooks and crannies of many African economies, sometimes crowding out real or potential local small businesspeople. But it is generally agreed that China’s trade policies in Africa are not coercive or marked by “bribes, opaque agreements, and the strategic use of debt to hold states in Africa captive,” as Bolton alleges. Rather, as Black Alliance for Peace (BAP) lead organizer Ajamu Baraka writes in this week’s issue of BAR, “China provides African states a modicum of space  to exercise more effective national sovereignty than had ever been afforded them by the European colonial powers that carved up and unmercifully exploited African labor and land.”


Now opinions abound on the downsides of Chinese investments in sub-Saharan Africa’ you may want to skip this section between the lines.  This is one: On Dec. 5 Phil Butler at had written: ‘Deciphering Economic Warfare Code: The Sub-Saharan Africa Front’

He opens with:

“This week Moody’s warned the whole world of Kenya struggling to repay heavy Chinese debt. News from the South African gained over 400 social media shares too, amplifying the hysterical warning that all of Sub-Saharan Africa is at risk of having “strategic assets” seized when unpaid debts come due. Once again, it’s interesting to note there’s no mention of the Anglo-European debt circle. So, here’s the dissenting view on Chinese versus western imperial economic war.”…then proceeds to unwind the Western Economic Propaganda a piece at a time.  His other headings are:

Other cases
Down and Out in Africa
concerning Economic Occupation by the IMF and World bank are hideous to read, if unsurprising.

From ‘Trump’s African Pivot: Another Swipe at China’, Kenneth Surin,, Dec. 19, 2018:

In contrast to the hypocrisy and meaninglessness of “Prosper Africa”’

“By contrast, as a Liberian academic I met in the US a couple of years ago described to me, the Chinese have a different approach.

The Chinese make targetted loans, asking African countries what they need (nearly always in the way of infrastructure but not limited to that), then provide the loans, and undertake the projects themselves. The opportunities for an African kleptocrat to divert money into a Swiss bank account are thus reduced, and the chances of the project succeeding are enhanced because of direct Chinese supervision.

China’s aim here is not entirely altruistic, of course, and the slogans it uses (“aid that is mutually beneficial” and “soft power”) give an indication of a self-interest purportedly compatible with the interests of other parties.” [snip]

“But China’s role on the African continent has of course been defined largely by infrastructural development– according to AidData China has been involved in more than 3,000, largely critical, infrastructure projects.

These projects range from bridge, road, airport, and harbour construction; to railways and electricity grids, and technology transfer.

Chinese projects are powering Africa, and Chinese firms are creating jobs in Africa. China is boosting Africa’s economic transformation, and Hillary Clinton was egregiously mistaken when she warned of a “new colonialism” in Africa while she was US Secretary of State. Clinton did not mention China in her remarks, but their import was clear.”

More analysis: From Joseph Thomas, Nov. 21, 2018: ‘Washington’s Dirty Fight Against China’s OBOR; Five years into China’s ambitious One Belt, One Road (OBOR) initiative sees analysts and political circles around the globe taking stock of Beijing’s progress’,


Predatory Lenders: It Takes One to Know One (hint: the IMF)

His heading: Washington‘s Campaign of Subversion, Disruption and Sabotage exposé enough to make a sentient being sick.


Now comes the yummiest stuff on the many Evils & Designs of Africom:

‘AFRICOM ‘Exerts a Huge Influence’ in Africa, Steps Up Airstrikes in Somalia’, Dec. 18, 2018

“Over the weekend, US military airstrikes in Somalia targeted an al-Shabaab base near the capital, Mogadishu, killing at least 62 militants, according to Somali officials and intelligence sources.

“US Africa Command and our Somali partners conducted these airstrikes to prevent terrorists from using remote areas as a safe haven to plot, direct, inspire and recruit for future attacks,” the US military said in a Monday press release.

Glen Ford, the executive editor of Black Agenda Report, joined Radio Sputnik’s Loud & Clear Monday to discuss the recent military operation in Somalia.”

“You should conclude that the United States’ systems of warfare are intact in Somalia. I think, and some people suspect, that the slackening of the pace of the US military effort against al-Shabaab had to do with the weakness of the Somali government itself,” Ford told hosts John Kiriakou and Brian Becker.

AFRICOM was designed to have a very low profile. It’s a different kind of US basing strategy. What they didn’t want was to stir up latent African nationalism… So, AFRICOM claims to only have one permanent base, that being a facility in Djibouti, a French colony where the French stayed militarily. Everybody and their mama has a base in Djibouti,” Ford noted.

“Elsewhere in Africa, the US AFRICOM forces live on the military bases off the coasts [of] African countries. That way the United States can claim it doesn’t have any military bases in Africa except for the one in Djibouti. The actual reality is that the US, through its AFRICOM connections to every single country in Africa, with the exception of Eritrea and Zimbabwe, exerts a huge influence on all the militaries of Africa. The US, through AFRICOM, exerts a huge influence on every African country, and this is in stark contrast to… the lack of economic development in Africa,” Ford added.

However, according to Ford, “AFRICOM can’t explain what they are doing there [in Africa].”

Some of these wars are not being fought, they are being instigated. That is, the US special forces are sent in in order to create situations of warfare where none exist, and all of this is very difficult to explain to congressional committees that are supposed to then inform the rest of Congress, which then appropriates money to fund these wars,” he added.”

Well, of course he’s absolutely correct.  Africom’s initial mission was close to: ‘Quell chaos in failed nations under seige by (alphabet soup) Islamist extremists’ or some rubbish like that.  So if ya can astroturf some wars by way of those ‘groups’ by CIA/NED, mercenaries, AfriBomb is happy to ‘help’; we’ve watched this movie for years.

Now I hadn’t known what Ford says about bases off the cast of Africa, but there used to be a great youtube up on the USMC’s Seabasing’, noting that ‘the host nation didn’t even have to give their permission for our involvement, and we’d unload our pontoon rafts to travel the rivers…wherever we need’.  “Who else would head toward chaos; would you?”

But here’s United States Army Africa (SETAF) – 2009 Command Video and Mission Overview – AFRICOM

“…a team like no other”.

But at the crux of it all, imo. is that AFRICOM sho’ don’t like it that the Chinese created a military base in Djibouti, a few miles away from US Camp Lemonier.  Franca and Japan also have bases in Djibouti.

“More than 4,000 US personnel are at Lemonnier, the US’s largest permanent base on the continent, and it has long hosted sensitive US drone and air operations. The US also has run drone operations out of East Africa, and China has 2,400 peacekeepers on the continent.

Lemonnier, and Djibouti, are strategically located in the Horn of Africa. They sit on the Bab el-Mandeb Strait, a gateway to Egypt’s Suez Canal, which is one of the world’s busiest shipping corridors.”

And from the estimable crossedcrocodiles, April 22, ‘Origins of AFRICOM’ tagged Bush administration, Cheney report, colonialism, Heritage Foundation, neocolonialism, Nigeria, oil, PNAC…as hints.

XCroc had also provided in 2012: ‘From Failed Index To Aid At Gunpoint’

“Two items came out this past week that are intimately related, although probably not intentionally linked. Foreign Policy and The Fund For Peace released their annual Index of Failed States. Africa Ia A Country calls them out, it is a failed index.

We at Africa Is a Country think Foreign Policy and the Fund for Peace should either radically rethink the Failed States Index, which they publish in collaboration each year, or abandon it altogether. We just can’t take it seriously: It’s a failed index.

“The US Africa Command puts heavy emphasis on fighting terrorism. But a terrorist may be anyone acting against US perception of its self interest, frequently those called terrorists are just political opposition. You can see this at work in the Index of Failed States.”

It’s called the Fragile State Index by now, bless their hearts: quite a map, no? Ready for Prime Time Pluckin’.
And right on cue:

(cross-posted from Café Babylon)

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mimi's picture

this compilation. I won't express my thoughts on what you revealed through all the links, because it wouldn't be so polite and nice and JtC might throw me out, if I did. I really adore the work of Ajamu Baraka.

Thank you.

PS: Do you know from which newspaper and when this piece of 'Dreck' was written? (I mean the image of the newspaper clip)

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wendy davis's picture


ajamu baraka, too, ma soeur; glen ford, too. but no, dunno the paper, but i did find videos featuring it, and said it had to do with blaming nigerians for aids, whisky tango foxtrot?

hope you skipped the bits you didn't want, though. some sinophiles will want to read the analyses of chinese investments, etc.

on edit: but f*ck (should i have typed?) the IMF and world bank, not to mention: EVIL AFRIBOMB!

a medal from mimi for a tome? woooot! ; )

bruce cockburn's ode to the IMF:

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travelerxxx's picture

Lots to digest here, WD. I knew that the United States was doing its usual blood-soaked spreading of democracy throughout the nations of the African continent, but if John Bolton is involved, it's far more evil than normal.

I don't know that the embedded headline pic "'Africans Are Lazy, Good At Sex, Theft'" is valid. From what I remember about that, it was a bogus story. (Okay, just checked; a bunch of places say it's bogus ... that Trump never was anywhere near Indianapolis when the speech was supposed to have occurred. YMMV)

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wendy davis's picture


keep me honest, buster keaton. if you click through to baraka's piece, you'll see that it's the graphic he'd used, so...i used it. i'd have thought that he'd reckoned it was valid, but then again, who can say?

yeppers, lots to digest, but i do agree that w/ bolton pimping all this, africom's 'endeavors' are likely to get even worse. same thing for bolton and iran, too. it's hard to be philosophical as to new wars, isn't it? beijing's rhetoric over the south china sea is becoming angrier, as well.

it's 3 below here this mornin'; brrr-d-brrrr.

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wendy davis's picture

the link includes:

"In coordination with the Libyan Government of National Accord, AFRICOM conducted precision airstrikes against al-Qa'ida in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) and ISIS terrorists. AFRICOM is committed to maintaining pressure on the terror network and preventing terrorists from establishing safe haven. United States’ goal in Libya remains a stable, unified Libya able to stand on its own, counter terrorism, partner with the international community, and deliver security and prosperity for all Libyans

Way Forward

As 2018 ends, 2019 is already shaping up to be another milestone year. Events, exercises, conferences, and engagements are already in the planning stages including the 2019 Africa Land Forces Summit which will be held in Botswana. These activities, guided by the National Defense Strategy and White House Africa strategy will help build the capability of our African partners, continue to develop partnerships and help establish security, stability and prosperity in Africa."

let's never kid ourselves that NATO and AFRICOM aren't Made in Amerika™.

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providing all of this information.

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wendy davis's picture


it's a huge mouthful, i know. but given all that's afoot with: china and russia as 'the great competitors (2018 national defense posture), the west's (including obomba) plus the IMF and world bank's great plunder, the new fragile state map, ay yi yi did you look at it?), and the war by other means against every socialist/former communist nations (the west's and nato nations are fine, fine), how can we not agree with the black alliance for peace? Shut Down Africom!

some reading i've been doing this morning on eco-socialism, etc. caused me to think about the eugenics promoters 'for africa' again, and how it's one of a piece. ah well, i talk too much, dfarrah. ; )

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wendy davis's picture

Remember 'China, China, China': acting U.S. defense chief’,, Jan. 2, 2018

“WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Acting U.S. Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan told civilian leaders of the U.S. military on Wednesday to focus on “China, China, China,” even as America fights militants in Syria and Afghanistan, a U.S. defense official said.

The comments came during Shanahan’s first meeting with secretaries of the U.S. military branches since taking over for Jim Mattis, who left office on Monday after resigning as defense secretary over policy differences with President Donald Trump.
The U.S. official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, did not elaborate on Shanahan’s views on China or what other guidance he gave during the meeting.

Other officials have described Shanahan as an advocate of the Pentagon's toughening stance toward Beijing. The 2018 National Defense Strategy here. branded China as a strategic competitor.

The Pentagon has said he played a critical role in developing the strategy, which singled out China and Russia as top threats, saying they wanted to “shape a world consistent with their authoritarian model.”
The document said: “Long-term strategic competitions with China and Russia are the principal priorities for the Department, and require both increased and sustained investment.”
The defense official said Shanahan told Pentagon leadership to follow the document’s guidance, particularly regarding China.

Relations between the world’s two largest economies have plumbed new depths under Trump, with a trade war and disagreements over Taiwan and the South China Sea.” [snip]

Earlier on Wednesday, Chinese President Xi Jingping warned that China reserves the right to use force to bring Taiwan under its control but will strive to achieve peaceful “reunification.”

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