Africa Bails Out the Eurozone
(This is the first of two blogs contrasting US and Chinese foreign policy in Angola and other oil-rich African countries.)
Forget China and India. The World Economic Forum predicts that six of the ten most rapidly growing economies in 2012 will be on the African continent. Both Ghana and Nigeria have exceeded China as the fastest growing economies in the world. Based on GDP growth for the first quarter of 2012, the Ghanaian economy will grow by 16% this year. The Nigerian GDP, which dropped to 3.4% in 2010-2011 is expected to hit 10% in 2012. Nigeria’s dip in economic growth related in part to the global financial crisis and in part to investor jitters over the militant environmental movement in Ogoniland, where most Nigerian crude is produced. Shell’s shameless production practices have led to massive coastline degradation, air pollution and health problems. The Ogoni people, who receive no employment or other economic benefits from Shell’s exploitation of their most valuable resource, are understandably angry. There is the additional and related problem of massive “bunkering” (illegal diversion of oil from the Shell pipeline), with total loss amounting to 7% of Nigeria’s total oil production.
While GDP growth in Angola isn’t expected to reach the top ten (they are only expected to grow by 10%), the country has become an even bigger magnet for foreign investment than Ghana or Nigeria. Moreover, like Nigerian president Jonathan Goodluck, their president Eduardo dos Santos has committed to help bail out the floundering Eurozone (the latter by helping their former colonial master Portugal).
The two main features all three countries share is a flourishing oil export industry and generous low interest Chinese loans. The latter has allowed them to develop their respective oil industries while simultaneously escaping the treacherous clutches of the IMF, World Bank and western investment banks.
US vs Chinese Foreign Policy in Africa
Here once again we see the stark contrast between US and Chinese foreign policy. Ever since African colonies began to win independence, the US has opted for covert and overt military intervention to destroy African infrastructure, thereby suppressing nationalistic struggles that might threaten the economic interests of US oil companies and their stockholders. China, in contrast, has embarked on a long term investment/development strategy that offers immediate economic and infrastructure support for countries devastated by years of western economic exploitation and civil war – and significant long term investment returns for the Chinese economy. In hindsight, US taxpayers would clearly have benefited more if the Reagan, Bush I and II, Clinton and Obama administrations had opted for a Chinese-style development/investment strategy in Africa. It’s a great pity we were never given a choice or even told the truth about Africom and the US military agenda in Africa.
The US media would have us believe that Africa is still a famine stricken backwater of warring tribes incapable of getting along with one another. This is extremely ironic, given that most of the civil wars that have plagued the continent – and the resulting famines – were the direct result of CIA destabilization campaigns, often involving mercenaries funded and trained by the CIA and/or our NATO allies.
Angola’s 27 Year CIA-Sponsored Civil War
Recently there has been special focus on Angola, as April 4th was the ten year anniversary of the country’s 27 year civil war. Angola already had a well-established oil export industry when they first gained independence in 1975. Their big mistake was installing a nationalist government determined to use their oil wealth to improve the lives of ordinary Angolans. The same scenario, of Big Oil against freedom and self-determination, played out here as in the Middle East. The main US foreign policy objective there was to suppress Arab nationalism. With the support and encouragement of the US, South Africa’s apartheid regime invaded Angola to overthrow the new government, run by the MPLA (Popular Movement for the Liberation of Angola). When Cuba sent fighters to support the government, the CIA intervened by funding and training Unita (National Union for the Total Independence of Angola), a rival group led by Jonas Savimba. This, in turn, led to Soviet intervention on the side of the Angolan government.
After 16 years of fighting, which killed up to 300,000 people, a peace deal led to elections. But Unita rejected the outcome and resumed the war, killing an additional hundreds of thousands of Angolans. Another peace accord, backed by UN peacekeepers, was signed in 1994 and the UN. As the fighting steadily worsened, the peacekeepers withdrew in 1999. Subsequent concerns about a link between the civil war and the unregulated “blood diamond” trade led the UN to freeze bank accounts used in the gem trade.
The death of Unita leader Jonas Savimbi in a gunfight with government forces in February 2002 led the rebels to sign a ceasefire in April which ended the conflict.
To be continued.