Obama, Zuma and the Washington-Pretoria-Tel Aviv Relay

Published on ZNet (also on counterpunch, and on Pretoria News), by Patrick Bond, Aug 15, 2014.

What, ultimately, was the importance of the Africa-US leadership summit at the White House last week? It came at a very decisive moment for geopolitical relations in the axis linking Washington, Pretoria and Tel Aviv. And surprising US-China economic connections were also revealed, potentially reaching deep into Africa. Mega-corporations of both US and African parentage revelled in the attention and repeated blasts of public subsidies, with deals alleged to have reached $37 billion over the three days.    

We may never know the backroom Faustian Pacts done by African elites with these firms, but what public signals were sent? How dangerous is it that President Jacob Zuma is welcoming US military and corporate institutions back to Africa with open arms, as the continent’s aspirant gatekeeper?

The Palestine test: … //

… US corporate seduction: … //

… China’s challenge:

The competitive relationship with China is especially interesting because the US State Department’s top official for Africa from 2009 through last year, Assistant Secretary (A/S) of State Johnny Carson, very openly described – to leading Nigerian businesspeople in a February 2010 friendly chat whose details Chelsea Manning liberated for WikiLeaks via a US State Department cable – China as a “a very aggressive and pernicious economic competitor with no morals.” He continued, “The Chinese are dealing with the Mugabe’s and Bashir’s of the world, which is a contrarian political model.”

Unlike the Chinese leaders, Obama has very strong morals. He does not deal with the likes of Mugabe or Bashir, who were banned from last week’s meeting at the White House. (Instead, Obama is dealing with African democrats who abhor corruption and would never practice brutality against their citizenry, good men such as Uhuru Kenyatta, Paul Biya, Blaise Compaore, Paul Kagame, Yoweri Museveni, Teodoro Obiang, José Eduardo dos Santos, Idriss Deby, Joseph Kabila, Jacob Zuma, Goodluck Jonathan, Yahya Jammeh and Hailemariam Desalegn – whose praises are also sung by Alemayehu Mariam – and others in the same league such as King Mswati and Alpha Conde.)

Tellingly, former Rwandan Ambassador to the US Theogene Rudasingwa wrote a pleading letter to the Obama administration, asking Secretary of State John Kerry to “reign in your national security team. The hawks among them will insist that there is a red threat (China) looming over Africa, which must be contained or neutralised. Furthermore, these hawks argue, it is US security and economic interests that should take precedence over anything else, even if this means baby-sitting some of Africa’s most dangerous big men.”

But the red threat is being neutralised, if Obama succeeds in winning more African tyrants’ hearts and minds. The Economist interviewer asked, “You see countries like China creating a BRICS bank, for instance – institutions that seem to be parallel with the system, rather – and potentially putting pressure on the system rather than adding to it and strengthening it. That is the key issue, whether China ends up inside that system or challenging it. That’s the really big issue of our times, I think.” Obama replied, “It is. And I think it’s important for the United States and Europe to continue to welcome China as a full partner in these international norms.”

As if on cue, the Wall Street Journal reported a “proposal by Beijing to work together [with Washington] on large infrastructure projects such as the Inga-3 hydroelectric dam in the DRC… For the US, a partnership with China on such projects could sustain long-term the central role of the World Bank and IMF.”

Added the Financial Times, “US officials say that a partnership with China on Inga-3 or another dam would be an important breakthrough in collaboration at a time when military rivalry between the two countries in Asia is growing.” The main project under discussion, a dam on the Congo River three times larger than China’s Three Gorges, would send the vast majority of its electricity into mining and smelting. South Africa knows the terrible denouement caused by a Minerals-Energy Complex taking over state power, personified in this week’s testimony by Cyril Ramaphosa about why he, a 9 percent owner in Lonmin, called in police to conduct operations against his “dastardly criminal” platinum mineworkers, who were striking at Marikana two years ago.

The Chinese elites are still not short of cash, and to illustrate the symbiotic relationship, Beijing purchased $107 billion of US government bonds in the first five months of 2014. According to the Wall St Journallast month, this was “the fastest pace since records began more than three decades ago.” The Chinese, in return, now apparently want US cooperation to lower risk and intensify the exploitative process in Africa, even at the risk of assisting a competitor to get its boot back down hard on local throats.

The potential for US military activity in Africa remains great, given Washington’s need to prop up friendly dictators against all manner of local resistances – not only religious extremists, but also social activists whose rate of protest has, in 2011-13, been growing even faster than the 2010-11 North African uprising period, according to the African Development Bank’s latest count.

But in contrast to frightening recent reports from the brilliant US journalist Nick Turse about the Pentagon’s “war fighting combatant command” in dozens of African countries, there is still a rather blunt division of labour at work between Washington and its deputy sheriff in Pretoria. Strategists from the Africa Command have already explained why they are doing so much training of African militaries, including SA National Defence Force soldiers: “We don’t want to see our guys going in and getting whacked.”

It is here that Zuma offered the most disturbing words last week, a veritable sub-imperialist manifesto: “There had been a good relationship already between Africa and the US but this summit has reshaped it and has taken it to another level… We secured a buy-in from the US for Africa’s peace and security initiatives… As President Obama said, the boots must be African.”

(full long text, inkl many hyper-links).

(Patrick Bond directs the University of KwaZulu-Natal Centre for Civil Society in Durban,
Patrick Bond on the Transnational Institute TNI.).

Mixed Links :

Ghazavatu’l-Hind: A matter of Faith, on Geopolitical Analysis, by K.N. Pandita, Aug 16, 2014;

17 Ukrainian soldiers cross into Russia, lay down arms – FSB, on Russia Today RT, Aug 16, 2014;

Manipulate and Disseminate – Massaging the Narrative: How liberal media shape reality to fit a preferred narrative, on Dissident Voice, by Jason Hirthler, August 15, 2014 (other articles by Jason on Dissident Voice);

Rassemblement de soutien aux chrétiens et Yazidis d’Irak, dans Humanitarian Texts, par UN Watch, le 16 août 2014;

Russians see sanctions as tool to weaken nation, but feel no effect, on Russia Today RT, Aug 15, 2014;

How ISIS Finally Became Obama’s Enemy, on Worker’s Watch, by Shamus Cooke, Aug 9, 2014;

India: Policy pitfalls and way out, on Geopolitical Analysis, by K.N. Pandita, Aug 8, 2014;

US-Africa Summit: US firms to invest $14bn in Africa, on PealOil, by dolanbaker, Aug 5, 2014;

Healthcare in Canada and the U.S. In an Age of Permanent Austerity, on Worker’s Watch (first on The Bullet), An interview with Robert Chernomas by Robin Chang, July 26, 2014;

The European Debt Crisis Visualized, 12.33 min, uploaded by Bloomberg News, Feb 11, 2014;

Oil, Politics and the Road to Damascus, the Banality of Empire, on Counterpunch, by JASON HIRTHLER, Aug 30, 2013;

Bernd Senf: Vortrag bei”Der Währungscountdown, 100.10 min, (am 23. Juni 2013 in Berlin), von Wissensmanufaktur am 6. August 2013 hochgeladen: … website;

Volker Pispers: Gedanken zum Wanken von kranken Banken …, 1.57 min, von Herz am 20. Mai 2013 hochgeladen;

Zur mehr gerechten Welt – mit nur echtem Geld, 125.09 min, von Herz am 3. Februar 2013 hochgeladen … und weitere 19 Videos in autoplay;

Andreas Popp 2008: Mannheimer Vermögen-Sicherungs Tage, 99.25 min, von Leo Neuner, am 16. November 2012 hochgeladen

… and this:

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