(For Anyone Else But Me)
Editor's Note: Some comments in this editorial have been excerpted from:
(1) A paper written by Isaac Odoom, who is a graduate student at the University of Alberta in Canada.
(2) An article in the China Daily by Li Liang (2011-06-18), titled "US playing a different game in Africa".
"We saw that during colonial times, it is easy to come in, take out natural resources, pay off leaders and leave," Clinton said Saturday before flying to deliver the same speech in Tanzania. "And when you leave, you don't leave much behind for the people who are there. We don't want to see a new colonialism in Africa."|
"We want them to do well, but also we want them to do good," she said, "and to do so within the context of a positive ethic of corporate responsibility".
The first official US presence in Africa since 1976 is occasioned by what we might call "Imperial Remorse" at having largely missed the last looting of Africa begun by the Europeans. Hillary is concerned that the US has once again missed the boat (the pirate ship, actually), and that China has too much of a head start.
Such warnings would be more credible to Africans if the US got its own record straight. Mrs. Clinton, the Obama Regime's Minister of Meddling, had no apparent recollection of the past 100 years of her country's brutal economic and military colonisation of virtually all of Central and South America, most of Asia and parts of Africa as well.
African sceptics will undoubtedly see Clinton's remarks as hypocritical; as a western policy maker she lacks the moral right to make such comments about other external actors, considering US and European foreign practices and policy priorities in Africa over the years.
Pay off the leaders, finance the military, provide weapons to keep the workers down, take out the natural resources, and leave behind an impoverished population and a bitter political mess.|
If history is meant to teach us anything, the Black Africans today in Africa should never allow the dark ages in their history, ever to be repeated in their lands!
South and Central America today are finally showing some signs of growth and prosperity only because they have managed to shake off the yoke of US commercial and military imperialism (and colonialism), and are finally following their own path. As are parts of Africa (save Libya) for the same reasons, with respect to their former European colonisers.
For sure, Libya would be on the minds of all Africans, and with a clear view of Western ambitions there. If we accept Hillary's point of view, it would seem that air strikes do a better job than aid for economic progress to ensure "good governance" of these countries.
It is not a secret that, particularly in Central and South America, US imperialism has produced enormous profits and economic growth for the US while keeping those countries impoverished for more than 100 years.
In fact, one can argue strongly that a major cause of US economic supremacy today, is precisely its active military and political colonisation of so much of the world - the actual plundering of so many countries, guaranteed by the installation of so many brutal military dictatorships - and all under the propaganda guise of "pursuing democracy and freedom in the world."
But for Mrs. Clinton to have made such public claims, apparently without shame, is almost unbelievable. There surely cannot be many African leaders so naive or blind to accept Mrs. Clinton's motherly warnings as anything other than hypocrisy of the highest order.|
Mrs. Clinton was back to her China-bashing game during these visits to Zambia, Tanzania and Ethiopia. She alleged that China's cooperation with Africa does not measure up to international standards, and warning African countries to guard against "neocolonialism".
She further asserted that China's approach to governance and economic development was not a model that African nations should follow.
Her criticism doesn't hold water, because in her dictionary, international standards are nothing but Western standards, almost all of which come with political conditions.
African countries qualify for Western aid only if they meet the requirements set by the United States and other Western powers, which is US-style "democracy" and "good governance". Or, failing that, a US-installed dictator who will ensure that payoffs permit widespread looting of resources.
The conditional assistance that the West, including the US, offers is actually interference in the domestic affairs of African countries in the guise of humanitarian aid. The West has been doing this for many decades, which instead of helping African countries develop economically has forced them into a debt trap and sounded the death knell of many an industry in which they were adept.
China has made remarkable progress on the economic and social fronts. It has devised its own path of development and diplomacy, a model that does not force any country, including those in Africa, into submission. And it does not believe in advising, let alone pressuring, another country to follow its path.|
It's a different matter altogether that some African countries have begun "looking East" to learn from China's experience. But that is not the same as following the "China model".
To some extent, the faith some African countries seem to have in China's style of development is built upon the failure of Western remedies. China's experience has shown and China strongly believes that every country has the right to choose a model that suits their national conditions the best.
Clinton's remarks during her visit to some African countries reflect the narrow-minded view and paranoia that some Western politicians and experts have developed against China and Sino-African relations. It's high time such people updated their sense and knowledge of reality and changed their antediluvian views. Given today's fast changing world, they should reconsider their hegemonic philosophy as well.
Back in 2007, a BBC news report said many Chinese firms employed large numbers of local workers and that these had learned many valuable skills.|
Another study conducted by foreign aid expert Deborah Brautigam found that China "has kept an active menu of aid projects in more than 45 African countries" and that China's "annual aid commitments in Africa sometimes surpassed those of Japan, Norway, Sweden, and even Britain."
Her study also provided examples of China building roads, railways, schools and low-cost housing for African countries with money directly tied to these infrastructure projects, whereas certain loans by Western banks were utterly opaque.
Some Western criticisms suggest that China should help push for democratic reform in Africa, but China has already been doing this by first ensuring the fundamental human rights - to improve African economies and living standards.
While Clinton lectures Africans on democracy, China holds the belief that Africans can manage their own future without the involvement of foreign powers. China's entrepreneurs will continue to do business in Africa, and do so in a manner of mutual respect.
One is tempted to ask: Why is the US so concerned about the role of China in Africa? Is China the only 'bad guy' in town? Aren't some Western actors complicit of the same activities in Africa? (Deborah Brautigam addresses these questions in her book, 'The Dragon's Gift: The Real Story of China in Africa'.)
There may be things to criticise in China's practices in Africa, and room for improvement as Chinese leaders take uncertain and inconsistent steps toward being a responsible partner with Africans.
But Clinton's remarks need to be placed within the broader context of the evolving narrative/discourse on China's rise on the global stage, in particular its increasing engagement with African countries, in the past decade.
One therefore is tempted to wonder, if the concern expressed is actually not more about Western interests than about the welfare of the African people, given that what we witness today is anything but new with regard to its forms and effects' (Henning Melber, 2007 p.6).|
This is not to suggest that one cannot criticise certain practices and strategies of the Chinese in Africa simply because the remarks come from a Western actor.
But it does suggest that the legitimacy of the critique itself may well depend on the underlying interests of those criticising. It is not realistic to assume that Chinese foreign policy and development aid is interest-driven whereas in general the critique of these practices is not.
The self-legitimisation of such discourse through the 'we care about Africans' rhetoric cannot be a credible motive for opposition to Chinese practices in Africa. The historical experience, that humanitarian concerns are highlighted by the West when it is strategically most opportune, serves only to undermine the credibility of many official voices now articulating their concerns about the possible impact of 'new' actors in Africa, particularly China.
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