Will President Biden’s Sanctions on Ethiopia Cause Suffering for Hundreds of Millions of Africans
Lawrence Freeman, September 30, 2021
President Biden is pursuing a destructive and dangerous course of action for the African continent with his policy of undermining the Ethiopian government of Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed. The fact that he may have no comprehension of the consequences of his action is no excuse when you are the President of the United States. President Obama’s administration, which Biden served as Vice President, will be forever marred by the unwarranted and unnecessary overthrow of President Qaddafi a decade ago. Obama’s reckless regime change in Libya has brought hell upon the nations of the Sahel, which will continue to cause unspeakable hardships to Africans for generations. If President Biden is to avoid repeating the failure of the previous Democratic administration and avoid being indicted for unleashing a new nightmare of death and devastation across Africa, he must reverse course, and support the sovereignty of Ethiopia. This will require rejecting the counsel of those in his administration, who are fanatical followers of the wicked geo-political doctrine, especially war-hawk Samantha Power.
Biden’s Defective Executive Order
On September 17, 2021, President Biden issued an executive order authorizing the Departments of Treasury and State to impose additional sanctions on Ethiopia. In his executive order, President Biden falsely claims that the conflict in northern Ethiopia “constitutes an unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security and foreign policy of the United States.” Similar fraudulent formulations were used over the last twenty years as a pretext by the U.S., to justify regime change in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, and Syria. Have we not learned anything from a generation of foreign policy fiascos that led to the deaths of hundreds of thousands of our fellow human beings and the suffering of tens of millions? Not a single stable nation has emerged from this armed belligerent adventurism of the last two decades.
Contrary to President Biden’s executive order, the real interests of America do not lie in the current U.S. policy of weakening Prime Minister Abiy’s democratically elected government and giving tacit support to the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF). If a rebel group attacked, raided, and killed soldiers at the U.S. Marine Corps Base at Camp Lejeune, in North Carolina, would there be any question regarding the appropriate response by the U.S. government.
Ignorance by U.S. politicians of the historically complex cloth that holds Ethiopian society and culture together is no excuse for the current mindless and perilous policy of sanctions.
In fact, the true interests of the U.S. are entrenched in its republican principles. The U.S. should be supporting nation-states abroad that are committed to improving the conditions of life of their citizens, as enshrined in the preamble to the U.S. Constitution:
“We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.” (Emphasis added)
Ethiopia, an emerging nation, is unique in Africa with its bold visionary policies for economic development to raise the standard of living for its more than 118 million people. The shameful and blatant failure by both the Biden and Trump presidencies to celebrate and endorse the progress of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD)—a dam for development, indicates how far America has drifted from our republican principles. The generation of 6,200 megawatts of electricity to power the Ethiopian and neighboring economies of East Africa is precisely the development strategy that is required and should be emulated by other African nations.
The Perils of Weakening the Nation-State
Thus far, the sovereign nation-state is the most efficacious form of government created by humankind to apply the laws of the universe to society over successive future generations.
With the ongoing horrors of what has been done to the Sahel and North Africa, through the reckless regime change of Libya, in our minds, let us look anew at the impending dangers to Ethiopia and Africa today. And lets us be mindful that same cast of advisors that drove the policy to create the current failed state of Libya are presently holding leading positions in the Biden administration.
Only fools, knaves, and madmen would dare intervene into a legitimate nation-state.
Horn of Africa Endangered
If the U.S. and the West succeed in forcing Ethiopia to negotiate with the TPLF as equivalents, or try to force some type of coalition government, the consequences could be catastrophic for Africa. Ethiopia would then be held hostage to the demands of other rebel ethnic insurgents, and separatist gangs that want to see its demise. This would in effect lead to the dismemberment of the Ethiopian nation-state. Given Ethiopia’s rigid ethnic divisions, internal war would emerge with ethnic regions fighting each other, leading to tens of millions of Ethiopians migrating to seek safer refuge. There is no way this mass movement of people catalyzed by the collapse of the Ethiopian nation-state would not affect the stability of the region. The total population of Ethiopia and its bordering nations combined is 255 million Africans: Ethiopia-118.5 million, Kenya-55 million, Somalia-16 million, Sudan-45 million, South Sudan-11 million, Eritrea-3.6 million, Somaliland-5.7 million, Djibouti-1 million. Two orders of magnitude greater than the population of Tigray, which could be engulfed in war, chaos, and acute hunger, if the government of Prime Minister Abiy were to collapse. This level of volatility from mass migration would lead an increase in the spread of disease and violent extremism.
Thus, contrary to his stated aim, President Biden’s sanctions regime would in fact endanger the security of the U.S. by creating the potential for massive instability in the Horn of Africa where almost 20% of the continent’s inhabitants reside.
Is this what President Biden wishes to be his legacy in Africa? From the classical Greek dramatists we learn, “Whom the gods would destroy they first make mad.” Let this ancient warning penetrate the foolishness of those formulating U.S. policy today. When evil appears as good, in the mind of our leaders, civilization is threatened.
Lawrence Freeman is a Political-Economic Analyst for Africa, who has been involved in economic development policies for Africa for over 30 years. He is the creator of the blog: lawrencefreemanafricaandtheworld.com. Mr. Freeman’s stated personal mission is; to eliminate poverty and hunger in Africa by applying the scientific economic principles of Alexander Hamilton.
Biden Administration Must Break from Past Practices, to Collaborate with China in Fostering Economic Development in Africa
Read below my complete article entitled:
Biden Administration Must Break from Past Practices to Collaborate with China in Fostering Economic Development in Africa
December 16, 2020
For the incoming Biden/Harris administration to make a real difference and have positive impact on the lives of hundreds of millions of African still living in poverty, they should work in partnership with China. This would require rejecting and reversing the anti-China mindset of the Trump and Obama administrations, echoed by the current chorus of voices spewing from officials of both the Democratic and Republican parties. A repeat of the defective policies of the last twelve years coupled by the shrill geo-political motivated propaganda against the nation of China, will not only do little for Africa, but it will also harm the United States, and endanger strategic relations. It should be obvious to qualified leaders, as it is to me, that the horrific conditions of life for a majority of Africans, reflects the scope of the continent’s deficit in vital infrastructure. Over 600 million are without access to electricity, over 400 million Africans live in poverty, and several nations are currently threatened with famine. If the two economic power houses, China, and the United States, worked in partnership with African nations, this impoverishment could be eliminated.
Failures of Trump and Obama
Presidents Trump and Obama similarly failed to understand the necessary requirements to create real-physical economic growth to improve the conditions of life, for America or Africans. Neither comprehend the principles of the American System of economics that built the foundation of the industrialized U.S. Their conception of economics remains dominated by a belief that the wealth of a nation is measured by Wall Street’s monetary values.
US President Donald Trump (L) and China’s President Xi Jinping speak during a joint statement in Beijing on November 9, 2017. (NICOLAS ASFOURI/AFP via Getty Images)
Trump began his presidency establishing an amiable relationship with Chinese President, Xi Jinping. Unfortunately, that quickly deteriorated as Trump propitiated the anti-China prejudices of his supporters. Although President Trump’s road to the White House was achieved by his status as an outsider to the Washington establishment, it was evident by the second year of his administration that he had acquiesced to the same geo-political world view of his predecessors. Geo-political doctrine speciously asserts that nations are either winners or losers in a zero sum game with the world as a chessboard. That the only interest of a superpower is achieving hegemony, rejecting any conception of a shared common interest among nations. His choice of neocons, Mike Pompeo for Secretary of State, and John Bolton as National Security Advisor in April 2018, left no doubt the direction of President Trump’s foreign policy.
On December 18, 2018, speaking at the Heritage Foundation in Washington DC, Bolton unveiled President Trump’s so called Africa Strategy. In his presentation Bolton defined the goal of U.S. policy in Africa, to wit: stopping China’s advances on the continent. In less than an hour, he attacked China and its Belt and Road seventeen times. President Trump did not disavow Bolton’s assault on China, nor his demeaning treatment of Africa as a game board for geo-politics. Read President Trump’s Non-African Strategy: Published in AU’s “Invest in Africa” magazine
Prior to President Obama’s anti-China Asian Pivot in January 2012, his administration launched the most destructive military operation against an African nation by any U.S. President. In October 2011, President Obama, advised by UN Envoy Samantha Powers, Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs, Susan Rice and Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, toppled the government of Libya. This irresponsible military adventure resulted: in the death of Libyan President, Muammar Gaddafi; the destruction of the nation of Libya, turning it into a failed state for the last nine years; and unleashing hordes of violent extremists across the Sahel into Mali, Burkina Faso, Niger, and Nigeria, causing tens of thousands of deaths and displacing millions of Africans.
China Delivers Infrastructure
Contrary to U.S. squealing and whining about China’s influence in Africa, Deborah Brautigam of the DC based China Africa Research Initiative, precisely presents the paradox: “China still addresses Africa’s hunger for structural transformation in a way the West does not.” (1) China has increasingly been engaged with African nations over the last two decades to build vitally needed infrastructure in rail, energy, ports, airports, roads, etc., and the U.S (West) has not.
Courtesy CSIS China Power Project
Take rail for example. Examine China’s commitment to building railroad tracks in Africa, as reported by the Washington think tank, Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS). (2)
“Between 2008 and 2019, China built an average of 5,464 kilometers (km) of railway track per year. Roughly half of the new track added was high-speed rail. At 35,388 km, China’s high-speed rail network is the largest in the world.” China has built an additional 100,000 km of non-high speed rail track.
According to the CSIS report,
“Chinese companies signed $61.6 billion worth of rail construction contracts from 2013 to 2019 – more than double the value of the previous seven-year period (2006-2012) coinciding with the launch of China’s Belt and Road Initiative in 2013.”
“Africa received the second-highest amount of [China’s] rail contracts from 2013-2019. At $20.8 billion, this accounted for 33.8 percent of the total… About $7.5 billion worth of rail-related construction contracts (36.1 percent of the amount in Africa) were signed with Nigeria, where China is constructing a series of lines that comprise the 1,300 km-long Lagos-Kano Railway Modernization Project. This massive undertaking has made Nigeria the world’s top recipient of Chinese rail construction contracts during the 2013-2019 period.”
China’s construction of Kenya’s Standard Gauge Railway and the Addis Ababa to Djibouti railroad are exemplary of crucial infrastructure projects for Africa.
Michelle Gavin in her December 3 post, The United States and Europe Should Work Together to Promote a Prosperous Africa, expresses the dilemma for U.S.-Africa policy:
“There is no doubt that U.S. influence—and therefore U.S. capacity to achieve various foreign policy goals—suffers when China’s investments in the tangible, visible infrastructure of African prosperity appear (sic) to dwarf U.S. development efforts.” (emphasis added)
Speaking in China on December 8, Rahamtalla Osman, the Permanent Representative for the African Union in China, said, “The goals of the BRI coincide with the AfCFTA,” referring to the African Continental Free Trade Area.
The “Same Old” Will Not Do
As the inauguration of the new U.S. president nears, many words are written extolling how a Biden administration will bring a return to “normalcy, global alliances, international diplomacy.” We should think for a minute. Do we want to return to war, regime change, sanctions, and drone assassinations as the core of U.S. foreign policy? Early indications are that under a President Biden, the U.S. will pursue with our allies, a more belligerent policy with China. How will this realignment shift the world to a higher platform of development? How will it stimulate economic growth in Africa?
The Biden-Harris agenda for Africa is vague with no specifics to address Africa’s urgent needs. Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield, who is President Elect Biden’s nominee to be envoy to the United Nations, has a deep background in Africa and is respected by many African leaders. Having played a prominent role in the Biden transition team, she may be an individual who can put a focus on Africa in the new administration. However, it is unclear what those policies will be.
The last U.S. president to fully engage in Africa’s development was John F Kennedy, who established a personal relationship with Ghanaian President, Kwame Nkrumah, and gave crucial backing for the construction of the Akosombo Volta Dam complex.
For the incoming administration to genuinely support Africa, the new president should audaciously break from past boundaries of previous thinking and join with China in launching a great mission for mankind: the elimination of poverty in Africa within the next generation through massive infrastructure expansion. That is my mission.
(1) African countries will remain best friends with China, https://www.economist.com/the-world-ahead/2020/11/17/african-countries-will-remain-best-friends-with-china
(2) How Are Foreign Rail Construction Projects Advancing China’s Interests? https://chinapower.csis.org/rail-construction/
Lawrence Freeman is a Political-Economic Analyst for Africa, who has been involved in economic development policies for Africa for over 30 years. He is the creator of the blog: lawrencefreemanafricaandtheworld.com
August 28, 2020
The author, W Gyude Moore, a senior policy fellow at the Center for Global Development, and a former minister of public works in Liberia, makes some insightful observations about the difference between the US and China in their economic strategy for Africa. China’s investment in infrastructure in Africa is unsurpassed and would not be replaced by the West, if China withdrew from Africa.
“It is, thus, frustrating that in its complicated, enmeshed, centuries-long history in Africa, there has never been a Western proposal for continental-scale infrastructure building. Outside Cecil John Rhodes’s racist “civilising” project of connecting Cape to Cairo from the 1870s, there has never been any programme, backed by financial resources, to build Africa’s rail, roads, ports, water-filtration plants, or power stations. It was the Chinese who sought to build a road, rail and maritime infrastructure network to link Africa’s economies with the rest of the world.
“The Western argument of Chinese debt-trap diplomacy, inferior loan terms and an insidious, covert campaign to seize African national infrastructure assets rings hollow in the absence of a like-for-like Western alternative. Until the arrival of the Chinese, the infrastructure construction space in Africa was dominated by Europeans…
“In the past eight months, Western countries have spent more than $5- trillion to prop up their economies in response to the Covid-19 pandemic. JP Morgan projects that over 14 years (2013 to 2027), China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) will cost about $1.2-trillion to $1.3-trillion. That kind of gap (both in dollars and time) makes it clear that, if it wanted to, the West could equal or surpass China’s BRI with its own infrastructure programme. If Africa steps away from China’s infrastructure programme, which Western country is ready and willing to fill the gap?”
China, the World Bank, and African Debt: A War of Words
Deborah Brautigam, Director of the SAIS China Africa Research Initiative, discusses in her article below, the duplicity of the World Bank, in their attacks on the China Development Bank. If the US and Western Institutions would cease attacking China, stopped peddling lies about the “Africa debt–trap” and joined China’s Belt and Road Initiative, Africa’s huge infrastructure deficit could be addressed to the benefit of all Africans.
Lawrence Freeman is a Political-Economic Analyst for Africa, who has been involved in the economic development policy of Africa for 30 years. He is the creator of the blog: lawrencefreemanafricaandtheworld.com
With control of the House of Representatives, the Democrats have the opportunity to provide leadership for the United States. They will have to decide. Do they want to make their primary focus attacking President Donald Tramp, by continuing their impotent investigation of his alleged collusion with Russia in the 2016 election? Or will they actually provide a vision for the future of the USA, by enacting bold new legislation. Any attempt to impeach President Trump would be a farce that would virtually ensure the Democrats would be defeated in the 2020 presidential election.
President Trump has demonstrated that he lacks a comprehensive understanding of the scientific principles that created the USA. He has also displayed an unAmerican phobia to non-white foreigners from a multitude of countries arriving in the USA. However, President Trump has distinguished himself in forming a close relationship with the President of China, Xi Xinping. He has also attempted to establish a working relationship with the President of Russia, Vladimir Putin. To the detriment of the USA (and the world) many Democrats, along with some members of his own administration, have adamantly opposed these positive initiatives by President Trump. President Trump has many shortcomings, but to his credit, he is not an ideologue, and he is not a devout follower of the geo-political doctrine on foreign policy. If President Trump took the audacious step to partner with China’s Belt and Road Initiative, the world could be transformed.
Important polices must be implemented now to provide for the welfare of our citizens, which will require bipartisan action in the Congress. For example. Both the Republican and Democratic parties have made verbal commitments to support a Glass Steagall banking reorganization, yet no action has been taken by the Congress or this administration. Another opportunity for bipartisanship would be the passage of legislation for a transformative infrastructure plan to rebuild the USA.
Below is a useful article discussing how President Trump working with the Congress could fund large-scale infrastructure projects.
Statements from President Trump and the putative incoming House Speaker Nancy Pelosi in the immediate aftermath of the election were notable for addressing the possibility of bipartisan progress on infrastructure. Both statements were quite vague, however—and, as some will recall, Trump has offered cooperation on infrastructure before. One need only look at his current blackballing of the New York City Gateway project to see how hollow that promise was.
More substantive have been remarks from the incoming chairmen of two House committees. Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-OR) is expected to take over the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee. According to a Nov. 7 Reutersarticle, DeFazio is prepared to put forward his previous proposal for a $500 billion plan, which would involve issuing 30-year bonds, using funds from raising gas taxes. He believes Trump would accept an increase in the gas tax.
“There has to be real money, real investment,” DeFazio said today. “We’re not going to do pretend stuff like asset recycling. We’re not going to do massive privatization.”
Rep. John Yarmuth (D-KY), who is slated to take over the House Budget Committee, addressed the infrastructure question a few days before the election, according to an Oct. 30 Politico Pro article. He said he would be making a proposal which “involves some very long-term bonding authority that would help finance an infrastructure bank.”
The Issue of Funding
The inevitable sticking point in Congressional discussions of an adequate infrastructure bill—which should ultimately amount to spending trillions of dollars to meet the infrastructure deficit—will be funding. President Trump has already indicated his preference for off-loading the cost to local and state governments, and proposes to even cut the Federal contribution from today’s 80% to 20%. That’s a formula for non-action. The Democratic plans have not been specific.
The danger lies in a potential “compromise” that pushes Public Private Partnerships (PPPs) as the solution to the funding dilemma. PPPs are presented as a means of reducing, or eliminating, public costs, by contracting with private companies to either build, manage, or both the needed element of infrastructure. The claim is that the private company can do the job cheaper and more efficiently, and the public will benefit.
Not so fast. First, some of the cheapness comes at the cost of labor—by violation of Davis-Bacon standards–and quality. Secondly, private contractors only enter PPP agreements on the guarantee that they will receive a revenue stream to cover their costs, and provide a profit. This can amount to tolls on a road, water bills for a water company, and the like. And if the stream doesn’t provide what the company considers adequate profit, what will it do? Cut maintenance? Cut off people’s water supply? Both results have occurred! And they are unacceptable.
So, forget PPPs. The solution lies in taking the lead from Franklin Roosevelt and Alexander Hamilton. The Federal government has a unique capability (and responsibility) to create credit to modernize and rebuild our infrastructure. That credit can in fact be issued by turning current (virtually non-performing) government debt into bonds supporting an infrastructure bank, against which it would then issue new loans to help finance the long overdue infrastructure projects. These would not only be short-term, but also long-term projects, such as the Gateway Project, California High Speed Rail, and the desperately needed water projects in the nation’s interior, for starters. If the right projects are selected, the infrastructure constructed will pay back more to the economy in increased productivity than is expended–as well as creating millions of new, high-paying jobs.
For a modern proposal for such an infrastructure bank, click here
Below are excerpts from an interview with RT TV on the recent agreement between the U.S. and Niger to allow armed drone missions in the Sahel.
Africa affairs analyst Lawrence K Freeman says that drone strikes alone will be unlikely to change the region’s jihadist landscape, which is being driven by more than just a handful of key operatives.
President Trump’s US-Africa Policy Criticized
This article points to a weakness in President Trump’s Africa Policy: the lack of a full throttled commitment to economic development. The author correctly highlights in the final two paragraphs, the limitation of relying on the “market” and private sector when it comes to “large investments and long payback periods.” Africa needs infrastructure on a scale that requires public credit and long term-low interest financing that is beyond the capability and capacityof the private sector. U.S. President Franklin Roosevelt demonstrated through his successful transformation of the U.S. economy that government directed credit for infrastructure works.
“Shift in US aid to Africa signals emphasis on politics”
By Song Wei-Global Times Published: 2017/11/19
The US House of Representatives held a hearing on appropriations for US aid to Africa in October. The Donald Trump administration requested $5.2 billion for Africa in fiscal 2018, which would be close to 35 percent less than in 2015. Of the total, $3.7 billion, or 70 percent, will be allocated to 10 countries in line with US strategic interests including Kenya and Nigeria.
The hearing reflected the focus and direction of Trump’s African policy, as well as the discrepancy between the US Congress and its Department of State, which exposed the political logic and moral risk of the US foreign aid management structure.
Cheryl Anderson, the acting assistant administrator at the US Agency for International Development (USAID) for Africa, attended the hearing and mentioned the importance of supporting development in Africa. Disease and conflict have no borders, she said, so underdeveloped markets can limit potential global economic growth. Supporting economic development in Africa not only creates jobs that increase economic growth and political stability in Africa; it also provides economic opportunities for US companies and workers.
There are four policy priorities for Trump administration when it comes to allocating Africa budget. First, advance US national security interests in Africa through programs that support partners fighting against terrorism, advance peace and security, and promote good governance. Second, ensure programming asserts US leadership and influence in the continent. Third, design programs that foster economic opportunities and spur mutually beneficial trade and investment arrangements for the American people and African partners. Fourth, focus on efficiency, effectiveness, and accountability to the American taxpayers.
The budget cut is a compromise between maintaining US strategic goals and promoting efficient spending. According to Donald Yamamoto, the acting Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs, Africa is emerging, which forms the foundation of US-Africa relations. The assistance will go to countries of the greatest strategic importance to the US. To mitigate the impact of reductions, the US will use its programs to leverage more private-sector funding while encouraging countries and donors to make more contributions.
The budget proposal encountered much criticism during the hearing. Democrat Karen Bass described the budget as shortsighted, highlighting several contradictions such as touting peace while cutting peacekeeping and development efforts. Democrat Joaquin Castro warned the cuts will reduce US influence and open political opportunities for rival powers.
Can a US budget for foreign aid guided by national strategy go far? US foreign aid is decided by the Department of State, which is responsible for foreign affairs. The Africa budget is drawn up by USAID and the Bureau of African Affairs. Trump’s “American First” ideology has placed Africa at the bottom of US strategy. The budget reflected its policy.
US foreign policy is influenced by pragmatism. Development issues have become important topics of global governance, so a depoliticization trend is inevitable. But US is linking its strategic goals in Africa to development funding, with a compromise between resource allocation and strategic interests. The pragmatic method goes against the essence of development.
US policy contradicts its goal. The evaluation of global development assistance has shifted from “aid effectiveness” to “development effectiveness”. The national strategic goal of the donor is seldom included when evaluating the effectiveness of a program. Prioritizing America’s important partners shows the misalignment between the declared development assistance and actual resource allocation.
Leave the “development issue” to the market. With geopolitical thinking, the US focuses more on its business interests in Africa. As a result, the Trump administration is trying to leverage more private investment through public-private partnerships, generating economic opportunities for US companies.
But development assistance is meant to provide public goods that support the development of recipient countries. This means large investments and long payback periods. Whether this is compatible with business motives is still unclear.
The author is an associate research fellow at the Chinese Academy of International Trade and Economic Cooperation. email@example.com
“ARGUMENT:Trump’s Dangerous Retreat from Africa”
Below are excerpts from the blog of John Campbell reviewing the Trump administrations’ policies for Africa during his first nine months in office
Noveember 3, 2017
An Africanist Donald Trump is not. Unlike his two immediate predecessors, who had signature initiatives on the continent, the U.S. president has shown little interest in Africa and had minimal contact with its leaders. But the deaths of four American soldiers in Niger and the inclusion of Chad, a key U.S. counter-terrorism partner, on the latest iteration of Trump’s travel ban have made Africa increasingly difficult for the administration to ignore. These events have also exposed the administration’s startling lack of expertise when it comes to the continent and its reticence to tap the knowledge of career diplomats and analysts in the executive agencies–missteps that have already cost the administration and which could have additional consequences down the road.
Trump’s disinterest in Africa appears to be shared by many in his cabinet, including Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, who at an hour long meeting with State Department employees on Aug. 1 embarked on a “little walk … around the world” that did not mention Africa and its 1.2 billion inhabitants — roughly 17 percent of the world’s population. The administration’s political point person for Africa seems to be U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley, who had little foreign experience prior to her appointment. Last month, she visited Ethiopia, South Sudan, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the most senior Trump administration official to have set foot on the continent thus far.
Making matters worse, the Trump administration has shown little respect for the expertise that resides at the departments of State and Defense, within the intelligence community, and within the academic and policy communities. Important African diplomatic posts remain unfilled, and domestic positions concerned with Africa have been filled only very slowly. For his meetings with African heads of state on the margins of the U.N. General Assembly, career State and Defense officials were not invited to be present.
The Trump administration’s freezing out of State, Defense, and intelligence community expertise predictably results in mistakes. The most costly to date was the inclusion of Chad — a major U.S. ally in the fight against terrorism — on Trump’s travel ban, which also targets travelers from seven other countries. Not long after the latest version of the ban was announced on Sept. 24, Chad shifted troops from Niger, where they had been involved in operations against Boko Haram, to its border with Libya. A reported upsurge in jihadi activity followed the troops’ departure.
The travel ban blunder may yield additional negative consequences that are difficult to predict. The current chairman of the African Union Commission is Moussa Faki Mahamat, a Chadian. And to the extent that the travel ban is interpreted as a Muslim ban, it’s not just Chad that the administration risks alienating. Islam is the majority religion in some 22 African countries, 13 of which are in sub-Saharan Africa. In certain parts of Africa where the rivalry between Muslims and Christians is acute, some Christians, especially of the Pentecostal tradition, are welcoming and exaggerating what they see as the Trump administration’s anti-Islam policy. If African elites perceive Trump’s immigration and refugee policies as part of a larger “war on Islam,” then a general hostility to the United States is likely to grow.
While there is still no permanent assistant secretary of state for African affairs, Donald Yamamoto, a career diplomat and former ambassador with deep knowledge of Africa, has been appointed as an interim secretary with a term of up to one year. The defining feature of the administration’s Africa policy so far is its ramping-up of military and counterterrorism engagement, a trend that began before Trump took office. In a recent conversation with senators, Defense Secretary James Mattis indicated that the U.S. military presence in Africa is set to increase, with continuing training, reconnaissance, and air support missions that accelerated under Obama (though from a very low baseline).
This shift is also reflected in the administration’s budget proposal, which may end up having the biggest initial impact on U.S. policy toward Africa. The Defense Department budget would swell by roughly 9 percent, enabling it to increase its presence in Africa, while the State Department would see a roughly 30 percent cut, if the administration gets its way. Included in that cut would be USAID, meaning that almost all development assistance would be eliminated, as would many health-related programs. Africa would be disproportionately affected; at present roughly one third of USAID funds go to the continent. Trump’s budget would also nearly halve the U.S. contribution to U.N. peacekeeping operations, more than half of which are in Africa.
Finally, while the administration’s budget proposal explicitly states that it will be “continuing treatment for all current HIV/AIDS patients” under PEPFAR (which provided life-saving antiretroviral drugs to 11.5 million people last year), the proposal would lower the yearly contribution by 17 percent, or about $800 million. Congress is likely to oppose many of these cuts, however, and in the end they are unlikely to be as deep as Trump’s budget proposal would indicate. Even so, cutting just half of what the president has proposed would significantly reduce the scope of department and agency activities, with the exception of defense. So far under Trump, U.S. foreign engagement is declining with respect to Africa. China and India have already begun to fill the void by steadily increasing their political and economic activity, as have Turkey, the Gulf states, and Iran. Larger African states, notably Nigeria, South Africa, and Ethiopia, may also assume a more significant role than in the past.
Trump official visits Khartoum as US seems poised to end Sudan sanctions
Despite a delay, Sudanese officials are broadly optimistic that more than 20 years of US sanctions against Sudan will soon end. Though the United States decided to delay the full lifting of economic sanctions against Sudan until September 12, a number of signs suggest improving relations.
Alexander Laskaris, Deputy Commander of US Africa Command, visited Khartoum last week to discuss joint counter-terrorism concerns and other issues. The visit comes as the two countries have already agreed to a resumption of defense attaches for the first time since the 1990s this summer.
“The last three years have been very busy but, in the long term, we expect things with the Trump Administration to continue the policy of Obama towards Sudan,” said Sudan’s ambassador to the United States Ambassador Muawiya Othman Khalid. Khalid previously held diplomatic positions in Cairo and Doha.
Cooperation on counterterrorism
“Times have changed in the Sudan, it’s a different country than it was in the early 1990s when it was a known sponsor of terror and the removal of sanctions is a logical consequence of improvements from Sudan,” said former US Senator Robert Torricelli (D-New Jersey) who in the early 1990s as a US congressman worked on legislation tied to Sudan.
Sudan has focused significant diplomatic resources on persuading Washington in recent months. Sudan’s officials and diplomats have been frequent visitors to Washington. They have been consistently making the case to the new administration that Sudan is a strong partner in the war on terror and regional security concerns.
Some remain unconvinced
The United States isn’t the only country which is experiencing a new political leadership.
As a result of these reforms, Ibrahim Ahmed Omer who served as Sudan’s speaker of parliament for over a decade was made to retire by the ruling National Congress Party. In a swan-song appearance at the National Press Club in Washington D.C., Omer pointed out that sanctions mean the United States is missing out on economic opportunities in Sudan.
“Capitalism, as they say, is a court investor and won’t come unless money is safe and the experience of these other countries show that the money is safe,” he said. “…the West should lift all sanctions on the Sudanese people in order to end poverty and improve the economic situation it is losing,” he said. Omer noted that despite sanctions, China, Indonesia, and Malaysia and Arab countries have been investing in Sudanese the gold, precious minerals, and oil sectors for years.
Sudanese officials have grown tired of working closely with Chinese officials. According to one source, Chinese officials have vastly under-reported gold excavations in Sudan to avoid paying certain taxes.
The decision to continue the review period for a further three months is frustrating for Sudan. As made clear, the country has worked hard to fulfil the American demands and believes it is in full compliance with the demands to lift sanctions.
Obama’s Legacy: Keep Africa in the Dark
August 10, 2016
In his two terms as Presidential Obama, in attempt to fashion a legacy, has made multiple trips to Africa, yet his polices have become a complete failure. He has done nothing to reverse the genocidal levels of death due to war, poverty, hunger, and disease. In fact, President Obama’s regime change policy that led to the over throw of Muammar Kaddafi in 2011 has had catastrophic consequences for the people of Sahel that continues to this very day. Boko Haram would not have the capacity today to deploy its murderous rampage in Nigeria if not for the elimination of Kaddafi. President Obama’s so called signature initiative, “Power Africa,” which he trumpeted again recently in his trip to Kenya and Ethiopia, was a fraud from its very inception, and has failed to deliver a single megawatt of electrical power to the Dark Continent. Abject poverty pervasive across the African continent is the primary cause driving thousands of Africans to risk their lives attempting to escape to Europe. Thus belying the propaganda of Africa being home to the six of the fastest growing economies in the world, through the use of intrinsically false “monetarist” statistics churned out by the IMF and World Bank. To immediately begin to reverse the miserable wretched living conditions that the majority of Africans are forced to suffer from daily if not hourly, the continent must be transformed through the creation of new integrated regional and transcontinental infrastructure platforms including the construction of high speed rail lines, abundant and accessible energy/power, and water management.
The United States, Western European countries, and their Trans-Atlantic institutions have made abundantly clear to that they will not finance infrastructure projects that are necessary to transform the productivity of African economies, empowering their people to finally “eradicate poverty.” The Ethiopian leadership rightly insists their policy priority is “eradicating poverty” and has been identified as the number one enemy of their country.
China’s commitment building vitally necessary infrastructure in Africa, which the West has refused to do for over five decades, is a game changer for the continent. President Xi Jinping launching of the New Silk Road almost two years ago is already changing the global economy. With the emergence of the BRICS, and the now operational New Development Bank, together with the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, there now exist a viable alternative to Wall Street and City of London dominated western financial system which can potentially explode in a 2007-2008 style like collapse at any moment. This is reason why the European monetary system, run by the Troika in Brussels is so desperately attempting to prop up the $360 billion of debt in the Greek banks, but could not care less about the welfare of Greek people.
Obama Powerless Africa
Among all the underdeveloped regions of the world, Africa dominates in rich natural resources, yet has the largest deficit in infrastructure. According to PIDA-The Program for Infrastructure Development of Africa- “The road access rate in Africa is only 34% compared with 50% in other parts of the developing world, while transport costs are 100% higher, Only 30% of Africa’s population has access to electricity, compared 70-90% in other parts of the developing world. Water resources are underused with 5% of agriculture under irrigation.”
Suffocating the enormous potential for African nations to experience real economic growth measured in the creation of physical wealth, is the enormous deficit in the production of electrical power. With over 1 billion people living in sub-Saharan Africa, over 600 million have no daily access to electrical power. This is an immoral crime. Over two years ago, Obama bombastically lied when he said from the University of Cape Town in South Africa that he would double access of electricity in Africa, in no less than five years, this minimally meant bringing electricity to at least 400 million more Africans. When Obama originally launched his Powerless Africa initiative he promised to provide (a mere) 7-10,000 megawatts for six African countries; Nigeria, Liberia, Ghana, Tanzania, Ethiopia, and Kenya, (out of 54) through loan guarantees and incentives for U.S. companies. Since then the new claims are that Powerless Africa will somehow produce 20,000-30,000 megawatts. While there is no evidence that this has the slightest chance of occurring in the near future, even by their own estimates it would make electricity available to 60 million Africans-roughly 15% out of 600 million, still leaving 540 million Africans without power. When an administration official was confronted by this author with the obvious discrepancy between the goal of doubling access and a mere several thousands of megawatts, the response was that these goals are “aspirational” i.e. we lied.
The cruel truth is that Obama’s Powerless Africa initiative has not produced one single physical megawatt of electricity and is not expected anytime soon, if ever, while the number of Africans without access is growing. Ron Nixon, in his article for the New York Times on July 21, 2015, “Obama’s Power Africa Project Is Off to a Sputtering Start,” quotes from Obama’s 2013 speech in South Africa where he boasted his program would provide ‘a light where there is currently darkness, the energy needed to lift people out of poverty’ then goes on to report: “Two years later, as Mr. Obama prepares to visit Africa again, the reality of Power Africa’s promise bears little resemblance to the president’s soaring words. It has yet to deliver any electricity.”
Sam Amadi , chairman of the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission is quoted in by Nixon in the same article, “I am not aware of any concrete plans for power plants that have emerged as a result of Power Africa.”
Infrastructure Powers Economic Growth
Inundating Africa with grids of infrastructure is not simply a good idea to work for, or an option; it is vitally necessary if African nations are going eradicate poverty, end disease and starvation, and defeat terrorism. A crucial error in understanding the role of infrastructure is expressed in the report by PIDA-(Programme for Infrastructure Development in Africa) entitled, “Interconnecting, Integrating and transforming a continent.” In the introduction, “Africa’s time for action,” where it says that: “…continuing growth and prosperity will swell the demand for infrastructure…” Real physical economic growth, as opposed to monetarist figures, not only depends on infrastructure, but economic growth is driven upward by infrastructure. The history of the United States, China, and other Asian nations documents this principle. Every farmer, every worker, every business and industry is made more productive by being surrounded by infrastructure grids in road, rail, electrical power, etc. The productive powers of society are increased by a rich environment of dense infrastructure.
In addition to roads for farmers to transport their products, think of the impact of high speed railroads crisscrossing the continent, connecting the capital cities of Africa’s 54 nations as proposed by Chinese Premiere, Li Kiyang and supported by Chairperson African Union Commission, Dr. Chairwoman Diamini-Zuma at the most recent AU Summit in South Africa. This would cause a revolution, uplifting a billion plus Africans; creating a bright and hopeful future for their children and grandchildren. It would also produce a trained and educated “working army” from the hundreds of millions of unemployed, especially of Africa’s youth whose lack of opportunities to live a productive life is a ticking time bomb throughout the continent.
We Must Electrify this Dark, Dark Continent
Estimates are that sub-Saharan Africa with over 1 billion people has 90,000 megawatts of on line capacity, with half of that total-45,000 MW in one country, South Africa. In contrast, South Korea has approximately the same on line capacity as sub-Saharan Africa, but for a little over 50 million people–5% of the sub continent’s population
The average American uses about 13,200 kWh-(kilo watt hours). That translates into per capita consumption of 1,500 watts or 1.5 kilowatts of power, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. The estimated per capita use of electricity in for a Nigerian is 149, kWh or 17 watts, two orders of magnitude-almost 100 less than their US counterpart. Nigeria has between 4,000 to 6,000 MW of on line capacity, depending on who is doing the counting, but only 2,500MW or less is available per day for almost 180 million people, of which 50% have no access to the nation’s power supply. For those Nigerians who can afford it, they survive by the extensive use of personal generators at great costs, which may account for as much as another 25,000MW often storing the energy in larger batteries for later use. However only electricity from the nation’s grid is powerful enough to maintain the functioning of air conditioners and refrigerators.
Another pernicious feature of Obama’s Powerless Africa is a program to attract investments of one billion dollars for small scale “off grid” gimmicks aimed particularly at rural areas, where the majority of Africans live, but whose net effect is to keep them economically backward. A solar panel on one’s roof may be enough to light a few 60 watt bulbs, and recharge a cell phone, but it can’t power a refrigerator, a water pump, an air conditioner, or advanced machinery, all necessary for a decent standard of living.
All Africans have a right to universal access to the most scientifically advanced forms of energy to power their economies. So called renewable energy like solar and wind, which are technologically inferior modes of energy production are being imposed on Africa (and all countries) under the guise of the anti-scientific and silly argument that we need to reduce our human carbon footprint or the world will come to an end. To accept the argument of the “green movement” is to deny the unending potential of technological progress unique to human beings.
Energy is realized by the effect of its application to transform the universe for the increase of the quantity and quality of human beings. We measure the efficiency of a mode of energy by its “energy-flux density.” Solar energy has a low energy-flux density, but is uniquely suitable for growth of plant life through the synthesis of chlorophyll, but is useless to power a modern society. No nation has ever developed advanced industrial and agricultural sectors through the application of solar power: it is physically impossible. Windmills, additionally are also unreliable, and cost ineffective. Those nations committed to progress, which includes the BRICS nations are increasingly investing in production of fission based nuclear energy, whose power source has an energy-flux density orders of magnitude higher than solar
African leaders should not accept for their nations the application of these inferior technologies; Africans should not be treated as second class citizens or less. The failure to reject so called renewables of solar and wind as power sources will condemn Africans to continue to suffer genocidal rates of death. Why should Africans not demand the same standard of living as the West; is it not their right as human beings? For sub-Saharan Africa to achieve an equal level of energy consumption with the US would require the production 1,600 gigawatts –(billions of watts). Nigerian alone would need over 200,000 MW to meet the needs of the largest population on the continent.
It Can Be Done
Through American System methods of political economy President Franklin Roosevelt not only lifted the US out of the Great Depression, but he also provided universal access to electrical power. In sections of rural America only 10% of the population had access to electricity in their homes. President Roosevelt transformed the US by applying the constitutional powers of federal government to create new government supported authorities and issuing public credit at low interest rates to put the millions of unemployed people to work building massive amount of new infrastructure projects, including energy production and transmission lines. China is emulating the American System today and is leading the world in the construction of high speed railroads and nuclear power plants. President Abdel Fattah el Sisi has successfully mobilized the Egyptian people to complete the expansion of the 169 year old Suez Canal in one year. Not only was this magnificent project completed two years ahead of schedule, but it was financed by the Egyptian people themselves. South Africa, a member of the BRICS is the only African country utilizing nuclear energy, and is presently negotiating a deal to build several more nuclear power plants with a capacity to generate 9,600 MW of electricity.
President Roosevelt defeated his opponents and won over the American people through his dedication to the principle that the federal government is obligated to provide for the general welfare of its citizens as stated in the preamble of the US Constitution. President Roosevelt would not and did not allow the survival of the US to depend on the so called market place or the banks that caused the economic crisis he inherited. Instead he used the authority of the state to rebuild our ailing nation. It is the reasonability of government to insure that advances in science and technology are utilized to increase the productive powers of their citizens through state sponsored infrastructure. African leaders should do no less than President Roosevelt, a great leader who left a lasting legacy for the world.
US Policy For Africa Grossly Deficient
February 15, 2016
The most glaring deficiency in US policy towards Africa is its lack of understanding of the absolute importance of infrastructure development for Africa, not just for economic reasons, but as the core of a proper country to country relationship. This should include such vital categories of hard infrastructure such as energy, rail transportation, and water management, and primary soft infrastructure categories of education and health care. A massive investment in infrastructure projects for Africa is not optional, but rather a matter of live and death for over one billion people living on this vast undeveloped continent. All honest African analysts will have to admit that the US ended any significant commitment to fostering government assisted investment in building infrastructure in Africa by no later than the mid 1970s. The Millennium Challenge Account, which works with a very few countries for small water, and sanitation projects, and the like, is totally inadequate as well as USAID. President John F Kennedy’s cooperative relationship with President Kwame Nkrumah in constructing the Volta Dam industrial projects was a high point in US relations with Africa that has not been emulated in the last half century.
The goal of US policy should be, as it should have been since the “Winds of Change,” is assist African nations as rapidly as possible in developing their industrial-manufacturing –agricultural sectors to provide for an improved quality of life for their citizens. Not only can starvation be ended, and the consequences of droughts be managed, but Africa with its abundance of fertile land and water systems can and should become a net food exported to countries in Asia. To create a density of infrastructure in Africa such as high speed rail line connections between the capitals of Africa, we have to go beyond believing that the US private sector will be capable of making the necessary investments required to drive African economies forward. Sufficiently large government credit is required. China’s Silk Road Fund, the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank-(AIIB), and the BRICS’ New Development Bank are example of “credit institutions” designed to fund large scale energy projects. The US has refused to join the AIIB and has removed itself from any serious effort to help Africa overcome its huge infrastructure deficit that is literally killing Africa.
The United States has for 200 years successfully used the Army Corps of Engineers to not only build and maintain our infrastructure, but also as an excellent means to provide education and scientific training.
Electrical Power Is Essential
Without abundant, on-line electrical power Africa will continue to suffer deadly rates of poverty and mortality that can be avoided, i.e. these conditions are not objective. Presently the mere 90,000 megawatts of power available for sub-Saharan Africa reveals the ugly truth of what is holding Africa back. There will be no substantial change in conditions of life in Africa, unless hundreds of thousands of additional megawatts of electrical power are provided to the nations of Africa. We are now approaching the third year anniversary of President Obama announcement in South Africa that the US would double electrical power in Africa. In hard terms, that means connecting another 400 million Africans (above the 400 million today) to on-line electricity. Solar power and wind mills will never power an industrial- manufacturing based economy. I am sorry to report, that as I knew at the time of the creation of Power Africa, this program is a total failure, having not produced a single megawatt of power. I can assure you that Power Africa will not in your life time or in your children’s life time ever double access to electrify in Africa
As all military specialists know, terrorism cannot be defeated by military means alone, as we witness in the fight against Boko Haram in the Lake Chad Basin. Without economic progress, the jihadists extremists will also continue to have a fertile recruitment potential where youth are poor, alienated from society, and see no hope for their future.
In addition to economic component emphasized here, the US should give unconditional support financially and militarily to Nigeria and the joint task force combating Boko Haram.
Not Fit For Public Office: Defeat Susan Rice For Her Genocide in Africa
December 1, 2012
This article was widely distributed to defeat Susan Rice from becoming President Obama’s Secretary of State. The article below is a more through presentation of Rice’s background.
Two of the clearest cases where Rice’s policies led to the deaths of millions, the weakening of nations’ sovereignty, are the Democratic Republic of the Congo (D.R.C.), and Sudan, the two largest nations on the continent, before the break-up of Sudan in 2011. Rice’s policies resulted in permanent destabilization of the Great Lakes region and parts of the Horn of Africa.
Why Do We Call Susan Rice A Racist? Because She Is One
December 25, 2009
For years, there was more than speculation that a rogue operation in the U.S. government was supporting the 1996 invasion of the Democratic Republic of Congo (D.R.C.) by rebel movements sponsored by Rwanda and Uganda. This was while Rice was serving as Special Assistant to the President, and Senior Director for African Affairs at the NSC. Howard French, writing in the New York Review of Books (Sept. 24, 2009), confirms Rice’s involvement in violating the D.R.C.s sovereignty, quoting her, saying that, “Museveni [of Uganda] and Kagame [of Rwanda] agree that the basic problem in the Great Lakes is the danger of a resurgence of genocide [referring to the Hutus who fled to the D.R.C. after Kagame took over Rwanda—LKF], and they know how to deal with that. The only thing we have to do is look the other way.” Rice’s “looking the other way” was followed by a decade of killing in the D.R.C., and the looting of its natural resources by Rwanda and Uganda.
For five years, from 1996, until weeks before the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attack on the United States, the Sudan government had tried repeatedly, but without success, to share with U.S. intelligence services its own intelligence files on Osama bin Laden and al-Qaeda. Even when the FBI and others wished to accept these offers, they were overruled by Secretary of State Albright and Assistant Secretary forAfrica Rice. Rice had politicized the intelligence by her hostility to any collaboration with the Sudanese government. Various back-channel efforts were also stymied by Rice. When the U.S. intelligence community finally succeeded in getting the Clinton Administration to send a joint FBI/CIA team to Sudan in May 2000, despite resistance from Rice, they found no terrorist training camps or sanctuaries, and gave Sudan a clean bill of health.
The Fight for an American Development Policy for Sudan
June 26, 2009
There is a fight going on in the Obama Administration over what will be the future U.S. policy for Sudan. Essentially, it comes down to this: Either we continue to support British-led destabilizations of African nations, or we move forward with a genuine American policy of assisting in the economic progress of the less developed nations, as President Franklin Roosevelt intended after World War II, and President John Kennedy was inclined to follow.
Gration, on June 17, at his first press conference since taking over asspecial envoy, make clear that there was no ongoing genocide. This immediately produced howls of protest from Rice and the Save Darfur crowd, but Gration stuck to the truth:There is no ongoing genocide in Darfur. The UN reports that there are more tribal killings in Southern Sudan than in Darfur, where 150 die each month, mainly from tribal and inter-tribal conflicts.
Gration’s final remarks at the USIP forum were optimistic. He said, “Yesterday’s enemies are today’s friends,” adding that he believed Sudan could become a politically stable, prosperous nation, at peace with its neighbors.
Will Rice Mislead the U.S. Into Another Attack on Sudan?
John Prendergast and Susan Rice lie about genocide in Darfur
March 14, 2009
How the United States o fAmerica, under the leadership of President Barack Obama, responds to this blatant British effort to use the ICC to break up the nation of Sudan—into multiple ethnic, religious, and tribal entities at each others’ throats—is of the utmost importance, for the future of Sudan, the Horn of Africa, and all sub-Saharan Africa, as well as the very existence of the United States.