Thursday, December 20, 2007

AFRICOM: POISON OR ANTIDOTE?




This morning I got up and in my usual routine, prayed and began reading the news. Then I fell on an article where the author was against AFRICOM. AFRICOM stands for United States African Command to protect the US national security interest in the continent of Africa. As I checked the author’s background, he is from Africa but now lives in the US. One thing that immediately kicked in was my decision making skill. To make a good decision or choice, one has to consider his or her alternatives. In this particular case, the Africans' alternatives are either US or China because we cannot be neutral.


No doubt the present scramble awakes the old fears of colonialism or neocolonialism, or perhaps it foreshadows another era of imperialism just slightly different from colonialism it would seem. It may augur ill just hearing that Americans want to station military bases in Africa. People fear their presence could serve as bait to terrorism because the terrorists will feel attracted to pay back those countries dealing with America. Yet this point is weak because the presence of jungle justice has made it difficult for terrorism to function freely in Africa. The presence of Auto Defense groups has always been a deterrent to terrorism. Unlike most Arabic and Muslim countries, Black Africans with Christianity and Animism as dominant religions have little appetite to die for their religions. As such, the goodness of AFRICOM will outweigh its setbacks.


I am surprised that most African countries are refusing the treat: I mean AFRICOM. It is a real treat for various reasons. It will deter coup’ D’Etats and factional wars which are usually instigated by European countries. It will facilitate trade between Africa and the US and it will promote humanitarian efforts. It sounds too hypocritical for Africans living in America to be protesting they do not want AFRICOM. Why don’t they go and live in China if China is better for them?


The Chinese have just begun entering into Africa, but they have invaded the continent with shoddies, inundated the countries with bad medicine and confiscated the little surviving opportunities that the masses had. How many Americans are selling beignets in our cities? Most American products shipped to Africa have a high quality. But take a look at even electronics from China, they are good only for a day. Economically, the US is a bigger market than China, and it will enable Africans to export to the US. China is an emerging untested market. Most Africans would like to go to America and not China. I don’t know any African that will forego to come to America for China. I don’t know any African who wants to dress like Chinese though they are ancestrally closer. In terms of religion, the Africans will easily relate to the Americans (who mostly practice Christianity) station there rather than the Chinese who practice mostly oriental religions like Buddhism and Confucianism.


Japan is what it is today because of American occupation. Germany is what it is today because of the Marshall Plan. Any country with AFRICOM will live under the military protection of the US. That way the spending for national defense could be shifted to economic reforms that could change the welfare of the people.


Do you easily forget that North and South Korea were the same country? How did South Korea then become a paradise while the North Koreans look like stockfish? One answer: American military presence in South Korea. It brought in many advantages as the ones in Germany and Japan.


Wherever there will be AFRICOM, there will be employment opportunities to tampon the ailing economy of African countries. China picks contracts in Cameroon and ships hundreds of workers who go there and all they do is have babies that they will abandon and run back to China. If an American does that ,you are pretty sure to hang the chain of child support on his neck for the next 18 years.


In addition, the land where the military base will be is total development for that country just like you have military bases in Germany. I went to Germany, and the Germans count themselves blessed to have those bases. The presence of the US Test Center in Panama is a great plus to the people. Ask the Panamanians and you will know why Africa should even count itself blessed to have those bases. Why do you think the Saudis have been prospering more than most Middle Eastern countries with oil. Rather than spend their money on national defense, the Americans do the spending while they keep their money for other things.


These command posts abroad will also give opportunities to illegal immigrants living in the US. Most of the people who would have done the low paying jobs get enlisted into the military and are shipped abroad and so there is a vacuum to fill. The people that would benefit from their absence are mostly the illegal immigrants who will take those jobs that literate and middle class Americans wouldn’t want. Consequently, some of the illegal immigrants from Africa will benefit too as the general body of illegal immigrants will be doing.


Therefore, I urge all African countries who have been approached by the Americans to consider it a treat and do so without reservations because the benefits outweigh the risks and loses.



Until then, I think AFRICOM is a wise and better thing for Africa.< br />
Prince & PA Hamilton Ayuk.

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