By Arab News
US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has some interesting advice to offer to Africa — beware of neocolonialism! On the day two of her whistle-stop tour of the continent, the top US diplomat warned African nations against “the creeping new colonialism” of foreign investors and governments interested in extracting natural resources to enrich themselves. African leaders must ensure that foreign projects are sustainable, Clinton said speaking in the Zambian capital of Lusaka.
Although she didn’t offer any names, Clinton left no one in doubt as to who she had in mind. A day earlier, the US official had called for “scrutiny” of China’s large investments and growing business interests in Africa “so that the African people are not taken advantage of.” Expressing concern over China’s growing presence in Africa, she reminded her African audience: “We saw that during colonial times, it’s easy to come in, take out natural resources, pay off leaders and leave. 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.”
The concern of America’s top diplomat for Africa is noble and touching. Of course, we are all familiar with what colonial powers did in Africa and how they exploited and denuded the rich continent of its wealth to fill their own coffers and build their empire. They did not even spare its human population, abducting and enslaving millions of Africans thousands of miles away from their home. And then they called the rich land where life began the “dark continent.”
Of course, all this happened all over the world. No people, however, have been as abused and exploited as the people of Africa have been, perhaps with the exception of Red Indians or Native Americans. More to the point, the kind of criminal exploitation of Africa that Clinton talks about did not just happen in some distant past; it continues to this day in some form or the other. Why, the United States, the reigning superpower, has its own “colonies” all over the continent, and the world, even though it may not rule over them in conventional sense of the term.
Not content with its military presence in the greater Middle East, Washington is expanding its role in Africa. It has set up the US Africa Command (AFRICOM), which will not just police the continent but watch over the vast region and oceans around it. Today, few countries can claim to be free of US military presence or its all-embracing sphere of influence. America is the new global hegemon and truly rules the world. This is why these warnings and rants against “new colonialism” do not behoove Uncle Sam. There’s no doubt China has been on a breakneck investment-shopping spree in Africa, just as it has been all over the world as Beijing looks for energy resources and new markets to support its booming economy. In the process, the increasingly popular Chinese are rankling and defying others like the US and Europeans. But its role is still benign and largely economic.
This is essentially a war for Africa’s — and the world’s — dwindling natural resources and it’s only going to get dirty and cutthroat in years to come. The long exploited people of Africa have to watch out for themselves and their interests, if they don’t want to get trampled and trodden in this battle of giants all over again