The economics of failure, by Stephen Fox
I am no fan of China, due to genocide of Tibetans and Islamic Uighurs. Yet China IS doing the correct thing in Africa by investing in resources, factories, and agriculture, while the USA's billions of dollars go down the drain of Iraq. Our "investment" in Iraq is an unprecedented bloody kleptocracy orchestrated by Halliburton, Kellogg Brown and Root, and Dick Cheney as former Halliburton CEO, to the tune of $20 billion per month, while China, with its monstrous balance of payments, has invested $40 billion in 2006 in Africa and another $50 billion in 2007.
By comparison, the USA will soon do a $20 billion arms deal with Saudi Arabia. How does that help anybody? Iraqis die to make the point that they don't want us there. No American could conclude that USA is "investing" in Iraq any more than Nazi Germany was "investing" in Czechoslovakia by lumping it into Germany as the Sudetenland or that China is "investing" in Tibet by killing millions and suppressing all Buddhist culture. These are really the economics of failure, whether or not you accept that the US presence in Iraq is a deranged Hegelian devolution of imperialism and a perversion by corporate greed.
Imagine waking every day to military checkpoints, random shootings, deafening bombs, and the slaughter of civilians, rapes and murders of 14- year-old girls or executions of innocent adult males, just because your squadron failed to prevent a terrorist from escaping and the squadron needs a "kill," and Marines, Army officers, and even the torturing miscreants at Abu Ghraib, all generally get a slap on the wrist: this is what life in Iraq has become.
In 2002, Bush promised to rebuild Afghanistan in a speech detailing a new quasi-neo-Marshall Plan, yet this nation actually received less aid per capita than did post-conflict Bosnia and Kosovo, and even less than the poorest of the poor nations: Haiti. Who could blame other nations for being baffled and insulted by these apparent economic and foreign policy contradictions?
In 2006, Chinese trade deals included an aluminum plant in Egypt, a highway upgrade in Nigeria, and a copper plant in Zambia. China's Export- Import bank, which reports to the State Council in Beijing, has projects including $1.2 Billion in loans to Ghana, $2.3 Billion for financing a dam and hydroelectric plant in Mozambique, $1.6 Billion for oil development in Nigeria, $2 billion line credit line to oil rich Angola, and export credits for projects in Congo-Brazzavile, Sudan, and Zimbabwe. Africans appreciate China's investments resulting in improved infrastructures.
"China knows what it means to be poor, and has evolved a successful wealth creation formula that it is willing to share with African nations," wrote former Nigerian Finance Minister, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala. Genocidal regimes like Sudan's Al Bashir's or repressive regimes like the astro- inflationary aegis of Zimbabwe's Mugabe welcome China's capacity to offer cash, technology, and political protection from international pressures.
"The solution to all kinds of development challenges is to have economically sustainable growth," said Li Ruogu, President of ExImBank. "We welcome understanding and opportunities for collaboration toward this end that it represents." China's Xinhua News Agency estimates that at least 750,000 Chinese entrepreneurs are involved in Africa. This has caused Western influence to dwindle. China is building new railroad lines in Nigeria and Angola, large dams in Sudan, and new roads everywhere. China Road and Bridge Construction has 29 projects in Africa, many financed by the World Bank.
South Africa has manganese mines, Niger has Uranium pits, Sudan oil fields, and Congo has cobalt mines, all Chinese projects. As micro-entrepreneurs rather than investors, the Chinese are sometimes resented since some are petty traders selling flip-flop sandals and T-Shirts as well as opening restaurants and massage parlors.
Sometimes the Chinese fail, as in Zambia when a joint venture cotton mill failed: "We are back where we started," said Wilfred Collins Wonani, Chamber of Commerce director. "Sending raw materials out, bringing cheap manufactured goods in. This isn't progress. It is colonialism."
Thus, the battle is on - the domination of Africa involves neo-colonialism, mercantile trade, military prowess and intervention, and resource exploitation, pitting China's production and trade prowess against American military power. With its history of supporting African independence movements, China is winning the battle. Since Somalia in 1993 when 18 servicemen died, the Pentagon has been uninterested in Africa, as if knee jerk military response is all the USA is capable of. Many Saharan nations obtained help as part of a Trans-Saharan Counterterrorism Initiative focusing on Algeria, Chad, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Senegal, Nigeria, and Morocco. The Pentagon has been donning humanitarian roles formerly filled by the US Agency for International Development; this will prove to be a major mistake: adding aid to military support perhaps brings stability and better government, but with a catch transparent to all Africans: the goal of US national security is motivation for antiterrorism support.
Meanwhile, China is building more genuine friendships and a different kind of long term allies, by developing trade gains for its own national interest. The President of China, Hu Jintao, recently toured Africa to develop partnerships. In South Africa, where diplomatic ties have strengthened trade, Hu announced loans, increases in trade, and increases in South African tourism by Chinese. Agreements were signed in South Africa and Namibia to increase "brotherly friendship." Beijing grants unconditional loans to African countries to secure access to resources and markets. China is one of the world's premier arms suppliers; thus, nations not able to buy expensive Western arms buy from China. China has extensively invested in Sudan despite its internal genocide, fueled by Chinese arms deals, a point that has been repeatedly made by Bill Richardson of New Mexico. China claims to not want to obstruct or meddle in the internal affairs of countries; however, its arms deals massively impact internal affairs. China is concerned with being viewed as a "responsible world power," so it also makes efforts to invest positively.
Brazil has been quick to follow China's lead: President Lula da Silva apologized for 400 years of slave trade during a visit to Senegal. (Can you imagine George Bush ever saying this?) Brazil is in contention with China and India as superpowers; courting Africa is vital to Lula's diplomacy, with bilateral agreements with Ghana, Nigeria, and Mozambique. Lula is "digging beneath the layers of guilt and sorrow to find commercial and geopolitical issues."
This is all juxtaposed with the continuing and worsening idiocy of Bush's grudge match in Iraq, which is already having devastating effects on the internal USA domestic economy, and when used by nations like China and Brazil to prove their point in wooing Africa economically, acts to seal our nation's doom in the near to distant economic future. Surely, the Democratic candidates could help wake up our slumbering monstrous nation to the real truth of this looming economic catastrophe for the USA in all of Africa. "Who is winning? The Chinese are, for sure," said Michael Sata, a Zambian opposition politician." Their interest is exploiting us, just like everyone who came before. They have taken the place of the West as the new colonizers of Africa."
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