by C. Uzondu
President Obama appears to be avoiding any real discussion of the biggest challenges facing Africa. At a White House forum for young African leaders, there was nothing on the agenda about AFRICOM, climate change, or international economic justice. With the U.S. rapidly militarizing much of the region, “Africans inhabiting the richest continent will necessarily become terrorists whenever they resist US corporate-state plunder.”
President Obama Meets African Youth Leaders
by C. Uzondu
“The new US African Command represents the future intensification of US imperial military violence in Africa.”
From August 3rd through 5th, President Obama hosted a forum for young African leaders in Washington, D.C. According to the official White House blog, “These 115 young leaders come from civil society and the private sector and represent more than forty countries in sub-Saharan Africa.”
I was curious about the content of President Obama’s forum. I promised myself that I would not assume that the young leaders had been handpicked to serve US imperial interest in the future. I would not assume that these young leaders were mere stooges, but that they had dreams and aspirations autonomous from the global elites. I would not assume that these young leaders were unconcerned first and foremost with the needs of the masses of their peoples.
After I read the transcript of the Young African Leaders Forum, I decided that I would comment by highlighting a few things that appeared to have NOT been discussed during the town hall part of the forum. These three things of great importance were: AFRICOM, economic justice, and climate justice.
According to the transcript the President said, “So I am a profound believer in not looking at violence as a solution to problems. And I think the moral and ethical power that comes with nonviolence when properly mobilized is profound.” After reading this, I hoped that the next person allowed to ask a question would engage the US President about his intensification of global violence. It did not happen. However, the fact remains that this president is extending war in both Afghan and Iraq. (The draw down of US military forces and their replacement with corporate mercenaries is not the end of the US invasion of Iraq). So the question of violence is one with which all Africans should concern themselves. The new US African Command (AFRICOM) represents the future intensification of US imperial military violence in Africa. This president has sanctioned the killing of US citizens that the security state claims to be “terrorists.” This means that Africans inhabiting the richest continent will necessarily become terrorists whenever they resist US corporate-state plunder.
“There was no talk of cancelling all of the onerous African “debt” that African states allegedly owe.”
Economic justice was another major issue that did not receive attention during the Town hall meeting at the Young African Leaders Forum. The president did say that “If you have a situation where you can’t start a business or people don't want to invest because there’s not a clear sense of rule of law, that is going to stifle development.” How insightful! This, however, has little to do with economic justice. There was no talk of canceling all of the onerous African “debt” that African states allegedly owe. Similarly, there was no discussion of strong legislation that would prevent vulture funds. And critically, there was no discussion of African reparations.
A third major issue that was elided at the Obama town hall meeting that was part of the Young African Leaders Forum was climate justice. The silence here was particularly striking, since Africa is the continent that will be most negatively impacted by climate change. However, the Obama administration “green” climate policies are generally insignificant in face of pending global climate destruction. Furthermore, President Obama demonstrated, at Copenhagen, along with the other industrialized countries, destructive leadership in regards to addressing climate justice. We can be disappointed, but not surprised.
Given President Obama’s track record thus far there is little basis for African optimism about this Young African Leaders Forum. As Obama himself said, “All countries look out for their interests. So -- and I’m the President of the United States, so my job is to look out for the people of the United States.” But since the only people of the United States that truly matter are the super rich and the people that matter the least are Africans, I trust that the young Africans leaders at this forum are even more clear about the dangers of US imperialism for Africa and Africans.
Uzondu can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.