This week the role of US elites in controlling resistance by Ugandans and Black Americans were on your minds. We share your letters for “BLM Chapters Demand ‘Accountability’ from Trio that Cashed in on the Movement” and “Uganda’s Youth Majority Brave Police Blockades and Bullets to Rally Behind Bobi Wine.”
“BLM Chapters Demand ‘Accountability’ from Trio that Cashed in on the Movement” by Glen Ford analyzes the recent call for accountability by chapters of Black Lives Matter regarding the action of the hashtag’s three founders.
Paul Billings writes:
“Terrific analysis. As you are well aware, American/Western Capitalism faces immense structural problems, accelerated by the COVID-19 pandemic. As a result, the US confronts an economic crisis comparable to the Great Depression, characterized by excess capacity and slack demand, high unemployment, with millions of families facing financial ruin, eviction from their homes, food insecurity and loss of medical insurance. “At the end of 2019, it was reported that 70% of Americans do not have $1000 in savings (See: Survey: 69% of Americans Have Less Than $1,000 in Savings by Cameron Huddleston Dec 16, 2019; Link: https://finance.yahoo.com/news/survey-69-americans-less-1-171927256.html). No doubt, this number has increased. 2020 federal deficits are projected $3.1 trillion (CBO estimate). Since 2009, Wall St. has been sustained by a continuous infusion of taxpayer-backed funds from the Treasury. So far in 2020, the FED has provided $ 7 Trillion to Wall St.
“2. The Pentagon faces astronomically expensive looming strategic debacles in Afghanistan (longest war in US history), Iraq, Libya, Syria and Yemen; post-911 conflicts have cost US taxpayers circa $6.4 trillion, while displacing/killing 37 million people (See: https://watson.brown.edu/costsofwar/).
“3. Given these levels of poverty, social violence and unequal distribution of wealth, it is not surprising that American society is plagued with rampant state/police violence, which has continued unabated since the murder of George Floyd, by Minneapolis police, last May. Not surprisingly, this violence is directed against people of color, working people, ‘immigrants’ and anyone else deemed a threat to ‘the system’.
The pervasive rot/putrefaction of American capitalism has progressed to the point where the very functioning of the American State requires the continued looting (stealing) of large amounts of public money from the US Treasury to keep financial markets on Wall St and large banks solvent, along with supporting the enforcers- at the domestic level local police who maintain class structure and protect private wealth, and at the international level, the Pentagon, whose role is to threaten and attack any country deemed an obstacle to US global hegemony. Thus, anything that interferes with these polices, such as BLM demands for an end to state/police violence, and social and economic justice are taken as a direct threat to the state. This is readily seen seen by the hysterical denunciations of BLM movement by the Washington Times and Heritage Foundation. Your concluding remarks sum things up well-
“‘If the Cullors-Garza-Tomati trio treats the movement as their legal property, it is because the corporate state only recognizes property relations, not human and social rights and claims. The trio have parlayed their notoriety and the trust invested in them by grassroots activists to pull the movement into the matrix of big business philanthropy and corporate Democratic politics — the cemetery of people’s struggles. But the movement refuses to be bought or buried.’ Let’s hope you are right.”
In “Uganda’s Youth Majority Brave Police Blockades and Bullets to Rally Behind Bobi Wine” Ann Garrison interviews Milton Allimadi on the possibility that US elites may recognize the inevitability of opposition activist Bobi Wine’s challenge to Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni.
Eric Moise writes:
“The 25 Nov BAR story quoted Ann Garrison making the statement below. It’s quite significant, and I am looking for a report or source for it, can you help please? My efforts with Google etc have been unsuccessful so far.
“‘Museveni recently expelled NID [National Institute for Democracy] staff from the country.’”
Ann Garrison responds:
"Mr. Simon Osborn, who worked as country director of the National Democratic Institute, a United States-based organization that promotes democracy across the world, was arrested and deported.
"Mr Osborn had worked in Uganda for seven years."
Eric Moise wrote back:
“Thank you so much! Not just for this, but all the courageous Great Lakes reporting you do.”
Ann Garrison responded:
“Thank you, but my work isn’t courageous, just diligent. I’m not risking my life like Bobi Wine and other Ugandans who are part of "People Power, Our Power." I just do my best to inform US citizens about the US government and military’s impact beyond our borders, and their impact on Uganda has been huge for many decades. Here’s Jeffrey Smith, the Executive Director of Washington DC-based Vanguard Africa, a soft power offshoot of the National Endowment for Democracy and National Institute for Democracy, writing in the Washington Post:
‘President Yoweri Museveni has been in power longer than most Ugandans have been alive. His regime is sustained by the nearly $2 billion in aid it receives annually from the United States and major global institutions like the World Bank.
‘Museveni’s regime remains secure in power, in large part, due to the welcome embrace he receives in western capitals. Because of his longstanding and carefully crafted image as an American military ally, Museveni has repeatedly been an invited guest at the White House. His visits were as recent as August, 2014, during then-President Barack Obama’s U.S.-Africa Leaders’ Summit, and as far back as 1987, during the Ronald Reagan administration. Uganda has often topped the list of the biggest recipients of military aid in all of Africa. And in May, the World Bank announced a $300 million assistance package, ostensibly for covid-19 relief. The evidence suggests, however, that this money was likely diverted to finance the same thuggish security apparatus that is brazenly assailing Wine and his colleagues. This practice in Uganda has been documented thoroughly.
‘In effect, U.S. taxpayers are implicated in the plight of Wine — and of the overwhelming majority of Ugandans, who clearly aspire to democracy and reject military rule.’
“That’s not far from something that Milton Allimadi or I might have written in Black Agenda Report or Black Star News during the past 10 years, except that we highlight the US empire's corporate and strategic resource interests at play. The advisory council of Vanguard Africa is made up of people who have been in and out of government and investment banks and equity funds. They include Dolika Banda, ‘mission director of the Commonwealth Development Company's Africa private equity fund.’ Jeffery Smith himself identifies as a proud member of the ‘World Economic Forum’s Working Group on African Media Narratives and Advocacy.’
“So, we have to ask whether Bobi Wine and ‘People Power, Our Power’ are another color revolution, a ‘regime change’ operation backed by US and multinational capital and the Pentagon, who no longer feel that Museveni is a good custodian of their interests. Wine’s own testimonial to Vanguard Africa for supporting his struggle against Museveni appears on the organization’s About Vanguard Africa page, as do the aforementioned bios of its principle players.
“However, Bobi Wine is no Juan Guaidó and Museveni is no Hugo Chavez or Nicholas Maduró, and I don’t doubt that the crowds risking their lives to turn out for Wine’s rallies are hoping to finally overcome the oppression of Museveni’s more than three decades in power.
“At the end of my interview with Milton Allimadi, we agreed that Bobi Wine has the best interests of Ugandans at heart, and that he’s willing to compromise with US empire in hopes of improving their lives. Should he survive and even win election, and should he and ‘People Power, Our Power’ somehow overcome Museveni’s vast apparatus of force, how much space will he have to move?
“A year ago, in an interview with Aljazeera, he said that he wanted to see Uganda’s fertile land and other resource riches benefit Ugandans, not a single family or clan. He didn’t mention US or multinational corporate interests in the region, nor did he object to Ugandan troops' engagement in AMISOM, the US military-led operation in Somalia that shelters under an African Union umbrella.
“Uganda lacks the technological infrastructure required to extract its resources solely in the interests of Ugandans. Like every other developing nation, it must contract with private oil and mining corporations, but what kinds of resource extraction contracts would Bobi WIne sign? Would he fight for a larger ownership and profit share for Uganda and turn it to building Ugandan infrastructure, health care, education and other improvements to Ugandans’ lives? Would he fight for technical and management training for Ugandans to move the country toward greater self-sufficiency? Would he make food security a primary goal? And what would he do about the Ugandan army’s longstanding aggression and smuggling operations in neighboring DRC?
“Once again, I believe that Bobi Wine has the best interests of Ugandans at heart, as does Milton Allimadi, but how much room would he have to move? That would depend primarily on how determined and organized the people of Uganda are.”
The struggles against neocolonialism in Africa remain essential to the struggle for freedom within the United States. We must continue to link movements here with those abroad.
Jahan Choudhry is Comments Editor for Black Agenda Report. He is an organizer with the Saturday Free School based in Philadelphia, PA.
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