16.02.2008 Feature Article

Is Mr Bush Bringing Cookies?

Is Mr Bush Bringing Cookies?
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My obsession with the power of words is indescribably passionate and total, Jomo, and I am often extremely delighted when I am able to subdue them in their wild flight through thought, and make them communicate what I really think and feel, with crystal clarity.It was unfortunately, tough luck for me this week, as I tried with considerable difficulty to conceptualise my impressions about the relations between the United States and our great but still struggling continent. 

Happily, someone came to the rescue with a suggestion that I could proceed from the fact of US President George Bush having turned Africa into “a geo-strategic real estate”.

In this relationship, the White House is re-assessing how valuable every African country is to the United States, in terms of potential US access to African oil and military bases. Is that not colonialism all over again, Jomo?

It makes sense if you recall that in February 2007, President Bush announced that the US had plans to establish a military command for Africa, to be known as the United States Africa Command (AFRICOM).

He declined to say exactly where the command was going to be located, but he was quoted as saying the command would be “up and running”, by September 2008.

Whenever President Bush travels abroad, the imp in my skull and I play games with television pictures of his entourage. Our favourite one is identifying the secret service agents assigned to protect the most powerful man in the world. Mind you, this breed is different from normal body guards.

They are usually everywhere in the vicinity of the president without appearing to be. You may identify them from their trade mark dark suits (and mayhap sunglasses too). Nothing can make them smile.

Not even if a hundred drunken clowns suddenly appear around the president walking on their heads.
They never appear to acknowledge that anyone around them exists at all. What has this James Bond nonsense got to do with something as important as President Bush's travels abroad?

I reckon that is what you must be asking, Jomo. I am attempting to employ symbolism to make a point:

When the President of the most powerful nation on earth travels abroad; his person becomes the total focus of international and local media attention.

Many curious things in the background which we should be noticing and asking questions about are lost on us.

Mr Bush begins a five-day visit to five African countries today and will be in town on Tuesday.
Hail Dubya!  His visit presents an opportunity for someone to ask him questions about AFRICOM and his real game plan for our continent.

I wonder what is up with George Bush and the number five. Five years ago, he paid a five-day visit to five African countries and gave five speeches.

{Never mind that he actually spent far less than five days, since he was up in the air for much of the time!}

It was claimed that Mr. Bush was hunting United Nations votes to enable him go to war with Iraq and indulge his favourite past time of hunting for non-existent WMDs.

So what in the name of good old Mark Twain is Dubya doing in Africa this time?

It has been suggested that Mr. Bush has come shopping for brand new friends in his war against terrorism and mayhap, a house too.

Why would the chief executive of this planet, who has the most awesomely magnificent of edifices on earth within easy reach in Texas, want to buy a house in Africa, Jomo?

I thought that was obvious. The man is near retirement, see? When he goes on retirement he may find it prudent to stay as far away from the States as possible, and in terms of distance, Africa would be the perfect choice for relocation.

Why would Mr Bush want to relocate? To escape the wrath of Yankee voters who are pissed off that Mr Bush threw their loved ones into the inferno he ignited in Iraq.

Many Yankees are singing: “Stop the wars”, “The US economy is falling off the cliff”, “The nation is adrift”, “The Federal budget is gone haywire”, “Save our jobs”, “Jail the crooks in Corporate America”, US foreign policy is in shambles…

The threat of terrorism appears to have made the White House remodel US relations with Africa, to take the same form as the one that existed during the days of the cold war.
That is why the White House is now adopting a selective approach to US policy on Africa.Take the case of the Millennium Challenge Account (MCA) which Ghana has benefited from.

The impression had been created that the MCA is an initiative benefiting Africa. In reality only a small number of potential friends of the US who are able to meet certain political and economic criteria, have benefited from the MCA.

Is it not only Ghana, Uganda and Senegal which have been eligible to access the MCA, so far? What about the rest of our African people?

This selective approach to helping the continent solve her problems only results in those countries which are the worst off and in dire need of international support, being denied help.

Now, you might be inclined to say that when the going gets tough for everyone on our continent, and one is lucky to get some selective respite from the White House, one should simply shut up, eat his cookies quietly, and not complain, but that is no way to think like a Pan Africanist, is it Jomo?

President Bush's foreign policy appears to have hurt us more than anyone else. Our key priorities are the wars against HIV/AIDS and poverty.

How can Mr Bush help us to fight these wars when he has made big bonfires of mountainous heaps of George Washington's green bucks in Iraq?

The Bush administration knows that anti-retroviral drugs are necessary for the success of HIV/AIDS programmes in Africa, so how come that in spite of Mr. Bush's professed commitment to supporting the programmes, many African countries' access to retroviral drugs is so limited?

The White House says President Bush's visit this week,” will be an opportunity for the president to review first hand, the progress made since his last visit in 2003, in efforts to increase economic development and fight HIV/AIDS, malaria, and other diseases.”

Maybe Mr Bush is a good man with good intentions for Africa after all. The outcome of this “review visit”, should enable us decide whether or not to give him the benefit of that doubt. 

By George Sydney Abugri

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