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Behind Angola: Why The West Wants Africa Back

Behind Angola: Why The West Wants Africa Back image Behind Angola: Why The West Wants Africa Back image Behind Angola: Why The West Wants Africa Back image
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With hair flying and fists pummeling the rostrum, the portly U.S. ambassador to the UN, Mr. Daniel Patrick Moynihan, bellows out his denunciations of the "Soviet colonization of África." In his fear-sodden imagination, he sees vast Soviet armadas dominating the waters around southern África; he sees the rich argosies of the Soviet merchant marine ploughing their way back to the Russian motherland, laden with African loot-gold, diamonds, molybdenum, cobalt, ivory, and all the other treasures of the dark continent. He sees a Communist swathe bisecting África, red communes wher once the tribal chieftains and the Peace Corps held sway. He sees white South África put to the sword, a link up of black communism with insurgent Latin America, the swift isolation of the United States, and finally the triumph of the Third World, dancing te the Soviet tune. This nightmare he shares with his master, Henry Kissinger. There's some truth to this madness. There is a recolonization of Af rica going on. And indeed the Russians and the Chinese do have a Turn to page 6 Behind Angola: Why the West Wants África Back Reprinted froni the Village Voice ( O 1 975 The Village Voice) Continued from the cover small presence in Africa-as do the Arabs. But the recolonization is mainly being conducted by U.S., European, and Japanese corporations and banks. U.S. involvement in southern África is notliing new. Quite apart from vast covert U.S. involvement in the battles of the Congo in the early '60s. U.S. corporations have long enjoyed profitable investment in South África. The book value of total U.S. corporate investment in South África and Namibia amounts to more than a billion dollars, with U.S. mining corporations in particular taking advantage of virtual slave conditions to realizo an astounding 17 per cent return on capital invested. Of course, foreign corporations have always been fearful that such investments would be swept away in revolutionary turmoil. The South African government struggles to allay their fears, quoting for example the BER1 rating (Business Environment Risk Index), produced by the University of Delaware. On this index, in June 1975, South África rated eighth in the world, with a triumphant 77.3 out of 100, just behind such other secure locales as Switerland. Singapore, and Canada. These corporations put their faith in the vigor of the South African security Unces, but there is now a superior form of protect ion -world recession. Whatever the politica! complexión of any liberation moveinent or established government, the harsh fact is that African states are laigely dependent on sales of basic commodities (mostly minerals) to the U.S., Western Europe, and J;ipan. For example, Nigeria sells its oil to the U.S.; Zambia and Zaire are 0k tvvo of the most important producers of copper and their custon ers are again largeiy in Japan and Western Europe. Rhodesia. held down bv a white minoritv. is said to be a "solid S Èhrome mountain" whicli in the past was owned by the Union Carbide company. Southern África, along with Canada and the United States, is one of the tliree major sources , of uranium. Coal deposits in South África have been widely tapped in recent years by the Japanese and Americans. All sorts of precious metáis- induding gold and diamonds- are located in the i ern part of África. Further north, the Spanish Sallara contains 30 per cent of all the world's exports of phosphate-the key ingrediënt for modern fertüizer. Along the northern rim, Algeria, Libya. and other countries are rich in bil and gas. , The continuing I sion has meant a decline in consumption of all ƒ these commodities. This, 1 $ in turn. has meant I duced foreign exchange I f earnings for already cOntinued on page 29 I África continued firom paga 6 poverty-stricken countries. This, in turn, has led to the inability of such countries to repay bank loans to the advanced countries. Such defaulting countries-or countries on the verge of bankruptcy-must renegotiate the terms of their fínancing by the West. Over the bargaining table are tlien raised serious questions about a renewed role for U.S. corporations and a more "active" role for foreign capital. Already there are harbingers of this more active role. U.S. satellites hover over the continent, photographing the terrain minutely, absorbing such information as the teniperature of the soil, the chlorophyll content of the plants, the water resources, land contours, and so fortli. With tlüs information in hand, Western companies plan to extract Africa's timber and minerals and to lay the way for establishment of largescale agricultural operations Such is the background for the recolonizatipn of África, and it is precisely this situation whicli Moynihan and Kissinger have chosen to distort. For most of these African countries, politics must give way to the overriding necessity to export the raw materials, on whatever terms. A Communist Angola, even a Communist Zaire would still have to export to the First World. Gulf Oil has now beé"h pressured by the State Department into putting the money it owes Angola into escrow. The company allegedly awaits the moment when it can descry a "true government" of tliat country. The fact is that whether the MPLA, the FNLA, or Unita gain control, Angola will still have to sell its oil to some oil company such as Gulf, and willy-nilly form part of the supply network for the First World cartel of the international oil companies. The major U.S. policy has, of course, long been to support corporate repenetration of África, in whatever form required. This is Kissinger's famous low profile, also a legacy of the Congo wars, and the need to be relatively discreet about an enjoyably close relationship with white South African tyranny. The posture goes hand in hand with the interests of the U.S. military, as so vigorously articulated over the years by now-retired Admiral Elmo Zumwalt. The Zumwalt theory is that the U.S. is at the mercy of the Third World, so far as its basic minerals are concerned. - In this sense, the U.S. is at a disadvantage tü the self-sufficient Soviet Union. In order to assure access to, and supply of, these minerals, Zumwalt lias said that the U.S. Navy must provide "a life-line" between the U.S. motherland and the dark continent (not to mention life-lines to all the other continents of the world). This is a handy theory, since the evident menace to life-lines is the Soviet Navy, which, in the view of the paranoid seadog, constantly threatens to interdict them. Moynihan simply embroiders these Pentagon which at one point were marshaled to allege that Allende had to be disposed of, since otherwise, the Soviet Navy would be able to domínate the stormy waters around Tierra del Fuego. The nub of the theory comes as no surprise. Zumwalt and his cohorts say that the U.S. must speedily 'build niany more ships- everything from more outmoded aircraft carriers to smaller craft, thrustful little attack boats, killer subs- a mighty and under-water fleet, barely comprehensible to sane people. The theory takes on a self-propelling aspect, since this vast new armada, to interdict the Soviet Union in África and elsewhere, will need vast amounts of A frican minerals and so forth to build it. Henee, África will become, more than ever, crucial to U.S. strategie interests. All this used to be called imperialism. More crudely, it's one way out of a recession. The demanology spouted by the fluent Moynihan -now backed by many editorialists across the country, ithough contradicted in the Senate-obscures the longrange problem for África, which is simply how to obtain real independence and a measure of prosperity. África, in a way, is very much like Latin America. If the Third-World recession holds over the next ten or fifteen years, the poverty in both these areas of the world will surely ulerease, and with it, domination by foreign corporations and banks. Such domination will, of course, provoke further violent upheavals, and such upheavals will lead to calis for the expansión of the covert apparatus of the United States. What we may well be seeing is a rerun of the Chilean scenario, where, fundamentally, Allende's regime feil because of international economie pressure, in another place at a later time.