‘The West refuses to develop Africa’s potential’
RT: Hundreds of millions of dollars from the Pentagon are flowing into Africa now. Why is the continent attracting US attention?
Lawrence Freeman: The US has no good policy right now for Africa, which would mean developing the potential of the continent. And now under President Barack Obama our focus is becoming more and more on security and counter-terrorism, which now involves hundreds of millions and billions of dollars. And it’s really failing throughout the entire area of Sahara, West Africa, Central Africa… The security measures themselves have proven to be completely ineffective and it presented us with horrible conditions of worth, of life and destruction of countries.
RT:What interests does the US have in Africa? It is about democratization?
LF: I don’t think the US is trying to bring in democracy. The potential of Africa is enormous. In South Sudan, which is now almost in a civil war, this is the most fertile land untapped in the continent which could feed almost 1 billion people. The West has refused to develop its potential. China is not buying up oil fields and resources. China has an arrangement with their coming in with infrastructure, which the United States and Europe have refused over the last 30 years. China is building infrastructure and in return they are getting paid back in various resources such as oil. Africa could feed itself and could provide food for the rest of the world if we develop it. But the Western policy has actually been a genocidal policy that is to allow people to die from famine, from war and from disease rather than [to] develop these countries.
RT:There are reports that Africa's Republic of Djibouti, north of Somalia, is the place where the Pentagon is now expanding its activities the most. What might be the reason for that?
LF: Yes, the US many years ago took over an old French base there and they are now expanding it from about 2,500 up to maybe 4,000. This is unfortunately Obama’s policy to Africa. It has probably been the greatest militarization of Africa that we've seen under any president. He makes these lying comments about doubling access to electricity in Africa. And then the main deployment has been this military capability and there are many other bases being built up in Africa, including possibly new bases in South Sudan, and there are many bases now where we are warehousing drones.
In summer 2013, the Obama Administration unveiled the Power Africa program, a commitment of $7 billion to expand energy access across the continent. By January 2014, the Power Africa program had attracted $2.7billion in investments. In August 2014 President Obama is planning to hold a US-Africa summit, seeking to widen US trade, development and security ties with an increasingly dynamic continent.
So all this money that has been spent could much better be spent building roads, building energy power plants, building water development projects. And actually I believe the population of Africa and we refuse to do it, we have a military only policy right now. China has a different policy and for their own reasons, China is developing Africa, benefiting from it; they are building something. And the US and the West have refused to build any substantial infrastructure probably since the 1970s.
RT:We can see that many African states are rather unstable now. Is it possible to say that US missions are helping to improve the situation here?
LF: That’s the point. How is this helping? We spent over a billion dollars in counter-terrorism security in Sahel, West Africa and North Africa. And we've seen the Mali [leadership] toppled a year ago, we've seen the rise of Boko Haram, we committed the absolute criminal stupidity of overthrowing President Gaddafi, which Obama, Susan Rice and Samanta Power went for. So how is this security helping? Look at the Central African Republic. It’s been destroyed, it almost doesn't exist anymore. Look at Nigeria, look at South Sudan, look at Mali… They are still fighting terrorism in Northern Mali with French troops.
RT:Reuters reports the US Defense Department could ask Congress for 4.5 billion dollars in extra funds for missile defense, part of which will go towards a new radar based in Alaska. What's your take on that?
LF: There is a grouping in military that is not in favor of militarization, in fact this patriotic group in the military has kept us out of war in Syria for the last year. But the Obama Administration and the people advising him really don’t care at all about the welfare of the people of Africa, and they are going to let them die, and they [people] are actually dying in Africa.
All this propaganda that the US is trying to help Africa and we are going to double access to electricity… this is a lie that is repeated throughout Washington. We are not doing anything near that is necessary to develop these countries. And right now look at South Sudan. This is the country that we, the US and Britain, helped to create, and we have completely deserted the country and it’s destroying itself because we didn't develop it when it became independent. We weren't concerned about [its] development, we threw it to the wind and now we are suffering the consequences of it.
The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.