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in ENGLISH, The White House and the Black Continent, Strategic Significance.

The White House and the Black Continent

Strategic Significance

 

Both the mass media and official statements (military and political) have continually referred to the strategic significance of Africa for the "defence" of the West. Furthermore, they have even given the separate elements of which this significance is comprised: the natural resources of the continent, its crucial position at the juncture between Europe, the Middle East, Asia, the Mediterranean Sea and the Indian and Atlantic Oceans, the fact that major sea-routes-the vital arteries that supply the West European and North American states-lie round Africa, the existence of good ports and naval bases in Africa, and finally the advantageous geographical position of certain African states from the point of view of US military strategy.

All these and similar considerations, accompanied by the never-ending theme of the "Soviet threat", have one aim in view-to spread NATO influence throughout Africa and tie the continent to that bloc's southern flank.

Of course, to spread this influence officially is impossible. In the first place the African countries are members of the non-aligned movement and, secondly, they quite simply do not want to be drawn into the military adventures of imperialism. The fruitlessness of attempts to legalise the NATO presence in Africa was shown clearly during the events in Zaire in 1977 and 1978. But this does not mean that the United States has renounced its attempts to use the territories of the liberated countries for its own strategic purposes. It has simply had to find alternative approaches and several ways have been opted for: military strongholds and distinctive strategic bases are being created in certain African states, arms supplies are stepped up to countries with pro-Western regimes, and made far exceed the normal defence requirements of the country concerned, and attempts are made to form so-called strategic mini-blocs under the aegis of the NATO countries on the basis of economic organisations.

As the Parisian publication Jeune Afrique noted, "In a bid to limit the influence of the socialist countries in Africa the present master of the White House is trying to strengthen, if not create from scratch, reliable pro-American strongholds throughout the whole of the African continent. He is also out to organise a defence system that is clearly directed against those 'dangerous hotbeds of subversive activity'-Libya, Ethiopia, and Angola. This system relies on Morocco in the west, Egypt in the north, Sudan, Somalia, and Kenya in the east, Zaire in the centre and finally, South Africa in the south." (1)

During Reagan's period in the White House the United States has done much in this respect, particularly in North-East Africa. This area is considered by Washington as the "third central strategic zone" (the two others being Western Europe and the Far East). On the basis of the Camp David accords the United States began to form its outpost in North and North-East Africa. Under Sadat military air-bases were provided for the Americans at Cairo-West and Qena and a new base was built at Ras Banas (on the Red Sea). American military installations are planned to be built in the Farafirah Oasis region, near Mersa Matriih (on the Mediterranean) and El Alamein. All these military bases were designed for the Rapid Deployment Force to conduct military action against the national liberation movements and the sovereign states of Africa and the Middle East. Sudan, Kenya, Somalia, and Oman apart from Egypt have been involved in these military preparations.

A demonstration of the US military presence in Africa was given in 1981 and in 1983 with the holding of the Bright Star manoeuvres. These military exercises were conducted jointly by the United States, Sudan, Egypt, Somalia, and Oman.

Much has already been written on this show of force which aroused protest throughout the world, particularly in the Arab and African countries. Here it is important to consider the conclusions which were drawn virtually unanimously by all objective writers. First, the references to the "Soviet threat" as the pretext for holding the manoeuvres were nothing more than an attempt to disguise the United State's aggressive policies in the Middle East. Secondly, these actions, i.e., the holding of joint military manoeuvres with Arab countries, were intended to reconcile the latter with the US-Israeli agreement on "strategic cooperation". Thirdly, the principal aim of the manoeuvres was a rehearsal for occupying the oil-producing countries of the Persian Gulf, which itself has been declared a US "vital interest zone".

With the greater or lesser participation of the other imperialist powers the United States has also created a strategic stronghold in the south of the continent. Here Washington's main sup-Port comes from racist South Africa, which already possesses impressive military and economic potential. Despite protests from public opinion throughout the world, UN resolutions, and indignation in Africa, the imperialist powers have long maintained strong ties with South Africa and actively supported its policies of racism, apartheid, and aggression against neighbouring countries.

US interest in South Africa is very high. Direct investments by the US monopolies amount to 3 billion dollars. No less than 540 of these monopolies have companies in South Africa, employing a total staff of one hundred thousand. 25 per cent of the shares of the goldmining concerns belong to Americans and there are some 6,000 US companies trading with South Africa. One-third of US imports of chrome ore, antimony, vanadium and platinum metals, a total of 37 minerals, which are all essential to present-day production particularly in the war industry, come from South Africa.(2) In this connection it is interesting to note that in March 1982 the South African Embassy in the United States put advertisements in 15 major American newspapers which amongst other things stated, "South Africa's strategic position alone, quite apart from its mineral resources, makes it of vital importance to the United States and the West". Incidentally, these words, as it turned out later, came from Frank R. Barnett, the head of the National Strategy Information Centre.(3)

The setting up of a US military stronghold in Southern Africa also presupposes the involvement of Namibia. This is the reason why there has been such a delay in giving that country independence and why South Africa is committing aggression against Angola on the pretext of hunting the SWAPO partisans. Chester Crocker, in a talk with the South African foreign and defence ministers, said: "Our view is that South Africa is under no early military pressure to leave Namibia." (4)

The formation of a US military stronghold in Southern Africa includes modernising and strengthening the South African armed forces; supplying South Africa with the latest military technology and equipment; aiding South Africa in the ptoduction of nuclear weapons; building new military bases and ports and making technical improvements to those already in existence; and making South Africa part of the NATO communications system.

(1) Jeune Afrique, No. 1138, 27 Octobet 1982, p. 33.

(2) Calculated from Survey of Current Business, Vol. 63, No. 8, August 1983, p. 29.

(3) Africa Report, Vol. 27, No. 3, May-June 1982, p. 16.

(4) The Secret State Department Documents (Covert Action), No 13, July-August 1981, p. 38.

 

Economic Interests - Back

Next - Ideological Guarantees

 

Translated from the Russian
Designed by Oleg Grebenyuk
Белый дом и черный континент
На английском языке
Group of Authors: An. A. Gromyko (Editor's Note);
Ye. A. Tarabrin (Ch. I, III, Conclusion); V. P. Kasatkin (Ch. II
IX); V. Ya. Lebedev (Ch. IV); A. Yu. Urnov (Ch V)-
V. S. Baskin (Ch. VI); A. V. Prudnikov (Ch. VII)-
M. L. Vishnevsky (Ch. VIII)
Издательство "Прогресс", 1984.
English translation. Progress Publishers 1984
Printed in the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics



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