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Jonathan Dirda

The size and sprawl of US diplomatic expeditions to Africa precede from impatience with the limits of US power and an ambition to hunt a bigger game than the mere symbolic collision of interests with Beijing.

US Diplomatic Delegations in a Mission to Curb Chinese Influence in Africa.

The administration of Barack Obama has been quick to engage with the rise of China and its increasing role in Africa - a case of accepting the inevitable and trying to make the best of it. Facing the threat of weakening its influence in Africa and losing access to mineral resources from the continent as a result of growing “Chinese expansion” the US is sending delegation after delegation to many African countries. This is part of a grand strategy which it has developed and started to implement to deal with Beijing’s forays to Africa.  The plan is slippery, mercurial, multifaceted, hard to explain, and nowhere near fashionable or effective. The goal is maintaining control over the most significant and perspective natural resources and building up its presence in African countries. At the recent US delegation’s heart is a cluster of motifs-ideas, notions, hunches, feelings, analogies-kept in constant, shape shifting motion. Ideas dear to Washington, free market competition for resources, are suddenly and prodigally thrown away, while pressure, influence, military back up are taken up and pursued to the point of exhaustion.

Several American delegations have already visited some West-African states like Ghana, Liberia, Niger, Chad and Mali. There is ongoing preparation for such trips to East-African countries.US embassies to these countries have received the instruction to provide all necessary support for these expert groups, including arranging meetings with high-level local officials. But the size and sprawl of US diplomatic expeditions precede from impatience with the limits of US power and an ambition to hunt a bigger game than the mere symbolic collision of interests with Beijing. It is expected that US will strengthen its subversive activities against Chinese representative officials in African countries in which there is a perceived collision of Washington’s and Beijing’s interests. The oil rich areas of high priority for US include south Sudan, Darfur and Uganda, as well as the Guinea gulf. Taking this in to account, it goes without saying that Washington is going to provide additional assistance to the government of South Sudan in its confrontation with Khartoum which is backed by Beijing. 

Within the framework of realizing its plans, in may-June this year Washington sent a number of groups consisting of economic and military experts to some regions, in order to assess the level of Chinese penetration to these countries. The final aim of their mission is to elaborate recommendations to the US leadership on how to “curb china” and how to strengthen US political-military influence in the continent with a view to provide privileged access of American business to the African source of raw material. That’s about as much of a synopsis as can be undertaken in a rush and reasonably short time. There are a few other attempts (AFRICOM, War on Terror, Anti-Beijing rhetoric), which seem to be long term actions whose trajectories are even harder to summarize.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 18 July 2012 12:16



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