Economic and military power is the only guarantee of national security for a United Africa  

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By Carlton Joseph

Carlton Joseph

We live in a world where people of color, especially colonized people, were taught that culture and education make a person, if you pursued education everything would be okay.  In the Caribbean, a few scholarships were awarded, children achieving very high marks on the exams set by Cambridge University, got to study in the “mother” country, England, or whatever country colonized them.  Racism existed, but you were unaware of its existence.  Some travelled and joined the “mother” countries’ military, fighting for “democracy and freedom,” and when the war was over, they could only work in menial jobs in the mother country, since the “good” jobs were reserved for white citizens.  They were participating in the global power war game without understanding how it functioned, or that it existed.

What amazes me is that in 2023, people of color, especially African leaders, still believe the colonial talk of democracy, freedom and equality and blindly follow their colonial masters’ orders, delivered through the IMF, WTO and World Bank.  They don’t understand that the overriding goal of each state is to maximize its share of world power at the expense of other states.  They do not understand that powerful nations are only concerned with dominating the world, and what they perceive as their security interests, supersede all other interests. 

A brief view of a few hundred years of world and European history reveals, constant wars between nation states, civil war within the states, wars between a European state and non-European state, and global conflicts in which Europe was a theatre of war.  War, where today’s ally might be tomorrow’s enemy, as nation states seek to dominate each other politically, militarily and economically, in pursuit of their real or imagined national security.  In their pursuit of global or regional hegemony every strategy is deployed, including blackmail. International politics is a ruthless and dangerous business.

The British Empire lasted 400 years. It was the largest empire in history, and for over a century was the foremost global power.  Austria-Hungary was a great power from 1792 until it disintegrated in 1918; Italy was a great power from 1861 until 1943; the French established hegemony over much of continental Europe from 1804 through 1815, while Japan was considered a great power from 1895 until 1945.  Germany in 1905, was the most powerful state in Europe, its main rivals on the continent were France and Russia, until it collapsed in 1945.   The Soviet Union was left standing as the most powerful state in Europe, and shared the status of super power with the US.  

The USSR was so powerful that the US feared it might emerge as the European hegemon; so the ally of WWII became the enemy that must be contained.  The US created NATO to check their power, and ensure they did not achieve regional hegemony in Europe.  Today, the US is the only regional hegemon in the world and is determined to keep it that way.  To quote, Immanuel Kant, “It is the desire of every state, or of its ruler, to arrive at a condition of perpetual peace by conquering the whole world, if that were possible.”

John J. Mearsheimer, in his book entitled: The Tragedy of Great Power Politics, claims that great powers pursue four main goals: to be the only regional hegemon on the globe, to control as large a percentage of the world’s wealth as possible, to dominate the balance of land power in their region, and to have nuclear superiority.

Since the collapse of the Soviet Union, the only regional hegemon in the world, America, has waged six wars with impunity.  US president Joe Biden has been able to convince the G7 to support the war in Ukraine, even though it weakens them economically. Biden has been convening summits in Asia in order to curb the rise of China.  These leaders, like leaders before them, are being forced to choose sides. The key in this game is to be on the winning side, because this is a zero-sum game where the winning side gets to decide on the spoils of war.  Interestingly, a state can be on the winning side and, if the new arrangement puts them in a position of power, they can quickly become the enemy.

In1959, the CIA created a dedicated Africa division with the goal of securing American’s power across the continent.  Many African leaders including Patrice Lumumba, Amilcar Cabral, and Kwame Nkrumah understood power and the need for African Unity. They were assassinated or overthrown with the U.S. government or Western intelligence support. The result was that the country’s natural resources and state corporations were privatized under the supervision of international financial institutions.  Controlling Africa’s resources and increasing their share of the world’s wealth, keeping the Soviet Union and communism out of Africa, and domination of the continent were the primary ingredients that made the Western Hemisphere sole hegemon.

The leader of Congo’s drive for independence Patrice Lumumba said, “Political independence has no meaning if it is not accompanied by rapid economic and social development.”  In the 1950’s Africa was in the process of winning their independence from their various colonizers, so it was a routine matter for the colonizers and the US to assassinate or overthrow them.  

With a current population of 1.4 billion people, African Unity is mandatory. And population size is an essential ingredient is a determinant of the size of a state’s army. Also, large resource rich land mass and large populations are the prerequisite for producing great wealth and military power. In this dangerous world of international politics, only economic and military power guarantees your national security, the state’s survival.  A United Africa must guarantee its national security, and the security of the African diaspora.   

(Trinidad-born Carlton Joseph who lives in Washington D.C., is a close observer of political developments in the United States.)