cush-Powell initiative on the Congo good signalfor U.S-Africa relations

Bush-Kabila-Powell initiative on the Congo goodsignal for U.S-Africa relations

Special to USAfricaonline.com
and USAfrica The Newspaper, Houston


The world is facing the specter of an impending, but avoidablereality that one of Africa's largest countries could implode anddismember in a couple of months. If the Congo disintegrates, theentire centralAfrica region, its neighboring 8 countries and major parts ofsouthern Africa region will face catastrophic human and geo-politicalcomplications. David Kilgour, Canada's secretary of state for Africasaid recently that the Congo "is the center of gravity in Africa....If things spin out of control here, who knows how many countries willbe sucked into the whirlpool." To be sure, it will impact Uganda, theother Congo, Rwanda, Angola, Namibia, Zimbabwe and in part, SouthAfrica; since the Congo's 51 million long-embattled citizens made upof 20 significant ethnic groups will, more than likely, vote withtheir feet.

Bush-Powell initiative on the Congo good signal for U.S-Africarelations President George W. Bush and Secretary of State ColinPowell's (picture right) decision to meet on Thursday, February 1,2001, in Washington DC with the Democratic Republic of Congo's newpresident, Joseph Kabila (son of the recently murdered formerpresident Laurent Kabila)holds several international policy implications, strategic meaningsand politically symbolic values. I'll attempt to explain a fewimportant points, here.

To capture the overall picture of the dynamic at play, theBush-Powell initiative is significant first step when I recall ThomasPakenham's haunting words in his epic book, The Scramble for Africa,"when the Belgians scuttled out of the Congo in July, 1960, they hadleft the country well prepared for civil war and anarchy."

First, as the world's most preeminent statesman and formerpresident of South Africa Nelson Mandela said a few days ago, theunfortunate assassination of the senior Kabila offers a chance torebuild Congo, stabilize the region and make peace.

Second, why is this important? The world is facing the specter ofan impending, but avoidable reality that one of Africa's largestcountries could implode and dismember in a couple of months. If theCongo disintegrates, the entire central Africa region, itsneighboring 8 countries and major parts of southern Africa regionwill face catastrophic human and geopolitical complications. DavidKilgour, Canada's secretary of state for Africa said recently thatthe Congo "is the center of gravity in Africa.... If things spin outof control here, who knows how many countries will be sucked into thewhirlpool." To be sure, it will impact Uganda, the other Congo,Rwanda, Angola, Namibia, Zimbabwe and in part, South Africa; sincethe Congo's 51 million long-embattled citizens made up of 20significant ethnic groups will, more than likely, vote with theirfeet.

Third, we should look at the events regarding the Congo from whatI may call the show-me-the money foundations of internationalrelations and diplomacy. Those would have, in part, compelled Bush'sinterest and rethink on Africa. Congo has abundant resources such ascobalt, petroleum, industrial and gem diamonds, gold, silver,germanium, uranium, radium, bauxite, copper, cadmium,, zinc,manganese, tin, iron ore, coal, timber and the luxuriant Congo River.Houston-based and other U.S. corporations are doing business insideand around the Congo's minerals rich fields. Congo has since 1938captured the interests of rapacious Belgian colonialist, and themodern-day American and European corporations.

Fourth, it shows, however modest the steps, that Bush is open tolearn about the realities of U.S. and Africa interests. The man didnot allow pride or preconceived notions to halt an opportunity toopen new doors into Africa rather than abandon the Congo, as theeconomic predators from colonial Belgium did.

Fifth, it validates my view the fact that Bush's internationalrelations team lead by Colin Powell, an Africa-American of Caribbeanroots, and Prof. Condoleezza Rice, another African-American, are nottokenist fixtures at the Department of State and National Securitybut professionals who seem capable of rising to the dynamics of arapidly changing world. As I argued on December 18, 2000 on theHouston Chronicle Outlook page in a commentary titled 'Choice ofPowell puts Africa on Bush's map', Powell is familiar with theAfrican continent, and that most persons of African descent arehopeful that Powell will, as he has done in the past, elevate theissues that are important for his community and ancestry -- allwithin the global material interests of the U.S.

Finally, as a realistic advocate for Africa in the U.S., and as astudent of international economic relations, I commend theBush-Powell initiative on war-torn Congo as timely, appropriate and aclear signal of support for the reconstruction of the structures ofpeace and business in the region.

Recall that I had on CNN after the presidential electionscriticized candidate Bush's ill-advised November 2000 pre-electionview that Africa will not be an area of priority under hispresidency. Hence, it is heartwarming that after his election asPresident, Bush's first major meeting with any leader of anothercountry will be with a very young leader from Africa, thelong-suffering, embattled continent, and heritage home for almost 32million Blacks in America. With this latest move, Bush continues tosurprise many; gradually but positively.

Essentially, it needs to be noted that Bush, Kabila and Powell areacting in the economic, humanitarian and political interests of ourtwo continents since neither the U.S. nor countries in Africa act ascharity organizations but as entities seeking their immediatefinancial values, medium and strategic interests. A stable Congo isgood business for the U.S., Congolese and African businesses.
Nwangwu, an adviser to the Mayor of Houston on internationalbusiness (Africa) serves as the Founder & Publisher of the firstAfrican-owned, U.S.-based professional newspaper to be published onthe Internet USAfricaonline.com. He is therecipient of the Journalism Excellence Award, HABJ 1997, coveredPresident Bill Clinton's visit to parts of Africa,March -April, 1998,and to Nigeria in August 2000. He is the publisher of The BlackBusiness Journal, BBJonline.com,USAfrica The Newspaper, and NigeriaCentral.comCopyright©January 30,2001. USAfrica Digital Media Networks


TRANSITION IN CENTRAL AFRICA
Mandela hopes for peace in central Africa region after Kabila's death. South Africa's former president and one of the world's most respected statesmen made those comments in his post-Kabila interview. Gen. Joseph Kabila, son of late President Laurent Kabila has since become the leader of the Democratic Republic of Congo, after his father was shot dead by one of his own bodyguards. Mandela has been working to achieve some structure for regional stability since Mobutu Sese Seko was booted out.
DIPLOMACY
In a special report soon after after the history-making nomination, USAfricaonline.com Founder and Publisher Chido Nwangwu placed Powell within the trajectory of history and into his unfolding clout and relevance in an essay titled 'Why Colin Powell brings gravitas, credibility and star power to Bush presidency.'

AFRICA AND THE U.S. ELECTIONS
Beyond U.S. electoral shenanigans, rewards and dynamics of a democratic republic hold lessons for African politics.
The Coming Apathy: Africa policy under a Bush administration. By Dr. Salih Booker
DIAMONDS AND BLOOD MONEY
Evidence of Liberian President Charles Taylor's involvement in illegal diamond and arms trafficking with Sierra Leone's rebels is ''100 percent'' solid, the top diamond expert on a U.N.-appointed panel has revealed. But the panel's report accused the Liberian president of actively fueling the nine-year civil war in Sierra Leone, and with a small coterie of officials and businessmen, of controlling "a covert sanctions-busting apparatus that includes international criminal activity and the arming of the RUF... The sanctions-busting is fed by the smuggling of diamonds and the extraction of natural resources in both Liberia and areas under rebel control in Sierra Leone,'' it said. "In addition, the sovereign right of Liberia to register planes and ships, and to issue diplomatic passports, is being misused in order to further the operations of this group.''

CONTINENTAL AGENDA
Bush's election time position on Africa is "ill-advised." The position stated by Republican presidential aspirant and Governor of Texas, George Bush where he said that "Africa will not be an area of priority" in his presidency has been questioned by USAfricaonline.com Publisher Chido Nwangwu. He added that Bush's "pre-election position was neither validated by the economic exchanges nor geo-strategic interests of our two continents." These views were stated during an interview CNN's anchor Bernard Shaw and senior analyst Jeff Greenfield had with Mr. Nwangwu on Saturday November 18, 2000 during a special edition of 'Inside Politics 2000.'
Nwangwu, adviser to the Mayor of Houston (the 4th largest city in the U.S., and immigrant home to thousands of Africans) argued further that "the issues of the heritage interests of 35 million African-Americans in Africa, the volume and value of oil business between between the U.S and Nigeria and the horrendous AIDS crisis in Africa do not lend any basis for Governor Bush's ill-advised position which removes Africa from fair consideration" were he to be elected president.
By Alverna Johnson


Letters: African perspectives to U.S. elections on CNN
"The American people have now spoken, but it's going to take a little while to determine exactly what they said." U.S. President Bill Clinton.
The U.S. Elections, Political System and Africa. By Profs. Cassandra R. Veney and Paul Tiyambe Zeleza
A nation of Polls and
Predictions
By Prof. Walt Brasch, columnist for USAfricaonline.com
Why International community should note the old military dictator in Obasanjo is abusing
human rights of Igbos, others in Nigeria. By Egbebelu Ugobelu

Africa suffers the scourge of the virus
Kgomotso Mahlangu, a five-month-old AIDS patient in a hospital in the Kalafong township near Pretoria, South Africa, captures the more painful profile of the catastrophic and sweeping impact of the virus in the continent. USAfricaonline special report is titled AIDS, Africa and Kgomotso.
SPECIAL REPORTS
A trial of two cities and struggle for justice. Written for USAfricaonline.com by TIME magazine columnist and national correspondent Jack E. White

Will religious conflicts be the time-bomb for Nigeria's latest transition to civilian rule? By Chido Nwangwu