24.01.2019 Author: Phil Butler

Africa Shifts to Putin, NOT the Other Way Around


This afternoon I sat in dazed disbelief at a “news” story from Financial Times proclaiming Vladimir Putin’s “shift” to Africa. With a couple of centuries of imperialist mayhem behind the Anglo-European cohort, any photo op with Vladimir Putin and a desperate leader ends up a headline. Here’s the truth of the matter of Africa. With nowhere else to turn except to face ravaging tigers, Africa’s leaders look to the best alternatives.

Authors Henry Foy and Nastassia Astrasheuskaya must have just emerged from imprisonment in the FT basement. This is the only explanation for reporters who are supposed to have an eye out for a real story to concoct one out of nothing. The lead of the story will astound some of you.

“As protests raged in Zimbabwe’s cities last week, with police firing live ammunition at crowds who barricaded roads with burning tires, the target of their anger was 8,000km away.”

If the Financial Times and other western mainstream media are locking journalists in cages and feeding them bullshit day and night, then FT forgetting about America’s never-ending imperialism in Africa is easily explained. Barring this, the dynamic duo on this story is about as unbiased as Radio Free Europe. I could list 100 instances where every American administration has undermined governments in Africa. This story about USAID funding rights abusers to lean on Zimbabwe President-elect Emmerson Mnangagwa is a good one. However, this story is telling for U.S. strategies to sway elections. And I quote:

“In Zimbabwe, USAID used this unique and small fund in 2012 to initiate the “Zimbabwe Works” project, so young men were working in the lead up to the 2013 elections. The success of this program, implemented by the International Youth Foundation, led to the British and Swedish aid agencies joining in and served nearly 29,000 young Zimbabweans.”

Of course, USAID shoveling money and influence down the throats of institutions for the CIA and the U.S. State Department is no secret to me. Nor are U.S. subversive practices hidden from the likes of FT writers. Furthermore, not only is the Trump administration putting the thumbscrews to Zimbabwe by dangling the USAID carrot, that agency is twisting the noose tighter by releasing reports on Zimbabwe’s crumbling economy. Consult News Day, if you doubt my concerns. So the question arises, “Why Zimbabwe now?”

On Wednesday 12 December, the United States Foreign Relations Committee of the 115th Congress met for the last time. Chairman of the committee, U.S. Representative Ed Royce (R-CA) convened the meeting entitled “Development, Diplomacy, and Defense: Promoting United States Interests in Africa.” The magic here for me is, Financial Times contributor Jim O’Brien reported on it back in December. I guess he was not one of the writers imprisoned and tortured to create the anti-Russia narrative. The point is, these policies are widely observed, so throwing Russia’s president into the Africa fray is just sensationalism. Of course, Russia has interests on that continent, every country on Earth does. The issue here is that Zimbabwe is in the middle of a geopolitical battleground between the United States, China, and Russia. The larger issue is, “Who is the instigator?” Let’s face it, a couple of decades ago Russia or China could not have given a hoot about Zimbabwe. Back in the 1990s Harvard fellow, Michael Roemer wrote a report comparing Asia and Africa economics and suggesting Africa follow China’s pattern. When the American leadership wanted globalization to affect the elite profits, China was a beacon of hope for third world countries Donald Trump affectionately calls “shit holes.” Let’s remember, that Hillary Clinton was a co-sponsor of the Zimbabwe Democracy and Economic Recovery Act of 2001.

I’ve no desire to dredge up the nightmarish Anglo-European colonialism that still rages in Africa today. What should be of interest to the reader is the strategy of blaming Vladimir Putin every time a desperate leader lands on the Kremlin doorstep after having been, shunned by the United States. American leadership and the corporate elites cause a problem, bleed a people to death, change regimes like a game of musical chairs, and then point the finger at Russia or China for not playing ball. FT author Foy says France is “unnerved” to discover Russia is sending security advisors to Zimbabwe. The author also exclaims analysts from Chatham House were aghast that they had not noticed “significant clusters of armed Russians” in the country. Oh my, next they will learn the Wicked Witch of the West was not killed by Dorothy. Maybe this quote from a recent NPR story will “wake” Chatham House up some more:

“When U.S. troops were ambushed in Niger last October, the widespread reaction was surprise: The U.S. has military forces in Niger? What are they doing there?”

The title of that story by Greg Myer was “The Military Doesn’t Advertise It, But U.S. Troops Are All Over Africa.” So, now you can see the real reason FT blames Putin for anything that goes wrong in Africa. Zimbabwe’s leader did not do a photo op with Donald Trump at the White House. And Mr. Putin should learn his place, and stop trying to horn in on America’s Africa Command, AFRICOM, which was set in place back in 2007 to “deal with emerging extremist threats.”

I look forward to Financial Times’ next crybaby routine against Vladimir Putin.

Phil Butler, is a policy investigator and analyst, a political scientist and expert on Eastern Europe, he’s an author of the recent bestseller “Putin’s Praetorians” and other books. He writes exclusively for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook.”