There are a lot of people laughing at Donald Trump’s praise of a nation that doesn’t exist when he spoke yesterday before African leaders at the United Nations. “Nambia,” he proclaimed twice. Of course he meant Namibia. Trump’s worldview is farcical and his ignorance is legendary, but what is far worse than this bungle is what he actually said in this speech.
Trump told these leaders that they should be “proud” that many of his friends are going to African countries “trying to get rich.” This might seem innocuous, but to anyone who understands the bloody history and enduring legacy of colonial plunder it is far from a benevolent commendation. It is a signal that the United States, which expanded its covert wars and neo-colonial projects on the continent under President’s Bush and Obama, will only continue and widen its presence and plunder in the years to come.
Trump went on to talk about oil and gas exploration, extraction and production across the continent. This cannot be looked at without considering the global crisis of climate change which he arrogantly dismisses or the enormous ecological cost the fossil fuel industry exacts upon ecosystems and poor communities that depend upon them for sustenance and survival. An example of this is the once fertile Niger Delta which has been devastated by companies like Shell. This, along with mining that often ruthlessly exploits children and women, is how many wealthy investors actually do “get rich” in Africa.
The US has always had a disruptive and destructive presence across the continent. The CIA and US State Department hatched multiple plans to assassinate political leader Patrice Lumumba of Congo. And it lent its support to apartheid South Africa. But today, thanks to the bogus “war on terror,” it runs scores of special operations, training exercises and other military programs and interventions from Algeria to Zambia. Trump’s speech merely solidified this commitment in the coded language of capitalistic opportunism and imperialism.
At the end of his speech Trump seemed to drift into a non sequitur when he warned participants of the supposed “threat” of North Korea. This wasn’t as strange as it might appear. Trump may very well be playing a calculating game by building a “coalition of the willing” with “client states” as George W. Bush did in the run up to the catastrophic invasion of Iraq.
If this is true, we should all be worried about what he and his military generals have in store for a country and a planet that do, in fact, exist.
~ Kenn Orphan 2017