Russia’s moves in Africa have been widely debated by western think thanks and policymakers the last couple of years. The general consensus comes down to the sentiment that President Vladimir Putin’s personal desire to return his country to great-power status is the reason for the new Russia-Africa detente. The narrative from the west always comes as a foreboding, as if Russia should act like some third class banana republic on the world stage. The tone and intonation beg the question “What should Russia’s role in Africa and the world be?” Here’s the long view on why the Anglo-European alliance is at odds with Putin and the wider world.
Russia’s Real Africa Intentions
Experts at the recent Valdai Discussion Club bring to the forefront Russia’s escalating influence in Africa. In fact, 2019 has been dubbed the “Year of Africa in Russia foreign policy.” History tells us that Russia’s influence in Africa nosedived after the fall of the Soviet Union. Unfortunately, every positive move by Russia today is equated as a move to recapture the power and ideology of the USSR. When in fact, nothing could be further from reality.
As this story from Valdai suggests, Russia moves in Africa are less about ideologies and more about good business for all concerned. Where Cold War-era strategies were often about high flung geostrategic dominance, Africa relations today are about sustainable business, civic relationships, and long term understanding. At least this seems to be the prevalent them in Russian policy toward Africa and the world. Sadly, what should be a positive resurgence of Russia-Africa influence, is the subject of fear-mongering by western think tanks, politicians, and key business elites.
An immediate example of this can be seen in an article from The Jamestown Foundation entitled “Kremlin Moves in Africa Open a New Round in Russia’s Broader Cold War Against the West.” The report, taken from the “Eurasia Daily Monitor Volume: 16 Issue: 107,” and it’s typical Russophobic nonsense. The author, former CIA and U.S. State Department gook Paul Goble cites Kyiv’s Delovaya Stolitsa, Yekaterina Shchetkina as an authority on what Vladimir Putin and Russia are up to in Africa. Goble is also a columnist for Euromaidan Press.
The Think Tanks and Business
I’ll not burden the reader with the lowdown on this online Russophobia propaganda site. Most reading this already know. What’s more meaningful is the level of disinformation put out by western think tanks like The Jamestown Foundation, which was created in the Reagan Era to support Soviet defectors. Anyhow, the propaganda level of this think tank should be no surprise, since former CIA Director William J. Casey helped back the formation of Jamestown Foundation from the getgo. It should also be noted that the now-deceased Dr. Zbigniew Brzezinski, the most notorious Russia hater ever, was a key board member of this and other foundations fueling Cold War sentiment against modern Russia.
One of the biggest issues the general public is not privy to is the influence the geo-political dinosaurs from the Cold War exert on our policy. Take for instance the current board of Jamestown Foundation. General Michael Hayden is the former director of both the NSA and the CIA under George W. Bush. Now he’s the national security poster boy for CNN. He’s the Washington insider who was central in the so-called NSA warrantless surveillance controversy. In order to make my point more clearly, let me offer an opinion on these Cold War dinosaurs and what’s in it for them if the new Russia is our new enemy.
In almost every think tank we mention in Washington, actors like General Hayden play key roles. Hayden, who is now a principal at the Chertoff Group, a security consultancy co-founded by former Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff, has vested interests in the world being very afraid. In fact, almost all the key officials from the Clinton, George W. Bush, and Obama administrations have similar interests. Take Michael Chertoff, for an example.
Zombie Cold War Dinosaurs
Many of the world’s crises are because Cold War mentality simply will not die. One reason ancient ideologies won’t go away and leave us alone is because big business is about neolithic leadership. The co-author of the Patriot Act which defies the U.S. Constitution as set out by the founders, Michael Chertoff was only recently replaced as the Chairman of BAE Systems, the British multinational defense, security, and aerospace company. Talk about conflicts of interest, the former ministers and now key advisors to the most powerful governments of the west umbilically tied to the world’s biggest weapons manufacturers is the biggest red flag on Earth. Now check this.
Chertoff is seen most recently in an article he co-authored on CNBC about Chinese device manufacturer Huawei “at bay.” Here’s the telling prognosis from the former Homeland Security boss’ story:
“…the U.S. needs to expand it’s cyber industrial base as well as its cooperation with other countries beyond our four biggest allies, in order to avoid using products developed by companies including Huawei.”
Translation. Backtracking to General Hayden, he was elected to the board of directors of Motorola Solutions back in 2011. This facet of my story goes too far off-topic along another tangent, but it should be noted that Motorola Solutions filed a series of lawsuits against China-based two-way radio manufacturer Hytera back in 2017. The point is that U.S. companies in direct competition with Chinese firms are not playing fair. Just keep in mind here, the play of companies like Apple, Google, Microsoft, and many others. Returning to the CNBC report by Chertoff, we find the deep state strategy for expanding on control of business and information. This quote from Chertoff is poignant:
“…we must reexamine how we think about the NTIB, expanding its scope beyond DoD and military operations technologies, and better leverage it to protect our cyber industrial base. Our entire society, not just the military, has become highly technologically dependent.”
Africa for Anglo-Europeans Only
Circling back to the Russia-Africa reconnect we find principal analysts and players with an interest in the return of Cold War geopolitics. Of course, most of us have seen this happening for years now. The Jamestown Foundation and nearly all Washington think tanks, are served by some of the most unscrupulous human beings ever to walk our planet. Out of one side of their mouths, they condemn Putin and the Russians without a shred of evidence to show the public, while they “advise” in order to line the coffers of their companies with more cash. How can we depend on leaders to care for society, who make money from killing, chaos, life, death, the stock market, tangible and the intangible? Can we trust them to name our true enemies? Is all that “thinking” about right actions, or profitable ones? I think we all know the answers.
The Cold warriors want Russia out of Africa. What the dinosaurs are afraid of is not a resurrection of Soviet ideologies, but a devolution against the piracy that’s gone on in Eastern Europe since the fall of the wall. The Russophobes are purely afraid of losing their hegemony, not of Russia in particular. Experts and decision-makers like Chertoff in my country cyber industrial base must grow, in the same way, the military-industrial complex grew.
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.”