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Jul. 11 2009 - 10:28 am | 106 views | 1 recommendation | 49 comments

Why did President Obama choose Ghana as his Africa destination?

The press has barely been able to contain their excitement over President Obama’s trip to Africa. Their glee is understandable. America’s first black president is returning to the land in which his ancestors were born. The story is beautiful — poetic, really. But what few people are asking is, “Why Ghana?”

[Image from ghanaoilinfo.com]

Image from ghanaoilinfo.com

One of the few news sources to pose this question, Democracy Now, proposed the answer may have something to do with the recent discovery of oil in Ghana. A quarter of US oil imports are expected to come from West Africa by 2015, according to estimates by the National Intelligence Council. That could explain why Obama chose Ghana over, say, his father’s homeland of Kenya. 

Perhaps aware of the “oil” question, the White House was quick to announce that Ghana was selected as Obama’s destination because the African country is a “trusted partner” and praised its sound governance and lasting development. Kwesi Pratt, editor of “The Insight”, a newspaper based in Accra, Ghana, doesn’t buy that excuse.

The official reason has been given of Ghana’s fledgling democracy, that the United States of America has a lot of confidence in Ghana’s fledgling democracy. But all of us know that the main interest is oil. If you read the Cheney report, the Cheney report states very clearly that by 2015 American oil imports will move from 11% to 25%. The Cheney report also makes a recommendation for the establishment of military bases in order to protect American interests and American oil. For me these are the two key reasons why the United States and Obama are interested in this. It has nothing to do with democracy, but the preservation of American interests.

Pratt is referring to former Vice-President Dick Cheney’s role in the National Energy Policy Development Group (NEPDG), a task force of senior government representatives charged with developing a long-range plan to meet U.S. energy requirements. Former President Bush chose Cheney to head NEPDG, and one of Dick’s main goals was to minimize the United States’ dependency on oil from the Persian Gulf. Of course, NEPDG didn’t want to supplement oil for “green energy.” The group just wanted to find oil somewhere else, and “somewhere” included non-gulf areas, including the Caspian Sea basin, the West Coast of Africa, and Latin America. 

Ghana is located near the Africa west coast. “West Africa is expected to be one of the fastest-growing sources of oil and gas for the American market,” the Cheney report observed with almost tangible, gluttonous glee.  At the time, the report focused on Nigeria, Guinea, and Angola because Dick Cheney and George W. Bush had no idea Ghana had a massive oil reserve just off her coast. 

Then in 2007, the UK firm Tullow Oil announced the discovery of 600 million barrels of light oil offshore from Ghana. Reporter Njei Moses Timah stated the obvious, “China and the United States are not going to fold their arms and allow Ghana to quietly enjoy the proceeds of the over $40 billion worth of oil (less exploration and production costs) that has been discovered.”

“U.S. President Barack Obama’s trip to Ghana on July 10th-11th is a subtle White House oil strategy to secure another source of energy on the continent of Africa,” says Patrick Morris, Chief Executive Officer of Gold Star Resources Corp. in an interview with AlphaTrade Finance. 

Gold Star Resources is a Vancouver-based company seeking high-impact ‘onshore’ oil and gas opportunities in Liberia, Cote d’Ivoire and Ghana in West Africa. The company recently announced its acquisition of International Resources Strategies Liberia Energy Inc. (IRSLE). Gold Star also announced that it signed a Letter-of-Intent with Bengal Bight Ghana to acquire 100% of the hydrocarbon rights to the Tampoum mining concession, approximately 1,000 square km, in Cote d’Ivoire.

Morris adds, ”The U.S. Department of Energy has already confirmed that the United States will be importing over 770 million barrels of African oil annually by the year 2020. The U.S. National Intelligence Council is projecting that 25 percent of U.S. oil imports will come from West Africa by 2015 compared to 15% today. My own professional experience tells me that the political stability of Ghana’s government, a credible democratic political party system, and a positive investment environment all favor closer ties to Ghanaians by the Obama White House.”

The United States and China have a history of raping Africa for her natural resources, and investing nothing into local African communities themselves. Serge Michel, West Africa correspondent for the French newspaper “Le Monde,” told Democracy Now that – in classic colonialist fashion – China extracts Africa’s natural recourses without contributing anything to the native people, say by building infrastructure like roads. The United States traditionally follows a similar pattern of conquer and pillage.

There is no reason to doubt Ghana will face a similar fate this time.


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  1. collapse expand

    “The United States and China have a history of raping Africa for her natural resources, and investing nothing into local African communities themselves.”

    Allison my knowledge in this area is a tad weak, off the top of my head I’m hard pressed to think of America being the bad guy in sub-Sarah Africa could you give us a few examples of this? I certainly agree with you that China has a lot to answer for in it’s relations on the continent but not sure how you figure we do also. Also I’m wondering what you feel our obligation should be when we purchase something from a country at world market rates.

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    Many thanks for the links, this blog like my blog is a wordpress blog, by default wordpress treats any post with 3 or links as spam regardless of who posts them. Again thanks for the links I’ll definitely read through them.

    I do agree with you that oil more than likely played a part in the presidents choice to go Ghana, but I also think the White Houses reasoning is correct. Ghana is one of Africa’s few success stories and there is good in that being highlighted. I also think there is something else going on here. We white Americans tend to only think of this country as being “European”, trips like this remind white Americans that Africa is just as much a part of collective history and psyche as Europe is.

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    This is interesting. All of this shows that it is business as usual with the federal govt. This is a brilliant piece of political strategy. Send said president with African heritage to Africa in order to make it look like he is going back to his roots, while all along his administration is after the same thing that their predecessors were after!! They are merely looking for it in a different part of the world. I guess that makes sense. Lock it down in the middle east and move on to Africa.

    Is it fair to say that the current administration’s policies are every bit the same as the previous administration? I mean, did people really think that anything would change? Not enough people know about this stuff. This just confirms the notion that the mainstream media consists of a bunch of “yes” men and women who give us soft news. It is laughable. hahahahhaha…check out this report on the very same topic. Think they left a few things out? I mean, really, they don’t even try to explain why he was there.
    I thank you for providing solid analysis that is based on factual information.


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    Do you just read articles about Africa 30 years ago or do you have any engagement with the Africa of today? Having lived in Africa for the past 2 years and visited/worked in a large portion of West Africa, I can say that this indeed appears to be an entirely different situation than previous engagements with African nations on the United States’ part.

    All the countries you mentioned and articles you linked to: Angola, Congo, Sierra Leone, Liberia, Guinea, Cote d’Ivoire, Nigeria, CAR, wherever… the list could go on. The common link between all of them is at the time of US involvement, the state of governance within each country was nonexistent. Not “virtually” nonexistent, just nonexistent. Did the US play a large part in this situation in many of those countries? Absolutely. With Ghana, however, there is a small though highly respected democracy with sound management, high citizen participation, and popular support.

    In efforts to engage a country such as Ghana, even if it is just for oil, Obama at least is making a commitment to deal with countries that deal in real democracy: would you rather that the 25% portion of our oil which stands to come from West Africa continue to come from Saudi and the Emirates, countries with riches aplenty? Or would you rather see countries that need a real leg up get our support for executing the will of their peoples? You act as though the $40 billion (less exploration and production costs) that Ghana just got is a burden and not a fulcrum for development, investment and employment. The government is sound and accountable (thanks to an EXTREMELY enthusiastic press) enough that any corruption in dealing with oil companies would be exposed and would lead to serious repercussions for those involved. Is this the case for every W. African country today? Of course not – Nigeria being the main offender. But why not try to sway action by reaching out to an exemplary neighbor state?

    If you want to add another country to read about so you can pat yourself on the back about being such an informed citizen of the world, read about Gabon 40 years ago. While Ghana stands to gain today and what Gabon stood to gain then are exactly the same, the governance systems are entirely different. While Gabon fell completely prey to its autocrat and ELF and wealth stayed at the top, Ghana has an excellent chance to transform society from top to bottom thanks to a popular (of the people, not Homecoming Queen) government.

    For every Angola with oil, there’s now a Libya (not an ideal governance, but the people benefit tremendously from oil revenues); for every Sierra Leone with diamonds, there’s a South Africa; for every DRC with genocide, there’s a Rwanda, which leads the African mobile device industry. Your attitude seems to be that the American public should throw a wet blanket on dealing with any country based on our past actions with them. Guess we should sit around moping about our current relationships with Cuba, Chile, Palestine, Germany and Vietnam instead of fostering public ownership of their governance. Give me a break.

    On the subject of China, there’s a reason that they’re still dealing with the Sudans and DRCs of Africa. I’ll let you take a stab at where their interests lie.

    What exactly is your aversion to Obama committing to an above board deal with a fantastic democratic country for the benefit of its coffers?

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      Having lived in Africa for the past 2 years

      Where you have a UCLA email address?

      In efforts to engage a country such as Ghana, even if it is just for oil, Obama at least is making a commitment to deal with countries that deal in real democracy: would you rather that the 25% portion of our oil which stands to come from West Africa continue to come from Saudi and the Emirates, countries with riches aplenty?

      I would rather we not be dependent on oil at all (for the sake of preserving the autonomy of oil rich nations and the environment.) It’s important Americans understand that the US government isn’t engaging in Africa for entirely humanitarian reasons, but that large multinational corporations are also interested in Africa (and Ghana) for the purposes of exploiting natural resources such as oil.

      It’s one thing if the United States is seeking a long-term relationship with Ghana, but what oftentimes happens (especially in Africa) is that the US or China comes in to exploit some natural resource (oil, diamonds, gold, rubber, lithium, etc.,) totally destroys the natural landscape, builds nothing and offers nothing to the indigenous people, and then when there are no more resources to drill, they leave. That’s not a symbiotic relationship. That’s a parasitic relationship.

      You’re also (weirdly) confusing being an informed citizen with “moping.” Shall we all just covers our eyes and ears, and pretend this kind of stuff never happens?

      In response to another comment. See in context »
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    Allison I agree that I would I like us to be energy independent too, but that’s not something right around the corner. But here’s where’s I’m having some trouble agreeing with you. Lets assume that Exxon contracts with the govt of Ghana to explore and drill for oil at a fair market rates how much of an obligation do you think Exxon has to the Ghana? Also don’t you think we have to be careful about not to hurt the people of Africa who’s by our standard has an astronomical poverty rate. The sorely need the cash that such an arrangement can bring to them.

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      I would argue Exxon has an enormous obligation to the people of Ghana because the toll oil extraction will have on their environment, (and any political byproduct consequences of oil production) will directly influence Ghanians. If Ghanians want to extract their oil, that’s their right, but the profits shouldn’t go entirely to multinational corporations that then have no stake in the communities their actions directly impact. There are better ways to fairly share the wealth.

      I’m aware the world needs oil, but that doesn’t mean corporations should be given a free pass to wreak havoc in poor African countries, and then share nothing with the people of the countries where they’re extracting oil.

      In response to another comment. See in context »
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    The UCLA address is new as I’m starting my PhD program there in the Fall.

    I would rather that we not use oil as well, but that’s unfeasible even by 2020 which is year identified by the report.

    I was questioning the relative age of the stories that you are linking us to on the topic of being “informed”.

    The US doesn’t set up oil refineries and gold mines in the countries it does business with. The US isn’t responsible for building roads. The companies that send these resources back to the Us (not necessarily all American, tell me where Gold Star’s from again?). I’m well aware of the problems involved, and worked at a mining community in Senegal where such issues were enormous problems. Should the US do a better job of trying to ensure these things happen? Yes. Can’t be done just b/c the US wants it to happen though.

    I think it’s good that you’re not just giving the White House a pass when it says “We’re there to promote democracy”, but at some point it does have something to do with democracy. Why doesn’t Obama just go to CAR or DRC or Sudan or Niger if all we’re interested in is resources?

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      Which stories? The Democracy Now interview with Kwesi Pratt, editor of “The Insight”, a newspaper based in Accra, Ghana is from yesterday, the BBC article is from 2007 (because oil was discovered in 2007,) and the interview with Patrick Morris, Chief Executive Officer of Gold Star Resources Corp. is from two days ago.

      At no point did I blame the United States for being the sole perpetrator. I mentioned China, also, and there are a host of multinational corporations currently exploiting Africa’s natural resources. But their presidents aren’t currently on the continent. :) I have to be timely, you know.

      The US and its allies have a rich history of meddling in the other countries you listed (know that when I quickly grab links, this by no means this is the preeminent article about this issue, but merely one I think that offers valuable facts or insight) (For example, Sudan: http://www.sudantribune.com/spip.php?article19967). I would link to more, but as we already discussed on this threat, I will be reported as spam. However, there is a pending lawsuit right brought forth by Nigerian villagers from the oil-rich Niger Delta against the British (see? Not all American bashing) oil giant Royal Dutch Shell. The Ogoni villagers were prepared to testify that Royal Dutch Shell aided the Nigerian government in the capture, prosecution and execution of environmental activist Ken Saro-Wiwa and others because they opposed the toxic poisoning of their villages from oil pollutants.

      But Ghana is of special interest right now to the US because 600 million barrels (priced at $40 billion) will buy lots of US government love. If anything, Ghana’s relative stability makes the idea of oil extraction even more appealing because the political atmosphere is so tumultuous in Niger and Sudan.

      In response to another comment. See in context »
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    Also, perhaps I distracted a bit from my original intent, which is to say that abuses such as those you pointed out come from multinationals dealing with countries that are governed out of self-interest and not national-interest. Cote d’Ivoire, as is mentioned in one of the articles you posted, is a prime example of a country governed by those attempting to hold onto power and not by those attempting to enrich the citizenry. Thus they strike deals based on what will get them cash and Mercs, not what will do right by their people. Ghana has the stability and accountability in place to ensure that whatever company ends up getting a contract will be getting it on Ghanaian terms, not Exxon/Shell/etc. terms. The leadership is strong and will be held accountable, and that will allow them to produce the best agreement for Ghana. Atta knows that someone will pay for the oil, but he isn’t necessarily in the position where he has to be giving it away to the highest bidder – a situation which usually goes hand-in-hand with the worst of the abuses. That is why Ghana is different from many of the countries that you name.

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      I hope you’re right. The original purpose of my article was to point out Obama’s vested interests in the region, and to draw attention to the full purpose behind his visit. As for predicting what will happen in Ghana, no one knows for sure, but hopefully you’re correct that the Ghana government will secure an egalitarian agreement for the extraction of their people’s oil.

      In response to another comment. See in context »
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    Also, how is the fact that Exxon or whoever’s decision not to build roads is a reflection on the Us gov’t? That is curious logic. Again, I agree it’s terrible – I had to work in a place with no roads for two months based on this policy. Not fun.

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      Not really if you know anything about the corporate welfare state in the United States. Exxon is not only permitted to gallivant around the planet, doing whatever it likes, but it also receives generous subsidization in the form of billions of dollars in tax breaks while it pillages poor people’s backyards. Though it’s an American corporation, the US gov’t turns the other way when Exxon exploits the African continent and people because — surprise — the right people are making a ton of money, and those people then contribute generously to US politicians’ campaigns. So who cares if Africans suffer?

      In response to another comment. See in context »
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    That’s basically what I’m getting out Allison, I don’t think anyone is saying the multinationals should get a free pass to rape the land. Does Ghana have the technical resources to exploit their own mineral wealth? If they do I doubt the Exxons will be invited in, if not arrangements can me made that protect the issues you so rightly bring up. I just think we have to be careful to avoid a “baby with the bath water” situation.

    Also it seems to me in way you have very little faith in the people of Ghana to make arrangements that are good for them.

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    If whoever is exploiting the oil is paying a fair price to do so I don’t think it’s the obligation of the concern to build the road and schools, that’s what taxes are for.

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      What is a “fair price” for destroying the environment, fanning the flames of civil war, and creating government corruption? The point is that the people — and not the multinational corporations — always pay the price for natural resource extraction. In fact, Exxon receives generous subsidization in the form of billions of dollars in tax breaks from the US gov’t while it pillages Africa, but at no point is Exxon then expected to repair the environment, or invest in African infrastructure. In short: the corporations gets to pillage and then leave.

      In response to another comment. See in context »
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    It is clear that this trip to Ghana is a business trip for the Obama administration. It could only be false hope and denial that would have anyone think otherwise.

    Exxon has no obligation to that country after paying for those resources, so long as they follow the laws that Ghana has concerning that industry. If Ghana’s leadership is concerned about the impact of Exxon’s presence in their country, then they should not allow them to use it. Unfortunately, we all know that profits often exceed a government’s concern for the people and their well being.

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      We’ll have to see how Ghana’s government handles this, but in the past corporations like Exxon have exploited the resources of African countries (Niger, Sudan) already experiencing political turmoil, so there wasn’t exact a clear bill of laws the corporations had to follow (good for Exxon, bad for the people.) The result was a vicious cycle: corrupt leaders allowed corporations to pillage, and then grew rich from oil profits, which led to more corruption and more destruction from corporations.

      In response to another comment. See in context »
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    I thought we’re talking about Ghana here. What civil war? It seems to me you’re laying a whole lot of history on this one day visit of the president.

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      In talking about Ghana, I brought up examples of other corporate exploitation in Niger and Sudan, which have experienced civil wars. This “one day visit” of the president was carefully calculated, Brian. Ghana was chosen for a reason, and that reason was that the country will be a valuable partner to the corporate sector in the future because of its vast oil reserves.

      In response to another comment. See in context »
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    Brian: this is frequently not the case. China paid $4 billion (I think.. need to check that stat) for a mining concession in DRC that is valued somewhere around $23 billion. So many countries have to cut deals based on what can help them in the extreme short term that they sell things for nickels on the dollar, if not pennies. I agree that they never HAVE to make these deals, but if you’re fighting a civil war and have a tacit conflict going on with 3 other nations around you without any roads and very little infrastructure, doesn’t $4 billion look good to you regardless of how much you could potentially make for it? Rarely do more developed countries pay fair market share.

    In terms of taxes, you’re operating on the assumption that these countries have even done censuses. When I was in The Gambia (visit, not working) there are signs up urging parents to make sure their children have birth certificates so that they have a nationality. This was a 2006 African Union initiative, as it was considered such a problem – that means every country (53 of ‘em) in Africa pushed this concern. We very much take it for granted that you’re born somewhere, the government knows it and you proceed from there. Many of these countries can’t ensure clean drinking water or continuous electricity, much less who’s born out in BUFU nowhere. And how do you assess taxes on someone who subsistence farms, lives in a palm frond hut and is likely from another country in the first place? These issues of governance are just as serious as AIDS and resource management for most African countries.

    Allison: I was referring to the interview where he says they will be working in Cote d’Ivoire through a proxy in Ghana. Sorry for the lack of clarity. I’m very well aware of Saro-Wiwa’s death and the fallout. Again, this is b/c Nigeria, which up to that point had never had a democratic ruler, was a HORRIBLE place with a HORRIBLE government that sold its people out because of a resource. The opposite is true for Ghana. It’s a good government where the people mean something. Why wouldn’t the US have an interest in doing business there? In the past we got our oil and gas and whatever else regardless of which depraved country we get it from – isn’t this at least a step in the right direction? Give Obama some credit.

    It is true that you made no explicit mention of the US as a sole perpetrator of anything. I made the comment about equating the US gov’t with Exxon as you write in the first line of your last paragraph “The US … [has] a history of raping Africa for her natural resources…”. That sounds like equating the US gov’t with the multinationals who are on the ground in Africa.

    I think you get it right when you say “meddling”. I would argue that we have a long history of fucking with African governments and supporting movements related to resource management (Charles Taylor, LRA) that were unconscionable. We were much more effective in promoting American interests by promoting political instability, which led to highly favorable contracts to companies that did business with oil, gas, timber, etc. in the US. The only example I can think of where the US directly interfered with an oil interest (we probably did so in Algeria and Libya, but I myself don’t know of any such events) was in Angola in the 70s, when it hired soldiers to attack Cuban soldiers who were, in fact, guarding US-held oil refineries. Hell yeah for us, we stuck it to the man!

    I know that you can’t find the perfect link for everything, but what you did choose focused on, in terms of contemporary media, practically fossilized incidents. Again, you’re right in that these were awful times. But the US, in many regards, has stepped up to the plate and done better recently (which is still no high praise). This looks to me like another very positive step in the right direction.

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      I was referring to the interview where he says they will be working in Cote d’Ivoire through a proxy in Ghana.

      I’m still confused. The section you’re disputing is a quote from Patrick Morris, Chief Executive Officer of Gold Star Resources Corp, who describes his company as “a Vancouver-based company seeking high-impact ‘onshore’ oil and gas opportunities in Liberia, Cote d’Ivoire and Ghana in West Africa.” Are you saying that you don’t believe Gold Star Resources is seeking oil in Cote d’Ivoire? Or it never did?

      Give Obama some credit

      My job isn’t to trust President Obama, the US government, or multinational corporations. My job is to critically critique all their moves. Besides, I’d be a terrible government propagandist. :)

      “The US … [has] a history of raping Africa for her natural resources…”. That sounds like equating the US gov’t with the multinationals who are on the ground in Africa.

      It’s important to understand corporations and the US government aren’t entirely separate beasts. They share common interests and provide support to each other in the form of monetary donations and political favors. So when we throw out corporate names like “Exxon,” and “Royal Dutch Shell,” these companies aren’t necessarily just “American,” or just “British” companies. Multinational petrodollars ebb and flow into governments. For example, Shell is one of the largest energy company contributors to both Republican and Democratic candidates for Congress (http://www.sourcewatch.org/index.php?title=Shell_Oil#Lobbying_and_Political_contributions). All of that money buys a lot of government loyalty, particularly when they want to, say, undercut the will of indigenous people and steal their oil.

      That having been said, I agree that we’ll have to “wait and see” with Ghana. I hope the Ghana government (and the US gov’t) live up to all the credit you seem to give them.

      In response to another comment. See in context »
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    I don’t disagree with you that Ghana was chosen in part for it’s oil wealth, but I don’t think that’s the only reason and I don’t think that negates the other valid reasons for picking Ghana.

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    But jpharral we’re talking bout Ghana here, a country by all accounts that has an open and honest govt that is answerable to the people. I think many in Ghana would take offense at the attitudes being expressed here.

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    Allison, you also seem to think that Africans have the same perspective on the environment as us. Things like mining are looked upon as wonderful no matter how much pollution they cause because they occur in areas where little agricultural activity goes on. When it comes to polluting waterways and farmland, yeah people get upset, but these are the same people that burn tires out in their fields to keep pests away and throw waste into the rivers. What would cause even the most apathetic person in the US to climb a tree to save it is par for the course in Africa. Again, should the US try to do something about it? Absolutely. But so much of that is out of our hands when companies are negotiating with other countries and their different environmental standards.

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    Brian, I’m with you. I think Ghana is a fantastic country. If we’re going to pick someone in the region to work with, Ghana has to be it. Maybe I’m getting off track with some of the things I’m writing. I was just saying that in countries with bad governance – like DRC – abuses have proven to be insurmountable and then we start seeing the things Alison has posted in her links. I feel like her fears would be more than justified if Obama had gone to Nigeria and said the same things.

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    jpharell I think that is at the root of what bothers me here about this thread. I think it was important for the prez to make a stop in Africa. I think Ghana was a pretty damn good choice on so many levels.

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    Allison, your contention is that the US has done very bad things in Africa in regards to environments and working rights etc., especially when it comes to resources. Totally correct. My point is that Ghana is a different situation based on the fact that it is completely different from many African governments the US has dealt with in the past. I think my hope lies more with the Ghanaian government than with the US. The US has not changed its policy of trying to get oil from poorer countries, but now it is reaching out to countries that have loftier ideals in mind and better execution in place when it comes to their resources and their relationship with the people. How can this not be a good thing? Your negativity seems strange based on where you’re coming from in this subject… Even if your job is to be a critic, you can show some love. Siskel and Ebert didn’t spend their whole show talking about the terrible parts of movies. I gotta go to the store. Good comments from everyone; Allison, good article and keep people thinking.

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      How can this not be a good thing?

      It will be a very good thing if it actually happens, which we don’t know yet. Fortunately, the international community and the African community is much more connected and well-informed, so hopefully that will mean the Ghana government (and the US gov’t) will be held to a higher level of accountability in how they share the oil wealth with the Ghanian people.

      Even if your job is to be a critic, you can show some love.

      For whom? I’m showing some love for the people of Ghana. As for mindlessly worshiping the US president, that’s the opposite of independent journalism.

      Happy shopping! :) Thanks for the very interesting comments. I called out (sort of like digital “brownie points”) one of your previous comments, which was very interesting and well-informed.

      In response to another comment. See in context »
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    I’m off too, as always, lots of fun Allison, I appreciate your willingness to engage, wish some of the other contributors were more into it. Have a great weekend.

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    I’m always late to the party, even the Ghana-bashing ones. Is it too late for a U.S.-gov’t-bashing party? I don’t think it’s possible to be too suspicious of the US government’s motives, especially when it comes to foreign policy. It’s kind of like saying, “Well, sure there’s sharks in the water but let’s wait and see what they’re gonna do.” My money’s on feeding frenzy – blood in the water – not even bones left at the end.

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    Your post neglects to mention that both Presidents Clinton and Bush also visited Ghana, prior to its 2007 oil discovery. It’s not as if the pick of Ghana is so foreign or obscure of a choice. It is in line with recent presidential tours.

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      At the time, Bush was trying to (unsuccessfully) persuade Ghana to host a US military base. (http://www.news.com.au/heraldsun/story/0,21985,23244993-5005961,00.html)

      Under a 2006 deal, Ghana is receiving $US547 million in US assistance – one of the biggest sums given to an African state – under a five-year anti-poverty program managed by the US Millennium Challenge Corporation.

      Mr Bush’s support for multi-billion-dollar anti-malaria and anti-AIDS projects in Africa has earned him an unusually warm reception there despite widespread condemnation of his foreign policy toward Iraq, Iran and Afghanistan.

      Despite the mutual back-slapping, there were limits to Ghana’s willingness to cooperate.

      Ghana’s armed forces – respected contributors to international peacekeeping missions – benefit from US military training.

      But President John Kufuor’s government, like many others in Africa, is unwilling to host any US military facility or base.

      “Our sovereignty is something we cherish,” Mr Osei-Adjei said, adding that Ghana did not intend to accept any part of the newly created US military command for Africa (Africom).

      At least Ghana got lots of aid out of the deal. Hence, Bush’s extreme popularity in Africa (specifically Ghana).

      Let us remember that the US has a long history of meddling in Ghana dating back to 1965. (http://www.historycommons.org/context.jsp?item=ghana_1869)

      Robert W. Komer, a National Security Council staffer, says in a memorandum to McGeorge Bundy, President Johnson’s Special Assistant for National Security Affairs, that plans to overthrow the Ghanaian government are looking “good.” “[W]e may have a pro-Western coup in Ghana soon,” he states at the beginning of his memo. “Certain key military and police figures have been planning one for some time, and Ghana’s deteriorating economic condition may provide the spark. The plotters are keeping us briefed, and State thinks we’re more on the inside than the British. While we’re not directly involved (I’m told), we and other Western countries (including France) have been helping to set up the situation by ignoring Nkrumah’s pleas for economic aid. The new OCAM (Francophone) group’s refusal to attend any OAU meeting in Accra (because of Nkrumah’s plotting) will further isolate him. All in all, looks good.” [NATIONAL SECURITY COUNCIL, 5/27/1965; SEEINGBLACK (.COM), 6/7/2002]

      In response to another comment. See in context »
  23. collapse expand

    Scott, you beat me to it. Bush went twice, in 2003 and 2008.

    The fact that Obama went to Ghana isn’t news. And, yes, it’s business as usual, as an earlier poster stated. Put the emphasis on “business.”

    It’s up to Ghana to secure the right deals for its resources, regardless of the companies or nations it deals with. It’s a stable democracy with a valued commodity and can strike favorable deals with any number of corporate players from around the globe. It doesn’t have to lean on one country for its protection, nor is it likely to succumb to internal pressures. It can use the market to its advantage.

    Isn’t that the entire point of a free-market democracy?

    • collapse expand

      The idea of a “free market” is to create wealth for the Big Players whose money then “trickles down” to the rest of the lower classes. In theory, that’s grand. We’ll have to see how “free” the real market is, and if that wealth does manage to reach all Ghanians, and not just the coffers of multinational oil companies and the Ghanian elite.

      In response to another comment. See in context »
  24. collapse expand

    Yes, the US has a long history with Ghana. That was my point, there is a precedent for US-Ghana interactions. Your post heavily neglected that history. You made it sound as if new found oil had stared a brand new interest in Ghana for the US and Obama. Which simply is not the whole story, only a new chapter in the saga.

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    About Me

    I co-host Citizen Radio, the alternative political radio show. I am a contributing reporter to Huffington Post, Alternet.org, and The Nation.

    My essay "Youth Surviving Subprime" appears in The Nation's new book, Meltdown: How Greed and Corruption Shattered Our Financial System and How We Can Recover beside esssays by Ralph Nader, Joseph Stiglitz, Barbara Ehrenreich, and Naomi Klein, who I'm told are all important people.

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