The manifest loss of America as a dominant global power was apparent during a visit to Africa by U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken that ended a multicontinental tour where he also went to Southeast Asia. The Africa portion was seen as another strategic move in the China-U.S. competition for inroads and dominance on the continent and the vying of Russia-Western powers for African support over the war in Ukraine.
“Time and again, they have been told to pick a side in great power contests that feel far removed from daily struggles of their people,” Mr. Blinken said in South Africa, referring to leaders on the continent.
Some observers dismissed the words as a condescending effort to boost relations, amid concerns about the influence of Russia and China, which Mr. Blinken denied.
In a joint press conference August 8, South Africa’s Minister of International Relations, Naledi Pandor, spoke straight words about Western intimidation of Africa, and differences between America and South Africa.
She said Mr. Blinken’s confirming America is not asking South Africa to choose sides was welcomed. But dealings with some European powers and others there had been “patronizing” and bullying” to “choose this or else,” said Ms. Pandor.
She lambasted U.S. legislation authored by Rep. Gregory Meeks (D-NY) that punishes African nations that aide and abets Russia. The “Countering Malign Russian Activities in Africa Act” passed the House of Representatives in April by a bipartisan 419-9 vote. The bill broadly defines “malign activities” as those that “undermine United States objectives and interests.”
“You can’t say because Africa is doing this, you will then be punished by the United States,” Ms. Pandor expressed.
“One thing I definitely dislike is being told, either you choose this or else,” she said. “I definitely will not be bullied in that way. Nor would I expect any other African country worth its salt to agree to be,” she added.
Sovereign nations have a right to self-determination regardless of economic or military power. American influence has waned while China’s grew in Africa. For example, early this year Beijing appointed a special peace envoy to the conflict-ridden Horn of Africa where U.S. meddling has been destabilizing.
“Though America doesn’t like it, China has played a major role inserting itself in Africa,” said Abdul Akbar Muhammad, International Representative of the Nation of Islam and the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan.
China is trying to show it’s a better friend to Africa than America, he said. The U.S.-China relations is one built on hostility.
“There are nations that historically have been viewed as enemies of America,” noted Minister Farrakhan in his illuminating book “A Torchlight for America,” published in 1993. “This antagonistic relationship does not necessarily have to continue,” he wrote.
Countries like Cuba, Libya, Iran, China, Vietnam have sought to improve relations with America without compromising their dignity and self-respect.
“Imagine a world where each nation directs the focus of its energies and resources to addressing its critical internal problems that affect the quality of life of its own people, instead of focusing on meddling in the affairs of other nations,” wrote Minister Farrakhan.
America has been notoriously duplicitous in foreign relations and pursuing dominion using wicked machinations and military force. She has been the instigator of beefs with Beijing, Moscow, Tehran, Havana and others, observers and analysts point out.
Pro-peace activists oppose America’s conduct in the big power competition for global influence. Some are critical of Washington aiming at China in what they call a “new cold war” that must be rejected.
“They’re out to undermine China and that’s what conducts the foreign policy,” said Abayomi Azikiwe, political commentator and editor of the Pan-Africa News Wire.
Rocky U.S.-China relations spiraled dangerously low, since a controversial South Asia junket in early August by Nancy Pelosi, the U.S. Speaker of the House of Representatives. Ms. Pelosi (D-Calif.) led a delegation of lawmakers to Taiwan, which China has long claimed as its province.
China saw the visit by the third-in-line to the U.S. presidency as Washington crossing a “red line” and threatening Chinese sovereignty.
Medea Benjamin of Code Pink, a pro-peace group said Ms. Pelosi’s trip illuminated the contradiction in U.S. policy formally recognizing One China but holding close trade and military ties to Taiwan.
The visit made it clear the U.S. has been pushing its policy of pivot to Asia, “which really means focus on China as an adversary,” said Ms. Benjamin.
China held six-days of unprecedented live-fire military drills off the coasts of Taiwan, and relinquished communication with America on military matters and climate talks.
The military play continued Aug. 14 when China sent fighter jets to Thailand in joint war games. The Thailand drills coincided with the ending of two weeks of joint war games between the U.S. and Indonesia. As regional hostility heats up, Asian nations are growing increasingly edgy. An early August statement from the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) called for “maximum restraint” and avoiding “provocative actions” that could destabilize the region and potentially lead to “miscalculation,” “serious confrontation,” “open conflicts” and “unpredictable consequences” among major powers.”
On August 11 China released a “White Paper” reiterating Taiwan is part of China, called for national reunification with a “one country, two system” arrangement. The paper said “external” actors are empowering Taiwan’s separatist posture and are an obstacle to reunification. It asserts that forces in America are lost in “delusions of hegemony” and “trapped in a Cold War mindset” who insists on portraying China as a major strategic adversary and threat. The paper says China will only use force if “external forces” cross “red lines.”
The tensions erupted at a time America and her cohorts of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), G-7 and G-20 declared China an existential threat to Western power. Outcomes of recent summits in June and July showed animosity worsening between Western powers and China. Each had outcomes expressly condemning Beijing’s economic influence and military aspirations.
The NATO military alliance is expanding into the Asia-Pacific. Among antiwar voices are calls to abolish NATO, arguing anti-China position is perilously angling for conflict. Mr. Azikiwe agrees with abolishing NATO because expanding the alliance will increase international tensions. “I don’t think the U.S. is going to prevail in this,” he said, “just about all the wars they fought since the Korean War, they have failed to carry out their strategic objectives.”
Many nations are not fully with America, Ms. Benjamin added.
“The United States is pushing its allies who are very reluctant to have an adversarial relation with China because of the enormous amount of trade and benefits that they get from their relationships,” she explained.
China’s Belt and Road initiative is an example of how China’s policy differs from America. The initiative creates infrastructure and is a “win-win” for countries. It can be seen particularly in the reluctance of Global South nations to sign on to U.S.-led sanctions on Russia in its war in Ukraine. It is more-so with China because of its global footprint.
“And that is only growing as the U.S. focuses on military hegemony, while China’s focus is on economics,” said Ms. Benjamin.
America pushing nations to side with its position is “creating a contradiction” because many countries want good relations with America, but not be bound to U.S. foreign policy. There is more independence and a multipolar world where China rivals America.
“Countries don’t want to have to pick one superpower over the other,” Ms. Benjamin reasoned. “They want to be able to maintain their independence … sovereignty… decide what’s in their national interests, not what’s in the interests of the United States,” she said.