Continuing its line of bringing freedom and “democracy” to countries that lay a strategic and financial importance for Washington’s military and its corporate industrial complex, America is focusing on Africa.

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken visited South Africa last week to meet with Naledi Pandor, Pretoria’s foreign minister, to promote the need for “strong” democracies on the continent because they tend to be “more stable and less prone to conflict.” 

Without mentioning Beijing and Moscow, Blinken also mentioned one of the joys of democracy is that countries become less vulnerable to “extremist movements and foreign interference.”

Elizabeth Sidiropoulos, head of the South African Institute for International Affairs in Johannesburg, told Voice of America that Africa has, for years, been seen by the great powers as a place to “exert influence.”

“Certainly there is concern from the American side on the growing influence of these two countries on the continent against the backdrop of heightened geopolitical rivalries,” she said. 

The Trends Journal has reported extensively on how the U.S. treats China as its top competitor for global supremacy and how Washington has told countries that they have to choose when it comes to Ukraine. (See “BEIJING: STOP WESTERN SANCTIONS ON RUSSIA” and “CHINA STANDS WITH RUSSIA, TELLS U.S., EU FU!”)

TRENDPOST: It is worth noting that Pandor, without naming names, seemed keenly aware of what some claim was the impetus of Blinken’s trip. 

There was a widely viewed video that showed her next to the U.S.’s top diplomat where she called the attempt by outside countries to bully African nations on Ukraine “unacceptable.”

She insisted that she was not directing the comments at Blinken or the U.S., but she told reporters that in the past, “in terms of interaction with some of our partners in Europe and elsewhere, there has been a sense of patronizing bullying toward ‘you choose this or else’.”

It has been no secret that Washington is unhappy with countries that refuse to sanction Russia and publicly condemn Russian President Vladimir Putin for ordering the invasion of Ukraine. 

But Pandor said all nations are equal under the UN Charter, and—even though some countries have economic power over others—“what will make the world work is if we respect each other.”

She took issue with a bill being discussed in the U.S. Congress that she said would punish African countries that do not fall into lockstep with Washington on Ukraine.

“This is very, very important and one thing I definitely dislike is being told either ‘you choose this or else’. When a minister speaks to me like that, which Secretary Blinken has never done, but some have, I definitely will not be bullied in that way, nor would I expect any other African country worth its salt to agree to be treated,” she said.

Part of the Biden administration’s goal at the beginning of the war was to show a dramatic international coalition of countries opposed to Russia’s invasion, but that never happened. 

On 7 April, the UN General Assembly adopted a resolution that called for Russia to be suspended from the Human Rights Council. Out of the 193-member Assembly, 93 countries voted in favor of the resolution and 24 voted against it. Fifty-eight abstained from the process.

Linda Thomas-Greenfield, the U.S. special envoy to the UN, has said “African nations are free to buy grain from Russia but could face consequences if they trade in U.S.-sanctioned commodities such as oil from Russia.”

“Countries can buy Russian agricultural products, including fertilizer and wheat,” she has said, according to Modern Diplomacy. She clarified that “if a country decides to engage with Russia, where there are sanctions, then they are breaking those sanctions. We caution countries not to break those sanctions because then … they stand the chance of having actions taken against them.”

Blinken Was In Africa, But Had Russia, China on His Mind

Russia and China have been competing with the U.S. for influence in mineral-rich Africa. Blinken told reporters in a speech that outside countries have no right to dictate to these nations that “have been treated as instruments of other nations’ progress, rather than the authors of their own.”

Alex Vines, director of the Africa program at Chatham House, told CNBC that it is obvious that Blinken’s visit was intended to try and contain Moscow and Beijing’s influence in Africa.

Sergei Lavrov, Russia’s top diplomat, visited Egypt, Uganda, Republic of Congo, and Ethiopia last month in what the Western media described as a “charm offensive.”

Blinken stressed that he had no intention of making African countries choose between the U.S., Russia, and China. (See “MANY AFRICAN COUNTRIES DON’T HATE RUSSIA,” “CHINA ARMING AFRICA” and “U.S. EXPANDING WARZONE TO STOP CHINA’S EXPANSION.”)

“Our commitment to a stronger partnership with Africa is not about trying to outdo anyone else. We’ve all heard that narrative, that South Africa and the continent as a whole are the latest playing field in the competition between great powers. That is fundamentally not how we see it,” he said, according to VOA.

Skip to content