Cote d'Ivoire: A “Chocolate Revolution” Or War For Oil? Part One

Listen to article

"The world can take a firmer decision on cocoa exports to gradually but speedily deny Gbagbo the oxygen of remuneration for the institutions that keep his intransigence fuelled.But, the people of Cote d'Ivoire should also be proactive in demonstrating their protests publicly like we have seen further north. This current situation of no war, no peace, no government is too dangerous and may end up costing more lives than a short, sharp, shock of public revolt. I call it a Chocolate Revolution. La Cote d'Ivoire needs it. Africa needs it. The Ivorians should not fail us. The UN, AU and ECOWAS can play their part by increasing the number of peace-keepers/makers in the country to enhance the public sense of security. Let the international peacekeepers offer the striking masses protection and let us see how many pro-Gbagbo civilians will come out with a counter demonstration. How I pray that the Molotovs of Mubarak's violent counter demonstration burn him out of office. For this strategy of his to succeed would be highly counterproductive for Africa; only useful to the Gbagbos of a discredited status quo. Chocolate Revolution it must be. The author is the Executive Director of the Danquah Institute, a policy think tank." - Gabby Asare Otchere-Darko,

Introduction: A “Chocolate Revolution” Indeed!
The Danquah Institute is calling for a "chocolate Revolution" in La Cote d'Ivoire, and I am writing this article to invite the reader to read in-between the lines with me. For me, this is all about connecting the dots. Let's begin from the autumn of 1999, Cheney's speech at the London Petroleum Institute. In his first known comment on the subject of the “peak of petrol”, here is how Dick Cheney distinguished petrol from the ranks of products such as chocolates:

“Oil is unique in that it is so strategic in nature. We are not talking about soapflakes or leisurewear here. Energy is truly fundamental to the world's economy. The Gulf War was a reflection of that reality.”

Often, I am amazed at the paucity of references to Oil in the news stories covering the Ivorian crisis. I can understand that as the world's leading producer of cocoa, the story of La Cote d'Ivoire cannot be fully and completely be told without references to cocoa. I can understand a story which begins thus: “The world's top cocoa exporter is locked in a deadly presidential power struggle...“

The real danger here is that cocoa is not the only export commodity from La Cote d'Ivoire. And what is more, the key commodity that has energized all these frenetic diplomatic shenanigans, military preparations, and the beating of the drums of war, including the current Danquah Institutes's propaganda piece under discussion, is about the OIL. The very attempt to get the UN to authorize military action against Gbagbo, as well as the readiness of Russia to veto such a resolution, is all about the oil.

In what I can describe with ineffable sincerity as “the most brilliant work on the Ivorian Crisis to date and a must-read for all Peace Activists around the world, particularly West Africans”, is the latest work by Crossed Crocodiles. Here is his quote on the subject of oil and chocolates:

“In the western media you will not see much about oil being an issue in Ivory Coast. The news stories all talk about cocoa. But if you look at the map above you can see the significance. And no doubt the prospect of oil money makes the Ivorian presidential contenders more contentious. Oil is most certainly the reason AFRICOM's General Hogg was seeking troop commitments in January for military intervention.” (See: Côte d'Ivoire – Military Intervention Vs Constitutional Legitimacy, by Crossed Crocodiles, February 22, 2011.

They do not fail to mention cocoa and chocolates, but inexplicably fail to mention oil and petrol. I believe that is an omission which speaks volumes. The strategic geopolitical decisions being made around the globe in respect of the Ivorian crisis is fundamentally over oil and not chocolates. It almost seems as though they want us to see what they want us to see, not necessarily what is there to be seen.

Ochere-Darko opportunistically dresses his pro-imperialist bait with the smells of the Jasmine Revolution of Algeria, and what the Egyptians stood for at Tahrir Square. By hailing the Egyptian revolution he cleverly tries to distance himself from what the Egyptians are opposed to: Young and old dictatorships, stooges of imperialism who cannot flourish under a democracy because of their anti-people policies.

Most knowledgeable Africans, including Ochere-Darko, know very well that the establishment of the US Africom was a part of what Dick Cheney's wrote in his capacity as the Chairman of the National Energy Policy Development Group, in the preface to his report that was handed to President Bush in May 2001:

“As you directed us at the outset of your Administration, we have developed a national energy policy designed to help bring together business, government, local communities and citizens to promote dependable, affordable and environmentally sound energy for the future.”

Indeed, it has been noted by Ochere-Darko himself that:

"The United States, in typical Dick Cheneyic oilthink, sees the Gulf of Guinea as offering the opportunity to break with the old politics which saw the U.S. at the mercy of the geostrategic pressure of unstable or unfriendly oil-producing states in the 'old' Gulf (Persian Gulf) and Venezuela."

Incidentally, there is one thing that Dick Cheney, J.B. Danquah, Houphet Boigny, K.A. Busia, and perhaps, Gabriel Ochere-Darko himself, share in common: they all actively supported the racist Apartheid regime of South Africa! Are these the kind of people to look up to for the well-being of the ordinary African? “Cheneyic oilthink” indeed! Cheney never even offered a single apology for his anti-African voting record in the Senate!

Here is an account of the last time someone tried to get him to retract:

'Dick Cheney was willing to negotiate with the Apartheid leadership that stole 83% of all the lands of South Africa, and unleashed a fascist and racist dictatorship which turned its thugs loose on the citizens who protested. He was one of the "big men" who tried to give legitimacy to a thoroughly illegitimate regime.

In an interview on Meet the Press on July 30, 2000, Cheney was asked about his vote in opposition to releasing Nelson Mandela from prison. Cheney answered, "Well, certainly I would have loved to have Nelson Mandela released. I don't know anybody who was for keeping him in prison. Again, this was a resolution of the U.S. Congress, so it wasn't as though if we passed it, he was going to be let out of prison."' We also know that:

'In May 2001 the Cheney report warned that the U.S. would grow increasingly dependent upon foreign oil in the years to come and recommended that as a matter of policy the Bush Administration work to increase production and export of oil from regions other than the Middle East, noting that Latin America and West Africa were likely to be the fastest growing sources of future U.S. oil imports. ... Three months later, Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Walter Kansteiner declared that African oil "has become a national strategic interest." This statement is particularly noteworthy in that it uses the language of the Carter Doctrine in the Middle East, in which President Carter went on to declare that the U.S. would intervene by any means necessary to protect its national interest in Middle Eastern oil. In April 2002, Donald Norland, former U.S. Ambassador to Chad told a Congressional subcommittee: "It's been reliably reported that, for the first time, the two concepts -- 'Africa' and 'U.S. National security' -- have been used in the same sentence in Pentagon documents." '

Letitia Lawson, "U.S. Africa Policy Since the Cold War", Strategic Insights, Volume VI, Issue 1

(January 2007),
We also know that:
“Few figures in American politics maintain a world view that is so consistently apocalyptic as does Cheney. Fewer still have allowed petty fears and profound ignorance to so dramatically warp their actions and public pronouncements.

Cheney's Cold War obsessions have frequently placed him on the wrong side of history, causing him to misread the geopolitical realities of regions around the world -- and of the key players within them. This is the man who was so certain that the African National Congress was a dangerous group that he regularly voted, as a member of Congress in the 1980s, against House resolutions calling for the release of Nelson Mandela and other political prisoners in South Africa. While leading conservative Republicans such as Jack Kemp were hailing Mandela as an iconic fighter for freedom and racial justice, Cheney continued to decry the ANC as "a terrorist organization" and to dismiss its leaders as threatening radicals.

During the same period that Cheney was championing the imprisonment of Mandela, the Republican representative from Wyoming was one of the most prominent Congressional advocates for the Reagan administration's illegal war making in Central America. When the administration's crimes were exposed as the Iran-Contra scandal, former White House counsel John Dean notes, "Cheney became President Reagan's principle defender in Congress." Cheney argued that those who sought to hold the Reagan administration accountable for illegal acts in Latin America were "prepared to undermine the presidency" and the ability of future presidents to defend the United States. “

Ochere-Darko himself boasts on facebook, how close the Danquah Institute is with the most conservative of American “think-tanks”. It is the only think-tank in Africa I know, that ever accepted the establishment of US Africa Command on African soil, together with naval and air-force bases. We also know that in the case of war, it would be US Africom which would be running the show. We also know that since their complete and total rejection by African countries, they seem to have taken a low profile, preferring to use their local puppets to do their biddig on their behalf. Here is an abstract written by Ochere-Darko on the subject of establishing US military bases in Ghana, including the Headquarters of the US Africa Command or USAfricom:

"This article argues that in the excitement surrounding President Obama's July visit to Ghana, what has been missing is an analysis of what is in it for the United States, an understanding of which is crucial for Ghana if it is to capitalise on the immense opportunity provided by this trip. Highlighting the significance of the deepwater oil find in 2007, the article sets out why Ghana is now the subject of strategic U.S. energy and military interests which, as far as the Obama administration is concerned, has raised the stakes considerably in Ghana–United States relations. As the potential gem in the crown of what Washington terms Africa's 'New Gulf', the article highlights how Ghana's pending oil-rich status will shift the terms of negotiation during the trip. Furthermore, America's preference for Ghana as the physical location for the U.S. African Command (AFRICOM) headquarters, and its concern not to cede strategic ground to China in this region, mean that in 2009 Ghana has an unprecedented hand of cards to play in this game of international diplomacy. Our task as a nation – and the Government's task as our representatives - is to make the strategic decisions to ensure that we aren't simply the honoured recipients of President Obama's first visit to Africa, but that we come away with more concrete deliverables to help us meet our own strategic goals."

The call for war is at the same time an acceptance of the essential traps behind the US Africa Command, which Africa has so roundly refused. It is against a background such as this one, that the artistic beauty of the propaganda by the Danquah Institute which is still instigating war for oil in the name of a “Chocolate Revolution” emerges. This is what some of the “other ranks” in the Ghanaian army may aptly refer to as “camouflage and total concealiament.” I guessed automatically, the first time I heard this, that “concealiament” was perhaps a military way of saying “concealment”. To be continued....

Forward Ever! Backwards Never!!!
Nana Akyea Mensah, The Odikro
Member, International Solidarity Committee
Pan-Africanist International

Disclaimer: "The views/contents expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect those of The Nigerian Voice. The Nigerian Voice will not be responsible or liable for any inaccurate or incorrect statements contained in this article."

Articles by Nana Akyea Mensah, The Odikro