Bush, Aids and Africa
Jon_Flanders at compuserve.com
Wed Jan 29 21:20:25 MST 2003
In his State of the Union speech, Bush promised increased aid for Aids
prevention in Africa, which is being hailed as a surprising breakthrough
in some quarters.
A reality check will show, however, that oil, rather than Aids, lies
behind this sudden outburst of Bushian compassion.
<<Africa is rising in strategic importance to Washington policy makers
18-09-02 Africa, the neglected stepchild of American diplomacy, is
rising in strategic importance to Washington policy makers, and one word
sums up the reason: oil. Africa already provides about 15 % of the
United States' crude oil imports, but its share is expected to grow
rapidly from new production in West Africa and construction of a
pipeline linking southern Chad to Atlantic ports.
Within the next decade, recently discovered offshore reserves are
expected to enable West Africa to outproduce the North Sea's oil rigs
and capture as much as 25 % of America's oil-import market. Though the
Persian Gulf will remain the nation's primary source of imported crude,
the new African oil could reduce dependence on countries like Saudi
Arabia, whose relations with the United States have been strained in the
year since the Sept. 11 attacks.
"The key to security of supply is diversity of supply," said Robin West,
chairman of the Petroleum Financing Company, a consulting firm for the
industry. "And I would arguethat West Africa in the near to medium term
will be a more important source of oil to international markets than
The Bush administration demonstrated its growing interest in Africa by
sending Secretary of State Colin L. Powell there on a three-nation tour.
President Bush has said he intends to visit early next year. "Energy
from Africa plays an increasingly important role in our energy
security," Energy Secretary Spencer Abraham told the House International
Relations Committee in June.
New African oil will probably not flow fast enough to compensate for
lost Iraqi production if the United States begins an invasion. In the
first half of this year, the United States imported 110 mm barrels of
crude oil from Iraq. But African sources could eventually help soften
price shocks during times of upheaval in the Middle East>>.
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