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"Free Africa Foundation: Buying Freedom For Africa", Michael Barker

"Free Africa Foundation: Buying Freedom For Africa", Michael Barker

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Published by Giuliano Valverde
VOLTAIRE NETWORK - 28 MARCH, 2010

The Free Africa Foundation campaigns for African development and never passes up the opportunity to denounce World Bank and IMF policies. But contrary to appearences, its discourse is actually directed at promoting economic deregulation. Using this example, Michael Barker revisits the history of Washington's backing of the anti-Apartheid struggle. At the time, it essentially consisted in going along with an unstoppable historical movement while at the same time deflecting it from a critical position vis-à-vis the economic system imposed by the U.S.
VOLTAIRE NETWORK - 28 MARCH, 2010

The Free Africa Foundation campaigns for African development and never passes up the opportunity to denounce World Bank and IMF policies. But contrary to appearences, its discourse is actually directed at promoting economic deregulation. Using this example, Michael Barker revisits the history of Washington's backing of the anti-Apartheid struggle. At the time, it essentially consisted in going along with an unstoppable historical movement while at the same time deflecting it from a critical position vis-à-vis the economic system imposed by the U.S.

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Published by: Giuliano Valverde on Jul 20, 2013
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Free Africa Foundation: Buying FreedomFor Africa
 by MICHAEL BARKE
The Free Africa Foundation campaigns for African development and never passes up the opportunity to denounce World Bank and IMF policies. Bucontrary to appearences, its discourse is actually directed at promotingeconomic deregulation. Using this example, Michael Barker revisits the
history of Washington’s backing of the anti 
-Apartheid struggle. At the time,it essentially consisted in going along with an unstoppable historical movement while at the same time deflecting it from a critical position vis-à-vis the economic system imposed by the U.S.
 VOLTAIRE NETWORK | LONDON (UNITED KINGDOM) | 28 MARCH 2010
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and George Ayittey (US SateDepartment, August 1, 2009).
"You have to separate the humanitarian impulse from therecord of aid itself. We all want to help. Many people would 
say that it’s the moral impulse of the rich to help the poor, but 
the record of aid has been terrible." 
 George Ayittey, President of the Free Africa Foundation
 
 Foreign aid is an integral tool by which global capital conquers foreign markets, asordid history of which the US-based nongovernmental organization Food First hasthoroughly documented since their formation in the late 1970s. It is unfortunate thenthat in a recent article titled "Food Aid in Africa: A Profitable Business," Food Firstcited with approval the above quote from the president of the Free Africa Foundation,
George Ayittey. This is problematic because while Ayittey’s rhetoric meshes well with
progressive critiques of foreign aid, his criticism stems from his desire to fully open up Africa to the free-market in the name of libertarianism; not quite the same ideaspromoted by groups like Food First. So while both conservative and liberalorganizations are committed to ending exploitative foreign aid practices, it is critical todifferentiate the political trajectories and motivations driving their activities. Thisarticle aims to unpack some of these differences by closely examining the backgroundof both the Free Africa Foundation and the more famous African freedom organization,the African National Congress.Founded in 1993 by American University associate professor of economics, George Ayittey, the Free Africa Foundation aims to "further the cause of freedom in Africa andpropagate ideas on liberty." Ayittey is a well-known international speaker, and inaddition to publishing many books, the latest of which is
 Africa Unchained: The
 Blueprint for Africa’s Future
(Palgrave Macmillan, 2004), in 2009 he was recognized by 
 Foreign Policy
 
magazine to be one of the world’s Top 100 Global Thinkers "for
pushing policyma
kers to let Africa help itself." Despite this Ghanaian economist’s work 
often being held up as torch for freedom in Africa, it would be more useful to describehis activities as serving as a torch for imperialism, contrary to his rhetoric that assertsotherwise. After completing his Ph.D. in 1981, his first connection to the United Statesconservative policy-making community occurred when he accepted a national
fellowship at Stanford University’s Hoover Institution
 [1]in 1988. (He also served as a visiting scholar at the Center for the Study of Public Choice in 1988.) The following yearhe then joined the Heritage Foundation[2]as a Bradley resident scholar, andsubsequently while working at the Cato Institute[3]he published
 Africa Betrayed 
(St.
 
Martins, 1992). At present Ayittey is a research fellow at the Independent Institute, andan associate scholar at the neoconservative Foreign Policy Research Institute[4], aresearch center that boasts that they are "devoted to bringing the insights of scholarship to bear on the development of policies that advance U.S. nationalinterests."
In terms of funding arrangements, the Free Africa Foundation’s Web site lists 25
conservative financial donors, with well-known funders including David Kennedy (whois the former president of the Earhart Foundation
a "key backer of neoconservatism"in the United States), Ed Crane (who is the president and CEO of the Cato Institute),James Pierson (who was the executive director of the now defunct John M. OlinFoundation), and Richard Gilder (who is the founder of the Gilder Foundation). Other
notable funders include the Foreign Policy Research Institute’s vice president, the
Zionist researcher Alan Luxenberg, and the controversial theorist of non-violence,Peter Ackerman. Here it is important to note that Ackerman, a long-term affiliate of theInternational Institute for Strategic Studies, published the book 
 Strategic Nonviolent Conflict: The Dynamics of People Power in the Twentieth Century
(Praeger, 1994) withco-author Christopher Kruegler (who at the time was the president of the "democratic" Albert Einstein Institution[5]) while he was based at the International Institute for
Strategic Studies. Ackerman recently served on the board of directors of the Institute’s
US branch[6] 
a body that is currently headed by corporate lobbyist Andrew Parasiliti(of Barbour Griffith & Rogers fame), a person who previously served as the director of programs at the military contractor think tank the Middle East Institute.
 A brief examination of Free Africa Foundation’s eight
-person-strong advisory board
paints a similar picture of the foundation’s com
mitment to free markets. For a start this board includes Bruce Bartlett, the author of 
 Impostor: How George W. Bush Bankrupted America and Betrayed the Reagan Legacy
(Doubleday, 2006); anothernotable writer is the controversial neoconservative John Fund, who is a propagandistfor the
Wall Street Journal 
. Bartlett and Fund are joined by a leading theorist of democracy manipulation, Larry Diamond, who is a senior fellow at the HooverInstitution, and is the founding co-editor of the National Endowment for

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