Former Chief Strategist to the President of the United States, Donald Trump, Mr. Steve Bannon in this interview on Arise TV, a THISDAY newspaper sister broadcast company, described Chinese relationship with Africa as colonialism. Eromosele Abiodun presents the excerpts:
It is a pleasure to meet you and have a one-on-one with you
We thank you for coming to the conference. We thank you for coming over here in Scotland.
Let us talk about the conference. You said so many things that are going to grab the headlines. For instance, you said President Donald Trump’s emigration policy is humanitarian. Is that what it is?
Yes. His zero tolerance policy is trying to be humanitarian because he realises that once we move away from that it is a magnet for all these folks to thinking that they are going to be able to get in and get economic asylum, which you can’t. It is not political asylum and there are very tight rules even though we often let in a lot of people.
The migrants from Central America know this and if you read a lot of the interviews in Washington Post and the New York Times as they are coming up, they said, “hey we understand we cannot get political asylum, what we are going to try to do is made a mad dash across some of the undefended part of Southern border, hope Border Patrol pisses us up, game the system and be hope to be released into the United States and stay for a couple of years.” What we are doing is enticing the cartels; remember some of the cartels have just got out of the drug business into the human trafficking business. The same thing is happening is sub-Saharan Africa. In sub-Saharan Africa, it is the cartels that are coming from there to North Africa that are making billions of dollars on this human misery. Forget the rapes and the other conditions that are imposed upon these people. These are massive money- making operations and I think what President Trump is saying is ‘hey economic migration is not a concept to come to the United States.’ You can come through the right channel, which we understand takes years or you try to get political asylum and get a tight definition of political asylum and there certain point of entry where you can do that. My point is, I know at the beginning people said it is like caging people but I think what Trump is trying to do is stop these things like these massive caravans, which really these people don’t have any chance of entering the United States legally, they don’t have any real option of getting into the United States legally.
What do you think about press freedom and President Trump’s stand on this matter?
I think he is for free press. Remember there is a difference between when you have a free press and the press that is sort of like an advocacy. I believe most of the mainstream media are advocates for this kind of globalist system that we have and they are clawing down Trumpism and they hate Donald Trump and in a specific case the Cable News Network (CNN). Yes, CNN does have the right to have their correspondents, they should have a senior guy like Jim Acosta whom I happen to know. But I do think Jim Acosta had to comport himself in a certain manner especially as regards the office of the president even if you detest Donald Trump. Part of it is to avoid this kind of bickering when he is doing these press conferences when he is seating there for an hour taken 30 to 40 different kinds of questions. You don’t really have the right to seat there and get into an argument with the president of the United States or debate. You are supposed to be a journalist. If you ask a question and he doesn’t answer it, try a follow up. I think what Jim did has crossed the line and I do think the CNN should get it back and I think it will take the presidency and their team to seat down with the president and try to work this thing out. Look, I ran Brightpart, which we have very limited access, I am a big believer in free press and I believe in the press’s right way of access.
Let me ask you this. What do you think is President Donald Trump’s policy when it comes to Africa? The continent is opening up for business, it is the new frontier for economic growth. For some years China and Europe have been investing in Africa, don’t you think that the United States is missing in action?
What I am advocating, particularly as regards these migrants coming from Sub Saharan Africa, we need both United States and Europe more engaged. I think one of the things that President Trump’s policy in Africa viz-a-viz China is he is saying watch out. The policy of China and the Chinese regime in Africa is nothing more than the British and the Indian company, they have used that strategy, what I call predatory capitalism. What they intend to do and what they are doing is-you see it all the way, not just in one belt one road but what they are doing in the Maldives and then into the Sub-Saharan Africa, is that they are lending money for infrastructure project that they know the countries are not going to be able to pay back. They are importing a lot of Chinese labour particularly in the high value end jobs; they are not using the indigenous population, which has a lot of well-trained civil engineers and other professionals.
Do you think this is Colonialism all over again?
Yes. I think it is 100 per cent Colonialism. I think when you look at China, particularly the Chinese league the CCP, it is a highly centered, hyper nationalistic society and at certain level it is quite racist. I think what they are doing in Sub-Saharan Africa is predatory capitalism. They understand that many of the loans, the projects they are funding are never going to be able to pay back on the cash flow that comes out of it. They intend to foreclose on it and gain much more active control on some of these countries. That is why I think you see many leaders in Africa today are saying, “Hey we see what the Chinese are doing here we are uncomfortable with the Chinese bringing their engineers and all the people that actually run these projects. We have to get Europe and the United States down here.” I don’t think there is any doubt in my mind that the United States when it set up the Africa command, one of our central forces like the CANCOM, we have to make sure we focus on the security of Africa.
I think the United States with Europe has to have much more engagement with Sub-Saharan Africa just like the United States has to have much more engagement with Central America to kind of help these people solve these problems out for themselves. When you interview any of these migrants who go through this brutal journey up through North Africa and then to Europe, none of them is saying I want to leave my homeland because I want to. They all say it is because there is economic opportunity in Africa, the working class and the social welfare system in Europe certainly cannot take the amount of people that want to come. Therefore, this has to be sorted out in Africa and I think some sort of combination with Arab nations, Europe and United States need to much more engage because the predatory capitalism of the Chinese Community Party is only going to course terrible problems in Africa in the years to come.
Let me ask you one last question. You said you are not a journalist but that you have run a media organisation. There is a growing threat to journalism and journalist, what would you say the media should be doing differently and those who pose this threat what should be done to them?
Here is the thing, I think that you have to realise that in tumultuous times like we are in and I know we are in very tumultuous times because the world is having a kind of governance system, there is a kind of revolt that is ongoing. What people have to understand is that for example I travel around with security, I never asked for this. You have to realise that if you are in this game there has to be a certain level of danger to it. I think one thing you have to do is make sure your reporting is accurate, make sure reporting is truthful. When you transition over to advocacy, like we were doing in my organisation-we were in advocacy journalism, we were quite partisan and we had threats all the time, all kinds of things happened to us and they still happen to us. You have to realise that it is a dangerous place. I would have loved to wave a magic wand and say all this is over and all will be better.
It is not going to be better particularly in Africa. Africa is geopolitical conundrum right now, we have the great powers just like in the colonial era coming in, we have China coming in with massive amount of capitalism, the Europeans and the Americans and clearly Africa has fought so hard for its independence and there is going to be a burden on the fourth estate to help sustain that. I think the reality is that there is going to be very very tumultuous and I think people that comes into this profession has to understand that it is going to be a very dangerous profession .