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Opinions of Monday, 30 April 2007

Columnist: Agyei, James Kwadwo

Ghanaians Must Embrase A US Military Base

I decided not to publish this article, due to the fact that neither the American nor the Ghanaian Governments have confirmed the existence of a plan for the Americans to build a military base in Ghana. On the other hand, this looks like something in the pipeline and there is a lot of debate on this issue in the Ghanaian media. I have also realized that the debate is characterized by factual inaccuracies, baseless arguments and “emotionalism”. I am not against people exercising their freedom of speech but I feel a strong need to let my people see another side of this debate so that well meaning Ghanaians can see the importance of such a project based on proper information.

There are some “AMERICOPHOBIANS” (my own term) in Ghana who will criticize anything that has to do with America. Oh yes! They even opposed the free money MCA. Left to Kwesi Pratt and people who think like him, everything America is bad for Ghana. Kwesi, you opposed the NDC and now you are opposing the NPP and I wonder whether you have a vision for this country or you were born to oppose. The energy you have put into the CJA could have been of much help to your beloved CPP to provide another alternative for Ghanaians. Anyway, back to the issue of the day. There is the need to take a holistic view on this issue with the ordinary Ghanaian in mind. I believe someone in Tamale will benefit from this project more than either Kwesi Pratt or me.

What are the opponents saying?

A U S base in Ghana Will Attract Terrorists. (LIE.) There is no empirical evidence to support this assertion except citing the US embassy bombings in Kenya and Tanzania. If such was the case, what will then happen to the Embassy and other American installations that we already have in Ghana? Shut it down, they may say! How many Embassies has the US got in Africa? How many of them were bombed or have been bombed so far? Two? What happened was that there was a failure of security and intelligence and that can happen anywhere the Authorities let their guards down. A US Base Will Interfere With Our Sovereignty. (Big LIE.) The US has military bases around the world for a lot of reasons and I have never heard or read in anywhere that they have interfered in the internal affairs of such countries or exerted their territorial influence on them. There are bases or activities in places like the UK, Germany, Italy, Japan, South Korea, UAE, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, and Djibouti, just to mention a few. Are we more or less important than any of these countries? Why are their citizens not protesting to their governments to get rid of the US bases? Do you know how many of these countries panicked when the US decided to re-align its bases around the world, fearing that they were going to be closed down? Remember both Japan and Germany were sworn enemies of the US in the past World Wars, yet they still see the need to keep a US base in their sovereign territories. The existence of a US base in Ghana will not affect our sovereignty in any way. Saudi Arabia refused to allow the US to launch the Iraqi war from its territory and the US obliged and I don’t see why Ghana can’t do the same.

Their 3rd reason is by opposing the war in Iraq, they must oppose everything the US does. The Iraqi war is another issue on its own and must not be confused with the issues confronting the ordinary Ghanaian and the benefits they stand to derive from such a project. For your information, there were Ghanaian victims in the September 11th attacks in New York. For a fact a Ghanaian died in the July 7th bombings in London. Ghanaians are scattered all over this world and are affected by these same events confronting these countries, so it does not matter whether we are for or against the Global War on Terrorism, but just remember that we are also affected by terrorist attacks. When I visited the US Naval Support Activity in Bahrain, I had nothing but one wish: ‘that we could have such a thing in Ghana. What will Ghanaians gain from having a US base on its soil? My reasons are very simple and here they are.

JOB CREATION:

The Project will create a lot of jobs for Administrative staff, Construction workers, catering staff, hospital staff etc. These people will be paid a decent wage. Money will go through their pockets, into the Ghanaian economy. They will be able to support their families. If the project is cited in the Afram Plains or the Northern Region, it will help reduce our ‘all roads leads to Accra “Migration’. In fact, I will expect that Traditional Leaders, Regional Parliamentary Caucuses would have started lobbying the Government to site such a project in their respective areas.

ECONOMY BOOST:

With the existence of a US base in Ghana, no president should ever travel to the US to invite investors. Americans will see Ghana as a safe place to invest. They will also develop a sense of security for their investments. It will put us on the world map and it will drive investment. The US might also need a lot of services at their base and local Ghanaian companies could be given contracts to provide services to support their activities. This will help our economy grow. In Bahrain, houses around the US base, have gained a significant value. A lot of business has been opened around the base thus serving the needs of the US military and their civilian employees in various dimensions, not to talk about the booming Taxi business in the Junfair areas around the base. (Oh yes I said TAXI, and please do not underrate the TAXI industry in Ghana. Simply put, US military personnel who are stationed in Ghana will live and spend money in Ghana). They will use cell phones from our local companies, go out and eat; shop, drink, and thus put money into our economy. How mush money are we spending to promote tourism? This base will put us on the tourist map again. Their families and friends will know they are in Ghana and they will start reading more about Ghana or visiting Ghana. In this age you will think that every American knows about Ghana. A big no and you can ask any Ghanaian living in the US. I believe that a few businesses in Tema and Takoradi can testify to the fact that they see a boost in their profits anytime a US ship makes a port call in Ghana. Yes, sailors will jump out into town and spend money after spending several weeks at sea and eating the same food. Oh lest I forget, McDonalds, Burger King and all the American fast food chains will open branches here. I am saying this because all around the world, wherever there is a US base, you will find out that areas around the base begin to develop a lot of American business to meet the needs of the military. 

MILITARY ENHANCEMENT

Our own military and the police play a very important role in peacekeeping operations all around the world. There is a high demand of Ghanaian troops everywhere and our members need more international exposure. They also need to be trained in modern military techniques and how to handle modern military equipment. The relation between the US and Ghana military is very cordial and whilst they are already co-operating in a lot of exercises and joint Trainings, the existence of the US base in Ghana will give the Ghanaians more opportunity to continue their joint training and co-operation. Our Military is first class and we need to sharpen them to remain on top and more importantly to defend this country against coup makers. MARITIME SECURITY: Ghana has over 500km of coast line and yet we do not have the ability and the resources to effectively monitor and control it. This is another area that the US is already helping and we could get much greater help if the base becomes a reality. Remember in the recent Georgina Wood Cocaine probe, all the operations were done at sea, yet our Navy does not have the capacity to prevent the re-occurrence of such incidents (drugs) can be smuggle through our waters, the next thing will probably be arms to destabilize our country. 

HEALTH CARE

Hardly will a US base be built without a Hospital or a modern health post. Ghanaians (at least those who work there and their families) will get access to health care. Our medical professionals can also get more training at such a facility. I can go on and on and on but I am not the official mouthpiece of the US military but as a US citizen of Ghanaian parentage, I believe that Ghana is still my motherland and if I believe in something, I must let my fellow citizens know. It is up to you readers to support or oppose this project but if it becomes a reality, the ordinary Ghanaian will be the winner.

HAPPY GHANA@50

.Remember this is an opportunity that our neighbors will grab from our hands if we as Ghanaians start opposing this from its inception, we can loose such a lucrative deal to any of our West African neighbors. THE Author is now A US Navy Reservist after a short active duty including a tour in the Arabian Gulf. I do not express the view of the US government.



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