Map of AFRICOM presence in Africa, current and projected locations, from the GAO report (PDF), click map to see the graphic readable full size (you may have to click more than once to make it big enough to read the small print). AFRICOM still intends to locate its headquarters on the continent, but has not yet selected or persuaded a host.
1.AFRICOM has not confirmed whether these 11 embassies are the same embassies in which it currently intends to establish offices, but is still negotiating with State.
The US Africa Command is already active all over Africa. AFRICOM is operating out of US embassies in a number of countries. This according to the February GAO report released last week, PDF: Actions Needed to Address Stakeholder Concerns, Improve Interagency Collaboration, and Determine Full Costs Associated with the U.S. Africa Command.
… initial statements about the new command’s intended mission and scope of its activities met with concerns from U.S. government, nongovernmental, and African partner stakeholders. Concerns are particularly keen in areas like humanitarian assistance and other non-combat activities that involve non-DOD agencies and organizations. Their concerns center on the view that AFRICOM could blur traditional boundaries between diplomacy, development, and defense.
Until AFRICOM has a communications strategy that ensures a consistent message and facilitates two-way communication with stakeholders, it may be limited in its ability to reduce persistent concerns from U.S. government, nongovernmental, and African stakeholders and garner support for the command.
The Africa Command’s communication problem remains the same as it has been, and has been mentioned many times across the archives of this blog. The description of the mission does not describe the actual mission. The mission statement has been changed and modified several times. The current mission statement from africom.mil:
United States Africa Command, in concert with other U.S. government agencies and international partners, conducts sustained security engagement through military-to-military programs, military-sponsored activities, and other military operations as directed to promote a stable and secure African environment in support of U.S. foreign policy.
This statement does not accurately describe the true mission, which is more accurately described as: secure and guarantee U.S. access to vital energy sources and distribution channels while containing China’s growing superpower status. That is what “a stable and secure African environment in support of U.S. foreign policy” means. Stable and secure does not mean stable and secure for the people of Africa. It means stable and secure for US energy needs and policy objectives. An example of the difference is the elections a year ago in Kenya, where the US decided it preferred to continue dealing with President Kibaki, a known quantity with whom they were comfortable, and did not want to allow the possibility that the opposition might be democratically elected. So the US supported a Coup in Kenya.
Security and stability operations are the language of the new colonialism, the recolonizers. This has been researched and described eloquently by Mahmood Mamdani. From an interview:
Q. Are you saying that humanitarianism is a form of colonialism?
A. I’m saying that historically it has been. The movement after which Save Darfur patterned itself is the antislavery movement of the 19th century. Remember that the elimination of slavery was the ostensible reason given by British officials for colonization of the African continent. The cataloging of brutalities – real ones, not exaggerated – was essential preparation for seizing chunks of real estate, again ostensibly to protect victims. Today, the humanitarian claim uses ethics to displace politics. Conflicts are typically presented as tribal or race wars between perpetrators and victims whose roles are unchanging.
Q. Does the problem lie in who uses the humanitarian label?
A. The language of human rights was once used primarily by the victims of repression. Now it has become the language of power and of interventionists who turn victims not into agents but into proxies. It has been subverted from a language that empowers victims to a language that serves the designs of an interventionist power on an international scale.
All the narratives about war and disasters in Africa enable more “humanitarian” intervention. The intervention is “justified” by a disasterous situation. But the intervention is not designed to alleviate the situation, but rather, take advantage of it, allowing the “humanitarians” to acquire land and resources. Only the surface of the intervention is designed to appear humanitarian to the people outside the affected countries, who are generally not knowledgeable, and not particularly interested. For examples see the land acquisitions of Jarch in Sudan, or the US sponsored invasion of Somalia Dec 2006 and Jan 2007, or the military assistance provided to the Nigerian government to help put down the violence in the Niger Delta.
As the GAO report (PDF) points out:
In November 2005, DOD directed that stability operations be given priority on par with combat operations.
AFRICOM is primarily focused on this shift toward emphasizing the importance of stability operations.
According to the President’s National Security Policy, defense, diplomacy and development comprise three key elements of the U.S. foreign policy apparatus.
The words defense, diplomacy and development are called the 3Ds. US officials have claimed they are what AFRICOM will bring to Africa. This is eerily and offensively reminiscent of 19th century colonialism, in which Europe claimed it was bringing the 3Cs to Africa, commerce, Christianity and civilization.
In the 12 US embassies in African countries, listed in the map above, AFRICOM is active, and as a consequence, has been militarizing diplomacy. But the military actions coming out of these embassies are more than just military to military liaison. As an article in HStoday writes:
… one of the Command’s fundamental roles is indeed counterterror intelligence and disruption operations.
For the time being, AFRICOM will be based in Stuttgart, with covert intelligence operatives working out of US installations and front companies throughout Africa.
So look at the list of countries where the US Africa Command already has an active presence: Algeria, Botswanana, Djibouti, Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Liberia, Morocco, Nigeria, Senegal, South Africa, Tunisia. What kind of covert ops and disruption operations are being run in your country? or in a country near you? Who are the targets? Which companies are front companies? Does this make you feel more stable and secure?