Moon of Alabama has a series of articles by b real providing some history and some of the thinking behind the formation of Africom. Part I, part II and part III. A PDF version of the complete series is available here. In this post I’ll look at some of what it says in part II of this series.
When the US announced the creation of Africom, it cited terrorism and oil as its two main areas of focus, as documented in these articles. As long as the US has this narrow focus, things will work badly for African countries. There is a lot of US talk about supporting development and democracy. I have cited the following, but it bears repeating, the one thing that all people around the globe, including in the US, should remember about Bush:
. . . the Bush Family and their allies and cronies represent the confluence of three long-established power factions in the American elite: oil, arms and investments. These groups equate their own interests, their own wealth and privilege, with the interests of the nation – indeed, the world – as a whole. And they pursue these interests with every weapon at their command, including war, torture, deceit and corruption. Democracy means nothing to them – not even in their own country.
There are rumors of US military activity in a number of places in Ghana. In some places it is fairly clear something is going on, but nobody is saying what. Today there are several articles at GhanaWeb about possible military bases in Ghana: US military base for Ghana, and No US Military Base for Ghana – Addo Kufuor, one worried speculation, one a denial. Ghanaians should make no mistake. There is already a US military presence in Ghana. It is probably what the US military calls “lily pads“. And this presence will grow. As it grows, neither the Ghana government, nor the US government are likely to be open or forthcoming as to exactly what is going on.
Bush continually praises Kufuor. It isn’t because of democracy in Ghana, it is because Kufuor has been compliant with Bush’s wishes. This is the ONLY test the Bush Cheney administration use in evaluating individuals or countries, are they compliant and loyal to Bush? Praise from Bush should set off alarms everywhere.
The US will continue hiding any military developments and activities. There have been demonstrations against US bases in a number of countries, and people from many countries are organizing to resist global and US militarism:
In a new surge of energy for the global struggle against militarism, some 400 activists from 40 countries came together in Ecuador from March 5-9 to form a network to fight against foreign military bases.
In West Africa, the U.S. military’s European Command has now established forward-operating locations in Senegal, Mali, Ghana (my emphasis), and Gabon — as well as Namibia, bordering Angola on the south — involving the upgrading of airfields, the pre-positioning of critical supplies and fuel, and access agreements for swift deployment of U.S. troops. … [It] is developing a coastal security system in the Gulf of Guinea called the Gulf of Guinea Guard. It has also been planning the construction of a U.S. naval base in Sao Tome and Principe, which the European Command has intimated could rival the U.S. naval base as Diego Garcia in the Indian Ocean. The Pentagon is thus moving aggressively to establish a military presence in the Gulf of Guinea that will allow it to control the western part of the broad trans-Africa oil strip and the vital oil reserves now being discovered there.
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U.S. naval protection of the sea-lanes that transport oil is of paramount importance.” The report also called for stepped up U.S. naval engagement in the Gulf of Guinea off the coast of Nigeria.
China has altered the strategic context in Africa. All across Africa today, China is acquiring control of natural resource assets, outbidding Western contractors on major infrastructure projects, and providing soft loans and other incentives to bolster its competitive advantage.
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For the Council on Foreign Relations, all of this adds up to nothing less than a threat to Western imperialist control of Africa.
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The goal of building large regional battalions may very well foreshadow larger proxy wars
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Already, the U.S. supports unpopular governments in nations such as Equatorial Guinea, Ethiopia, Central African Republican, Somalia, and Algeria.
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Algeria, with its documented record of torture and ‘disappearances,’ is in many ways a model of how not to fight terrorism.
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One Central African country in particular illustrates the need for State Department perspective and guidance to temper Defense Department enthusiasm. The country is unstable, desperately poor, and run by a repressive government that is being challenged by a persistent armed resistance. . . With extensive “under-governed spaces” as potential terrorist havens and bordering countries with equally uncertain futures, the country was termed “a model country for security assistance” by the regional combatant command. Civilian embassy officials, however, are demonstrably less keen. They question the rate at which military programs are rapidly escalating and the sizable and still growing presence of U.S. military personnel in-country. . . It would be a major setback if the United States were to be implicated in support of operations shoring up the repressive regime, regardless of the stated intent of such training.
The US Secretary of State is weak, and does not appear to have diplomatic skills, her background is academic, and she is invested in the oil business. The State Department will not be able to counter the growing militarism as long as she is there, and she may support it. And even if she leaves, as long as Bush is US President, countries should be wary of any US offers and deals, including offers and deals made with their neighbors.
Any citizen of any country who has watched the debacle in Iraq will not welcome Bush Cheney attentions to their territories and resources.