Making the world safe for US corporations, the right wing targets Africa.

Conn Hallinan spells out the founding principles of AFRICOM, I’ve bolded some of the key points. Of course long term, this approach will make the world far less safe for American corporations and for Americans. A lot more people will be hurt and die in the process.

Back in October 2003, James Jay Carafano and Nile Gardner of the Heritage Foundation laid out a blueprint for how to use military power to dominate that vast continent.

“Creating an African Command,” write the two analysts in a Heritage Foundation study entitled U.S. Military Assistance for Africa: A Better Solution, “would go a long way toward turning the Bush Administration’s well aimed strategic priorities for Africa into a reality.”

While the Bush Administration says the purpose of AFRICOM will be humanitarian aid and “security cooperation,” not “war fighting,” says Ryan Henry, principal deputy undersecretary of defense for policy. The Heritage analysts were a tad blunter about the application of military power: “Pre-emptive strikes are justified on grounds of self-defense America must not be afraid to employ its forces decisively when vital national interests are threatened.”

Carafano and Gardner are also quite clear what those “vital interests” are: “The United States is likely to draw 25 percent of its oil from West Africa by 2015, surpassing the volume imported from the Persian Gulf.”
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The two also proposed increasing military aid to African regimes friendly to the U.S. and, using the language of pop psychology, confronting “enabler” and “slacker” states that threaten U.S. security. “Enabler” states, according to the authors, are those-like Libya-that directly aid terrorists and “slacker” states are failed nations-like Somalia-where terrorists can base their operations.

Their recommendations are almost precisely what the Administration settled on, albeit the White House wrapped its initiative in soothing words like “cooperation,” “humanitarian aid,” and “stability.”

In a sense, AFRICOM simply formalized the growing U.S. military presence on the continent.
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Exactly as the Heritage proposal recommends, the U.S. has recruited client regimes like Ethiopia, Chad and Uganda that are willing to support U.S. policy goals. A case in point is the recent U.S. sponsored invasion of Somalia, where Ethiopian troops overthrew the Islamist regime and Ugandan soldiers helped occupy the country.

Controlling resources for U.S. corporations is a major impetus behind AFRICOM, but it is also part of the Bush Administration’s fixation with China. The Chinese “threat” in Africa has been a particular focus for both Heritage and the American Enterprise Institute.

And then there is “free” trade:

Military power is not the only arrow in the U.S. quiver. And once again the Heritage Foundation has played a key role in promoting the Bush Administration’s other strategy for controlling Africa: free trade.

In a major Heritage Lecture, entitled “How Economic Freedom is Central to Development in Sub-Saharan Africa,” Brett Schaefer of the Thatcher Center, argues that developing countries must lower their trade barriers in order to grow. The Bush Administration’s Millennium Challenge Account ties aid to such reduced barriers.

. . . “free trade” is a Trojan horse that ends up overwhelming the economies of developing countries. “From the very start, the aim of the developed countries [in the Doha talks] was to push for greater market openings from the developing countries while making minimal concessions of their own.”
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the impact of free trade on Africa will be profound. “The majority in Africa,” . . . “will be faced with losses in both agricultural and industrial goods,” and small African farmers will be unable to compete.

. . . the best strategy for developing countries is exactly the opposite of the Heritage Foundation’s formula. According to the analysis, countries like Japan and South Korea were successful because, rather than embracing “free trade,” they protected their industries from outside competition.
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Nicole Lee, executive director of the TransAfrica Forum, called AFRICOM “neither wise nor productive,” and suggests that the U.S. should instead focus on “development assistance and respect for sovereignty.”

But not so long as U.S. policy in Africa is driven by think tanks like the Heritage Foundation.