(Brig. Gen. Michael A.) Snodgrass stressed the same message at a business expo hosted by AFRICOM near the German base on May 1st.:
“We’re going to take this one step at a time, we’re going to listen to the Africans and take their advice,” Snodgrass said. “At an appropriate time, we will be invited by countries to come to Africa to bring our presence, which then means (there) will be an increase in activity and an increase in effectiveness in our programs.”
As we have documented here off and on following the February 2007 public announcement of the creation of AFRICOM, one thing that its spokespersons, planners and transition team have typically not done is listen to Africans or anyone bringing up things they don’t want to hear. It’s hard to imagine that changing much at this point, other than trotting out those African representatives already on board and “advising” the U.S. on how to best to go about accomplishing their objectives.
Going from the lineups presented at the various thinktank conferences and seminars, a high percentage of these influential Africans are military officers, usually graduates of IMET or other U.S. training programs.
… “persistent engagement” five times throughout the 22-page text which emphasizes the long-term focus on building the capacity to help Africans help the U.S. take advantage of Africa’s wealth in “human capital and mineral resources.”
As would be expected, maintaining control of the perception of AFRICOM is very important in the initial stages of the new command. However, since the official public image of AFRICOM (“a new kind of command” combining humanitarian missions with the pentagon’s soft power capabilities to help Africans help themselves) hardly matches up with the command’s true mission (secure and guarantee U.S. access to vital energy sources and distribution channels while containing China’s growing superpower status), AFRICOM, and everyone involved in promoting it, will remain beset by their own contradictions and weaknesses.
The American military relies more than that of any other nation on oil-powered ships, planes, helicopters, and armored vehicles to transport troops into battle and rain down weapons on its foes. Although the Pentagon may boast of its ever-advancing use of computers and other high-tech devices, the fighting machines that form the backbone of the U.S. military are entirely dependent on petroleum. Without an abundant and reliable supply of oil, the Department of Defense could neither rush its forces to distant battlefields nor keep them supplied once deployed there. (p.9, ISBN 978-0805079388)
American soldiers are training the Ugandans to combat terrorism, CBS News correspondent Allen Pizzey reports, preparing them to go to Somalia to fight Islamic insurgents so the U.S. doesn’t have to.
…Al Qaeda and other militants have expanded their operations to Africa. Across the top of the entire continent, rebel groups and discontented youth make ideal recruits-a situation made all the more dangerous by growing American dependence on African oil. It’s something the U.S. cannot ignore.
…The hardest job facing Africom is image-making. In the words of a senior American official, “It’s open season on U.S. foreign policy. We have to convince people that this is not some diabolical George Bush plot.”
…To make Africom succeed, the general has to spend as much time being a diplomat as a soldier. If he does it well enough, the enemy gathering in Africa won’t be America’s alone.
People from Uganda and Namibia have been heavily recruited as mercenaries in Iraq. Many have been recruited for Iraq under false pretences. This is quite controversial in some places. There is much concern about how mercenaries will behave once they return home. Namibia recently closed down and evicted the operations of an American company recruiting mercenaries. This training the US is providing is also suitable for creating an ongoing supply of mercenaries and surrogates for US purposes. And the US will need mercenaries and surrogates if it attempts to control the world by force, as it seems inclined. In fact the rebel groups and discontented youth [who] make ideal recruits – a situation made all the more dangerous by growing American dependence on African oil that the CBS piece describes are far more likely to be ideal recruits for American military aims if they have the opportunity. Al Qaeda is not really popular. Nobody likes outsiders coming in and telling them they are inferior practitioners of their religion. And the Somalis have generally been cool to hostile to al Qaeda. The only thing giving al Qaeda any credibility is US behavior.
In Somalia the US is encouraging one country, Ethiopia, to invade another, Somalia, helping overthow the existing government and occupying the country and bombing civilians. That is not counter terrorism. It is imperialism. Much of it is run out the the CJTF–HOA, being held up as a model and template for the rest of AFRICOM.
But all the US news sources are lapping up the al Qaeda terrorist spin and spitting it back out again, letting Americans think they are being protected from a terrible enemy instead of themselves becoming a terrible enemy of peace, and being conned into endless war of imperial aggression. And the only African voices that will be heard are the ones that have been coopted to replay the Pentagon talking points.
The real promise of AFRICOM is foolery, fallacy and failure, for the US, and for Africa.