March 2010


… when somebody gives you a gift, the purpose is mostly to compromise your decision making. – Obenfo

The United States (US) Government on Saturday, presented four speed patrol boats to the Ghana Navy, to help ensure maritime safety and security. – Sekondi, March 13, GNA

SEKONDI, Ghana - A group of Defender-class response boats perform maneuvers for a crowd at the naval base in Sekondi, Ghana, March 13, 2010, during a handover ceremony. The boats were donated to the Ghana Armed Forces by the U.S. Government. The event coincided with the visit of USS Gunston Hall (LSD 44) to Sekondi as part of Africa Partnership Station (APS) West, an international initiative developed by U.S. Naval Forces Europe and U.S. Naval Forces Africa that aims to improve maritime safety and security in West and Central Africa. (U.S. Navy photo by Petty OFficer 2nd Class John Stratton)

Ms Julie Furuta-Toy, Deputy Chief of Mission at the US Embassy in Ghana presented certificates on the boats to Lieutenant-General Joseph Henry Smith (rtd), Minister of Defense, at a ceremony at the Western Naval Command in Sekondi.

Lt-General Smith thanked the US Government for the gift, which he said is an expression of the cordial relationship between the two countries and hoped the friendship between the two countries would be further strengthened. He spoke of the economic, social and security assistance the country has received from US government over the years, saying that, Ghana had received security assistance such as the International Military Education and Training (IMET) and the African Contingency Training Assistance (ACOTA) programmes.

Lt-General Smith said USS Gunston Hall; a US Naval is presently berthed at the Western Naval Command for the 2010 Africa Partnership Training Programme. He said the government is committed to equipping the Ghana Navy, to play a pivotal role in the protection of the countries maritime resources, especially fisheries stock and the oil find. He said steps were being taken to complete the Slipway and the Test bench Projects at the Sekondi Naval Dockyard to enhance fleet maintenance and ensure availability of ships to perform assigned roles.

Miss Furuta-Toy said the four boats are meant to augment three defender boats presented to the Ghana Navy in October 2008. She said the US is proud of its multi-national military partnerships, and that from 2008 to 2009, five West and Central African Countries received 17 identical defender class boats.

The USS Gunston Hall on which the patrol team will be travelling

The US African Partnership Station, currently led in West Africa by the USS Gunston Hall has been engaged in training missions. Sammy Darko, one of the Ghanaian reporters hosted by the US Africa Command in its Stuttgart headquarters, was on board the USS Gunston Hall and a witness to the training. It looks like he is an embedded reporter in the way the US military has used reporters in the US media. He writes for JoyFM, myjoyonline.com:

The United States Africa Command is collaborating with the Ghana navy to patrol the country’s high seas.

The naval commands say the surveillance has become necessary to check increasing illegal activities such as drug trafficking, fishing and dumping of waste along the West coast.

The project will also involve training for Ghana’s Navy and logistical support.

Joy FM’s Sammy Darko will be on the patrol ship and he believes the trip will be a challenging one.

Expectations

The capacity of the Ghana Navy is soon expected to be boosted to a level where they can ward off most illegal activities on the high seas.

In recent times, concerns have been raised about the country’s inability to combat drug traffickers, illegal fishing and dumping of waste on the high seas.

That is because the Navy lacks the equipment and required skills to do so.
But the US Africa Command is hoping to reverse the trend with its African partnership station.

Pirates on high seas

The object of this program is to improve maritime safety and security on the African continent.

Under the program, officers of the Ghana Navy will be given professional training and provided with some logistics to aid in patrol offshore.

For instance, under this exercise the US has given Ghana four defender class boats for surveillance. These are fast speed boats attached to a vessel to chase out criminals on the high seas.

The training is considered crucial as the nation prepares to sell its oil in commercial quantities in the last quarter of this year.

So for the next eight days, my job on this trip will be to observe and if possible, assist in the arrest of criminals.

Mr. Darko has a unique opportunity. I hope he learns much from his chance to observe. In another article from March 2010 in his blog he writes:

Seventeen Ghanaian Navy officers and sailors are receiving training on how to secure the nations maritime boundary on a US naval ship currently on sail on the gulf of Guinea.

Also onboard the ship are navy officers from other West African countries. The idea is to pull together synergy on how to check insecurity on the African waters in recent times.

The training is being organized by the United States naval forces Africa and its partners under a program code named African partnership station.

The reporter is currently onboard the USS Gunston hall currently enroute to Sao Tome and Principe to deliver some items. It will take us roughly four days to get there.

To give you an idea about the ship I am on, picture two football fields put together, that is how big this ship is.

It is a well equipped vessel. Inside this ship are several lecture halls where naval officers from Ghana and other West African countries are undergoing tutorials on a wide range of maritime courses with emphasis on professional development, respond capabilities, and infrastructural development.

Some of the students tell me the lessons have been very useful. ” I have learnt how to administer first aid to any of my offers if they were to suffer injury- A ghanaian naval officer said”.

For the next seven days, trainees are expected to also undergo practical training as we sail to Sao Tome and back to Tema.

There is no question that both the training and equipment are useful and much needed in Ghana. The drug trade plus trade in other contraband, the illegal fishing and dumping are a plague on Ghanaian shores and all African shores. The US military is actively targeting Africa. With a seabase, the US may have the equivalent of a base in Ghana, without an actual land base. All the arrows point to Africa in the USMC map of the future global security environment pictured below. You can read the planning and the rational in the text on the graphic, also reprinted below. Of course a great deal of US policy is exacerbating these problems rather than helping resolve them, as discussed in many contexts over several years on this blog.

The text reads:
Future Security Environment (PDF p.3)
“Hybrid” Threats &
Challenges …
Largely in the Littorals
ARC OF INSTABILITY
• Nuclear armed states
• Top ten oil reserves
• Significant drug regions
• Anti-West attitudes
• Increasing Global Interdependence
• Emerging Global Powers
• Improved anti-access weapons
• “Haves” vs “Have Nots”
The “asymmetrical kind of war” we face today will last at least two decades…

The African Partnership Station is an active part of the seabase concept The original of the above graphic is at Seabasing Concepts and Programs PDF, but it may not be possible to connect from IP addresses outside the US. As you can see from the words along the bottom, they are preparing for a war they expect to last at least 2o years. As has been discussed on this blog many times, in respect to many countries, much of this war will be self fulfilling prophecy, the result of militarization: training, and arming the continent. The US sees sea basing as the way to use its military to police and control the world, and particularly the oil and other resources it covets from Africa. And because the US military is overextended, they will be using military contractors for a lot of this arming and training activity, making them even less accountable.

The US appears to have given up on putting an Africa Command headquarters in Africa. At present it looks likely to stay in Stuttgart, or move to the continental United States. With seabasing, the Africa Command does not need a land base in Africa. It can bring an immense base offshore of any country with a coastline. So you may:

Imagine a future where the people of countries at odds with U.S. policies suddenly find America’s “massive seaborne platforms” floating just outside their territorial waters.

Ghanaians remain smart and skeptical, from the five comments at myjoyonline, two comments are simply grateful for the equipment. The other three follow:

US-Ghana Navy
Posted By: Piorgah Tetteh , 3/18/2010 1:01:42 PM
So finally, the US Africom is using diversionary tactics to invade the continent. They failed to set up a base here and are now coming under the pretext of partnership to operate. The US will go to any length to poke its nose in people’s business. Sake of this small oil wey we find…
Azaa Amerika. Atta Mill, shine your eyes.

Yankee Go Home
Posted By: ObibiNIBAKOJO , 3/18/2010 5:41:44 PM
Ghanaman ,the US has double standards and hidden motives…warn president mills and the Ghana Navy…Look at this illegal drugs…the most drugs are here in the US and the Carribean route ……don’t let this stupid marines fool you…Ghanaman.

USA IN GHANA? am sad!!!¬!!
Posted By: ab , 3/19/2010 4:26:09 PM
USA oooooh? am supprised they are here too. is because of the oil oooooh Ghana. very soon we will start fight over the oil and they will start selling guns to us at the exchange of oil. USA. is our leaders really reading between two lines at all.
why allowed this people here. my heart is bleeding seriously

The article at GhanaWeb about the donated boats has 42 comments and the majority are skeptical of this military gift, or at the very least are skeptical about US motives, many wonder what he payback will be. Here are a few:

Author: the truth
those are the two agendas for the United state in ghana. africom or oil and i hope god willing our foolish leaders be smart and stay away from the United State. else we are doomed

Author: Obenfo
… apart from food and other humanitarian aid to victim nations of natural disasters, nothing really goes out of the US free without satisfying the American interest.
It is strange why Africans expect things free. I think it’s about time we Africans understand that when somebody gives you a gift, the purpose is mostly to compromise your decision making.
My friends, nothing is free in America
so why should Africans expect something free from America without giving back anyting in return?
Most often, it is more dangerous to recieve gifts without a clear cut condition than those with clearly stated conditions, in that sense you can negotiate well and once you meet those conditions you become free.

Author: KOLA,LONDON MAIN
US have been sharing gifts with the Sekondi Naval Base since time immemorial.
Training and development exchange programmes have existed between the two countries as well but it doesn’t mean we should sell Ghana to the US …

Author: girls sp
africa command in ghana. mmmm. us naval base in ghana.

The following is a huge graphic that portrays the entire global seabasing concept. There are humanitarian activities that are part of this concept, but they are there to serve the military objective. Acronyms from this graphic are listed below.

Seabase Overview - Joint Seabasing Responsive Scalable National Power Projection (this is a very large graphic, you may need to click more than once and scroll around to read it all)

acronyms from the graphic:
CSG Carrier Strike Group
ESG Expeditionary Strike Group
GFS Global Fleet Station
HA/DR Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief
MAGTF Marine Air Ground Task Force
MARDET Marine Detachment
MCO Major Combat Operation
MPF(F) Maritime Prepositioning Force (Future)
MEU Marine Expeditionary Unit
NEO Noncombatant Evacuation Operations
SOF Special Operations Forces
SPMAGTF Special Purpose Marine Air Ground Task Force

U.S. and Democratic Republic of Congo representatives gathered February 17, 2010, at a military base outside of Kisangani in north-central DRC to mark the establishment of a light infantry battalion intended to be a model unit for the future of the Congolese military.

KISANGANI, Democratic Republic of Congo - Congolese soldiers stand in formation during a ceremony marking the formation of the Congolese Armed Forces (FARDC) Light Infantry Battalion's establishment, February 17, 2010. The battalionnâ€s soldiers will soon undergo 6-8 months of training as part of a U.S. government partnership with the Government of the Democratic Republic of Congo. (Photo by Nicole Dalrymple, U.S. Africa Command)

The train-and-equip mission, part of a long-term, multi-lateral U.S.-DRC partnership to promote security sector reform in the country, will assist the DRC government in its ongoing efforts to transform the Armed Forces of the DRC (Forces Armées de la République Démocratique du Congo, widely known as FARDC).

The training is intended to increase the ability of the Congolese army to conduct effective internal security operations as part of the FARDC’s rapid reaction plan, help preserve the territorial integrity of the DRC, and develop an army that is accountable to the Congolese people. This initiative also represents one aspect of a long-term, multiagency, international approach to promote a sustainable peace through the creation of a model unit in the FARDC.

Brigadier General Jean-Claude Kifwa, commander of FARDC’s 9th Region, spoke at the ceremony, saying he thought it was a sign of progress that a quick reaction force was being established in his region.

“I’d like to thank the authorities of my country for choosing Kisangani to be the center of quick reaction forces,” Kifwa said. “I think this is progress in the reform of our new army.” He said that the battalion’s main mission would be to protect the territorial borders of the Democratic Republic of Congo and the Congolese people and their goods.

KISANGANI, Democratic Republic of Congo - Congolese Color Guard members take part in a ceremony marking the establishment of a Congolese Armed Forces (FARDC) Light Infantry Battalion, February 17, 2010, in Kisangani. The battalion will be trained via a U.S. government partnership with the DRC. (Photo by Nicole Dalrymple, U.S. Africa Command)

Members of the newly formed light infantry battalion will undergo a 6-8 month training program at the Base Camp in Kisangani. The training will cover small unit tactics, food preparation, maintenance, medical care and first aid, logistics support, HIV/AIDS prevention and communications. Human rights considerations and the respect for human rights in military operations will be incorporated in each aspect of the training.

“The commanders, staff officers and noncommissioned officers who will lead this battalion began their training last year in Kinshasa,” Garvelink explained. He added that the battalion’s soldiers were all carefully selected by the FARDC to “ensure the highest caliber of trainees possible.”

U.S. Africa Command (U.S. AFRICOM), via its Special Operations Command component, is providing on-the-ground oversight of the training program, which will be taught by U.S. military personnel and Department of State-hired contractors.

When asked about any possible hidden policy agenda of the United States in the Congo, Ambassador Garvelink answered, “The interest of the United States in the Congo is to see a democratic, representative government that takes care of its people and is at peace with its neighbors. That’s what our objective is.” (from africom.mil)

In February 2008 the US and UN organized a special training: U.S. Military Legal Experts Train DR Congo Military in Preventing, Prosecuting Sex Crimes. So far I have not heard of any significant successes resulting from this training.

Regarding the reasons for training an infantry battalion and the interest of the United States, Rick Rozoff points us to some timely information:

Earlier this month the Kenyan newspaper The East African divulged that “American legislators are pushing for a law that will see another phase of military action to apprehend Lord’s Resistance Army rebels.”

The news source added that the LRA Disarmament and Northern Uganda Recovery Bill adopted by the U.S. Congress last year “requires the US government to develop a new multifaceted strategy” and as such the new bill under consideration “will not be the first time the US government is providing support to the Uganda army in fighting the LRA.

“The US has been backing the UPDF [Uganda People’s Defence Force] with logistics and training to fight the rebel group.” [12]

Last month it was announced that the U.S. Africa Command has dispatched special forces to train 1,000 Congolese troops in the north and east of their nation, where Congo borders Uganda.

Former U.S. diplomat Daniel Simpson was quoted above as to what in part is Washington’s motive in pursuing a new war in and around Somalia: To test out AFRICOM ground and air forces in Djibouti for direct military action on the continent.

A United Press International report of March 10, placed under energy news, offered another explanation. In a feature titled “East Africa is next hot oil zone,” the news agency disclosed that “East Africa is emerging as the next oil boom following a big strike in Uganda’s Lake Albert Basin. Other oil and natural gas reserves have been found in Tanzania and Mozambique and exploration is under way in Ethiopia and even war-torn Somalia.”

The article added: “The discovery at Lake Albert, in the center of Africa between Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo, is estimated to contain the equivalent of several billion barrels of oil. It is likely to be the biggest onshore field found south of the Sahara Desert in two decades.”

I wrote about oil and the LRA earlier in If Uganda Has Oil It Must Need The Pentagon’s Democracy. The comments include the Response of Acholi Religious Leaders Peace Initiative (ARLPI) to the ” Lord’s Resistance Army Disarmament and Northern Uganda Recovery Act of 2009″courtesy of Africa Focus. They conclude:

… we applaud the commitment of the bill to bring about stability and development in the region. However, we as the Acholi religious leaders whose primary concern is the preservation of human life, advocate for dialogue and other non-violent strategies to be employed so that long term sustainable peace may be realized. Let us learn from the past experiences where we have seen that violence only breeds more violence.

Given current US finances, it seems unlikely that the US is investing in training the Congo soldiers out of a selfless desire to see a democratic, representative government that takes care of its people and is at peace with its neighbors. That certainly has never been the case before in the DRC. And considering the role of US Africa Command protege Paul Kagame of Rwanda, the proxy army the US is training and arming in Rwanda, and Rwanda’s involvement in resource exploitation and political terrorism in Congo, US motives are at best unclear.

In 2008 Refugees International reported in U.S. Civil Military Imbalance for Global Engagement: Lessons from the Operational Level in Africa that the US:

… only plans to spend $5.5 million in 2009 [in Congo, compared to 49.65 million budgeted for Liberia] to help reform a 164,000-strong army in the DR Congo, a country with 65 million people where Africa’s “first world war” claimed the lives of over five million people.

… intelligence, judiciary, and prison agencies are sadly neglected. In the DR Congo, the State Department has played a very active role in facilitating dialogue among belligerents and is concerned about the humanitarian situation in the east, but the Defense Department is virtually ignoring the nation’s desperate need of military reform. As a result, an inadequately resourced security sector reform program has contributed to the Congolese army becoming a major source of insecurity for civilian communities.

It would be nice if the Congolese Army protected rather than preyed on the civilians they are supposed to protect. But I doubt the brief and limited training will make a significant difference, even if Human rights considerations and the respect for human rights in military operations will be incorporated in each aspect of the training. And I suspect human rights are more an afterthought than a goal.

real household consumption in sub-Saharan Africa is growing around 3.3 percent per annum, i.e. more than three times the 0.9 to 1.0 percent reported in international data sources and on par with the growth experienced in other developing countries.

School children in Bunkpurugu in Northern Ghana 2005, a very cheerful picture, not directly related to the story, but cheerfully upbeat.

Alwyn Young of the Department of Economics of the London School of Economics published the study The African Growth Miracle PDF in September 2009. As the abstract says:

Measures of real consumption based upon the ownership of durable goods, the quality of housing, the health and mortality of children, the education of youth and the allocation of female time in the household indicate that sub-Saharan living standards have, for the past two decades, been growing in excess of 3 percent per annum, i.e. more than three times the rate indicated in international data sets.

Mr. Young has made this survey based on the Demographic and Health Survey (DHS).

The DHS data on consumption of consumer durables and housing, children’s health and mortality, the schooling of youth and the allocation of women’s time between marriage & childbirth and market activity, indicate that since 1990 real material consumption in sub-Saharan Africa has been rising at a rate more than three times that recorded by international data sources such as the PWT, and on par with the growth taking place in other regions of the world. This is a miraculous achievement, given that the very real ravages of the AIDS epidemic have deprived families of prime working age adults, burdened them with medical and funeral expenses, orphaned their school age children and directly and adversely affected the health of their infants. And yet, the overall health and mortality of children is improving, their school attendance is rising, and family consumption of a variety of material goods is growing at a rapid rate. (p.58)

As he points out:

The paucity and poor quality of living standard data for less developed countries is well known and is motivating expanding efforts to improve the quality of information, as represented by the World Bank’s International Comparison Programme and Living Standards Measurement studies. However, there already exists, at the present time, a large body of unexamined current and historical data on living standards in developing countries, collected as part of the Demographic and Health Survey (DHS). For more than two decades this survey has collected information on the ownership of durables, the quality of housing, the health and mortality of children, the education of the youth and the allocation of women’s time in the home and the market in the poorest regions of the world.

In this paper I use the DHS data to construct estimates of the level, growth rate and inequality of real consumption in 29 sub-Saharan and 27 other developing countries. These estimates have the virtue of being based upon a methodologically consistent source of information for a large sample of poor economies. Rather than attempting to measure total nominal consumption and marry it to independently collected price indices, they employ direct physical measures of real consumption that, by their simplicity and patent obviousness (the ownership of a car or bicycle, the material of a floor, the birth, death or illness of a child), minimize the technical demands of the survey. While the items they cover provide little information on comparative living standards in developed countries, in the poorest regions of the world they are clear indicators of material well being, varying dramatically by socioeconomic status and covering, through durables, health & nutrition and family time, the majority of household expenditure.

He provides tables, and far more detail as to his methodology and his findings. You can read the entire economic report here, The African Growth Miracle PDF.

________

photocredit here

90,000 tons of diplomacy is just the beginning.

Imagine a future where the people of countries at odds with U.S. policies suddenly find America’s “massive seaborne platforms” floating just outside their territorial waters.

The George H. W. Bush (CVN 77) the nation’s 10th and final Nimitz-class aircraft carrier, from a Northrop Grumman poster. (click to enlarge)

That future is now present. We have seen a massive exercise in sea basing in the occupation of Haiti following the earthquake. A word document on the Haitian exercise is linked to this page, pictured below, from the Marine Corps on Sea Basing. In another linked document they describe seabasing:

From NWP 3-62/MCWP 3-31.7, Seabasing (PDF p.19)
“Seabasing, a national capability, is the overarching transformational operating concept for projecting and sustaining naval power and joint forces, which assures joint access by leveraging the operational maneuver of sovereign, distributed, and networked forces operating globally from the sea.”
“The sea base is an inherently maneuverable, scalable aggregation of distributed, networked platforms that enable the global power projection of offensive and defensive forces from the sea, and includes the ability to assemble, equip, project, support, and sustain those forces without reliance on land bases within the Joint Operations Area.”

The first major exercise in seabasing was in Liberia, I wrote about it earlier in this post: Seabasing Begins Off the Coast of Liberia. Currently the US an ongoing military presence in the Seychelles that certainly looks like establishing a host nation for a base, and as a friendly neighbor for seabasing. I wrote about the activity in the Seychelles in Building A US Military Base In The Seychelles, and Political Assassin Robots Flying In African Skies. The African Partnership Station has been visiting all around the coast of Africa, partnering in African countries for the US Africa Command. It has spent a lot of time along the coast of West Africa, and a lot of time visiting Ghana. Although AFRICOM officials continue to assure Ghanaians they have no interest in establishing a military base in Ghana, that may be because a sea base is just around the corner. Seabasing is an extension of the doctrine of Full-spectrum Dominance. One of the most succinct descriptions of Full-spectrum Dominance comes from Harold Pinter in his 2005 Nobel acceptance speech:

… the United States is now totally frank about putting its cards on the table. … Its official declared policy is now defined as ‘full spectrum dominance’. That is not my term, it is theirs. ‘Full spectrum dominance’ means control of land, sea, air and space and all attendant resources.

Controlling all attendant resources, most importantly oil, is what the current push for US global militarization is all about. The occupation of Haiti, the revival of the US 4th fleet for Latin America, AFRICOM, with its African Partnership Station patrolling the coasts of Africa, and its ongoing military to military exercises, as well as covering the globe with SOUTHCOM, EUCOM, CENTCOM, PACOM, NORTHCOM, are all part of Full-spectrum Dominance. Below is a screenshot of the USMC web page Seabasing – Enabling Joint Operations & Overcoming Access Challenges

USMC webpage Seabasing – Enabling Joint Operations & Overcoming Access Challenges. The African Partnership Station and the Haitian exercise are circled in yellow. (click to enlarge)

The Pentagon sees security as a full spectrum global operation, as illustrated in the slide below from a linked document, Seabasing Concepts and Programs PDF . They project at least 2 decades of war, based mainly in coastal areas, the littorals, all around the world. Documents and videos linked to the above page cover various aspects of seabasing.

The graphic below is the future security environment the US Department of Defense imagines. The map area outlined is what the Pentagon calls the Arc of Instability. All the arrows point at Africa. Keep the areas outlined on this map in mind when looking at the other maps below. Look at the arrows; all are directed at Africa, including one pointed from Latin America to West Africa, and one from western Asia into northeast Africa, as well as arrows pointed at northwest Africa and at Somalia:

The text reads:
Future Security Environment (PDF p.3)
“Hybrid” Threats &
Challenges …
Largely in the Littorals
ARC OF INSTABILITY
• Nuclear armed states
• Top ten oil reserves
• Significant drug regions
• Anti-West attitudes
• Increasing Global Interdependence
• Emerging Global Powers
• Improved anti-access weapons
• “Haves” vs “Have Nots”
The “asymmetrical kind of war” we face today will last at least two decades…

Clearly this is war, not a humanitarian mission. That is why it is called a war and assigned to the military. The military may engage in humanitarian exercises, but the threat is represented as a military security threat. The real reason for the global militarization is controlling resources and containing potential rivals. Africa is a central target because of its vast resources, oil, mineral, land, water, and more. Labeling almost the entire continent as part of the Arc of Instability demonstrates an intent to keep the continent destabilized. The intent to destabilize is particularly evident in North Africa where the US has Lied Into the War On Terror in the Sahara. The security environment pictured shows the US fears south south alliances and trade, alliances and trade that bypass the United States entirely. The big emerging economies are China, India, Brazil, Mexico, Indonesia, and Turkey. Along with Russia, these make up the largest 7 emerging economies, the E7.

I have wondered for a long time about why the US has been wedded to a policy in Somalia that is obviously disastrous for Somalia and harmful to nearby countries, as well as doing no good for the citizens of the United States. The US is maintaining a massive naval presence off the coast of Somalia. But it has done nothing to curb the illegal fishing that has devastated the economy of Somalia, a piracy far more significant in overall cost compared to the value of losses to the Somali pirates. Rather the US, NATO, and the international navies off the coast of Somalia appear to be assisting the illegal fishing at the expense of Somalia. Mohamed Hassan explains the global reasons for US Somalia policy quite clearly. The US policy is about containing emerging Asian powers, especially China and India, about controlling trade in the Indian Ocean, and about preventing the growth of south south alliances and trade. Preventing rather than supporting a functioning government in Somalia, keeping Somalia weak and unstable, is part of the reason for the policy:

Somalia: How Colonial Powers drove a Country into Chaos
Mohamed Hassan interviewed by Gregoire Lalieu and Michel Collon, Feb 10,2010

Q: Somalia had every reason to succeed: an advantageous geographical situation, oil, ores and only one religion and one language for the whole territory; a rare phenomenon in Africa. Somalia could have been a great power in the region. But the reality is completely different: famine, wars, lootings, piracy, bomb attacks. How did this country sink? Why has there been no Somali government for approximately twenty years?

MH: Since 1990, there has been no government in Somalia. The country is in the hands of warlords. European and Asiatic ships took advantage of this chaotic situation and fished along the Somali coast without a license or respect for elementary rules. They did not observe the quotas in force in their own country to protect the species and they used fishing techniques –even bombs!- that created huge damages to the wealth of the Somali seas.

That’s not all! Taking also advantage of this lack of any political authority, European companies, with the help of the mafia, dumped nuclear wastes offshore Somali coasts. Europe knew of this but turned a blind eye as that solution presented a practical and economical advantage for the nuclear waste management. Yet, the 2005 Tsunami brought a big part of these wastes into the Somali lands. Unfamiliar diseases appeared for the first time among the population. …

Q: No Somali state for almost twenty years! How is that possible?

MH: This is the result of an American strategy. In 1990, the country was bruised by conflicts, famine and lootings; the state collapsed. Facing this situation, the United States, who discovered oil in Somalia a few years ago, launched Operation Restore Hope in 1992. For the first time, US marines intervened in Africa to take control of a country. It was also the first time that a military invasion was launched in the name of humanitarian interference.

Q: Why is it strategic?

MH: The issue is the control of the Indian Ocean. Look at the maps.

Somalia, outlined in yellow, opposite India on the Indian Ocean, with the surrounding countries (click to enlarge)

As mentioned, western powers have an important share of the responsibility in the Somali piracy development. But instead of telling the truth and paying compensation for what they did, those powers criminalize the phenomena in order to justify their position in the region. Under the pretext of fighting the piracy, NATO is positioning its navy in the Indian Ocean.

Q: What is the real goal?

MH: To control the economic development of the emerging powers, mainly India and China. Half of the world’s container traffic and 70% of the total traffic of petroleum products passes through the Indian Ocean. From that strategic point of view, Somalia is a very important place: the country has the longest coast of Africa (3.300 km) and faces the Arabian Gulf and the Straight of Hormuz, two key points of the region economy. Moreover, if a pacific response is brought to the Somali problem, relations between African in one hand, and India and China on the other hand, could develop through the Indian Ocean. Those American competitors could then have influence in that African area. Mozambique, Kenya, Madagascar, Tanzania, Zanzibar, South Africa etc. All those countries connected to the Indian Ocean could gain easy access to the Asian market and develop fruitful economic relationship. Nelson Mandela, when he was president of South Africa, had mentioned the need of an Indian Ocean revolution, with new economic relationships. The United States and Europe do not want this project. That is why they prefer to keep Somalia unstable.
(h/t africa comments for Somalia information)

The Indian Ocean, both Somalia, and the Seychelles where the US is establishing a military presence, are indicted with a yellow outline. (click to enlarge)

Countries have noticed the US actions and intentions. South Africa, India, and Brazil have cooperated in joint naval exercises.

The full spectrum project is underway all around the globe. Efforts to contain China are well underway in Southeast Asia, from How the US got its Philippine bases back:

The American war on terrorism has provided the US an excellent justification to hasten its reestablishment of a strategic presence in Southeast Asia … Combating Islamic terrorism in this region [Southeast Asia] carried a secondary benefit for the United States: it positioned the US for the future containment of nearby China.

The Indian Ocean, with the strategic positions of Somalia and the Seychelles marked with yellow. Also the Philippines marked with yellow, strategically located in the Pacific east and south of China. All are key to sea basing. (click to enlarge)

In Latin America the US intends to contain Brazil and Venezuela. In February 2010 the US released a USGS report indicating that Venezuela now has larger oil reserves than Saudi Arabia. It is heavy crude, but still recoverable and refinable. One of the techniques of containment is stability operations, in fact these stability operations help keep the countries surrounding Brazil and Venezuela destabilized and in conflict. If you look at the Arc of Instability, you will note that it clings around the borders of Brazil.

Again from Pinter’s speech:

Direct invasion of a sovereign state has never in fact been America’s favoured method. In the main, it has preferred what it has described as ‘low intensity conflict’. Low intensity conflict means that thousands of people die but slower than if you dropped a bomb on them in one fell swoop. It means that you infect the heart of the country, that you establish a malignant growth and watch the gangrene bloom. When the populace has been subdued – or beaten to death – the same thing – and your own friends, the military and the great corporations, sit comfortably in power, you go before the camera and say that democracy has prevailed.

Brazil as a Key Player
by Raúl Zibechi | February 17, 2010

“Bit by bit, quietly, like a spider weaving its web in the middle of the night, an impressive military circle threatens Venezuela and, by extension, the entire group of progressive governments in Latin America,” writes Ignacio Ramonet in the January issue of Le Monde Diplomatique. A recent study by the United States Geological Survey (USGS) established that the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, thanks to recent discoveries in the Orinoco Belt, now possesses 513 reserve billion barrels of crude, accessible with “current technology.” Venezuela thus replaces Saudi Arabia, which “only” has 266 billion barrels, as possessor of the world’s largest oil reserves.

The article by Ramonet and the USGS conclusion are based on solid evidence. It is not the first time that it has been estimated that Venezuela’s reserves have are truly enormous. The crucial difference is that this time the confirmation comes from a North-American agency, not just from the Bolivarian employees. In effect, the USGS report effectively doubles the reserves in Venezuela’s domain. As for Ramonet’s contention, various developments in the region in recent months seem to substantiate it: in March 2009, we discovered that Colombia had allowed the United States to take over and control seven military bases; in June 2009 political turmoil resulted in the coup in Honduras where the United States has the military base of Soto Cano; in Oct. 2009 the president of Panama, Ricardo Martinelli, announced the concession of four military bases to the Pentagon. The total number of U.S. bases, including the two bases in Aruba and Curacao (Dutch Antilles), to the north and east of Venezuela to date number 13. The current rapid conversion of Haiti into a gigantic aircraft carrier incorporating the 4th Fleet will no doubt soon add another.

Aiming South
The intervention in Haiti is so blatantly militaristic that the China Daily (Jan. 21, 2010) asked whether it was the intention of the United States to make Haiti the 51st state of the Union. The newspaper quotes TIME Magazine which categorically states that “Haiti is being turned into the 51st state, and while the process unfolds, it already is America’s backyard.” In one week, the Pentagon had mobilized one aircraft carrier, 33 rescue planes, numerous war ships, and 11,000 marines. MINUSTAH, the UN stabalization mission in Haiti, consists of 7,000 soldiers. According to the Folha de Sao Paulo (Jan. 20, 2010), the Brazilian military, which had, up until the earthquake, been in charge of the UN mission and thus been the main military presence on the island, will have been outnumbered by the United States with projected numbers in a few weeks reaching 16,000 soldiers, or “12 times more military personnel than Brazil.”

In the same issue of the China Daily, an article about the American influence on the Caribbean asserts that the military intervention in Haiti will have a long-term effect on U.S. strategy in the Caribbean and in Latin America, given that it maintains a long-running confrontation with Cuba and Venezuela. According to Beijing, the region is “the door to its backyard,” which it seeks to “control tightly and exclusively” in order to “extend its influence south.”

To the south is the whole Andean region, which includes not only Venezuela but above all, Brazil.

The US Government still treats military spending as spending that has no cost to the nation or its citizens. As a result of a decade of making war off the books, keeping the real figures out of the federal budget, the United States is significantly weakened financially. It has failed to invest in its own growth and own citizenry, and has given away its manufacturing base. It is deeply in debt ot China. The US media is mostly owned by those who continue to profit from US military and financial adventurism. The US public know comparatively little about what is going on in the rest of the world, and are mostly unaware that they don’t know. In this regard:

In the last few weeks, a few important issues have come to light … On Jan. 20, 2010, the British newspaper The Financial Times published a comparative list of the 10 top banks in the world in terms of market capitilization for the year 2000 and again for 2009. The results are shocking. In 2000, five of the top 10 were American: Bank of New York, Mellon, Morgan Stanley, Citigroup, Wells Fargo, and Goldman Sachs were placed in first, third, fourth, and fifth respectively. In second place was the British bank Lloyds. In other words, out of the top 10, the top five were American and British. The crème de la crème of financial power rested in Wall Street and the City of London, and in other Western countries.

Only nine years later, the view has changed dramatically: in the top 10 banks five are Chinese: China Merchants Bank, China Citic Bank, ICBC, and China Construction (nos. 1-4), Bank of Communications (no.6), and three Brazilian banks: Itau Unibanco (no. 5), Bradesco (no. 7) and Banco do Brasil (no. 9). The former giants of banking have sunk. Goldman Sachs now sits at no. 22 on the list and JP Morgan Chase at 31. While the Wall Street banks dropped massively in value, the Chinese banks doubled their value in 2009. “The result of the turbulence is the dramatic shift in the financial center of gravity,” concludes the Financial Times.

A large proportion of these banks, like Banco do Brasil and three of the Chinese banks, are state-owned, an interesting Copernican twist to this financial adjustment away from the capitalist nucleus which had its base in the United States. To complete the picture, it is necessary to look at the vulnerability of countries regarding their public and private debt and their GDP (gross domestic product), as tabled by LEAP (the European Laboratory of Political Anticipation) in December 2009. In first place in terms of vulnerability is Iceland, followed closely by various smaller Baltic and Eastern European states, Greece in fifth place, and Spain in sixth. In ninth and tenth places are Great Britain and the United States, where the federal debt is dangerously close to 100% of GDP. In the United States, the combined private and public debt is triple the annual GDP. If these countries had been South American, they would have defaulted on their sovereign debt, and some analysts predict that this eventuality is not far off.

… Pricewaterhouse Coopers released figures that indicate a dramatic twist on the global stage. It predicts that in 2020, the G7 (the United States, Japan, France, Germany, the UK, Italy, and Canada) will have an economic weight equal to that of the emerging nations, recently christened the E7: China, India, Brazil, Russia, Mexico, Indonesia, and Turkey.

In this global power reshuffling, Brazil is very well positioned. Its enviable situation in terms of energy self-sufficiency, due to possessing large untapped reserves of both oil and uranium, makes it unique in the global superpower game.

Brazil has the sixth-largest uranium reserves in the world, and this figure relates to only the 25% of Brazilian territory that has been surveyed. Once the reserves in the basin of Santos are adequately calculated, it is estimated Brazil will own one of the five largest oil reserves in the world (more than 50 billion barrels). Brazilian multinational companies are already some of the biggest in the world …

The Brazilian Development Bank, BNDES, has been playing its cards close to its chest in favor of Brazilian capitalism. It is the largest development bank in the world, and has “transformed itself into the most powerful tool for the restructuring of Brazilian capitalism.”* … Lula’s government has pushed a policy that “ensures the active participation of the state in the building of new global players in a wide range of economic activity.”

Brazil has no option but to fortify its defenses, given that its power as a nation shows no signs of slowing. …

Brazil has understood the essence of the game plan of the United States. The Pentagon has dedicated to Brazil the same strategy it uses to contain China: to fan the fires of conflict on its borders in order to destabilize and prevent its ascent. It is the same logic which has transferred the center of military gravity from Iraq to Afghanistan and Pakistan. Seen in this context, it is easier to understand what is happening in Latin America, of which the massive militarization of Haiti is the latest chapter. Haiti is the first step in the operations of the 4th Fleet. Taking the predicted calamities caused by climate change in the near future into account, the operation in Haiti will provide a template for what is to come in this decade.

In South America, the United States Southern Command military installations surround Brazil in the Andean region to the west and south. The powder keg lies in the Colombian-Venezuelan and Colombian-Ecuadorian conflicts, which have the potential to ignite the whole region. The tension generated by the Colombian attack on the encampment of Raul Reyes on Ecuadorian soil has been exacerbated by the de facto occupation of Haiti. Latin America is marching toward an unprecedented increased militarization of international relations which, with the exception of Brazil, it is neither psychologically nor physically prepared to defend itself from.

With the US in debt, and failing to invest in itself to create growth, how long and how well will it be able to sustain the present military expansion? Is the US now doing to itself what it did to the former Soviet Union, amping up the threats, and forcing itself to spend itself into bankruptcy with military spending? It is certain to be able to cause a great deal more destabilization and destruction throughout the world before that might happen.

US Military Intervention on behalf of corporate interests has a long history in the United States. Back in 1933 Major General Smedley Butler, USMC, the most decorated soldier of his time said:

… the flag follows the dollar and the soldiers follow the flag.

I wouldn’t go to war again as I have done to protect some lousy investment of the bankers. There are only two things we should fight for. One is the defense of our homes and the other is the Bill of Rights. War for any other reason is simply a racket.

There isn’t a trick in the racketeering bag that the military gang is blind to. It has its “finger men” to point out enemies, its “muscle men” to destroy enemies, its “brain men” to plan war preparations, and a “Big Boss” Super-Nationalistic-Capitalism.

I helped make Mexico, especially Tampico, safe for American oil interests in 1914. I helped make Haiti and Cuba a decent place for the National City Bank boys to collect revenues in. I helped in the raping of half a dozen Central American republics for the benefits of Wall Street. The record of racketeering is long. I helped purify Nicaragua for the international banking house of Brown Brothers in 1909-1912 (where have I heard that name before?). I brought light to the Dominican Republic for American sugar interests in 1916. In China I helped to see to it that Standard Oil went its way unmolested.

(from a speech delivered in 1933, by Major General Smedley Butler, USMC, author of War is a Racket)

The same is equally true today. The only change is that what was Super-Nationalistic-Capitalism is now Super-Globalistic-Capitalism. People should not have to suffer and die all around the globe so that a few rich can become richer. Genuine diplomacy and mutually beneficial trade agreements are both preferable and still possible. Here in the US, in what is supposed to be the beacon of democracy, I hardly hear any voices calling for this.

Here is the timeline for full implementation of seabasing (PDF p.38):

Seabasing timeline (click to enlarge)

acronyms:
MLP Mobile Landing Platform
JHSV Joint High-Speed Vessel
MPF(F) Maritime Prepositioning Force (Future)
MLP Mobile Landing Platform
LMSR Large, Medium Speed, Roll-On/Roll-Off
T-AKE Auxiliary Dry Cargo and Ammunition Ship
LHA(R) Amphibious Assault Ship (Replacement)
MPF(F) Maritime Prepositioning Force (Future) Future Operating Concept
LPD Amphibious Transport Dock
JMAC Joint Maritime Assault Connector
IOC Initial Operational Capacity
FOC Full Operational Capacity

To summarize seabasing, from a US Marine Corps Seabasing Brochure (PDF).

Seabasing is a concept that enables employing the
full range of government capabilities from the sea.
Innovations in shipbuilding, cargo handling, at sea
transfer and sea based defense systems allowed the
Seabasing concept to become a reality. Currently in
order to employ an expeditionary force of 15,000 or
greater, a secure port and or airfield ashore is needed,
however by 2022 it will be possible to do this at sea.

Such a capability recognizes that nations are
increasingly placing restrictions on or denying the use
of their facilities at a time when we must have a greater
forward presence to reduce the ability of extremists
to gain a foothold or disrupt the flow of commerce
.
Seabasing will allow the use of the world’s oceans as
large or small scale Joint, Multinational and
Interagency bases for operations without dependence
on ports or airfields ashore.

Extremists may be those who legitimately disagree with US policies. The flow of commerce that needs protection is commerce that advantages the United States, commerce that advantages those who wield corporate power over the US government.

And for a graphic that pulls together the entire Seabasing concept here is Joint Seabasing Overview, PDF. Notice that the Spectrum of Operations pictured arches across the top of the Indian Ocean, from Somalia through the Arabian peninsula, through western Asia and down towards India and south Asia. You will also see the enabling air and sea equipment pictured, and text describing the Full Spectrum Utility of seabasing.

Joint Seabasing Responsive Scalable National Power Projection (this is a very large graphic, you may need to click more than once and scroll around to read it all)

acronyms:
CSG Carrier Strike Group
ESG Expeditionary Strike Group
GFS Global Fleet Station
HA/DR Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief
MAGTF Marine Air Ground Task Force
MARDET Marine Detachment
MCO Major Combat Operation
MPF(F) Maritime Prepositioning Force (Future)
MEU Marine Expeditionary Unit
NEO Noncombatant Evacuation Operations
SOF Special Operations Forces
SPMAGTF Special Purpose Marine Air Ground Task Force

With Haiti’s government “all but invisible” and its repressive security forces collapsed, popular organizations were starting to fill the void. But the Western powers rushing in envision sweatshops and tourism as the foundation of a rebuilt Haiti. This is opposed by the popular organizations, which draw their strength from Haiti’s overwhelmingly poor majority. Thus, if a neoliberal plan is going to be imposed on a devastated Haiti it will be done at gunpoint. (Arun Gupta)

And this is where the mercenaries come in.

IPOA conference in Miami, March 2010, how to capitalize on the Haitian earthquake

On March 9 and 10, there will be a Haiti conference in Miami for private military and security companies to showcase their services to governments and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) working in the earthquake devastated country. (Bill Quigley, Center for Constitutional Rights)

On their website for the Haiti conference, the trade group IPOA (ironically called the International Peace Operations Association until recently) lists eleven companies advertising security services explicitly for Haiti. Even though guns are illegal to buy or sell in Haiti, many companies brag of their heavy duty military experience.

Patrick Elie, the former Minister of Defence in Haiti, told Anthony Fenton of the Inter Press Service that “these guys are like vultures coming to grab the loot over this disaster, and probably money that might have been injected into the Haitian economy is just going to be grabbed by these companies and I’m sure they are not the only these mercenary companies but also other companies like Haliburton or these other ones that always come on the heels of the troops.”

Naomi Klein, world renowned author of THE SHOCK DOCTRINE, has criticized the militarization of the response to the earthquake and the presence of “disaster capitalists” swooping into Haiti. The high priority placed on security by the U.S. and NGOs is wrong, she told Newsweek. “Aid should be prioritized over security. Any aid agency that’s afraid of Haitians should get out of Haiti.”

Security is a necessity for the development of human rights. But outsourcing security to private military contractors has not proven beneficial in the U.S. or any other country.

The U.S. has prosecuted hardly any of the human rights abuses reported against private military contractors. Amnesty International has reviewed the code of conduct adopted by the IPOA and found it inadequate in which compliance with international human rights standards are not adequately addressed.
Contractors like these soak up much needed money which could instead go for job creation or humanitarian and rebuilding assistance. Haiti certainly does not need this kind of U.S. business.
In a final bit of irony, the IPOA, according to the Institute for Southern Studies, promises that all profits from the event will be donated to the Clinton-Bush Haiti relief fund.

Jeremy Scahill reports:

Within hours of the massive earthquake in Haiti, the IPOA created a special web page for prospective clients, saying: “In the wake of the tragic events in Haiti, a number of IPOA’s member companies are available and prepared to provide a wide variety of critical relief services to the earthquake’s victims.”

The current US program under which armed security companies work for the State Department in Iraq—the Worldwide Personal Protection Program—has its roots in Haiti during the Clinton administration. In 1994, private US forces, such as DynCorp, became a staple of US operations in the country following the overthrow of Jean Bertrand Aristide by CIA-backed death squads.

As Scahill reported right after the earthquake:

We saw this type of Iraq-style disaster profiteering in New Orleans and you can expect to see a lot more of this in Haiti over the coming days, weeks and months. Private security companies are seeing big dollar signs in Haiti …

Among the services offered are: “High Threat terminations,” dealing with “worker unrest,” armed guards and “Armed Cargo Escorts.”

From Arun Gupta:

… “Security is not the issue. We see throughout Haiti the population themselves organizing themselves into popular committees to clean up, to pull out the bodies from the rubble, to build refugee camps, to set up their security for the refugee camps. This is a population which is self-sufficient, and it has been self-sufficient for all these years.”

In one instance, Ives continued, a truckload of food showed up in a neighborhood in the middle of the night unannounced. “It could have been a melee. The local popular organization…was contacted. They immediately mobilized their members. They came out. They set up a perimeter. They set up a cordon. They lined up about 600 people who were staying on the soccer field behind the house, which is also a hospital, and they distributed the food in an orderly, equitable fashion.… They didn’t need Marines. They didn’t need the UN.”

These weapons they bring, they are instruments of death. We don’t want them. We don’t need them. We are a traumatized people. What we want from the international community is technical help. Action, not words.”

That help, however, is coming in the form of neoliberal shock. With the collapse of the Haitian government, popular organizations of the poor, precisely the ones that propelled Jean-Bertrand Aristide to the presidency twice on a platform of social and economic justice, know that the detailed U.S. and UN plans in the works for “recovery” – sweatshops, land grabs and privatization – are part of the same system of economic slavery they’ve been fighting against for more than 200 years.

A new occupation of Haiti — the third in the last 16 years — fits within the U.S. doctrine of rollback in Latin America: support for the coup in Honduras, seven new military bases in Colombia, hostility toward Bolivia and Venezuela. Related to that, the United States wants to ensure that Haiti not pose the “threat of a good exampleby pursuing an independent path, as it tried to under President Aristide — which is why he was toppled twice, in 1991 and 2004, in U.S.-backed coups.

With the government and its repressive security forces now in shambles, neoliberal reconstruction will happen at the barrel of the gun. In this light, the impetus of a new occupation may be to reconstitute the Haitian Army (or similar entity) as a force “to fight the people.”

This is the crux of the situation. Despite all the terror inflicted on Haiti by the United States, particularly in the last 20 years — two coups followed each time by the slaughter of thousands of activists and innocents by U.S.-armed death squads — the strongest social and political force in Haiti today is probably the organisations populaires (OPs) that are the backbone of the Fanmi Lavalas party of deposed President Jean-Bertrand Aristide. Twice last year, after legislative elections were scheduled that banned Fanmi Lavalas, boycotts were organized by the party. In the April and June polls the abstention rate each time was reported to be at least 89 percent.

It is the OPs, while devastated and destitute, that are filling the void and remain the strongest voice against economic colonization. Thus, all the concern about “security and stability.” With no functioning government, calm prevailing, and people self-organizing, “security” does not mean safeguarding the population; it means securing the country against the population. “Stability” does not mean social harmony; it means stability for capital: low wages, no unions, no environmental laws, and the ability to repatriate profits easily.

There is far more in Arun Gupta’s article about the connection between, and history of, US military occupation and neoliberal capitalism in Haiti.

Additionally, as Ashley Smith points out:

… the catastrophe in Haiti revealed the worst aspects of the U.S. government and the NGO aid industry.

… As Mike Davis in The Planet of Slums:

Third World NGOs have proven brilliant at co-opting local leadership as well as hegemonizing the social space traditionally occupied by the Left. Even if there are some celebrated exceptions–such as the militant NGOs so instrumental in creating the World Social Forums–the broad impact of the NGO/”civil society revolution”…has been to bureaucratize and deradicalize urban social movements.

Davis argues that NGOs are, in fact, a form of “soft imperialism.” They play a role very similar to the one that missionary religious institutions played in the earlier history of empire. They provide moral cover–a civilizing mission of helping the hapless heathens–for the powers that are plundering the society. And just as religious institutions justified imperial war, many NGOs, abandoning their traditional standpoint of neutrality in conflicts, have become advocates of military intervention.

Nowhere is this pattern more clear than in Haiti.

… “The emasculation of the state is no accident…It is partly the consequence of the neoliberal regime implanted in the country by the major international financial institutions. By advocating the withdrawal of the state from its social and regulating obligations, and by promoting the supremacy of the market, this regime has contributed to an economic, political and social disaster.”

Haitians now commonly refer to their own country as the “Republic of NGOs.” But that is a misnomer, since Haitians have no democratic control over the NGOs. In reality, Haiti has been ruled by an American NGO Raj.

WHILE SOME NGOs like Partners in Health have been set up to develop Haitian grassroots self-organization and control, most major NGOs have been accomplices in the neoliberal catastrophe the U.S. wrought in Haiti.

First of all, the NGOs have reproduced and exacerbated class inequality in Haiti. …
The NGOs themselves are in the business of poverty, not its eradication, and they have proliferated in lockstep with the collapse in the Haitian standard of living. This has led many Haitians to rightly see them as profiting off their crisis.

NGOs aided and abetted the “plan of death”; exacerbated through failure, mismanagement and corruption the impact of neoliberalism on Haiti; and then supported the coup against the democratically elected government.

In so doing, they undercut the sovereignty of Haitian people, all under the gloss of helping people overcome their poverty–poverty that they, in fact, helped create.

Haiti led the world out of slavery, from the Boston Globe in 2004:

Historian Laurent Dubois thinks the world indeed owes something to Haiti. “Anyone who lives in a democratic society in which race doesn’t equal a denial of rights has some debt to the Haitian revolution,” he reflected in an interview. “The very notion of democracy that we consider commonsense emerged because of that revolution. If that’s something we cherish then we owe that to Haiti, which has suffered more for its victory rather than been rewarded for it. That is how I would picture the restitution.”

Haiti deserves help that actually helps, or deserves to be left alone. The Haitian people are enterprising and can take care of their country and their people. We all owe Haiti a debt, moral and monetary. Instead Haiti is treated to exploiters and thieves. The country that led us out of slavery is having neoliberal neoslavery imposed on it at gunpoint, by the US and the international community, with mercenaries as the enforcers.

Ghana’s Western neighbor Ivory Coast is reportedly laying claims to portions of the huge oil wealth in the deep waters of the Western Region.

Map with Dzata oil field and Jubilee field off Cape Three Points Ghana (click to enlarge)

In a move to save the situation, Ghana has begun an urgent move to pass a new law that seeks to establish the Ghana Boundary Commission to undertake negotiations to determine and demarcate Ghana’s land boundaries and de-limit Ghana’s maritime boundaries.

The news of Ivory Coast’s claim to parts of Ghana’s oil fields comes just days after United States operator Vanco struck oil in the deep-water Dzata-1 well, off Ghana’s Cape Three Points near Ivory Coast, further boosting the oil wealth in Ghana’s booming offshore Tano basin.
However the Hon Collins Dauda said he is confident Ghana and Ivory Coast will be able to resolve the matter without any conflict due to the good relations between the two countries. (GhanaWeb)

I surely hope the Hon. Collins Dauda is correct.

[UPDATE: Added March 5, from MyJoyOnline, see below for the rest of the article
Ivorian authorities are only calling for a negotiation of the maritime border between the two countries.]

The Vanguard tells us:

Industry sources say the crude found off Ghana is of a quality even easier to refine than the light, sweet crude found in Nigeria, one of the world’s largest oil producers.

Revenue derived from oil will be invested in the national power supply, with improvements to the road network and water supply, construction of a deep sea oil port and revamping railway lines, Atta-Mills said.

“These projects will not only create significant employment themselves but will also support the growth of other industries,” he told the parliamentarians

My Joy Online has a bit more detail on the dispute:

Head of Research at the Kofi Annan International Peace-Keeping Training Centre, Dr Kwesi Aning, says Ivory Coast’s claim to portions of Ghana’s oil fields exemplifies “a failure of the state institutions to protect our national interest.”

Dr Aning said there is a general lack of seriousness in ensuring the country’s boundaries are protected.

Ivory Coast has sent the government of Ghana a correspondence expressing outright disrespect for an existing “median line” that divides the two countries.

The Francophone country consequently served the United Nations with a similar correspondence saying it does not respect a temporary boundary between the two countries.

The Ghana Government is expecting Parliament to quickly deliberate on a bill that would establish a boundary commission to negotiate Ghana’s maritime boundaries with Ivory Coast.

The Ghana Boundaries Commission Bill has been sent to Parliament under a certificate of urgency, Lands and Natural Resources Minister Collins Dauda told the Super Morning Show on Thursday.

“A national boundaries commission will be put in place that would engage our neighbours in La Cote d’Ivoire with a view of negotiating our maritime boundary between ourselves and our brothers in Ivory Coast,” he said.

Dr Aning said the bill must be given a strong bi-partisan urgency to ensure that the country derives the most out of its oil resource.

The security expert is also recommending a solid technical documentation studied by lawyers with expertise on petroleum matters.

Diplomatic implications

The Lands and Natural Resources Minister says the emerging claim from Ivory Coast for portions of the oil fields in the Western Region is a very delicate matter.

Collins Dauda said the issue has serious international and diplomatic repercussions.

“We have not been able, as a country, to determine our boundary with Ivory Coast and there is the need for us to now determine the maritime boundary between Ghana and Ivory Coast,” he said.

Mr Dauda however said both countries have, for years, respected “a median line” between them that cannot be trespassed.

“All of a sudden, with the oil find, Ivory Coast is making a claim that is disrespecting this median line we have all respected. In which case we would be affected or the oil find will be affected,” he said.

Baseless claim

The Lands and Natural Resources Minister said the claim by Ivory Coast is baseless.

This, according to him, is because the claim by the Francophone country is rather parallel to certain internationally acceptable standards of determining maritime boundaries.”

Collins Dauda said, last year, Ghana appealed to the United Nations to extend its maritime boundary by 200 nautical miles.

As a precondition, the UN directed the country to negotiate boundaries with its neighbours, he disclosed.

Disrespect for ‘median line’

The latest turn of events may even be more surprising as Ivory Coast has already sent a correspondence to the Republic of Ghana, expressing disrespect for the median line the two countries have agreed upon for years.

Consequently, Ivory Coast has made a submission to the United Nations laying claim to portions of the Ghana’s oil find.

Drilling on the Dzata-1 well began almost a year ago, the map and photo, above and below, accompany this article from April 2009:

ACCRA, Ghana–(BUSINESS WIRE)–The Government of the Republic of Ghana, the Ghana National Petroleum Corporation (GNPC), Vanco Ghana Ltd. and LUKOIL Overseas Ghana Ltd., signed a new Petroleum Agreement, covering the Cape Three Points Deepwater block. This agreement will replace the existing Petroleum Agreement which expires at the end of April 2009. The new agreement provides Vanco and LUKOIL with the opportunity to continue the exploration of the area, during which new 3D seismic and additional drilling activities are planned. The new agreement also provides GNPC and the government of Ghana with significant commercial benefits, including higher royalty and increased GNPC participation. The new Petroleum Agreement also gives ownership of Associated Gas to the State.

The Aban Abraham drillship mobilized to Ghana to drill the Dzata Prospect. (Photo: Business Wire)

The Cape Three Points Deepwater block encompasses an area of 5,146 square kilometers in water depths ranging from 200 to 3,000 meters in the Tano Basin. Vanco (Operator) holds a 28.34% participating interest in the Cape Three Points Deepwater block with LUKOIL holding a 56.66% participating interest. GNPC, the state oil company, holds a 15% carried interest, with the option to acquire up to an additional 5% in any commercial discovery.

The new agreement comes as the Aban Abraham deepwater drillship departs Cape Town, South Africa after completing final retrofit operations to enable the unit to drill in water depths of up to 2,000 meters. The Aban Abraham will mobilize to Ghana to commence the Dzata-1 exploratory well by the end of April 2009.

Situated in 1,874 meters (6,148 feet) water depth, the Dzata Prospect is a large anticlinal structure with numerous Upper and Lower Cretaceous potential reservoir horizons and distinct direct hydrocarbon indicators, including flat spots and a “gas chimney.” The well will be drilled to a total depth of approximately 4,786 meters, or 2,912 meters below the mud line.

“The Aban Abraham drilling unit is finally ready to drill this exciting prospect where we are hopeful of a significant discovery,” says Vanco President, Gene Van Dyke. “Vanco and LUKOIL appreciate the assistance and support of GNPC and the Ministry of Energy in completing the new Petroleum Agreement which will allow the partnership to continue the aggressive exploration of the Cape Three Points Deep Water block.”

Vanco is a leading deepwater independent with activity in Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana, Equatorial Guinea and the Ukrainian Black Sea.

——–

Added March 5:

Dzata 1 oil well is within Ghana’s boundary – Vanco Oil

The Chief Operating Officer of Vanco Limited, J.L Mitchell, operators of the Dzata- 1 Well, located offshore Ghana, in the Tano basin of the Cape three points Deep Water Block, has told Citi News that their block is well within the maritime boundaries of Ghana.

According to him, Vanco has no concern at all over reports that neighboring Ivory Coast is making claims for some parts of Ghana’s maritime Boundary.

The Dzata 1 discovery is the latest in addition to the Jubilee and other oilfields where significant hydrocarbons have been found.

There are speculations that the Dzata 1 discovery which is close to the Ivory Coast boundary may be a contributory factor to Cote D’Ivoire’s claims.

But Mr Mitchell told Citi News from his base in the US that that may not be the case since the Dzata Well is over 200 kilometers away from Ghana’s maritime boundary with cote-d’Ivoire.

“It’s very far; 200 kilometres away from the maritime boundaries and it doesn’t affect us one way or the other…It is well within the Ghanaian maritime boundary,” he said.

Meanwhile, Security Analyst Dr Kwesi Aning says Ghana must take a firm stance as it seeks to enter negotiations with the Ivorians and desist from using the humanitarian approach.

“More often than not, when these problems arise, there is a certain naivety on the Ghanaian side, a certain humanitarian approach, saying we are all brothers and all that – we are not brothers”.

“The Ivorians have a rationale choice attitude to this, they have made their calculations and they are willing to push this demand as far as possible to get what they want and I think it’s crucial that this bill is passed under the certificate of urgency and hopefully, the team that will be put together should be a bi-partisan group of technical experts with the requisite knowledge to ensure that this issue does not become a problem.” He told Citi FM.

He hinted that the Ivorians are better structured and coordinated; making them miles ahead of Ghana as far as the struggle for the demarcation is concerned

He, therefore, advised Government to ensure the passage of the law immediately and provide the requisite resources for a bi-partisan group to promote Ghana’s interest in the matter.

Dr Aning warned that if the right steps are not taken to deal with the situation immediately, Ghana and Ivory Coast may replicate the conflict that ensued between Nigeria and Cameroun over the Bakassi peninsula.

France may support Ivory Coast in Dzata oil debacle – Fellow
By Citifmonline.com | Fri 05th March, 2010 12:55 GMT

A Fellow at the Legon Centre for International Affairs, Dr Ken Ahorsu says the current scramble between Ghana and its neighbor Ivory Coast over the Dzata oil well is not irresolvable.

He has warned however that the French Government could support Ivory Coast against Ghana in the eventuality that the issue blows up beyond the sub-region.

He says the situation could be handled satisfactorily to avert a repeat of the Bakassi Peninsula incident as pertained between Cameroon and Nigeria.

Dr Ahorsu told Citi News that the African Union must first come into the fray before the matter is taken to other international platforms if possible. Ivory Coast has already made a complaint to the UN laying claim to the Dzata well discovered by Vanco oil recently in the Cape Three point fields.

“Ghana really has to do its home work because the Francophone countries have a very firm supporter in France. If you follow the court ruling of the Bakassi Penninsula between Nigeria and Cameroon, internationally everybody believed that France had a huge role to play that influenced the final outcome.

“I don’t want to suspect but I have this uneasy feeling that Ivory Coast might have started stirring the International waters, given the knowledge that they believe they have a supporter in the International system but…I have looked at it from the internet, I have looked at where the new oil is found by Vanco and I don’t think it’s within Ivorian waters.” He said.

According to him, the Government of Ghana has done the right thing by putting together a Border Commission to deal with the issue. Dr Ahorsu believes delimitation of the maritime boundaries between the two countries should not be a difficult task to carry out.

Vanco Ghana dismisses threat to Ghana’s find
Story by Fiifi Koomson/Myjoyonline.com/Ghana

Petroleum exploration firm, Vanco Ghana Limited, has dismissed suggestions that its oil field in the Western Region is at the centre of a possible boundary dispute between Ghana and the Ivory Coast.

The company says its oilfield, known as Gyata 1, is so far away from the maritime boundary between the two countries that it cannot be the subject of any dispute.

Country manger of Vanco Limited, Kofi Afenu, says the Ivorian authorities are only seeking negotiations with Ghana over the Jubilee oilfield, which is owned by Kosmos.

Several miles away

“The distance between the boundary line and then the Gyata 1 well is more than 200 miles…quite far,” Mr Afenu told Joy News’ Sammy Darko.

The Vanco country manager is amazed at news making the rounds in some sections of the media that Ivorian authorities are demanding portions of Ghana’s oilfield.

According to him, the closest well to the Ivorian border is the Jubilee field which is some 60 miles away.

Under no circumstance will Ivory Coast lay claim to the Gyata 1 well which is several miles away, Mr Afenu indicated.

Confusion

The media may have blown the issue out of proportion or perhaps the minister sent the wrong impression to Ghanaians that Ivory Coast is demanding a portion of Ghana’s oil fields.

The facts as discovered by the Myjoyonline.com indicate the Ivorian authorities are only calling for a negotiation of the maritime border between the two countries.

La Cote d’Ivoire has not laid claim to any portion of Ghana’s maritime space, authorities indicate.

Meanwhile, Parliament is expected to quickly deliberate on a bill that would establish a boundary commission to negotiate Ghana’s maritime boundaries with Ivory Coast and other neighbouring countries.

The Ghana Boundaries Commission Bill has been sent to Parliament under a certificate of urgency, Lands and Natural Resources Minister Collins Dauda has said.

“A National Boundaries Commission will be put in place that would engage our neighbours in La Cote d’Ivoire with a view of negotiating our maritime boundary between ourselves and our brothers in Ivory Coast,” Mr Dauda said.

A map of the area in contention shows no part of Ghana’s oil field is in danger of a seizure.