insurgency


The US Africa Command is now at war on the continent of Africa. And not surprising, the war is about oil.

“R2P” – Responsibility to Protect – is the Obama regime’s favored formula for pouring mud in the otherwise clear waters of international law. The philosophy – actually, a political position seeking legal recognition – amounts to a kind of super-power judicial waiver couched in the language of nobles oblige, the obligation of the strong to help the weak. In the real world, the strong only help themselves – in this case, to Libya’s oil reserves, the largest in Africa. (Glen Ford)

MEDITERRANEAN SEA - Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Stout (DDG 55) launches a Tomahawk missile in support of Operation Odyssey Dawn on March 19, 2011. This was one of approximately 110 cruise missiles fired from U.S. and British ships and submarines that targeted about 20 radar and anti-aircraft sites along Libya's Mediterranean coast. Joint Task Force Odyssey Dawn is the U.S. Africa Command task force established to provide operational and tactical command and control of U.S. military forces supporting the international response to the unrest in Libya and enforcement of United Nations Security Council Resolution (UNSCR) 1973. UNSCR 1973 authorizes "all necessary measures" to protect civilians in Libya under threat of attack by Qadhafi regime forces. JTF Odyssey Dawn is commanded by U.S. Navy Admiral Samuel J. Locklear, III. (U.S. Navy photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Nathan Pappas) (20110320132841)

The US is starting its war from its seabase, as in the pictures above.

Libya is among the World’s largest oil economies with approximately 3.5% of global oil reserves, more than twice those of the US.

An invasion of Libya under a humanitarian mandate would serve the same corporate interests as the 2003 invasion and occupation of Iraq. The underlying objective is to take possession of Libya’s oil reserves, destabilize the National Oil Corporation (NOC) and eventually privatize the country’s oil industry, namely transfer the control and ownership of Libya’s oil wealth into foreign hands.

Libya is a Prize Economy. “War is good for business”. Oil is the trophy of US-NATO led wars.

Wall Street, the Anglo-American oil giants, the US-EU weapons producers would be the unspoken beneficiaries of a US-NATO led military campaign directed against Libya. (Michel Chossudovsky)

MEDITERRANEAN SEA - Petty Officer 2nd Class Joseph Fremen, with Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron (HSC) 22, calibrates the forward looking infrared (FLIR) system of a MH-60S Knight Hawk helicopter on the flight deck of amphibious assault ship USS Kearsarge (LHD 3) in support of Operation Odyssey Dawn, March 19, 2011. The FLIR system allows pilots a 360-degree view of the area surrounding the helicopter. (U.S. Navy photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Scott Pittman) (20110320131427)

here was francis boyle on the kpfa program letters and politics friday morning (starting at 18:20 in)

if you read the [UN] resolution carefully, effectively it authorizes all-out warfare by the United States, Britain, France, any NATO states that want to join in against Libya, basically to steal their oil. I really think that’s what’s going on here….

It authorizes air strikes, drone strikes, cruise missile attacks on ground targets. The only thing that is expressly excluded is a foreign military occupation force, but that is a carefully drafted distinction from an invading force. When the United States invaded Haiti in 1994 it had 24,000 troops there in Haiti. We always maintained that this was
not a foreign military occupation force. So there is legally a distinction between invading and occupying. So technically, under this resolution, even ground troops can be deployed to Libya. (b real | Mar 18 | 20)

Libyan oil concessions

The workings of the imperial brain are plainly visible in the output of the corporate press, which act as ventriloquist dummies to power. Suddenly, the media have all undergone a crash course in the intractable nature of Libyan tribal politics – a subject until now totally unknown to the western press. After a quick education from the State Department and designated think tankers, corporate media dutifully prepare the public for the possible drawing of an American “line in the sand” somewhere before the gates of Benghazi [see the oil map below]…

“The West is clearly considering the ‘option’ of partitioning Libya.”

Western reporters, who are such quick studies when it comes to tribalisms and other perceived pathologies of exotic, non-western peoples, have not yet figured out who the rebels are, politically.

The western media, and the governments they serve, are caught in crossfire of contradictions. The U.S. wants desperately to position itself on the “right” side of some aspect of the unfolding Arab Reawakening. The West dearly wishes to appropriate to itself a section of the “Arab revolt,” so as to bomb an evil “dictator” on their behalf. The western media’s job is to do the public relations work, presenting these “pro-western” combatants in the most attractive light. However, it appears the media are having trouble packaging the Libyan rebels as sufficiently virtuous “freedom fighters” – one suspects because, on closer inspection, many turn out to be fundamentalists or tribalists.
the merest presence of Islamic fundamentalist fighters would have, in previous times, been reason for a U.S. attack and invasion – against those harboring such elements. (Glen Ford)

Libyan oil permits, oil fields, and pipelines. (click to enlarge enough to read) http://globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=23605

Partition and dismemberment of countries with independent governments has been a strategy that the U.S., British and French governments employed in the Kurdish region of Iraq after the 1991 war, in Yugoslavia in the mid-1990’s, and recently in Sudan, which until January was Africa’s largest country. Of course, the biggest prize for imperialist expansion through the act of dismemberment was the break-up of the Soviet Union in 1991. For decades during the so-called Cold War the U.S. government, and especially the Central Intelligence Agency, crusaded on behalf of the “captive nations” of the Soviet Union. Its break-up was immediately followed by the eastward expansion of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization and the incorporation of the western and southern republics of the former Soviet Union into the U.S. sphere of influence.

The breakup or de facto partition of Libya would be a great historical tragedy for the people, but would become a boon for all of the western oil giants.

At the very moment that the UN Security Council condemned the Gaddafi government for the use of violence against the armed rebels in Libya, a U.S.-backed violent suppression of peaceful protestors was underway in Bahrain and Yemen. Today, in response to the killing of more than 40 unarmed protesters in Yemen, the White House statement urged “peaceful, orderly” dialogue, and “an open and transparent process.” The difference is that the Bahraini and Saudi monarchies, and the Yemeni government, exist as client dictatorships of the United States. (Brian Becker)

You can see in the last map just above, of oil permits, fields, and pipelines, that the majority of the permits and the pipelines are on the eastern side of Libya, south of Benghazi, the stronghold of the rebels. These rebels are the US chosen good guys. Keep in mind these “good guys” are prominent among those harassing and killing African migrants in Libya.

The Africa Command in Libya is engaging in imperial acquisition by calling it humanitarian. “They”, Africans, in this case Libyans, are helpless and dangerous, so “we” need to use guns to help them. Just as with other African countries, Libya is treated as a place without history or context, its politics and history characterized only as inexplicable tribal rivalries. This is only the beginning of the more condescension and more war promised by AFRICOM’s General Ham.

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Axim, western end of Cape Three Points from s e b on Flickr

There were stories yesterday and today on GhanaWeb about militant groups organizing in response to the oil drilling activity near Cape Three Points, Militant group emerges at Cape Three Point, and Militia reports on Cape Three Points are unnecessary fear mongering – Ablakwa.

Yesterday’s story, Militant group emerges at Cape Three Point, alleges:

A group calling itself The CAPE MILITIA has emerged as the militant group posing as the official mouthpiece of mostly unemployed youth of the area who believe a large chunk of the oil proceeds should be used to develop first, the oil find area before the larger Ghanaian society.

They also claim their action will be the only way to mitigate the likely environmental hazards and other forms of casualties that inhabitants of the oil find areas are likely to encounter when the oil drilling starts.

According to the leader (name withheld), they hold their daily meetings at Agona Nkwanta, where they engage in the training and the use of fire arms at a village near the Ghana Rubber Estates Plantation at Nkwanta.

The group leader disclosed that they have identified some pipelines under the seabed and will soon start attacking them and threatened to start targeting rig and non-oil facilities, like bridges, buildings belonging to oil companies in the area if they are not assured of equal e opportunities.

“We will give a fore-warning to avoid casualties as our intent is to only bring down a those symbols of oppression and injustice,” the rebel leader noted. “My brother this is the only way we can press home our demands: Western Region has suffered from decades of neglect, pollution, and underdevelopment,” he blurred out with a choked voice.

The group leader said their concerns are corroborated by evidence of destruction of fishing nets of fisher folks of the area and the pollution of their source of drinking water since preparation for the oil find began.

Indeed the leader also recalled how the recent dumping of drilled mud in the sea caused by operators of the Jubilee field has created lots of environmental problems for the people living along the coast.

A fisherman, Opanyin Mbere, was sure that his children had joined the group because they had seen and felt the atrocities meted out to them by the find of the Black Gold.

“Now when I go to sea I have no catch because all the fishes are attracted by the lights from the rigs; then we are told not to fish along the rigs, how should I feed my family, if the cause of my children can bring some hope, huh am in full support,” Opayin Mbere noted.

The first thing that strikes you on meeting members of CAPE MILITIA is the ease with which they communicate their problems and how they identify some probable solutions.

It was amazing, at least those elected to respond to questions, are articulate, well-educated, and conversant with the latest political developments at home and abroad.

There are a number of things that strike me as odd about this report. However it is true that the western region has not been reached by much development.

There was certainly not much about “probable solutions” in the article. The last two paragraphs seem somewhat at odds with the rest of the story. I don’t doubt the possibility of educated and articulate militants, it is just that the rest of the story does not seem to support this. If the supposed militants have such good ideas, it seems some ought to be mentioned as suggestions or examples. Many of the comments are interesting as well. Comments on GhanaWeb are not moderated. So there are always tedious insult wars going on, as well as timely and targeted opinions. You can mouseover the comments to get some sense of what is there.

The second article, Militia reports on Cape Three Points are unnecessary fear mongering – Ablakwa, is a refutation of the story in the first article:

A deputy Minister of Information says reports of Militia groups springing up in the oil rich Cape Three Points in the Western Region of Ghana are untrue and must be discarded.

Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa told Joy News the reports are of no substance, adding “those who want to give credence to it just want to engage in unnecessary fear mongering.”

Residents in the area have been quick to dismiss the story but Security Analyst Dr. Kwesi Aning insists the situation could even be worse and have cautioned national security to be vigilant.

Speaking to Joy News’ Dzifa Bampoh the Deputy Information Minister Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwah says government has done enough checks and is convinced no such militia group exists in the Western Region.

He said government is rather guarding against circumstances that will engender people to lure the youth to take up arms in the oil rich area.

“At the end of the day what will make militias thrive or give people with evil intentions the opportunity to lure young persons and co-opt them to form militias as we have seen in other parts of the world is to what extent we are able to manage the oil resources so that everybody benefits including the people of the Western Region. That is our safest cure to all of [these] reports of insecurity,” he said.

Here again a number of comments to the article are interesting.

There is no question the Western Region has been neglected. And there is poverty there, and the devastating lack of opportunity that accompanies poverty. But this story sounds like fear mongering with underlying political motives as well. And the security expert quoted may have his own political agenda. The words of the Deputy Minister Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa sound a bit more politically expedient than informed. But then Joy News is owned by a strong opposition party supporter. I don’t know anything about Today, the source of the first article. The story of the militants may be a fear mongering political ploy.

Ghana’s National Security Coordinator, Gbevlo Lartey, is a tough no nonsense guy, and I’d be interested to know what he has to say on any such matter as this before forming an opinion.

Both the environment and the people in the gold mining areas have been ruthlessly exploited, and so far as I know there are no reports of insurgent militants in those areas. You can see some of the exploitation of the environment and the neglect of local citizenry in this photoessay Ghana Gold Not Benefiting its people !

You can also view more images of Cape Three Points from the photo gallery of Trinity School.

It looks like Obama is marching in zombie lockstep with Bush policy in Somalia and Honduras. It also looks like a Great Leap Backward to the days of US suported military coups in Latin America, and despots propped up by US aid in Africa. In both cases the United States provides the military training and the weapons.

follow me over the cliff

Follow me!

In Honduras, the leader of the coup:
… General Vasquez attended the School of the Americas and … a good part of the Honduran military were trained there and in its successor, the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation (WHINSEC).
… the U.S. has a military base in Honduras, gives the Honduran military a few million dollars each year, and … most of the military equipment used against the people was from the U.S.
… a group that openly supported the coup, “Paz and Democracia” (Peace and Democracy), received money from the USAID. (Eva Golinger reported that the USAID pumps more than 50 million dollars into the country each year.)
… the immediate response from Washington was tepid and non-committal. … Dan Restrepo, the presidential advisor for Latin American affairs, said the administration was waiting to see how things would play out. (The response has been stronger since then, but still seems to lack the strength other America nations have put forward in their demands.)
This is most unfortunate for the Obama administration, or for any US government and ongoing relations with Latin America. Like Africa, most people in Latin America want the military back in the barracks, and want democratic governments. A coup is not democracy. Supporting, or even tolerating a coup is a US blow against democracy. Eva Golinger writes:
Yes, I know Fox News is not the best way to judge the political scene in the US, but this video clip is a hint into the way US media is now beginning to portray the coup events in Honduras over the past few days. And note the NPR correspondent’s comments, very similar analysis as to mine over the past few days regarding Washington’s ambiguity regarding this coup so as to buy time and possibly recognize the coup government as “transitory” until the elections in November…….very dangerous.

Note, this will isolate the US/Obama Administration from the rest of Latin America and definitely show Obama is not an agent of change.

Meanwhile, in Somalia, the US is still trying to prop up the TFG, the Transitional Federal Government, in Somalia. As one Somali commentator put it, the only true word in that name is the word transitional. The TFG is neither federal, nor a government. The TFG only controls a few blocks in Mogadishu.
Reuters:  Al Shabaab and allied fighters control much of southern and central Somalia and have boxed the government and 4,300 African Union peackeepers into a few blocks of Mogadishu.
The US has stepped up arms transfers and training, ostensibly to the AMISOM troups, but in actual fact it is violating the UN arms embargo, US, EA gunrunners violating UN’s Somalia arms ban.  And the US is stepping up the training of troops in Somalia.

US violations are said to include a missile attack on a target inside Somalia along with “intensive and comprehensive military training” conducted inside Ethiopia for officers from the breakaway Somalia region known as Somaliland.

The previous incarnation of the TFG was an alliance of the oppressive warlords and the hated and oppressive Ethiopian army. The current incarnation of the TFG was engineered by the US ambassador to Kenya, Michael Ranneberger, in an election held in Djibouti. Because the TFG is under siege, and controls so little of Mogadishu, and none of the rest of Somalia, the TFG has invited the hated Ethiopians back in for help. The US, Ambassador Ranneberger, and the UN donor countries characterize the the TFG as a representative government, although they are the only ones it represents. They characterize the opposition as al Qaeda, although their only proof is to keep invoking the names of two men who bombed the embassies in Kenya and Tanzania in 1998. al Qaeda has never been welcome or successful in Somalia. But as long as the US government and media say al Qaeda whenever any opposition in Somalia is mentioned, US citizens will shiver with fear and support more bombing and killing. And it looks like the US and the donor countries are stepping up their outside interference, rather than letting the Somalis settle their own affairs.

Daniel Volman writes on security policy in Somalia:

The only other indication we have about the president’s true intentions is provided by his decision to authorise the use of force to rescue the kidnapped captain of the Maersk Alabama in May 2009. When he was a candidate, President Obama declared that he believed that ‘there will be situations that require the United States to work with its partners in Africa to fight terrorism with lethal force.’ But his action during the kidnapping episode show that he is also willing to use military force in situations that have nothing to do with terrorism. According to recent news articles, a debate is currently underway within the administration about the wisdom of direct US military intervention against Somali pirates or against the al-Shabaab insurgents. Top administration officials and military officers are convinced that, in the words of Defense Secretary Robert Gates, ‘there is no purely military solution’ to piracy and political conflict in Somalia. And Johnnie Carson, the president’s new assistant secretary of state for Africa, told the BBC that ‘there would be no case of the US re-engaging on the ground with troops’ in Somalia. But some in the military and a number of prominent neo-conservative leaders contend that the United States must strike back at the pirates and the insurgents to prevent future acts of piracy and terrorism against Americans. It would be a mistake to assume that Obama will not take further military action if the situation in Somalia escalates.

If you read this transcript of the June 25 State Department daily press briefing, it sounds like the US government really does not know what it is doing in Somalia. And so far it looks like more US interference just recruits more Somali insurgents. US violence and interference will never resolve Somali problems. The US is interested in possible oil in Somalia. The EU continues to steal fish from Somali waters, and dump toxic and nuclear waste in those same waters. Keeping things unsettled in Somalia works to the advantage of all these outside meddlers.

As b real puts it:

the TFG2 has always been a weak actor in the mix. as i’ve elaborated on in multiple threads, there is more evidence that, rather than create a strong federal govt, the int’l community’s overriding objective has been to pit islamist factions against each other in order to engage them into battle amongst themselves rather than be united and [1] establish an independent govt and [2], so goes the reasoning of the unrestrained paranoid fantasies of the int’l actors, threaten & carry out ‘terrorist’ activities beyond the borders of somalia. letting them wage a war of attrition between themselves requires a minimal amount of overhead & a modicum of commitment.

their lip service to sh. sharif’s govt can be seen as an inside joke, directing, instead, the bulk of support to AMISOM and putting pressure on the UN to get more countries paying for the militarization of east africa. meanwhile, the main beneficiaries are int’l arms dealers, int’l NGOs, and, eventually, the wildcatters up through the big oil companies still comfortably playing the force majeure card.

In the long run it does not pay to be an international bully. It comes back to bite you. And the US cannot afford to garrison the entire world. It cannot afford the wars it is already waging. The proxy armies it is creating with the US Africa Command will go into business for themselves. President Obama has a lot on his plate at home. It may seem easier to let the policies that were already in place continue to run their course. In general Obama seems reluctant to get out front and lead on specific issues. If the US is going to retain its own democracy, and carry any moral weight in the world, President Obama will have to step forward and lead in the democratic direction. There is no hope and change without democratic leadership.

________
Note: the illustration above is from BibliOdyssey.

Oil spill fouls the water supply

Oil spill fouls the water supply

defenders of human rights

defenders of human rights

Violence has been an instrument of governance in the Niger Delta as a constant companion to the oil business. Sokari Ekine has written a moving and well documented account of “how women have spearheaded the defence of local livelihoods through organised protests which cut across regional ethnic divisions” in Women’s responses to state violence in the Niger Delta, Violence as an instrument of governance.

The Niger Delta is a region of Nigeria that has been subjected to excessive militarisation for the past 13 years, where violence is used as an instrument of governance to force the people into total submission (Okonta and Douglas, 2001; Na’Allah, 1998). It is where, by far, the majority of the people live in abject poverty and where women are the poorest of the poor (Human Rights Watch, 2002; 2004; 2007). This region has little or no development, no electricity, no water, no communications, no health facilities, little and poor education. In contrast, the region generated an estimated over US$30 billion in oil revenues over a 38-year period in the form of rents for the government and profit for the multinational oil companies

Now, in order to keep this population poor, without water, without communications, or health facilities, or education, or jobs, in order to keep oil and money coming out of the Delta, going to the politicians and the oil companies, according to Nigeria’s Next, The Mercenaries Take Over.
(h/t Foreign Policy Exchange)

The Niger Delta is crawling with British and American private paramilitary companies providing security services for clients in the oil and gas industry, in clear violation of Nigerian law

There are at least 10 mercenary companies operating in the Delta, including Triple Canopy, Control Risk, Erinys International, ArmorGroup, Aegis Defence System, and Northbridge Service Group, the successor company to the now defunct Executive Outcomes … “the notorious South African paramilitary force known for its role in helping the Angolan government during the war with the rebel UNITA forces of Jonas Savimbi,and for fighting directly in the Sierra Leonean civil war.

Our laws forbid foreigners from operating armed security companies or paramilitary organisations of any kind and, strictly speaking, these hired guns are forbidden from freelancing here. But almost all of them have sought to get around the law by forming vague partnerships with local companies and by claiming to provide mainly advisory services, which contradict their stated objectives and services on their parent websites and their known activities in other countries.

Government denial

Astonishingly, our military and security services also claim to know nothing of their presence.

“I am not aware,” said the spokesman for Defence Headquarters in Abuja, Col. Christopher Jemitola. “If there is any evidence, including photographs, bring them up and we will address the issue.”

Some of the security companies also claim not to bear any arms in the Delta, a chaotic frontier where foreigners are routinely kidnaped and gunfights are a fact of daily life in cities such as Port Harcourt and in the creeks of the mangrove swamp.

This denial beggars belief, said Ishola Williams, a former commandant of the Nigerian Army Training and Doctrine Command.“They must be magicians,” said the retired general. “Are they going to fight the militants with karate or judo? We have to be very realistic, because if someone gives you a contract to provide protection for oil workers in the Niger Delta, what would you do– you would go there with your bare arms?”

Apart from the Biafran war of 1967-70, paramilitary groups are relatively new to Nigeria. But the protracted and deteriorating insurgency in the Niger Delta has made them increasingly sought after. One of the security companies that claims local partnership in Nigeria is Erinys International, a British company with experience of guarding oil installations in Iraq.

In the wild frontier of the internet, private military companies are rife and active, peddling their services to prospective patrons. Many of them have announced that they are now operationally domiciled in Nigeria’s Niger Delta, and some claim they work in partnership with the military Joint Task Force, the Nigeria defence forces known by its acronym JTF and which has primary responsibility for security in the area.

A JTF spokesman, Musa Sagir, denied knowledge of the existence of the foreigners nor any collaboration with them. We don’t have any connection with any foreign military contractor,” Col. Sagir said, adding that “With my inside knowledge and experience in the Niger Delta, in particular River State, I don’t have formal or informal knowledge of the existence of foreign military contractors.”

What was more, he added, somewhat indignantly, “we are trained for the job and we know what to do at the right time.”

Willaims, the retired general and now head of the local Transparency International office in Nigeria, was buying none of that. “Remember that these are government officials. If they say they know them, you as the press will go and blow it up that foreign military companies have taken over the job of security in this country and what are they doing? The House of Representatives will take it up and want to investigate, and it shows the weaknesses of all the armed forces and all the security agencies in Nigeria.”

Official denials and a seeming lack of awareness of the activities of these companies also demonstrate the enfeebled state of the Nigerian state, said Kayode Soremekun, a professor of international relations at the University of Lagos.

My own problem here is that the ministry of internal affairs and ministry of defence are not aware of their existence,” Soremekun said. “It is either one or two things: the ministry of defence is genuinely ignorant of this particular development, or it is pretending. Either way it does not bode well for the Nigerian state. And it simply shows what a lot of people had thought all along, that those who really control the Nigerian state, those who really determine what happens in the Nigerian state, cannot even be located in this country. You can locate them offshore.”

Since our laws do not allow for foreign owned security company to operate locally, most of these private security contractors have resorted to calling themselves “risk management consultants” rather than hired guns.

This way, they are able to provide a cocktail of services and products that are not different from what regular private military companies provide– or what the same companies do elsewhere in countries like Sierra Leone

Most of the companies are not forthcoming about their activities, for example:

At Control Risk, yet another of these security companies active in the Niger Delta, company spokesman, Edward Murray, told Next on Sunday to “go to hell” when asked to help define the scope of their Nigerian operations.

The company states that it is in Nigeria to protect British oil workers and names “a large oil producer” as a client. However, its mission includes, according to its official web site, “the provision of technical security services (onshore and offshore) and sophisticated management of security strategy in places where security is linked to broader issues of social performance.” In plain English, the company guards oil company interests against restive locals.

The mercenary companies are there to protect the “rights” of the oil companies to kill and oppress the people of the Niger Delta, pollute their land and water, and steal the resources from under their feet.

The people who are suffering most are the women. They are also organizing and fighting back. So women and children will remain major targets of violent military governance.

Meredeth Turshen wrote in 2004:

Specific effects of oil development on women’s health seem not to have been investigated. Although I found an article on the effects of exposure of crocodiles to sub-lethal concentrations of petroleum waste drilling fluid in the Niger Delta basin, I could find nothing on the health of women who live near oil wells and oil production stations, and nothing on reproductive outcomes in areas adjacent to petrochemical plants. Yet it is known that cadmium, chromium, mercury, and lead are contained in the refinery effluents that are constantly discharged into nearby bodies of water. At high concentrations these metals cause metabolic malfunctions in human beings. They enter the food chain through the drinking water and the local fish that people consume. Fish store mercury without metabolizing it, and people who eat mercury-contaminated fish can contract Minamata disease.

The health of the people and of future generations is not even important enough to study. The people polluting the environment don’t want the effects known. Until there is a serious effort to create a political solution to the problems of the Niger Delta, the people will continue to suffer, and the health and lives of the entire population are in danger. The proliferation of armed mercenaries will only escalate and prolong the problem.

(h/t sdnnigeria’s photostream)

Resistance? Insurgents?

The US Army has fallen hard for counter insurgency, COIN. However, NPR reports:

An internal Pentagon report is raising concerns about whether the Army’s focus on counterinsurgency has weakened its ability to fight conventional battles. The report’s authors — all colonels with significant combat experience — say the Army is “mortgaging its ability to (successfully) fight” in the future.

The counterinsurgency doctrine emphasizes the use of minimal force, with the intent of winning the hearts and minds of a civilian population.

The idea in a counterinsurgency campaign, Nagl says (Lt. Col. John Nagl, one of the Army’s top experts on counterinsurgency doctrine) is to drive a wedge between the civilian population and insurgents who live among them.

However, when we talk about counter insurgency, is it really counter insurgency we have in mind? In Iraq the “insurgency” looks a lot more like a resistance.

And what about AFRICOM? Is counter insurgency what the US has in mind for the combatant aspect of its latest combatant command? And what situations will be called insurgencies?

Over at Moon of Alabama b writes:

Insurgencies are, by and large, social movements challenging their own government because of some grievance. If the movement is small, it can be fought down through sheer brutality. If it is larger and backed by a significant part of the population, it can only be accommodated by social-political compromise. To achieve the compromise both parties usually fight until everyone is sick of it. The compromise does not necessarily need to be a change of government, but can be participation of the insurgency in the political process or simply a change in social-economic issues.

A resistance is also a social movement, but it is fighting primarily against an invading and occupying force. Its grievance is the fact of occupation, not some local social problem. If the resistance fights against the local government, then only because the government is seen as illegitimate tool of the occupation.

The difference of a resistance towards an insurgency is motivation and possible accommodation. While an insurgency can be accommodated by letting it participate in the general political process and alleviating its grievance, a resistance can only be satisfied by retraction of the occupation.

In Implementing AFRICOM: Tread Carefully by Robert Gribben, he writes:

it is worth examining the premise that African military establishments merit American support at all. Even though national defense is regularly cited as their primary task, African armies rarely need to repel foreign invaders. Most African conflicts … arise from domestic issues. Only the unresolved Ethiopia-Eritrea border war, the recent Congolese wars and the Ethiopian presence in Somalia fit the mode of external aggression.

So instead of defense, the primary job of African armies is to protect the ruling regime by keeping the life president in power (by informal count some 15 current leaders initially came to power via military means) and to thwart threats to the status quo mounted by the opposition, democratic or otherwise.


… American attacks against purported terrorist elements in Somalia, for example, do raise the issue of if-you-have-the-assets how will you use them?

As to the humanitarian assistance and capacity building that AFRICOM claims to represent:

Obviously, military programming risks duplication where USAID, the Centers for Disease Control, Peace Corps Volunteers and others are already engaged. That said, host governments are quick to realize where the money is, so they will increasingly focus requests on U.S. military elements.

And here is the big question regarding humanitarian arguments supporting AFRICOM:

… The U.S. already does a pretty competent job of economic development and humanitarian relief. What additional benefits – besides money – can AFRICOM bring to those tasks?

So there are several questions here. Is counter insurgency a practical use of Army resources? And, is counter insurgency action actually counter insurgency? Is it really occupation? The places where it is being discussed or applied, or where it may be applied, such as the Niger Delta, are not part of the US. So US military involvement, including the use of mercenaries or surrogates, is effectively occupation. In the Niger Delta, MEND, Niger Delta Vigilante, and similar organizations are fighting the exploitation and occupation of their land by the oil companies. If AFRICOM becomes involved, it will be coming in as part of an occupying force, regardless of what agreements it may make with the Nigerian government. AFRICOM will assist the oil companies to continue their occupation.

Considering the traditional role of African militaries, protecting leaders who generally have not come to power through democratic processes, do these militaries merit American support? What will be the effect of developing only that military infrastructure, especially if the money is siphoned away from US institutions that have the structure and skill to spend it in support of peaceful development.