recolonize


“The countries that cooperate with us get at least a free pass,” acknowledged a senior U.S. official who specializes in Africa but spoke on condition of anonymity to avoid retribution. “Whereas other countries that don’t cooperate, we ream them as best we can.”
WP

This has been the essence of US foreign policy as it is actually practiced for the past several decades. It has escalated over time, particularly in the 1980s under Reagan, and with the proliferation of pointless wars this century begun by Bush and expanded under Obama. I say pointless, because although there may have been objectives, they were not related to the means used to achieve them, or to the eventual outcomes, in any coherent way. The US has tried to solve political problems with the brute force of military power. US foreign policy appears divorced from the realities of who what when where and why the US is conducting its policy. The result has been destruction without achievement. US policy in Africa continues this pattern. The destruction of Libya is the most aggressive recent example.

AFRICOM – a map of US military presence in Africa, countries where the U.S. has recently, as of spring 2013, conducted exercises, operations, or has bases in Africa.

Map of known US military locations in Africa.

Map of known US military locations in Africa.

The interactive version of the above map courtesy of John Reed in Foreign Policy.

You can see another map with more information about the drone base locations here. The map of what we know is shown below, but US drone activities are so shrouded in secrecy, this map only provides a small part of the story.

Known U.S. drone and surveillance flight bases in Africa February 2013

Known U.S. drone and surveillance flight bases in Africa February 2013

Go to the link to see more details of the specific bases from satellite maps.

U.S. military presence in Africa. Here are more details about US military bases and activities pinpointed in the maps above.

Morocco
Last month, about 1,200 U.S. Marines, sailors and airmen participated in African Lion ’13 where they drove 250 tons worth of vehicles and equipment on a 300 mile convoy and practiced low-level flying and aerial refueling.

Mali
U.S. troops are aiding the French fight against Islamist rebels here.

Niger
The northwest ramp of the airport at Niamey, Niger is the possible site of a U.S. drone base. About 100 U.S. troops have been deployed to Niger to set up a drone base to support a French-led military operation against al-Qaeda in neighboring Mali.

Burkina Faso
A special ramp at Ouagadougou’s airport is reportedly a hub for U.S. military surveillance planes operating in the region. The United States flies PC-12 surveillance aircraft from here north to Mali, Mauritania and the Sahara.

Cape Verde
U.S. coast guardsmen and sailors from the Navy and the Royal Navy helped sailors from Cape Verde’s navy conduct maritime law enforcement operations. The Royal Navy frigate HMS Argyll and a Cape Verdean patrol boat conducted joint operations

Mauritania
In February and March, more than 1,000 troops from African countries and the U.S. participated in Flintlock 13. Flintlock is an annual special operations exercise held in the region. In April, U.S. Army medical troops trained Mauritanian medical personnel the latest in suture-less cataract surgery techniques during exercise MEDRETE 13-2.

Senegal
In March, the U.S., five European countries and eight African nations participated in exercise Saharan Express 2013 aimed at developing anti-piracy skills here.

South Sudan
The South Sudanese village of Nizara is the possible site of a new U.S. drone base. The U.S. military has been in talks with South Sudan about basing surveillance planes here. U.S. special operations troops are also here helping to hunt Joseph Kony and his Lord’s Resistance Army.

Kenya
An airstrip under construction near Lamu in coastal Kenya is reportedly home to a new U.S. drone base. More than 100 U.S. commandos and other personnel are based at a Kenyan military installation

Tanzania
In February, U.S. special operations troops co-hosted a conference for special ops forces from east Africa.

Djibouti
Camp Lemmonier, Djibouti is home to roughly 2,000 U.S. troops and serves as the major U.S. base in Africa. The U.S. military targets al-Shabab in Somalia and al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula from this key base.

Uganda
Entebbe airport is apparently home to U.S. drone operations. U.S. special operations troops are also here helping to hunt Joseph Kony and his Lord’s Resistance Army. The United States flies PC-12 surveillance aircraft from here over territory used by the Lord’s Resistance Army.

Ethiopia
Arba Minch, Ethiopia is reportedly home to a U.S. drone base. The United States flies Reaper drones from here over Somalia.

Seychelles
The U.S. has a drone base at the airport on the island of Mahe in the Seychelles. The U.S. military flies Reaper drones over East Africa from this island base.

Cameroon
U.S. Navy and Air Force troops provided medical treatment to more than 1,300 people here over five days in early April under the aegis of the U.S. Navy’s Africa Partnership Station. Around the same time, U.S. special operations forces were teaching Cameroonian troops ground combat techniques.

Central African Republic
U.S. special operations troops are here helping to hunt down Joseph Kony and his Lord’s Resistance Army.

Democratic Republic of the Congo
A two-man “travelling contact team” from the U.S. Army “recently” ran a three week course training 29 local troops in basic intelligence techniques. U.S. special operations troops are also here helping to hunt Joseph Kony and his Lord’s Resistance Army.

Nigeria
Last week, U.S. milirary medical personnel and staff at the Nigerian navy hospital in Lagos exchanged “best practices” for treating trauma casualties.

Liberia
A two-man “Travelling Contact Team” from U.S. Army Africa’s Inspector General’s office went to Monrovia to help the Liberian military stand up its own inspector general cadre.

Drones are now the preferred instrument of policy in the mammoth portion of US foreign policy that is run by the Pentagon and the CIA. They are also designed for domestic surveillance and control within the US. And many new varieties of drone are being introduced or are under development. This includes drones that can land and take off from carriers, sea going drones on the surface and under water, and tiny drones the size of an insect. Some are pictured below.

X-47B drone taking off from carrier deck

X-47B drone taking off from carrier deck

The Navy plans to use unmanned surface vessels to patrol harbors and, when armed with missiles or a .50-caliber machine gun, to protect ships

The Navy plans to use unmanned surface vessels to patrol harbors and, when armed with missiles or a .50-caliber machine gun, to protect ships

In one of the more unbeliable developments of the technology, the United States Air Force recently released a video showing their progress on development of tiny insect sized drones or what they are calling Micro Air Vehicles. These Micro Air Vehicles can hover, crawl, and even kill. And these drones can be out on missions for days at a time laying in wait, gathering energy from power lines or the sun. In the video seen above, the Air Force shows how these drones would be able to follow a target inside a building.

See the full article and video: U.S. Air Force Developing Swarms of Tiny Insect Sized Drones

US Air Force Micro Air Vehicles can hover, crawl, and even kill.

US Air Force Micro Air Vehicles can hover, crawl, and even kill.

US Air Force Micro Air Vehicles can hover, crawl, and even kill.

US Air Force Micro Air Vehicles can hover, crawl, and even kill.

From the beginning drones have been a tool of political assassination.

The first CIA targeted killing by a US killer drone was a political assassination:

Mr. Muhammad and his followers had been killed by the C.I.A., the first time it had deployed a Predator drone in Pakistan to carry out a “targeted killing.” The target was not a top operative of Al Qaeda, but a Pakistani ally of the Taliban who led a tribal rebellion and was marked by Pakistan as an enemy of the state. In a secret deal, the C.I.A. had agreed to kill him in exchange for access to airspace it had long sought so it could use drones to hunt down its own enemies.

You can see the drone attacks and who they have been killing in Pakistan in this infographic:
Out of sight out of mind
And we really don’t know who is being killed and why. Obama and Co. keep telling us it is al Qaeda, but that is not who we see is dying when information does get out. Terrorist is even more convenient than the cold war communist as a name to demonize opposition as enemy. Anyone in the world can be called a terrorist. It is particularly useful to use it on political opponents, justifying almost any action against them.

As Senator Feinstein said:

… it’s a perfect assassination weapon. It can see from 17,000 to 20,000 feet up in the air, it is very precise, it can knock out a room in a building if it’s armed, it’s a very dangerous weapon.

And see my earlier post: Political Assassin Robots Flying In African Skies.

US policy continues to blunder along in military recolonizing mode. AFRICOM looks for partners in African countries to act on its behalf, using proxies and drones to do its dirty work. This mostly results in US support for anti-democratic leadership, people who are willing to sell their countries out from under the feet of their fellow citizens. And when a leader pops up in any country who may actually want to work with fellow citizens to determine what they want, regardless of what the US wants, there will be plenty of drones to monitor and dispose of the problem. Its a perfect assassination weapon.

US Africa policy:

“The countries that cooperate with us get at least a free pass. Whereas other countries that don’t cooperate, we ream them as best we can.”

The French left as well as the the right have dreams of imperial expansion.  A number of NATO participants share a vision of the Mediterranean as a NATO lake, an internal sea, surrounded by Europe.  The dream is to extend Europe around the entire coast of the Mediterranean and over North Africa.  The French decision to send troops to Mali must be considered in this context. Dominique Strauss-Kahn, one of the leaders of the French Socialist party expressed this vision:

Dominique Strauss-Kahn … expressed his desire for a Europe stretching “from the cold ice of the Arctic in the North to the hot sands of the Sahara in the South …  and that Europe, I believe, if it continues to exist, will have reconstituted the Mediterranean as an internal sea, and will have reconquered the space that the Romans, or Napoleon more recently, attempted to consolidate.”
from: Libya: NATO Provides the Bombs; The French “Left” Provides the Ideology

Sarkozy spoke of this in 2007.

On that occasion, he glorified “the shattered dream of Charlemagne and of the Holy Roman Empire, the Crusades, . . .” Thereupon continued Nicolas Sarkozy: “Europe is today the only force capable of carrying forward a project of civilization.” He went on to conclude: “I want to be the president of a France which will bring the Mediterranean into the process of its reunification (sic!) after twelve centuries of division and painful conflicts (. . .). America and China have already begun the conquest of Africa. How long will Europe wait to build the Africa of tomorrow? While Europe hesitates, others advance.”

And as Boubacar Boris Diop points out about the current conflict in Mali:

Whether we like it or not, the Arab Spring is completely detaching north Africa from the rest of the continent, and in some respects, the “new border” is northern Mali. This is a clear and coherent strategy that the west is in the process of implementing.

Between 1960 and 2005, France launched 46 military operations in its former colonies in Africa“. Since then the total number of military interventions has grown. The pattern continues, most notably with the assault and seizure of Gbagbo in Ivory Coast and the installation of Ouattara as President there, and the current operation in Mali.  The current French intervention is called operation Serval, after the species of cat, but has been nicknamed operation hissyfit by some. The US has engaged in military training in Mali since 2003, but it does not seem to have helped Mali’s army much. So far the only accomplishment of US training has been to train Captain Sonogo, who then made a coup in Bamako which weakened the country and helped enable the Islamists to take over in northern Mali.

Map of conflict in Mali, Jan 14, 2013

Map of conflict in Mali, Jan 14, 2013

MOPTI, MALI -- A Malian airmen set up a cordon around a helicopter box as part of the air drop recovery training with the 2/19th Special Forces as part of operation Atlas Accord 2012, near Mopti, Mali on Feb. 13, 2012. This is one of a lengthy series of US training programs for Mali's military. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Mark Henderson)

MOPTI, MALI — A Malian airmen set up a cordon around a helicopter box as part of the air drop recovery training with the 2/19th Special Forces as part of operation Atlas Accord 2012, near Mopti, Mali on Feb. 13, 2012. The US has announced plans to renew military aid and training in Mali. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Mark Henderson)

Areva Mining operations in  Niger, source of most of the uranium for France's nuclear power industry

Areva uranium mining operations in Niger

Bruce Whitehouse provides valuable background to the present political situation in Mali. He describes how Mali’s democracy had been hollowed out over time, and that the majority of the people in Bamako supported the coup when it occurred in March 2012.  Most people saw the government as corrupt.

Touré’s ‘rule by consensus’ became a euphemism for the suppression of political debate and a trend towards absolutism. Checks and balances existed only on paper. Journalists were afraid to challenge the president’s agenda, especially after five of their colleagues were arrested in 2007.

He also informs us that the conflict in Mali is not strictly speaking a civil war.  Mali is being invaded from the north as well as from the south.  Much of the funding for the salafist jihadi militias comes from the Gulf Cooperation Council, GCC (nicknamed the Gulf Counter-revolutionary Club by Pepe Escobar.)  The GCC works closely with NATO.  As @IfyOtuya said on Twitter “It is this same GCC-West petro tyranny hegemony that runs colonialism in North, East and West Africa.”

Whitehouse continues:

Moreover, I’m not sure how accurate it is to call the forces fighting against the French “Malian rebels” or to describe the conflict as a “civil war“–the command structures of AQIM and MOJWA in particular are dominated by Algerians and Mauritanians. Malians widely perceive these groups as foreign invaders, motivated by racism and greed as well as a perverted, even ignorant view of their faith.

We cannot say that the war in Mali is primarily about natural resources, Western meddling, or religion. We can say, however, that it is a direct consequence of state failure, which as I have argued elsewhere came about largely due to factors internal to Mali. My experience as an anthropologist has made me suspicious of reductionist theories and grand narratives of history, from Marxism to dependency theory to modernization theory. The notion that what’s today playing out in Mali is the product of a “great game” between major powers ignores the realities on the ground there.

It is not a product of a great game, but the near collapse of Mali’s governance provides an enticing playing field for the gamers.  France, the UK, and US, and other NATO countries are happy to engage with the conflict in Mali one way or another. Their motives are all about resources and geopolitical fantasies, taking advantage of state failure, the chaos, and Mali’s weakness, to advance their national and corporate interests. They are unlikely to be able to control the results.  The people of Mali are not simple pawns to be moved around at the direction of outsiders.  Imperialists may think they are playing the great game.  In the long run things are most unlikely to turn out as they desire or expect, especially when so many of their expectations are based on ignorance of country, people, and history.  Unfortunately,  far too many lives will be wasted and destroyed in the process.   Captain Sonogo’s coup is an excellent example of unexpected consequences.  It was an unexpected result of the realities on the ground in Mali, partially enabled by Captain Sonogo’s IMET training and ties with AFRICOM.

Bruce Whitehouse writes about Understanding Mali’s “Tuareg problem”. It is far more complex than you will hear in most accounts. He makes several points, please see the article for more explanation of each of these points:

Even in northern Mali, the people we call “the Tuareg” are a minority.
Most of the people we call “the Tuareg” are black.
The people we call “the Tuareg” are not united on anything, least of all separatism.
The people we call “the Tuareg” have not been excluded from Mali’s government.
Innocent civilians identified as “Tuareg” have been abused and murdered.
The label of historically oppressed minority does not easily fit the people we call “the Tuareg.”

He concludes with:

I’m no expert on the Tuareg or northern Mali in general, and I don’t claim to offer any solutions. But I know three things. One, whatever the “Tuareg problem” is, an independent or autonomous state for “the Tuareg” is unlikely to solve it. Two, simplistic categories used to describe these people and their relations with neighboring groups actually keep us from understanding, let alone preventing, the race-based injustices that have occurred in Mali and throughout the region. And three, until Malians of all backgrounds can meet for open dialogue about the crimes they have endured — and carried out — they will continue talking past each other, and their divergent views of their common history will only grow further apart.

This does not look like a problem that war is likely to solve. It is, as with so many governance problems in Africa and globally, a political problem that is being treated to a military solution that cannot solve, or even address, the real issues.

Gregory Mann writes that the invasion was necessary against a formidable enemy. He writes that the intervention was popular and at the request of Mali:

This is not a neo-colonial offensive. The argument that it is might be comfortable and familiar, but it is bogus and ill-informed. France intervened following a direct request for help from Mali’s interim President, Dioncounda Traore. Most Malians celebrated the arrival of French troops, as Bruce Whitehouse and Fabien Offner have demonstrated. Every Malian I’ve talked to agrees with that sentiment.

In contrast, the French client state Central African Republic asked for French intervention this year as rebels neared its capitol, but the French declined to intervene despite the precarious position of the CAR government and the proximity of rebels to the capitol.  The French jumped into Mali, but avoided involvement in the CAR.

It is very difficult to get accurate information on what is going on now in Mali. Bamako is rife with rumors. And the French are carefully controlling any coverage of their military movements and actions.  Reporters are kept far away from any action.  Bruce Whitehouse is an excellent source of information and commentary on Mali, particularly the capitol, Bamako.  He writes “These days You can believe whatever you want and find reporting to back you up.

A young child runs through a deserted side street in Gao, northern Mali, on Jan. 28, 2013, the day after French and Malian troops secured a strategic bridge and the airport.

A young child runs through a deserted side street in Gao, northern Mali, on Jan. 28, 2013, the day after French and Malian troops secured a strategic bridge and the airport.

Pepe Escobar describes some of the geopolitical features of the conflict in Mali.

It’s now official – coming from the mouth of the lion, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Martin Dempsey, and duly posted at the AFRICOM site, the Pentagon’s weaponized African branch. Exit “historical” al-Qaeda, holed up somewhere in the Waziristans, in the Pakistani tribal areas; enter al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM). In Dempsey’s words, AQIM “is a threat not only to the country of Mali, but the region, and if… left unaddressed, could in fact become a global threat.”

With Mali now elevated to the status of a “threat” to the whole world, GWOT [Global War On Terror] is proven to be really open-ended. The Pentagon doesn’t do irony; when, in the early 2000s, armchair warriors coined the expression “The Long War”, they really meant it.

Follow the gold. A host of nations have gold bullion deposited at the New York Federal Reserve. They include, crucially, Germany. Recently, Berlin started asking to get back its physical gold back – 374 ton from the Bank of France and 300 tons out of 1,500 tons from the New York Federal Reserve.

So guess what the French and the Americans essentially said: We ain’t got no gold! Well, at least right now. It will take five years for the German gold in France to be returned, and no less than seven years for the stash at the New York Federal Reserve. Bottom line: both Paris and Washington/New York have to come up with real physical gold any way they can.

That’s where Mali fits in – beautifully. Mali – along with Ghana – accounts for up to 8% of global gold production. So if you’re desperate for the genuine article – physical gold – you’ve got to control Mali. Imagine all that gold falling into the hands of… China.
Now follow the uranium. As everyone who was glued to the Niger yellowcake saga prior to the invasion of Iraq knows, Niger is the world’s fourth-largest producer of uranium. Its biggest customer is – surprise! – France; half of France’s electricity comes from nuclear energy. The uranium mines in Niger happen to be concentrated in the northwest of the country, on the western range of the Air mountains, very close to the Mali border and one of the regions being bombed by the French.

The uranium issue is intimately connected with successive Tuareg rebellions; one must remember that, for the Tuaregs, there are no borders in the Sahel. All recent Tuareg rebellions in Niger happened in uranium country – in Agadez province, near the Mali border. So, from the point of view of French interests, imagine the possibility of the Tuaregs gaining control of those uranium mines – and starting to do deals with… China. Beijing, after all, is already present in the region.

All this crucial geostrategic power play – the “West” fighting China in Africa, with AFRICOM giving a hand to warlord Hollande while taking the Long War perspective – actually supersedes the blowback syndrome. It’s unthinkable that British, French and American intelligence did not foresee the blowback ramifications from NATO’s “humanitarian war” in Libya. NATO was intimately allied with Salafis and Salafi-jihadis – temporarily reconverted into “freedom fighters”. They knew Mali – and the whole Sahel – would subsequently be awash in weapons.

No, the expansion of GWOT to the Sahara/Sahel happened by design. GWOT is the gift that keeps on giving; what could possibly top a new war theatre to the French-Anglo-American industrial-military-security-contractor-media complex?

Well-wishers gather to greet French President Francois Hollande during his two-hour-long visit to Timbuktu, Feb. 2, 2013.

Well-wishers gather to greet French President Francois Hollande during his two-hour-long visit to Timbuktu, Feb. 2, 2013.

Boubacar Boris Diop, Senegalese writer and intellectual, has reservations and grave doubts about the French intervention in Mali. He was interviewed by Souleymane Ndiaye for the Senegalese paper Le Pays au Quotidien. From the translation in The Guardian:

it is, in fact, a stroke of genius on the part of Paris that France can be depicted as an enemy of the “villains”. I use this word deliberately because international politics often reminds me of a Hollywood movie in which the whole plot depends on us being conditioned to be on the side of the good guys. When you learn that narco-terrorists occupy two-thirds of Mali, and that they destroy mosques and the tombs of saints, set fire to the Ahmed Baba Library and cut off people’s hands, your first impulse is to approve of those trying to help innocents out of harm’s way.

After Qaddafi was killed, under appalling circumstances, the French government believed the time had come to entrust the outsourcing of war against AQIM [al-Qaida in the Maghreb] and MUJAO [Movement for Unity and Jihad in west Africa] to the Tuareg rebellion. As Ibrahima Sene recently pointed out in his response to Samir Amin, Paris and Washington then decided to help the Tuareg in Libya return, heavily armed, to Mali – but, more interestingly, not to Niger, where they did not want to take any risk because of Areva [uranium mines]. The Tuareg were delighted to finally realise their dream of independence through the new state of Azawad, an ally of the west.

Some French media were then asked to “sell” the project of the “blue men of the desert” who were willing and ready to go to war against Mali. Just take a look in the archives of France 24 and RFI … France clearly occupies the role of a pyromaniac firefighter. Everything suggests that the French will defeat the jihadists, but this victory will cost the Malians their government and their honour.

BBD: I just want to say that this is the end of independence for Mali for a long time, and for its relative territorial homogeneity. It would be naive to imagine that, after having worked so hard to liberate the north, France will hand over the keys of the country to Dioncounda Traore and to the Malians and be satisfied with effusive farewells. No, the world does not work that way. France has put itself in a good position in the race for the prodigious natural resources of the Sahara, and it would be hard to imagine that the French will just drop the Tuareg rebellion, which has always been their trump card. There is an episode in this war that has gone unnoticed, yet deserves some consideration: the capture of Kidal. We initially conceded that Kidal was “captured” by the MNLA, which no longer has any military presence, and a few days later, on January 29th, French troops entered the town alone, not allowing Malian forces to accompany them. Iyad Ag Ghali, head of Ansar Dine, discredited by his affiliation with AQIM and MUJAO, is already almost out of the game and his “moderate” rival, Alghabasse Ag Intalla, head of MIA (Islamic Movement of Azawd) is in the best position to find common ground with Paris. As a matter of fact, after this military debacle, the Tuareg separatists are going to have political control over the north, something they have never had before. It’s a great paradox, but it is in the interest of the west that Mali has no hold over the northern part of it’s country. Traoré is already being pressured to negotiate with the moderate Tuareg backed by Paris, and it is unlikely that we are going to see a president as weakened as Dioncounda trying to resist Hollande. Whether we like it or not, the Arab Spring is completely detaching north Africa from the rest of the continent, and in some respects, the “new border” is northern Mali. This is a clear and coherent strategy that the west is in the process of implementing.

SN: What did you think when you saw young Malians waving French flags?

BBD: Some say it has been fabricated. I don’t agree. I think these pictures reveal the immense relief that the Malians feel. They are particularly disturbing images, and this is why should have the guts to confront them. The real question is not so much what we, as African intellectuals and politicians, should think of the French. More importantly, the question is how is it that our people are left in such a state of abandonment? The question that these images really raise for us is how is it that the French troops who occupied Mali for centuries as barbaric colonisers have come back 50 years later to be greeted as liberators? Does this not leave us seriously perplexed? What is Malian independence really worth?

The outpouring of affection towards French soldiers is from the heart, but it is temporary. The real aims of the war will become clearer for Malians, and time will not be on the French’s side. Benign foreign forces don’t exist anywhere.

it must be extremely hard these days to be in the Malian military. Here is a national army fighting in its own country, and its soldiers’ deaths do not even count, unlike that of the French helicopter pilot, Damien Boiteux, who was shot on the first day of fighting. All these humiliations will show Mali that a certain democratic comedy, aimed at pleasing foreign backers, is meaningless. Mali is a case study, cited everywhere as an example. Very little is needed for the country to collapse. We already see the mechanisms of exclusion in the works, and these create more and more murderers: All Tuaregs and Arabs will come to be seen as accomplices of jihadists or of the Tuareg separatist movement. Already aware of this danger, intellectuals like Aminata Dramane Traoré of Mali have repeatedly sounded the alarm in recent months, but nobody wants to listen. Relations between the different communities in Mali have always been fragile, and the threat of racial hostilities has never been as grave.

the procrastination of the African states has been rightly criticised, but you have to understand that it is ultimately suicidal for them to engage in a complex war with their bare hands. Yet this is precisely the criticism we can dole out to our countries: A failure to have the means to defends ourselves, collectively or individually.

Dan Glazebrook writes in The West’s War Against African Development Continues

… it is the West that is reliant on African handouts. …

Gold and uranium are the handouts of particular interest in Mali, Algeria’s oil and independence are also of interest.

As long as Gaddafi was in power [in Libya]  and heading up a powerful and effective regional security system, Salafist militias in North Africa could not be used as a ‘threatening menace’ justifying Western invasion and occupation to save the helpless natives. By actually achieving what the West claim to want (but everywhere fail to achieve) – the neutralization of ‘Islamist terrorism’ – Libya had stripped the imperialists of a key pretext for their war against Africa. At the same time, they had prevented the militias from fulfilling their other historical function for the West – as a proxy force to destabilize independent secular states (fully documented in Mark Curtis’ excellent Secret Affairs). The West had supported Salafi death squads in campaigns to destabilize the USSR and Yugoslavia highly successfully, and would do so again against Libya and Syria

With NATO’s redrawing of Libya as a failed state, this security system has fallen apart. Not only have the Salafi militias been provided with the latest hi-tech military equipment by NATO, they have been given free reign to loot the Libyan government’s armouries, and provided with a safe haven from which to organize attacks across the region. Border security has collapsed, with the apparent connivance of the new Libyan government and its NATO sponsors, as this damning report from global intelligence firm Jamestown Foundation notes …

The most obvious victim of this destabilization has been Mali.

As Escobar points out above, the flood of arms and militias out of Libya were foreseen by Western intelligence.    Algeria is rich in oil and borders the Mediterranean, another target in the Long War as well as a target of those who envision the Mediterranean as a European internal sea with Europe extending over North Africa.  The “French-Anglo-American industrial-military-security-contractor-media complex” do very nicely by continuing the GWOT.   Glazebrook continues:

…  disaster zones can be tolerated; strong, independent states cannot.

It is, therefore, perceived to be in the strategic interests of Western energy security to see Algeria turned into a failed state, just as Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya have been. With this in mind, it is clear to see how the apparently contradictory policy of arming the Salafist militias one minute (in Libya) and bombing them the next (in Mali) does in fact make sense. The French bombing mission aims, in its own words, at the “total reconquest” of Mali, which in practice means driving the rebels gradually Northwards through the country – in other words, straight into Algeria.

…   Like a classic mafia protection racket, the West makes its protection ‘necessary’ by unleashing the very forces from which people require protection. Now France is occupying Mali, the US are establishing a new drone base in Niger and David Cameron is talking about his commitment to a new ‘war on terror’ spanning six countries, and likely to last decades.

Bill Van Auken writes:

Both Paris and Washington have justified their military incursions into the African continent in the name of defeating Al Qaeda and associated organizations in Africa. British Prime Minister David Cameron chimed in last month, warning that the prosecution of this war in Africa could span “decades.”

The glaring contradiction between this pretext for war in Africa’s Sahel region and the line-up of these imperialist powers behind Al Qaeda-linked militias in the sectarian-based war to overthrow the Assad regime in Syria is passed over in silence by the media and the political establishments in all three countries.

Behind the incoherence of the pretexts for imperialist intervention, the real forces driving it are clear. Washington finds itself being economically eclipsed in Africa by China, which has emerged as the continent’s leading trade partner. Increasingly in competition over strategic resources—West Africa is soon expected to account for 25 percent of US petroleum imports—US imperialism is relying on its residual military superiority to combat this economic challenge.

In the prosecution of this predatory strategy, Al Qaeda serves a dual purpose—providing shock troops for the toppling of regimes seen as obstacles to US hegemony, and serving as a pretext for other interventions carried out in the name of combating “terrorism” and “extremism.”

A Malian man dressed in green walks between green doors of closed shops in Gao, Feb. 5, 2013.

A Malian man dressed in green walks between green doors of closed shops in Gao, Feb. 5, 2013.

In Foreign Policy Gordon Adams describes a Continental Shift in US policy towards Africa.

U.S. engagement in Africa is shifting from a focus on governance, health, and development to a deepening military engagement. And while the Pentagon portrays this expanding military engagement as a way to empower Africans, it is actually building security relationships that could backfire, harming our long-term foreign policy interests.

A focus on counterterrorism and counterinsurgency operations has driven this engagement forward …

[T]he U.S. plans its security assistance programs in a strategy and policy void and, with a focus on “security” but not “governance,” they are largely implemented to meet the bureaucratic, regional, and program priorities of the Defense Department, in this case, Africom. The choice of countries, programs, and individuals to receive support in Africa is driven largely by the military — the regional combatant commander, the military services, and DOD policy officials.
U.S. security assistance, especially after Iraq and Afghanistan, does put “security” first and “governance” second, which is characteristic of these Africa programs.  …  The downside is that by putting security first …  too many [African countries] will end up insecure in another way: hostage to a strongly developed military-paramilitary-gendarme-police force which is the only effective form of political power. As the Perry report said in its subdued way: “In many countries, whether intended or not, the U.S. is choosing sides in the partner nation’s political process when it provides assistance to security forces.”

Gordon Adams is describing what I and others have been writing about since 2007 and before.  The US choice to invest the  money and attention it devotes to Africa on military development is to choose sides in the political process of the nations it engages.  Africans want to move away from military governments.   US national interests are not being served when the Department of Defense, DoD, bureaucratic, regional, and program priorities drive national foreign policy.  The US military remains on the wrong side of history in Africa.   There is a long US history of military assistance and covert intervention in Africa throughout the cold war and particularly in the lengthy US support for apartheid.  In the course of those conflicts the US was party to the introduction of state sponsored terrorism into African conflicts.  The US has been party to coups and assassinations against the most progressive and visionary of Africa’s leaders, including Nkrumah, Lumumba, and Sankara.  US support for Savimbi and manipulation of the electoral process precipitated an extra decade of war in Angola. The US installed and maintained Mobutu in Congo, DRC, for decades of theft and misrule.  The US arms and supports Rwanda and Uganda as they loot the Eastern Congo.   It would behoove US long term interests in Africa to avoid looking like the leader among those who would recolonize the African continent. Mali’s current fractures make it vulnerable to military opportunism. France, the UK, and US (fukus) along with NATO and the GCC, are engaged in a short sighted Long War of neocolonialism.

When water disappears, there is no alternative.

A serious crisis occurs when there is less than 500 cubic meter per person per year.

The World Bank and the WTO are energetic and anti-democratic instruments, eagerly facilitating corporate control and commoditization of water.

Water Wars by Vandana Shiva

The following maps come from the PDF from IOP (Institute of Physics) Publishing: Quantitative maps of groundwater resources in Africa (PDF)
There are several related articles at All Africa

The African continent has enormous reserves of groundwater. Groundwater is finite. Once those reserves are used up they are gone for good. The questions are: How will the water be accessessed? And who will get the water and who will reap the benefits? Will Africans be able to use these in a beneficial and sustainable way? Or will the landgrabbers from other continents take Africa’s water along with their other exploitations of African resources.

Figure 1. Available information on groundwater resources for Africa used to construct the quantitative continent maps. A detailed list of the maps and studies is given in supplementary material 1 available at stacks.iop.org/ERL/7/024009/mmedia.

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Figure 2. Groundwater storage for Africa based on the effective porosity and saturated aquifer thickness. Panel (a) shows a map of groundwater storage expressed as water depth in millimetres with modern annual recharge for comparison (D¨oll and Fiedler 2008). Panel (b) shows the volume of groundwater storage for each country; the error bars are calculated by recalculating storage using the full ranges of effective porosity and thickness for each aquifer, rather than the best estimate. Annual renewable freshwater availability (FAO 2005) generally used in water scarcity assessments is shown for comparison.

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Figure 3. Aquifer productivity for Africa showing the likely interquartile range for boreholes drilled and sited using appropriate techniques and expertise. The inset shows an approximate depth to groundwater (Bonsor and MacDonald 2011).

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Horace Campbell has written about these vast water resources in Water and reconstruction in Africa: an agenda for transformation

once one begins to deal with water one is dealing with the fundamentals of life. In all major religions and forms of spiritual reflection, water plays a central role.

‘Groundwater resources are unevenly distributed: the largest groundwater volumes are found in the large sedimentary aquifers in the North African countries Libya, Algeria, Egypt and Sudan.’ Of these African countries, Libya possessed by far the largest volume of ground water, 99,500 (km3). Algeria with 91,900 (km3), Sudan with 63,000 (km3) and Egypt with 55 200 (km3).

Here, then, is the truth revealed to those who did not know that French and western water companies had for decades coveted this huge resource of water in North Africa calculating how to deny the Africans access to these resources. This report can help those who were confused about the real motives for the invasion of Libya.

For decades it is has been the work of capitalist inspired international organizations to reveal a different narrative, that of water scarcity and water shortages in Africa. …
What was never revealed was the reality that access to water was the major democratic question in Africa and the more democratic a society, the more accessible the resources for water and sanitation.

The World Bank sums up its approach to Water Resources Management on the basis that its goals were: (a) helping the poor directly. (b) improving macroeconomic and fiscal balances, (c) promoting good governance and private sector development, and (d) protecting the environment.

The key basis for achieving these goals was the privatization of water resources. For the past fifty years the World Bank has been supporting giant water projects that served to dispossess the working peoples of the urban and rural areas. The World Bank projects for water management have been especially detrimental for the livelihood of oppressed African women. These women expend hours every day securing clean and potable water. The World Bank and its myriad of sub-contractors have been at the forefront of the struggles over the ideas of whether water should remain a public good, shared by humans everywhere, or a commodity to be bought and sold on the open market.

Trees attract water. To maintain surface water, you need trees. Deforestation makes the water dry up. Reforestation uses water for the benefit of the people who live there, creating forests that attract and capture precipitation, enlarging available water reserves.

Anta Diop in his vision of a federated Africa linked this dream to the reforestation and repopulation of Africa. Diop drew attention to plans that had been drawn up as far back as the fifties for the reforestation of the Sahel. He wrote,

‘The Sahel Zone, the more desert the farther north one goes, is ideal for reforestation. As early as 1950, we suggested a plan for replanting here. Although approved at the time by the Sudanese people and taken under consideration by the administration, this plan has since lain dormant.’

This plan of reforestation has always been linked to the larger project of providing water to those areas where there were water deficits. Wangari Maathai had taken this vision seriously and there are millions of African environmentalists who take seriously the vision of the reforestation of Africa. This vision of reforestation and healing the African environment can mobilize millions of workers, youths and engineers for a new sense of priorities for Africa. It is here where Pan African youths must take full ownership of the Great Green Wall Project. The African Union has supported this plan that had been pushed by visionaries such as Thomas Sankara. Reforestation in Africa is now conceived of as a massive project which calls for planting a 15km wide and 7000km long swath of land from Djibouti in the east and stretching to Senegal in the West (passing through Ethiopia, Eritrea, Sudan, Chad, Niger, Nigeria, Burkina Faso, Mali, and Mauritania. This “Great Green Wall” is envisaged by the African Union as the Seven Thousand Kilometers of Trees integrated into new agricultural zones. Such a project places the concept of Unity on the level where it touches concretely the lives of the people. Advances in solar energy technology, harnessing the underground water resources, the electrification of Africa and an infrastructure of canal systems await Africa 2025 when Africa breaks from western intellectual and political hegemony.

The philosophy of Ubuntu seeks to break the divisions between the rational and irrational human, between space and time, objectivity and subjectivity and those ideas of ‘science’ that devalues the spiritual dimension of life. Within the present leadership of the African Union are to be found many leaders and intellectuals who are in full agreement with the World Bank and the view that water should be a commodity to be bought and sold to the highest bidder. The present constitution of international politics challenges organic scholars of the oppressed to conceptualise a prolonged popular struggle and not to be lured by the social capital of those who oppress the vast majority. The revelations of the water wealth are only one other component of the information to oppose western imperial domination.

Ghana has effectively fought back against a decades long campaign by the west to privatise its water.

How the Private Sector Didn’t Solve Ghana’s Water Crisis
originally published in Pambazuka

Seventy percent of Ghanaian homes don’t have a WC or a pit latrine. Piped water, if you have it at all, is intermittent, so water in your tap depends on whether you can afford a domestic reservoir. In 2005, the World Bank secured a private sector solution to the water crisis in Ghana – the first independent sub-Saharan African country, and one of the first to be economically adjusted for corporate benefit. But Ghanaian campaigners had different ideas for their taps and toilets.

A remarkable turnaround in Ghana’s water sector occurred in June 2011. After five years of managing Ghana’s urban water services, Aqua Vitens Rand Ltd, a Dutch South African water corporation, failed to renew its contract with the government-owned Ghana Water Company Ltd. Ghanaian opponents to water privatisation had won a resounding victory. They effectively wrong footed the World Bank, private sector advocate and major funder of Ghana’s water sector.

In Accra, you’re unlikely to have a WC plus individual cesspit unless you’re in the elite minority, and pit latrines are largely rural. You therefore have a few options. You can defecate in a bucket or a pan and pay for your ‘night soil’ to be taken, probably manually and illegally, perhaps twice a week, to a cesspit whose contents are then emptied by sewage tankers. You can walk to and then queue for a public latrine, most likely a subhuman hangover from colonial days where you pay for a bit of newspaper to wipe yourself and where there may be six stalls serving 1,000 people. You can defecate in a plastic bag and deposit it in the storm drains that line your street. You can defecate in a storm drain. You can defecate on the beach. Men often urinate in drains. Women sometimes put a bucket under their skirts. The only area with underground piped sewers is the ex-colonial enclave, round Osu, where the president lives and Ministries are located. At the wittily-named Lavender Hill, near some of the poorest areas in town, sewage tankers squirt raw sewage into the sea. A World Bank and Ghanaian government funded treatment plant is said to be in the pipeline at Lavender Hill.

If you have piped water, it’s not safe to drink, however rich or poor you are. If you can afford it, you buy either sachet water or bottled water to drink. Bottled water is expensive, on average GHc2 (US$1.9) a litre when the minimum wage is GHc4.48 (US$2.66) a day. The media periodically report sachet water scams. In any case, your tap will be dry perhaps 75% of the time, depending on your topological relationship to the local pumping station. If you can afford it, you install a huge polytank (a cylindrical plastic container) on a tower in your garden, plumb it into your domestic system, and fill it up when the taps are running. If you can’t afford it, you store water in jerry cans wherever you have room. You might seek professional help to fix your water meter, illegally. If you don’t have piped water, and you’re not paying bills to the Ghana Water Company, you might employ a professional to plumb you into a mains water pipe, illegally. If you don’t, you must buy from a water tanker, or from a stand pipe, which is more expensive than tap or domestically stored water. Fetching three buckets of water a day can cost you between 10% and 20% of your daily income. Thus, the poorer you are, the more you’re likely to pay for water in absolute terms.
Despite these huge problems, in January 2011 the World Bank was confidently stating that Ghana was ‘making steady progress’ towards the United Nations 2015 Millennium Development Goal for safe drinking water.

Water privatisation in Ghana goes back decades. The 1980s and the Rawlings regime saw external funders, especially the World Bank and the IMF, direct the restructuring of the Ghanaian economy as a condition for receiving desperately needed loans. Water reforms in the 1980s included sacking staff in the publicly owned Ghana Water and Sewage Corporation, attempts to curb non-revenue water and an emphasis on ‘cost recovery’ – as opposed to improving access to sanitation and clean water.

By 1999, the GWSC had been replaced by the Ghana Water Company Ltd. While 100% state owned, it’s responsible neither for rural water services nor for sewage disposal. Sewage generates life and plant growth as well as death and disease, but not profit.

In the same year, the World Bank’s plans snarled up on the issue of national sovereignty: the government objected to the accusation of corrupt tendering practices, and the World Bank withdrew its US$100 million loan – but with an eye to elections the following year. And indeed, the new New Patriotic Party government, far keener on the World Bank’s ‘reforms’ than Rawlings’ National Democratic Congress had ever been, ‘quickly organised an international tender for the [public-private partnership] lease contract, and in 2001 they short listed nine [multinational] companies…’ [1]

At this point, the opposition to the proposed water reforms consolidated. The National Coalition Against the Privatisation of Water was established at an Accra forum in 2001. Members of South Africa’s Anti-Privatisation Forum and Municipal Workers’ Union participated, as well as an activist from Bolivia’s Cochabamba water struggle. They ‘shared their experiences of water privatisation, and the adverse impacts it had had on their communities.’ [2]

Independent research in 2002 found ‘… that implementation of a plan for full cost recovery and automatic tariff adjustment mechanisms [in the water sector] will be a condition for the completion of the IMF’s fifth review of Ghana’s Poverty Reduction and Growth Facility loan. Further, ‘Conditions attached to World Bank lending led to a 95 percent increase in water tariffs in May 2001.’ [3]

By early 2011, the anti-water privatisation coalition had been organising pickets, meetings, and media campaigns for 10 years. It had survived splits and government witch hunts, and had received some (but not nearly enough) international media exposure. NGOs which had previously backed water privatisation were working alongside it. Ghana’s Public Utility Workers Union was now openly campaigning against the renewal of the Ghana Water Company Ltd’s contract with Aqua Vitens Rand Ltd. The Minister for Water Resources, Works and Housing began dropping hints that the contract would not be renewed.

But why? Surely the private sector, with its performance, efficiency and revenue targets, could tackle the huge problem of non revenue water? Non revenue water is any water supplied by the water company that isn’t paid for, because of unpaid bills, water leaking from pipes, or water connected illegally. In the late 1990s, Ghana Water Company Ltd’s non-revenue water stood at 50-51%, way above the World Bank’s 15% target.

On all major contractual obligations, however, Aqua Vitens Rand Ltd failed, a contract, furthermore, that they had got on the cheap because it required no investment on their part whatsoever; it was a management contract, not a lease contract. Aqua Vitens Rand Ltd failed to decrease non-revenue water, they failed to increase the production of water, and they failed to improve bill collection. Service delivery (not surprisingly) failed to benefit from reducing the number of workers, i.e. cutting the cost of wage bills.

Five days after Aqua Vitens Rand Ltd’s contract wasn’t renewed, the Minister of Water Resources, Works and Housing announced the setting up of the 100% state owned Ghana Urban Water Company Ltd, a subsidiary of the Ghana Water Company Ltd, to replace Aqua Vitens Rand Ltd, with a one year tenure ending in June 2012.

Leonard Shang Quartey co-ordinates the Essential Services Programme at The Integrated Social Development Centre (ISODEC), the campaigning NGO which spearheads the anti-water privatisation coalition. ‘This whole idea about Ghana Urban Water Limited, I don’t think it’s necessary,’ Quartey said in June 2011. ’We have to focus our efforts on GWCL [Ghana Water Company Ltd] and make it workable.’ And it’s not as though Ghana doesn’t have water – the mighty Volta Lake is one of the world’s largest reservoirs.

June 2012 and what happens next? The interim Ghana Urban Water Company Ltd still exists. According to Quartey and Oxfam GB’s Alhassan Adam (telephone interviews June and May 2012), the World Bank is pressurising the government to return to the privatisation option. But, Quartey said, any form of privatisation is unacceptable to the anti-water privatisation coalition. They want a strengthened and restructured Ghana Water Company Ltd, that is, a public water authority charged with the provision (as opposed to the cost recovery) of clean water. The issue has very little to do with management, as Aqua Vitens Rand Ltd’s failure proved. ‘The bulk of the problem,’ Quartey said, ‘lies in financing.’

It’s worth remembering that during colonial occupation, African economies were organised primarily for the extraction of raw materials to their northern ‘masters’. Political independence did not bring economic independence, and the advent of IMF and World Bank economic restructuring from the 1980s onwards, driven by conditions on loans and grants, has maintained extractive exploitation. According to Quartey, Public Private Partnership, as in the Aqua Vitens Rand Ltd debacle, is still the World Bank’s preferred privatisation vehicle.

What solutions are there? Quartey and the coalition want increased government spending: the water sector is more than 80% donor funded. But Ghanaians can finance their water sector themselves. Since 2010, the country has produced oil. It’s one of the world’s leading gold and cocoa producers. Taxation needs to be properly regulated, in particular corporate tax loopholes blocked. Last year’s increase in corporate tax on mining companies was a step in the right direction, Quartey said.

Ghana is a wealthy country, as is Africa as a whole. The Ghanaian government, with a little help from the anti water privatisation coalition, need not submit to World Bank pressure. And then there’s China.

In addition to commodifying water as water, the rapacious land grabs operators from various continents are making in Africa mean external exploitation of Africa’s critical water resources. Water gets exported as part of the agricultural products whose growth it irrigates. Biofuel production is a particularly wasteful and unsustainable use of water. Water resources are fouled and destroyed by mining, unregulated construction, and other extractive industries.

To me one of the most exciting possibilities is the proposed Green Wall across the Sahel. Not only would it use Africa’s water resources for African benefit, trees would help replenish water supplies, not just make use of them. The project will require vision, imagination, leadership and struggle to assert African forms of participatory democracy in order to achieve such a goal. We have to start by visualizing goals and sharing that vision in order to get on track to achieving those goals.

[T]he United States must employ its soft power to persuade African nations to work with it. The time to do so is now, before China’s inroads in African states become insurmountable. If the United States is to secure its resource needs from Africa in the future, it must be prepared to employ all elements of hard and soft power to meet the demands of future proxy conflict on the continent.

This passage comes from the Recommendations at the end of the paper Bipolarity, Proxy Wars, and the Rise of China (PDF) by Mark O. Yeisley, Lieutenant Colonel, USAF published in Strategic Studies Quarterly. The paper lays out the expectation of increasing proxy war in Africa. He anticipates decades of proxy wars with China on the African continent, using African soldiers, over African resources.

… proxy conflicts are those in which great-power hostilities are expressed through client states rather than between great powers themselves. These proxy conflicts occur between nations that disagree over specific issues but do not wish to engage in direct conflict …

From an earlier discussion comes this definition of proxy war:

Within the military realm, the terms proxy and surrogate are largely interchangeable. … a surrogate force is defined as an organization that serves the needs or interests of a secondary actor—the sponsor—by employing military power in place of the sponsor’s own forces. Implicit within this definition is the requirement for the sponsor to fund, equip, train, or otherwise support the surrogate. (Discussed in Obama’s African Rifles – Partners/Surrogates/Proxies)

Proxy war means real death and real suffering by other than the principal parties. Here is cartoonist Amin Amir on Kenya's war against the Somali people.

In his paper Lt. Col Yeisley describes how the Soviet US bipolar power balance led to proxy war on many continents from the end of WWII until the 1990s. He points out that China is the most likely threat to current American global hegemony, and suggests that proxy wars over resources in Africa are a likely future scenario. He points out that any of the BRIC, Brazil, Russia, India, and China, states may become great powers, but China is in the lead on that road at present.

He does not discuss the fact that the new wave of proxy wars in Africa have already begun, with Libya and Somalia being two of the most obvious current examples. These wars are partly maneuvering against China, but are also simply using and exacerbating conflicts to manipulate countries for the use of their resources.

The most likely challenger to US hegemony to emerge, at least in the foreseeable future, is China. Only China is close to possessing sufficient economic might leveraged into military spending and growth to soon rival the United States. It may well become the second great-power state in a new bipolar international regime.

… While direct conflict is indeed a possibility, it remains remote. A more likely outcome is subnational conflict as the United States and China engage in proxy wars over resource access in Africa. These conflicts will place great demands on all US instruments of power as involvement in foreign internal defense, particularly counterinsurgency operations in Africa, trends upward. Bipolarity and renewed proxy conflict will require rethinking of long-term national and military strategies now focused primarily on large-scale interstate wars. This will impact defense acquisition and military doctrine as US strategic focus shifts from conventional conflict to more low-end operations.

Yeisley describes how the Cold War:

… increased the incidence of subnational proxy conflict via two complementary mechanisms. It provided the superpowers a means to achieve geostrategic goals without the risk of nuclear war while also providing groups within client states the means to achieve their goals, through violence if necessary.

What it means is that other people fight and die, real fighting, real death, so that the manipulating powers can compete and acquire without suffering at home.

Yeisley also discusses:

Why did the United States and the USSR engage in Cold War proxy conflict? Realists of the period warned against doing so—involvement in
third-world conflicts was detrimental to US interests and did not enhance the all-important balance of power
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… impressions of power were just as important as military equality; this resulted in strategies that depended on perceptions of a balance of power as much as the balance itself. Thus, US policy treated any Soviet gains as a threat that had to be countered in a zero-sum realpolitik game.

Cold War proxy conflicts usually took the form of aid provided to either insurgent forces or to those of the state—cash transfers, provision of weapons/technology, and advisory or combat support.

The rising incidence of subnational conflict during the Cold War and its decline in the current era were thus influenced by superpower policy decisions to pursue strategic goals by proxy within client states to avoid the high costs of nuclear war.

From Yeisley’s conclusion:

It is likely China will achieve economic and then military parity with the United States in the next two decades. … But why would China’s rising necessarily lead to geostrategic competition with the United States, and where would this most likely occur? Unlike the Cold War, access to strategic resources rather than ideology would lie at the heart of future US-Sino competition, and the new “great game” will most likely be played in Africa.

Africa is home to a wealth of mineral and energy resources, much of which still remains largely unexploited. Seven African states possess huge endowments of oil, and four of these have equally substantial amounts of natural gas. Africa also enjoys large deposits of bauxite (used to make aluminum), copper, lead, nickel, zinc, and iron ore, all of which are imported and highly desired by China.

Of primary interest is open access to Africa’s significant deposits of oil and other energy resources.

Africa is thus a vital foreign interest for the Chinese and must be for the United States; access to its mineral and petroleum wealth is crucial to the survival of each. Although the US and Chinese economies are tightly interconnected, the nonrenewable nature of these assets means competition will remain a zero-sum game. Nearly all African states have been independent entities for less than 50 years; consolidating robust domestic state institutions and stable governments remains problematic. Studies have shown that weak governments are often prime targets for civil conflicts that prove costly to control. Many African nations possess both strategic resources and weak regimes, making them vulnerable to internal conflict and thus valuable candidates for assistance from China or the United States to help settle their domestic grievances. With access to African resources of vital strategic interest to each side, competition could likely occur by proxy via diplomatic, economic, or military assistance to one (or both) of the parties involved.

The asymmetric nature of future conflict over African resources means defense acquisition must therefore focus on equipping and training military as well as civilian foreign internal defense teams. Both military and civilian doctrine must be altered to allow robust and effective interagency actions to meet the challenges of proxy conflict that will span the continuum of war from security forces assistance, counterinsurgency, information, and combat operations to peace enforcement and postconflict stability efforts.

While the United States should not reduce current preparations for conventional war-fighting dominance, prudence dictates that it also prepares for future proxy conflict management in Africa.

Yeisley’s paper is not a policy document, it is more predictive analysis, as the disclaimer states:

The views and opinions expressed or implied in the SSQ are those of the authors and should not be construed as carrying the official sanction of the United States Air Force, the Department of Defense, Air Education and Training Command, Air University, or other agencies or departments of the US government.

The Pentagon is way out in front of this paper. The US Africa Command is already in place and already actively engaged in proxy war on the African continent, in Somalia, in Libya, in the Great Lakes regions, and in a less overt manner in a number of other countries. About a year ago General Hogg from AFRICOM was soliciting Ghana to participate in proxy war in Ivory Coast.

Yeisley tells us that China has 4,000 military personnel in Sudan to protect its interests in energy and mineral investments there; it also owns 40 percent of the Greater Nile Oil Production Company.

Lt. Col. Yeisley’s paper may not be a policy statement, but increased proxy war waged by the United States in Africa is already underway and already US policy.

Both African leaders and opposition groups can see what the United States is doing in both Africa and the Middle East. Many already have a gleam in their eyes aiming to be the next dictator of choice or favored freedom fighters. At the same time many Africans are profoundly offended by the manipulative violence sponsored by the US and its European allies. This was most recently expressed at the African Union summit January 2012, when Jean Ping failed to secure the necessary 2/3 votes to continue as AU Commission Chairperson, even after his opposition withdrew from the contest. Delegates were particularly troubled by his role in the Libya debacle and many saw him as a tool of French policy.

Sudan, its oil, land, and other resources is currently a major target of the interest of the US and its Africa Command. Proxy war is being funded and underway. Regarding South Sudan, Uganda, the Eastern DRC and other countries in the Great Lakes region:

… this whole area is prime real estate where the fierce battle between China and the Americans/Europeans plays out, centered on oil and minerals, all part of the Great 21st Century African Resource War. (from Obama, the king of Africa)

Sudan has long been the focus of the United States interest. The US promoted the separation of north and south, and pushed forward the referendum that separated the two into two different countries.

President Obama would have you believe that 100 elite U.S. Special Forces soldiers are running around in the African Bush looking for what’s left of the Lord’s Resistance Army. … The real target is South Sudan, where the United States is setting the stage for an African proxy oil war with China. … The Green Berets are in central Africa to coordinate military operations by Washington’s African clients. … The United States and Europe can no longer compete economically with China in Africa, and must now resort to raw force, through African puppet armies.

Reporter Thomas C. Mountain … points out in a recent article that the United States pays the salaries of South Sudan’s army, and also pays the costs of the thousands of United Nations so-called “peacekeepers” who have been sent to South Sudan to help contain the ethnic violence. Those UN peacekeepers are mostly soldiers from Ethiopia, a U.S. client state that, along with Kenya and Uganda, is waging a proxy war under U.S. sponsorship in Somalia. The Ethiopians worked very closely with U.S. Special Forces, right down to the company level, in the 2006 invasion of Somalia.

Now, in the heart of central Africa where South Sudan, Ethiopia, Uganda, Kenya, Congo, and the Central African Republic meet – all of them U.S. client states – the U.S. needs its own Special Forces units in place to coordinate its puppet African armies, and to keep all of them focused on the larger mission … to destabilize northern Sudan and China’s oil operations, there. (from Coming Soon: Obama’s Big Move in Central Africa)

Dyncorp had a State Department contract to train the SPLA back in 2007, which may still be in effect or renewed since then. Mountain tells us, the:

US pays the salaries for the Sudan Peoples Liberation Army (SPLA, the national army of South Sudan), over $100 million in 2011 alone. Does a country really have independence when a foreign power pays its army’s salaries? Whose orders is the army really going to follow?

And now comes word that the Obama regime presently occupying the White House in the USA is planning on “selling” advanced weaponry to the SPLA. As every day hundreds of children in South Sudan die from lack of clean drinking water, food, shelter and medical care the USA’s answer is to provide jet fighters and bombers, the better to see Sudanese kill Sudanese.

What this is all about is the Sudanese oil fields in the Abeye region, basically right on the border between Sudan and South Sudan. The Sudanese oil fields are the only majority owned and controlled Chinese developed oil fields in Africa.

The “USA/UN” plan is supposed to see up to 10,000 Ethiopian military personnel under cover of a UN “peacekeeper” mandate take up stations around the Abeye oil fields, the better to one day control that oil.

The one thing that should be expected is a continuing “crisis management” policy by the USA in South Sudan, as in create a crisis and then manage the murder and mayhem the better to exploit the wealth of the land, or if necessary, at least deny it to your enemy.

US AFRICOM Commander General Carter Ham (in gray camo, next to the man in the light blue shirt) in South Sudan August 26, 2011. South Sudan officially became independent in July 2011.

Mountain also says that:

In mid 2011 South Sudanese officials were reported to have said that the USA had told them they didn’t need oil money to survive, they could depend on western aid. A fore teller of things to come?

This sounds like the message the US was telling African countries immediately post independence in the late 1950s and 1960s, shorter version: Don’t worry, you don’t need to grow your own food or produce your own goods, trust us, we’ll take care of you. We all know how well that worked. Those African leaders who tried to steer a truly independent course faced western hostility, coups, and assassination, Nkrumah, Lumumba, Sekou Toure, Amilcar Cabral, Thomas Sankara, among others.

The African continent is a big place. There is US interest in proxy conflict in a number of other locations around the continent as well. An ongoing focus of US attention is Nigeria, with its huge oil reserves. The US Department of Homeland Security just declared Nigeria’s insurgent terrorists, Boko Haram, a threat to the US homeland, Boko Haram: Emerging Threat to the US Homeland PDF. This opens the way to increased military interference (partnering) in Nigeria and its neighbors.

AFRICA ENDEAVOR 2011 NIGERIA - ABUJA, NIGERIA – Marine Forces Africa’s Sgt. Ryan Kish teaches ECOWAS Combat Forces Signal Squadron soldiers to properly set up and operate a Broadband Global Area Network (BGAN) satellite system as part of the train up to US Africa Command’s Africa Endeavor 2011 communications exercise which is taking place simultaneously in Banjul, The Gambia; ECOWAS in Abuja, Niger and the AU in Addis Abba, Ethiopia, 12 July 2011. (AFRICOM photo by Lt. Col. Steven Lamb)

You can view more pictures of AFRICOM activities all around the coasts of Africa in AFRICOM Along the Coasts and In the Creeks.

We have seen the devastation to lives, countries and economies that proxy war has created in Africa. In the beginning of this century it looked like Africa might be able to put that behind. Conflicts decreased. There was a surge in conflict in the 1990s, followed by a cessation between 2002 and 2006. With the decrease in violence, African economies began to take off. Chinese investment has been a great help, although one cannot always regard it as benign. African economies are growing a lot faster than either the United States or Europe at present. More war could put a stop to all that.

A 2007 Human Security Brief:

… describes and analyses the extraordinary, but largely unnoticed, positive change in sub-Saharan Africa’s security landscape. After a surge of conflicts in the 1990s, the number of conflicts being waged in the region more than halved between 1999 and 2006; the combat toll dropped by 98 percent.

° There has been a major decline in the scope and intensity of conflicts.
° Refugee numbers have shrunk substantially.
° The share of global humanitarian assistance going to Africa doubled between 1999 and 2006—from 23 percent to 46 percent

Between 2002 and 2006 the number of campaigns of organized violence against civilians fell by two-thirds. (Human security in Africa)

We know the effect of proxy war, of training and equipping client militaries.

From Congressional testimony by the Africa Faith and Justice Network, in July 2008:

The ‘train and equip’ idea is not new. In fact, it has a very bad history in Africa – a history that harkens back to the proxy wars of the Cold War and U.S. support for illegitimate or corrupt regimes.

In the 1980’s, the U.S. spent $500 million to train and equip Samuel Doe in Liberia. According to a report from the U.S. Army’s Strategic Studies Institute, “every armed group that plundered Liberia over the past 25 years had its core in these U.S.-trained Armed Forces of Liberia (AFL) soldiers. There is thus a fear that when the United States withdraws support for its security sector reform program and funding for the AFL, Liberia will be sitting on a time bomb; a well-trained and armed force of elite soldiers who are used to good pay and conditions of service, which may be impossible for the government of Liberia to sustain on its own.”

AFRICOM’s value as a structure for legitimizing African armies should therefore be called into serious question.

That train and equip disaster continues to play out. Former fighters who needed jobs, experienced in the brutalities of the Liberian civil war, headed to Ivory Coast after the 2011 elections to work as mercenaries in the conflict there.

Escalating proxy wars in Africa will ultimately damage the United States. Proxy war will cut the United States off from the friends and resources it badly needs. Unfortunately the US does not seem to understand how much it needs friends.

All target regimes have one crime in common: Using their national resources to develop modern secular states – independent of imperial dictates.”

This is a pattern the west, the US, EU, and NATO have pursued in the Middle East in cooperation with the Gulf Cooperation Council, GCC. The US/EU/NATO coalition is extending brutal colonial attentions into Africa again.

All the target regimes of the US/EU/NATO/GCC aggression for “humanitarian intervention” and “democracy” share this characteristic, they were governing themselves independent of imperial dictates. This made and makes them ripe for “humanitarian” intervention. The same pattern in the Middle East is extending into Africa.

Freedom bombs

James Petras describes the pattern clearly and unmistakably in his essay The Washington – “Moderate Islam” Alliance: Containing Rebellion Defending Empire.

“Moderate” Islamists have become the Empire’s ‘contraceptive of choice’ against any chance the massive Arab peoples’ revolt might give birth to substantive egalitarian social changes and bring those brutal pro- western officials, responsible for so many crimes against humanity, to justice.

The West and their client officials in the military and police have agreed to a kind of “power-sharing’ with the moderate/respectable (read ‘reactionary’) Islamist parties. The Islamists would be responsible for imposing orthodox economic policies and re-establishing ‘order’ (i.e. bolstering the existing one) in partnership with pro-multinational bank economists and pro US-EU generals and security officials. In exchange the Islamists could take certain ministries, appoint their members, finance electoral clientele among the poor and push their ‘moderate’ religious, social and cultural agenda. Basically, the elected Islamists would replace the old corrupt dictatorial regimes in running the state and signing off on more free trade agreements with the EU. Their role would keep the leftists, nationalists and populists out of power and from gaining mass support. Their job would substitute spiritual solace and “inner worth” via Islam in place of redistributing land, income and power from the elite, including the foreign multi-nationals to the peasants, workers, unemployed and exploited low-paid employees.

The US and EU have openly unleashed their fundamentalists allies in order to destroy independent adversaries in the name of “democracy” and ‘humanitarian intervention’, a laughable claim in light of decade long colonial wars of occupation in Iraq and Afghanistan. All target regimes have one crime in common: Using their national resources to develop modern secular states – independent of imperial dictates.

As with European empires in the past, the modern Western imperial countries have relied on retrograde religious parties and leaders to collaborate and serve their economic and military interests and to provide mercenaries for imperial armies to savage any anti-imperialist social revolutionaries. In that sense US and European rulers are neither ‘pro nor anti’ Islam, it all depends on their national and class position. Islamists who collaborate with Empire are “moderate” allies and if they attack an anti-imperialist regime, they become ‘freedom fighters’. On the other hand, they become “terrorists” or “fundamentalists” when they oppose imperial occupation, pillage or colonial settlements.

Needless to say, wherever US imperialism faces leftists or secular, modernizing anti-imperialist regimes, Washington turns to retrograde Islamic leaders willing and able to destroy the progressive regime in return for imperialist support. Such coalitions are built mainly around fundamentalist and moderate Islamist opposition to secular, class- based politics allied with the Empire’s hostility to any anti-imperialist challenge to its domination.

The same ‘coalition’ of Islamists and the Empire has been glaringly obvious during the NATO assault on Libya and continues against Syria: The Muslims provide the shock troops on the ground; NATO provides the aerial bombing, funds, arms, sanctions, embargoes and propaganda.

What determines whether the US Empire will have a collaborative or conflict-ridden relation with Islam depends on the specific political context. The US allies with Islamists when faced with nationalist, leftist and secular democratic regimes and movements, especially where their optimal choice, a military-neo-liberal alternative is relatively weak. However, faced with a nationalist, anti-colonial Islamist regime (as is the case of the Islamic Republic of Iran), Washington will side with pro-western liberals, dissident Muslim clerics, pliable tribal chiefs, separatist ethnic minorities and pro-Western generals.”

The war on terror is particularly useful here. Terrorism is a tactic, it has no particular ideology. So it is easy to label any inconvenient opposition, any anti-colonial or anti-imperial movement as terrorists. It is then easy, almost a duty, to make war on them.

“Islamist parties are approached by the Empire’s policy elites only when they have a mass following and can therefore weaken any popular, nationalist insurgency. Mass-based Islamist parties serve the empire by providing “legitimacy”, by winning elections and by giving a veneer of respectability to the pro-imperial military and police apparatus retained in place from the overthrown client state dictatorships.

The Islamist parties compete at the “grass roots” with the leftists. They build up a clientele of supporters among the poor in the countryside and urban slums through organized charity and basic social services administered at the mosques and humanitarian religious foundations. Because they reject class struggle and are intensely hostile to the left (with its secular, pro-feminist and working-class agenda), they have been ‘half-tolerated’ by the dictatorship, while the leftist activists are routinely murdered. Subsequently, with the overthrow of the dictatorship, the Islamists emerge intact with the strongest national organizational network as the country’s ‘natural leaders’ from the religious-bazaar merchant political elite. Their leaders offer to serve the empire and its traditional native military collaborators in exchange for a ‘slice of power’, especially over morality, culture, religion and households (women), in other words, the “micro-society”.’

The French have been particularly explicit in their imperial intentions regarding the Middle East and Africa:
from: Libya: NATO Provides the Bombs; The French “Left” Provides the Ideology by Pierre Lévy, he quotes a 2007 speech by Sarkozy:

Europe is today the only force capable of carrying forward a project of civilization. … America and China have already begun the conquest of Africa. How long will Europe wait to build the Africa of tomorrow? While Europe hesitates, others advance.”

Not wanting to be left behind, Dominique Strauss-Kahn around the same time expressed his desire for a Europe stretching “from the cold ice of the Arctic in the North to the hot sands of the Sahara in the South … and that Europe, I believe, if it continues to exist, will have reconstituted the Mediterranean as an internal sea, and will have reconquered the space that the Romans, or Napoleon more recently, attempted to consolidate.”

The Pentagon has been diligent in shoring up repressive regimes and helping to repress any democratic movements.

As the Arab Spring blossomed … the Pentagon acted decisively. It forged ever deeper ties with some of the most repressive regimes in the region, building up military bases and brokering weapons sales and transfers to despots from Bahrain to Yemen.

As state security forces across the region cracked down on democratic dissent, the Pentagon also repeatedly dispatched American troops on training missions to allied militaries there. During more than 40 such operations with names like Eager Lion and Friendship Two that sometimes lasted for weeks or months at a time, they taught Middle Eastern security forces the finer points of counter-insurgency, small unit tactics, intelligence gathering, and information operations skills crucial to defeating popular uprisings.

These recurrent joint-training exercises, seldom reported in the media and rarely mentioned outside the military, constitute the core of an elaborate, longstanding system that binds the Pentagon to the militaries of repressive regimes across the Middle East. …

United States Africa Command (AFRICOM), the Pentagon’s regional military headquarters that oversees operations in Africa, has planned 13 such major joint-training exercises in 2011 alone from Uganda to South Africa, Senegal to Ghana, including African Lion.

The process of imperial “humanitarian” intervention and “democratization” is outlined even more succinctly in this:

Introduction to Democracy

Phase 1) Bring false Accusations against Government
Phase 2) Bomb country to rubble
Phase 3) Install your own Government
Phase 4) Loan the money for the “rebuilding” contract
Phase 5) Win all the contracts
Phase 6) Heavily in debt the country
Phase 7) Impose SAP’s through the IMF
Phase 8) Buy all national assets for pennies
Phase 9) Send foreign “AID”
Phase 10) Demand foreign “AID” procure only western products
Phase 11) Convince the world the country failed because the people are uncivilized

Independence, that crime against imperialism, can be successfully defeated!

The National Post’s Richard Johnson takes a look at the scale of America’s military bases across the globe. This is a huge graphic, you’ll have to click it more than once to get it big enough to read. There is a lot to learn from reading and studying it. It reminds me of the vampire squid.

Mapping the reach of military empire, between 800-1000 bases


** Central Intelligence Agency locations are a mixture of drone bases and rendition centers

Full-spectrum dominance means the ability of U.S. forces, operating alone or with allies, to defeat any adversary and control any situation across the range of military operations (link)

And from The Real Grand Chessboard and the Profiteers of War by Prof. Peter Dale Scott:

” … the three grand imperatives of imperial geostrategy are to prevent collusion and maintain security dependence among the vassals, to keep tributaries pliant and protected, and to keep the barbarians from coming together.”
Zbigniew Brzezinski

I have published the following graphics before, but they are worth contemplating in view of the information above.

Who really spends the most on their armed forces?

The following graphics are by David McCandless. The originals are at The Guardian DataBlog.

Which country has the biggest military budget per year?

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The US military budget in context

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GDPs of major nations as combined earnings of US states

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Big spenders, yearly military budget as % of GDP

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Active forces - who has the most soldiers?

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Active forces - the number of soldiers per 100,000 people

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Total armed forces - the number of soldiers, reservists, and paramilitary per 100,000 people

Bases occupy the seas as well as the continents. The following is also a very large graphic picturing a lot of information.

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)

You can read more about what is going on at Seabase Diplomacy.

You can view pictures of seabasing in action around the coasts of Africa at AFRICOM Along the Coasts and In the Creeks.

Full Spectrum Dominance, read what it means in the US, Africa, and globally.

updated 1/2/2012

Why is Obama sending troops to Uganda?

“Uganda’s proximity to the new country of South Sudan is key in the whole equation. … this whole area is prime real estate where the fierce battle between China and the Americans/Europeans plays out, centered on oil and minerals, all part of the Great 21st Century African Resource War.

… Uganda – and nearby eastern Congo – happens to hold fabulous quantities of, among others, diamonds, gold, platinum, copper, cobalt, tin, phosphates, tantalite, magnetite, uranium, iron ore, gypsum, beryllium, bismuth, chromium, lead, lithium, niobium and nickel. …

Uganda may hold … part of a recent, largest-ever on-shore oil discovery in sub-Saharan Africa. …Washington wants to make sure that all this oil will be exclusively available for the US and Europe.

The Obama administration insists the 100 special forces will be “advisers” – not combat troops. Think of Vietnam in the early 1960s; it started with “advisers” – and the rest is history.”

In fact US military trainers and advisors in Uganda is nothing new. They have been there partnering with Museveni and the UPDF since AFRICOM was formed and before. Below is one picture from 2009, and two from earlier this year, 2011. In October 2010, a year ago, AFRICOM asked for bids for non-personnel services to build a Special Ops base camp in Uganda (google cached version link) in an “austere environment”. The intention to send US soldiers to Uganda did not just happen, it has been underway for a number of years.

Whether or not they catch Kony, it will be a handy bit of on the job training for continued operations in Uganda, South Sudan, and the DRC. For civilians living in the region this escalates the threat of violence they face every day. Every attempt to capture or kill Kony has failed, and led to murderous rampages.

The most grievous and pervasive threat of terrorism in Africa is the threat to African civilians from their own militaries. The militarized US foreign policy, employing military training and partnering, makes this threat exponentially worse.

CAMP KASENYI, Uganda – Staff Sergeant Andre Amantine of the 2-18 Field Artillery Regiment out of Camp Lemonier, Djibouti, salutes Sergeant First Class Cary Adams-course Sergeant Major, during a 15-week Counter Terrorism Course, June 16, 2009, at Camp Kasenyi, Uganda. More than 100 Ugandan soldiers graduated from this CJTF-HOA-supported course, which covered topics such as individual movement techniques, troop landing procedures, land navigation, first aid, identifying improvised explosive devises, and more. (Photo by Master Sergeant Loren Bonser)

SOROTI, Uganda – Uganda People’s Defence Forces soldiers from the 27th Infantry Battalion train on setting up a drop zone with U.S. soldiers from 3rd Squadron, 108th Cavalry Regiment, Georgia National Guard, at Drop Zone Red near Kapelebyong, Uganda, during Atlas Drop 11, April 14, 2011. (U.S. Army photo by Sergeant 1st Class Brock Jones)

ENTEBBE, Uganda - Petty Officer 2nd Class Chad Drake, right, participates in platoon movement exercises, June 6, 2011, while members of the Ugandan People's Defence Force observe and give direction during an Advanced Combat Training course in Jinja. Drake visited four countries in the Horn of Africa with other cadets and midshipmen from the U.S. Naval Academy to participate in a cultural and military exchange to share best practices and understand regional affairs. (U.S. Navy photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Timothy Wilson)

Pepe Escobar, quoted above, provides a comprehensive summary:

Obama, the king of Africa

“Anyone may be excused to see Uganda as Libya upside down – because that’s exactly what it is; the dictator in this case gets a good guy billing – one of “our bastards” – while the “rebels” have a pact with the devil. But is that all there is?

I got an urge to surge
The reality in Uganda is an absolute, murderous mess. As much as the LRA “rebels”, Museveni’s government (helped by Washington) has also perpetrated horrendous massacres against civilians. Kony may even be an amateur compared to Museveni – a sort of dictator for life who has just supervised the displacement and mass murder of at least 20,000 Ugandans on behalf of British corporations. Additionally, Museveni basically stole the Ugandan elections early this year.

Obama’s Uganda surge should be seen as a crucial exchange of favors with Museveni – who has sent thousands of Ugandan troops to the African Union (AU) force that is fighting the hardcore Islamist al-Shabaab in Somalia. So while Uganda fights a proxy war for the US in Somalia, Washington helps the dictator to get rid of the LRA “rebels”. No wonder the Pentagon is quite fond of Uganda; Museveni recently got $45 million in equipment, including four small drones.

The LRA – a ragged bunch of hardcore Christian fundamentalists – is based in northern Uganda but spread out between four countries, including the new South Sudan and Congo, in Central Africa. They carry no heavy weapons. They don’t stand a chance of destabilizing the Ugandan government – much less being a “national security” threat to the US. Bogeyman Kony may be in hiding somewhere along the immense Sudan-Congo border, with no more than 400 warriors left.

Uganda’s proximity to the new country of South Sudan is key in the whole equation. So far, for Northern Sudan the LRA has been a convenient, weaponized firewall against Western puppet Museveni. But most of all, this whole area is prime real estate where the fierce battle between China and the Americans/Europeans plays out, centered on oil and minerals, all part of the Great 21st Century African Resource War.

Any student of realpolitik knows the US doesn’t do “humanitarian” interventions per se. Africom’s surge parallels the real name of the game; precious minerals – and mining. Uganda – and nearby eastern Congo – happens to hold fabulous quantities of, among others, diamonds, gold, platinum, copper, cobalt, tin, phosphates, tantalite, magnetite, uranium, iron ore, gypsum, beryllium, bismuth, chromium, lead, lithium, niobium and nickel. Many among these are ultra-precious rare earth – of which China exercises a virtual monopoly.

The mineral rush in Africa is already one of the great resource wars of the 21st century.China is ahead, followed by companies from India, Australia, South Africa and Russia (which, for instance, has set up a fresh gold refinery in Kampala). The West is lagging behind. The name of the game for the US and the Europeans is to pull no punches to undermine China’s myriad commercial deals all across Africa.

Then there’s the inescapable Pipelineistan angle. Uganda may hold “several billion barrels of oil”, according to Heritage Oil’s Paul Atherton, part of a recent, largest-ever on-shore oil discovery in sub-Saharan Africa. That implies the construction of a $1.5 billion, 1,200 kilometer long pipeline to Kampala and the coast of Kenya. Then there’s another pipeline from “liberated” South Sudan. Washington wants to make sure that all this oil will be exclusively available for the US and Europe.

Obama, the King of Africa
The Obama administration insists the 100 special forces will be “advisers” – not combat troops. Think of Vietnam in the early 1960s; it started with “advisers” – and the rest is history. Now, the “advisers” are even expected to fan out from Uganda to South Sudan, the Central African Republic and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

And it’s not even the first time this happens. George W Bush tried the same thing in 2008. It ended in unmitigated disaster because of – what else is new – corruption inside the Ugandan army. Kony was tipped off and escaped hours before an attack on his camp.

The official Washington spin hammers the fact that the LRA has “murdered, raped, and kidnapped tens of thousands of men, women and children”. Now compare it … to the thunderous silence of the Obama White House as racist eastern Libya “rebels” round up, harass, torture and even snuff out sub-Saharan Africans.

Africa has been fighting like forever against multiple strands of the great white genocidal slave master, aided and abetted by multiple strands of the subservient black dictator/kleptocrat – just to be presented in the early 21st century with an American president of direct African descent who has nothing better to offer than special forces, drones, a militarization surge and hypocrisy-laced “humanitarian” intervention.”

Escobar points out that Museveni’s UPDF has been responsible for a multitude of deaths, violence, and brutalities against Ugandans. As Escobar says, it is Libya upside down, this time the US supports the brutal dictator against the so called rebels. In addition to brutalities in Uganda, Museveni and Ugandan sponsored militias share responsibility for brutal war crimes in the Congo.

 

 

 

P. Okema Otika writes about Museveni’s crimes against Ugandans. 
Museveni and Kony Both Should Face War Crimes Tribunal

“To anyone who is unfamiliar with the war in Northern Uganda that started in 1986 when Museveni had just come to power, Museveni’s quest to prosecute Kony might sound like a sound idea coming from a responsible person. However, to those who have suffered through the years and experienced atrocities perpetrated by both the rebels and the Ugandan army, the Uganda People’s Defense Forces (UPDF), Museveni is just as criminal as the Kony he is trying to prosecute.

Since 1986, Museveni’s army has been known to commit some of the worst atrocities on the ethnic Acholi people who occupy the regions of Gulu, Kitgum and Pader. The UPDF, also formerly known as the National Resistance Army (NRA) became infamous for burning civilians alive in huts, killings, and the rapes of both women and men in what the Acholi called tek gungu. Tek Gungu referred to rape of men and women by Museveni’s soldiers who would force a man or woman to kneel down (gungu) before the rape is committed against the male or female victim. These rape incidents have been documented by Human Rights Watch and yet remain ignored by most so-called mainstream media. Museveni, despite his army’s atrocities remains a Western “darling.”

By 1990, Museveni had accomplished most of what he wanted; leaving tens of thousands of Acholi dead and thousands languishing in Luzira prison for alleged treason. All these are well documented and still remain fresh in the minds of the Acholi who had trusted Museveni and thought he would treat them as citizens of Uganda rather than his adversaries.

As if his terror was not enough, in 1996 Museveni declared a presidential order that stipulated that all local Acholi living in their homes in the villages be forcefully moved into concentration camps to be surrounded by government troops ostensibly to guard them against LRA rebels’ atrocities. Where else in the world but in Africa would the international community today stand for such gross violation of human rights?

Museveni’s troops immediately started beating up locals to run to the camps. They burnt down crops and houses of the locals so that they would not go back to their homes. The result was the creation of communal homelessness for over 500,000 people who up to now have no permanent home, and live in some of the worse human conditions in the world. Although Museveni prefers to call the camps “Protected Camps,” the locals who live there know it as a concentration camp in which terror reigns and individual freedoms don’t exist.

Government soldiers claiming to be guarding these camps are well known for their atrocities on the hapless civilians.They rape the women and have contributed to the increase in the rate of HIV/AIDS — now the highest in that region.

These are just few recorded incidents and yet the majority remained unreported. Similarly, the government is indiscriminately using its Helicopter Gunship and night-guided vision technology to try to spot and kill the LRA rebels. However, the majority of the unfortunate victims are innocent civilians.”

It needs to be repeated, the most grievous and pervasive threat of terrorism in Africa is the threat to African civilians from their own militaries.

Ugandan journalist Rosebell Kagumire provides additional Ugandan perspective. She tells us both the CAR and DRC have asked Uganda’s UPDF to leave their countries. I am curious how that fits in with the renewed military initiative coming from the United States. The US has entered into agreements regarding the search for Kony with South Sudan, the CAR and the DRC.

Obama’s troops in Central Africa to fight LRA; will they deliver?

“Many Ugandans, through various social networks, have expressed skepticism over the 100 combat troops the US deployed to Uganda

The CAR government in December 2010 had asked the UPDF to leave but they are still present in one area. A friend who works in CAR once told me that when they were asking CAR civilians which militia groups are involved in the conflict, some wrote UPDF. This is because the ordinary people on the ground just see people in UPDF uniforms and have no clue who they are and what they are there to do.

The DRC government asked UPDF to leave, at first by May this year but later asked for a calendar showing their withdrawal. I have not heard of the details of this withdraw plan. In some incidents the Congolese Army, which has its own structural problems had clashes with UPDF in DRC which were largely unreported in the media.

One UPDF soldier who has been based in CAR told me early this year that fighting LRA was very difficult because “you have to do surveillance on a jungle bigger than the size of Uganda.”

A researcher in one of the few agencies that still work in Dungu told me that because of the wide area of operation of LRA we must recognize that “military intelligence is more important that military power. Aerial surveillance and ‘human’ intelligence is crucial” if LRA is to be dealt with. And as far we have seen over the years all the four government involved in the fight for LRA have not shown us they are capable of doing the needed surveillance work.

So the question is will this US deployment deliver?

What can 100 combat troops do? Will they deliver several other botched attacks or will they help end the conflict? Well at the end of the day, regional governments must be more willing and give LRA more attention than they have done in the last three years. DRC, South Sudan and CAR must work faster to pacify the lawless regions that have made it easy for LRA to operate for this long. Also the past has shown that focusing only on military intervention will not easily bring back rebels who were forced to carry out all these crimes in the first place.

Those who worry about foreign intervention must equally worry about the deaths and human rights violations that millions of people in the three countries face daily.

The worry is not that the Americans are here -because they have been here for some time. The question is, are they capable of delivering in a short time without staying in the region too long. If the American forces stay in the region too long this will have implications as the suspicions about their interest in oil in Uganda, South Sudan and DRC is already ripe.”

I have written about the Botched raid at the end of 2008 in greater detail: Stability operations cause 900 civilian deaths, 100,000 displaced, miss target. There was an earlier attempt to get Kony with US backing:

Hard Target

“The hunt for joseph kony has been marked by one spectacular failure after another. In 2006, in an unprecedented move, the United Nations mounted a covert operation to capture or kill him. A squad of U.S.-trained Guatemalan Special Ops soldiers set out into Congo’s Garamba National Park, a longtime LRA refuge and the scene of last year’s Operation Lightning Thunder. Trained in jungle warfare and accustomed to surviving in the bush for long stretches, the Guatemalans were equipped with M-16s and the latest special-operations technology. But they were no match for Kony and his child warriors. Makassa recalls the day the Guatemalans appeared. He had left Garamba park briefly to pick up food and supplies in southern Sudan, just across the border. On his way back he got a call: “The situation is bad. Unknown soldiers came to fight us. Hurry up and help us.” The caller described the unknown soldiers as muzungu—a Swahili word meaning “white man.”

By the time Makassa reached the scene, the battle was over. Five LRA soldiers had been killed. But not one of the Guatemalans had survived. The LRA fighters slaughtered them all and, according to one account, beheaded the commander. Some reports put the U.N. dead at eight; others say as many as 40 counterinsurgency troops may have died that morning. The LRA left the corpses in the jungle but took the weapons—including heavy machine guns and grenade launchers.

Kony was in southern Sudan at the time, far from the battle. Makassa called him with the news. “Kony was very happy,” Makassa recalls. “Kony likes fighting, he likes war.’”

DefenseTech writes: U.S. Sending “Combat Equipped” Troops to Africa

“In addition to Uganda, U.S. forces have permission from South Sudan, the Central African Republic and the Democratic Republic of the Congo to operate on their territory while helping to hunt down the LRA.

The troops are likely special operations forces and their low numbers reflect the U.S.’ desire to avoid the appearance of neo-colonialism on the continent. The Pentagon routinely deploys forces to Africa to train local militaries … They’re usually sent in small numbers and are special ops troops, often dressed as civilians, who are trained in local languages and customs. Don’t forget all the combat equipped troops who live at Camp Lemonier, in Djibouti. Still, it’s very rare to hear about U.S. forces actively hunting bad guys in Africa. Even when we go after pirates and terrorists in Somalia we usually do it with AC-130 gunships and UAVs. If Americans to hit the ground its usually for the few minutes or hours it takes to kill or capture one of these guys.

In this case, the troops will be directly assisting with a manhunt despite the fact that the White House says they won’t be “engaging” in combat with LRA forces, unless of course, the LRA forces shoot first.”

From military.com news: US Sending Troops to Africa to Battle Insurgency

“The deployment drew support from Sen. James Inhofe, a Republican who has visited the region.

“I have witnessed firsthand the devastation caused by the LRA, and this will help end Kony’s heinous acts that have created a human rights crisis in Africa,” he said in a statement. “I have been fervently involved in trying to prevent further abductions and murders of Ugandan children, and today’s action offers hope that the end of the LRA is in sight.”

But Obama’s letter stressed the limited nature of the deployment.

“Our forces will provide information, advice and assistance to select partner nation forces,” it said. “Although the U.S. forces are combat-equipped, they will … not themselves engage LRA forces unless necessary for self-defense.”

In the comments sgtjmackinjersey writes about how Kony and the LRA really don’t have a political agenda:

“sgtjmackinjersey Oct 15, 2011 12:54:41 AM

… Robert Gersony, in a report funded by United States Embassy in Kampala in 1997, concluded that “the LRA has no political program or ideology, at least none that the local population has heard or can understand.”[31] The International Crisis Group has stated that “the LRA is not motivated by any identifiable political agenda, and its military strategy and tactics reflect this.”[32] IRIN comments that “the LRA remains one of the least understood rebel movements in the world, and its ideology, as far as it has one, is difficult to understand.”[26] UPDF Lt. Col. Shaban Bantariza has said that “you can’t tell whether they want political power. Its only aim is to terrorize and brutalize the civilian population and to loot their homes.””

James Inhofe has been one of the primary enablers of Museveni’s military excesses. As a senator, Inhofe is responsible for the US giving Museveni the dictator enormous amounts of US taxpayer money. Inhofe is a member of the religious cult The Family, which preaches, among other unchristian and undemocratic ideas, that men in positions of power are powerful because God wants them to have power. In other words, might makes right. Might makes right also appears to be the driving ideology of US foreign policy these days, perhaps the Obama doctrine at home and abroad.

AFRICOM has been wooing African journalists from a number of countries. It invited a number of Ugandan journalists to Stuttgart where General Hamm gave this interview which discussed Somalia and the issue of Kony and the LRA.

From Uganda’s Daily Monitor, and interview with General Hamm by Gerald Bareebe.

“After the passage of counter LRA legislation by the US Congress, the US has been helping UPDF with intelligence information regarding the whereabouts of Joseph Kony. How far have you gone with the hunt for Kony?

It’s not going as well as we hope it should be. There are some small successes but there are also some setbacks. So we have a lot of work yet to do in this regard. As you know, this is a hunt for one man with a small number of his followers in a very extensive geographic area. So it’s kind of tough.

It requires very precise information which can be provided by people from his area of operation or from his camp. Ugandans, the Congolese and others may be able to capture him, though the process may be longer than we may want. The US is committed to this because of the horrific atrocities Kony and his groups have committed.

I am encouraged by the commitment of Uganda and Congo to end this. The US role is to be supportive to the three primary countries involved in this and will facilitate the sharing of information by the parties. The USA will not have a leading role on the ground. Uganda, DRC, CAR and South Sudan have recognised that USA will support them to do this.

We have been training a battalion in Eastern Congo for this. It’s a very important mission for us. But we see the US doing a supporting role than a leading role. In my personal view, Kony cannot be brought to justice faster enough.

If anybody had a doubt that there is a real evil in our world, all they have to do is to look at what Joseph Kony has done and they will find out that evil exists in the name of Joseph Kony. The most important thing is that Kony has to be stopped. The preferred way to do this is to capture him and bring him to justice. There are those who would say that he should be killed. In my view he should be captured and be brought to justice but, if in the pursuit of that he is killed, I am not one who would shed many tears.”

I doubt General Hamm will shed any tears for the civilians killed either. They are just unfortunate collateral damage. The US is partnering with people who have caused enormous suffering in the region.  All the military organizations included are implicated in war crimes, particularly in the eastern Congo.  There is no reason to suppose things will improve.  There is no accountability built in to this action.   Kony is said to have made some friends in the region. There is also corruption always present. In 2008 Kony was tipped off by someone who knew about Operation Lightning Thunder.

And from comment #6 at MoA by b real

“public announcements like this cover operations already in progress that will eventually draw media attention at some point, esp considering uganda’s burgeoning oil industry. considering the last u.s. effort to kill kony failed so spectacularly, the military is re-adapting its existing policies of majority reliance on proxy, surrogate & merc forces in pursuing its own interests across africa. whereas only a handful of boots on the ground to assist in operations is proving ineffective in realizing larger objectives (namely resource “stabilization” and/or removal of resistance to political and commercial designs), utilization of more boots on the ground in actual fighting capacity appears to be the future. this correlates w/ africom getting a boot-in-the-door and the inevitable scope/mission creep that inevitably follows. for instance, as i said in another thread, don’t be surprised to see u.s. boots on the ground waging battle in somalia.

maybe 1,000 villagers were killed in the 2009 campaign – expect a higher body count from this next one”

The Acholi religous leaders feel the same about the military approach. Military attacks and reprisals only result in more bloodshed.

Response of Acholi Religious Leaders Peace Initiative (ARLPI) to the ” Lord’s Resistance Army Disarmament and Northern Uganda Recovery Act of 2009″

“Acholi Religious Leaders Peace Initiative
Acholi Religious Leaders Peace Initiative
Kitgum Office, Plot 121 Uhuru Drive, P.O. Box 185, Kitgum, Uganda
Pader Office, 1st Street, P.O. Box 50, Pader, Uganda
Gulu Office, Plot 16 Olya Road, P.O. Box 104, Gulu,Uganda
21st June 2009

For over two decades, war between the Lords Resistance Army (LRA) and the Government of Uganda (GoU) has ravaged the region of north and northeastern Uganda causing great suffering among the civilian population. Over the last number of years, the conflict has unfortunately spread to the Southern Sudan, DR Congo and Central African Republic. While several methods have been employed to bring and end to the conflict, all have failed to reach their goal of realizing peace.

To address this issue the “Lord’s Resistance Army Disarmament and Northern Uganda Recovery Act of 2009″ was introduced to the U.S. Senate on May 19th, 2009, detailing the way in which the United States wishes to engage with the conflict.

We the Acholi Religious Leaders Initiative (ARLPI) who have been tirelessly working to bring about sustainable peace and reconciliation throughout the region, wish to express our gratitude for the continued interest and support the U.S. has shown towards ending the suffering of those affected. Their support to initiatives such as the Juba Peace talks and the provision of humanitarian aid during the course of the conflict has not gone unnoticed. Such contributions have significantly improved the conditions in the region.

Of particular concern of bill however is Section 4: Requirement of a Regional Strategy for Disarming the LRA. This section implies that a military offensive may be immanent. The military option has been explored numerous times in the past, notably Operation North (1991), Operation Iron Fist (2002) and Operation Lightning Thunder (2008-2009).

Experience shows that despite such attempts to end the conflict, only dialogue can be attributed to the relative calm experienced in Northern Uganda since July of 2006 Military strategies launched against the LRA have time and again led to severe reprisal attacks on the innocent civilian community as illustrated by the recent 900 civilian deaths during Operation Lightning Thunder.

Not only has the cost of the military option been expensive regarding the loss of human life, the financial implications of war are also immense. The large sums of money required to carry out war drain the resources needed to bring about development and reconstruction of affected areas.

In conclusion, 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.

Sincerely,

Archbishop John Baptist Odama
Al Hajji Sheik Musa Khalil
Rt. Rev. Bishop Nelson Onono
Rt. Rev. Bishop Benjamin Ojwang
Rt. Rev. Bishop Macleord Baker Ochola II
Fr. Julius Orach
Bishop Sabino Odoki”

Here is the text of President Obama’s announcement:

THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary
For Immediate Release October 14, 2011
TEXT OF A LETTER FROM THE PRESIDENT TO THE SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES AND THE PRESIDENT PRO TEMPORE OF THE SENATE
October 14, 2011
Dear Mr. Speaker: (Dear Mr. President:)For more than two decades, the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA)has murdered, raped, and kidnapped tens of thousands of men,women, and children in central Africa. The LRA continues to commit atrocities across the Central African Republic, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and South Sudan that have a disproportionate impact on regional security. Since 2008, the United States has supported regional military efforts to pursue the LRA and protect local communities. Even with some limited U.S. assistance, however, regional military efforts have thus far been unsuccessful in removing LRA leader Joseph Kony or his top commanders from the battlefield. In the Lord’s ResistanceArmy Disarmament and Northern Uganda Recovery Act of 2009, Public Law 111-172, enacted May 24, 2010, the Congress also expressed support for increased, comprehensive U.S. efforts to help mitigate and eliminate the threat posed by the LRA to civilians and regional stability. In furtherance of the Congress’s stated policy, I have authorized a small number of combat-equipped U.S. forces to deploy to central Africa to provide assistance to regional forces that are working toward the removal of Joseph Kony from the battlefield. I believe that deploying these U.S. Armed Forces furthers U.S. national security interests and foreign policy and will be a significant contribution toward counter-LRA efforts in central Africa. On October 12, the initial team of U.S. military personnel with appropriate combat equipment deployed to Uganda. During the next month, additional forces will deploy, including a second combat-equipped team and associated headquarters, communications, and logistics personnel. The total number of U.S. military personnel deploying for this mission is approximately 100. These forces will act as advisors to partner forces that have the goal of removing from the battlefield Joseph Kony and other senior leadership of the LRA. Our forces will provide information,advice, and assistance to select partner nation forces. Subject to the approval of each respective host nation, elements of these U.S. forces will deploy into Uganda, South Sudan, the CentralAfrican Republic, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.The support provided by U.S. forces will enhance regional efforts against the LRA. However, although the U.S. forces arecombat-equipped, they will only be providing information, advice, and assistance to partner nation forces, and they will not themselves engage LRA forces unless necessary for self-defense. All appropriate precautions have been taken to ensure the safetyof U.S. military personnel during their deployment. I have directed this deployment, which is in the nationalsecurity and foreign policy interests of the United States,pursuant to my constitutional authority to conduct U.S. foreignrelations and as Commander in Chief and Chief Executive. I am making this report as part of my efforts to keep the Congressfully informed, consistent with the War Powers Resolution (PublicLaw 93-148). I appreciate the support of the Congress in this action.
Sincerely,
BARACK OBAMA

To conclude, this bit of hiphop poetry from FURF1387 in the comments at the military.com article quoted above, is right on the mark:

FURF1387
Oct 15, 2011 10:35:44 AM
“100 here….100 there….100 a day to keep the barbarians at bay….100 a day reinforcing legions far away…the Republic at home begins to sway…unity oozes day by day…citizens won’t labor without circus & play…besides outsiders do the dirty work for much less pay… the empire spreads and melts away…AH, but that’s all a story from some ancient day…in some ol’ galaxy, far, far away…no need to fear…100 away..100 a day…100 there…100 HERE…no longer.”

 

________
________

 

Added February 14, 2012

Tuesday, February 14, 2012
DOD To Equip Uganda Forces In Bid To Destroy Rebel Forces

U.S. Africa Command is set to begin a new security assistance program in East Africa that aims to bolster the ability of Uganda’s military to fight the Lord’s Resistance Army, a rebel group that for more than 20 years has terrorized civilians.

Congress has lifted a hold it placed earlier this month on a Defense Department proposal to begin a new program to provide Ugandan defense forces with counterterrorism training and equipment, according to Pentagon spokesman Lt. Col. James Gregory.

The project, part of a second batch of so-called Section 1206 security assistance programs drawn up by the Defense and State departments, is designed to “provide communications and intelligence training as well as communications and engineering equipment to improve Uganda’s ability to remove LRA leadership and fighters from the battlefield,” according to Gregory. The project has a price tag of $4.4 million, he said.

During testimony before Congress this spring, Gen. Carter Ham, commander of AFRICOM, singled out the Lord’s Resistance Army as a “scourge” and an example of a transnational extremist threat to security on the continent. “In order for Africa Command to reduce threats to our citizens and interests, both abroad and at home, we need to contribute to operations, programs and activities that help African states provide for their own security in a manner that is consistent with the rule of law and international norms,” Ham told the House Armed Services Committee on April 5.

In May 2010, the President Obama signed into law the Lord’s Resistance Army Disarmament and Northern Uganda Recovery Act of 2009, which required that the executive branch draw up a strategy to support multilateral efforts to protect civilians from the LRA, to apprehend or remove the LRA leader Joseph Kony, and to disarm and demobilize LRA fighters.

On Nov. 24, 2010, Obama transmitted the strategy to lawmakers with a letter explaining that it would guide “U.S. support across the region to mitigate and eliminate the threat to civilians and regional stability posed by the Lord’s Resistance Army.” The strategy consists of four objectives, one of which is to “apprehend or remove from the battlefield Joseph Kony and senior commanders.”

A State Department assessment on Uganda calls the Lord’s Resistance Army, which aims to overthrow the East African country’s government, “vicious and cult-like.” Between 1986 and 2006 the group is believed to have kidnapped thousands of children to serve as soldiers and slaves, according to the State Department. Its primary targets are civilians, especially women and children, according to a Congressional Research Service report. “Human rights abuses committed by the LRA include murder, mutilation, abduction of young women for sexual servitude, and kidnapping of children to become rebel fighters,” according to the State Department.

In 2005, the Ugandan forces drove the LRA out of the country. Since then, the rebel group has operated from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Southern Sudan and the Central African Republic and is responsible for displacing nearly 2 million people, according to the State Department. For more than two years the governments of Uganda, Congo and Southern Sudan have waged joint military operations against the LRA in northeastern Congo.

Earlier this month, the Pentagon was cleared by Congress to spend as much as $123.3 million on similar projects in Kenya, Mali, Mauritania, Uganda, Burundi, Oman, Bangladesh, Malaysia, Maldives and the Philippines (DefenseAlert, July 19).

Those projects, along with the new Uganda security assistance effort and a first batch of 1206 efforts to enhance the capabilities of Eastern European nations preparing to deploy to Afghanistan begun in April, require $159.3 million, comprising nearly half of the available funds for such programs — which are very popular with combatant commanders — in this fiscal year.

The FY-11 Defense Authorization Act granted $350 million for Section 1206 projects, including $75 million for stability operations. Congress, which first authorized Section 1206 projects in FY-06, permits spending on these programs for two purposes: to enhance partner nations’ counterterrorism and stability operations and bolster foreign maritime security forces for counterterrorism. — Jason Sherman

The US ambassador to Tripoli tells US companies: “oil is the jewel in the crown of Libyan natural resources”. Total victory promises 35% of Libyan oil concessions to the French oil company Total.

Assault on Sirte, the Libya map as of October 8, 2011 (WSJ)

[This] is the first time that the UN Security Council explicitly gave the green light … to armed intervention against a sovereign State … and that its secretary general, Ban Ki-moon, played an active role in unleashing hostilities.

intervention has never been, and will never be, anything other than the intervention of the strong in the affairs of the weak

The action by the UN against Libya threatens the people and countries of every continent. When will the “international community” want our resources, and what will they do to us to get them? Who in my country may be coopted by them?

NATO forces arrayed against Libya. (WSJ)

Total victory

The pun is easy but unavoidable, especially since Libération published the letter in which the National Transitional Council (NTC) promised to grant 35% of concessions to the French petroleum giant Total “in exchange” (the term used) for French military engagement (a document which naturally triggered a hasty denial from the Quai d’Orsay). The fight for freedom is such a noble cause. The author nevertheless concluded his article by taking note of “the strong odor of petroleum hanging over the whole business.”

It is by themselves — and never from the outside — that peoples gain their freedom.

Beyond the case of Libya, that is the point, the most essential, which deserves to be discussed among all those who adhere to the right of peoples to decide their own destiny — what used to be called anti-imperialism.

Used to be? In fact, it was so up until the fall of the USSR and the Warsaw Pact opened the way to the reconquest of the entire planet by capitalism, its dominations and its imperial rivalries. And that left no other choice to countries except to align themselves with the canons of “human rights,” the “rule of law,” and the “market economy” — three terms which have become synonymous — or else find themselves under fire from the cannons of the planetary policemen shamelessly calling themselves the “international community.”

Granted, when it comes to armed intervention against a sovereign State, the so-called “international community” is no beginner. But it is the first time that the UN Security Council explicitly gave the green light, and that its secretary general, Ban Ki-moon, played an active role in unleashing hostilities. The full implications of such a situation need to be weighed: the brutal challenge to the sovereignty of States has been legalized — even if not legitimatized. The dominant planetary oligarchies, whose final horizon is “world governance” without borders, have thereby scored a major point: interventionism (“preventive” at that, according to Mr. Luck) can henceforth be the rule.

This conception, which explicitly contradicts the United Nations Charter, is a time bomb: it undermines the very foundations on which it was written and could mean a veritable return to barbarism in international relations.

For there is one obvious truth that should never be forgotten: intervention has never been, and will never be, anything other than the intervention of the strong in the affairs of the weak. The respect for sovereignty in international relations is what the equal vote is to citizenship: certainly no absolute guarantee, far from it, but a substantial asset against the law of the jungle. The latter is what could very well take over the world stage.
from: Libya: NATO Provides the Bombs; The French “Left” Provides the Ideology by Pierre Lévy

You cannot bomb a country into democracy, but of course democracy was never the true objective in Libya, no matter how humanitarian the justifications and rationalizations for the blatant aggression.

In the Wall Street Journal:

TRIPOLI, Libya—Six weeks after the fall of Tripoli, the palmy days of rebel unity have begun to disintegrate into a spiral of infighting, political jockeying and even the occasional violent flare-up threatening to derail Libya’s post-Gadhafi transition.

This is what everyone who knew anything about Libya predicted. Libya, with it multitude of factions and arms could devolve similar to Somalia.

US Ambassador Cretz appears to have a tin ear for the language of imperialism. Jewel in the crown was the part India played in Britain’s global empire. This is just one more indication of how naked and blatant the imperial aggression against Libya has been.
From the NYT:

Ambassador Gene A. Cretz … participated in a State Department conference call with about 150 American companies hoping to do business with Libya.

“We know that oil is the jewel in the crown of Libyan natural resources, … “If we can get American companies here on a fairly big scale, which we will try to do everything we can to do that, then this will redound to improve the situation in the United States with respect to our own jobs.”

His remarks were a rare nod to the tacit economic stakes in the Libyan conflict for the United States and other Western countries, not only because of Libya’s oil resources but also because of the goods and services those resources enable it to purchase.

Oil was never the “predominant reason” for the American intervention, Mr. Cretz said, but his comments … underlined the American eagerness for a cut of any potential profits.

The entire intervention against Libya was driven by potential profits. Pierre Lévy quotes a 2007 speech by Sarkozy:


“Europe is today the only force capable of carrying forward a project of civilization. … America and China have already begun the conquest of Africa. How long will Europe wait to build the Africa of tomorrow?
While Europe hesitates, others advance.”

Not wanting to be left behind, Dominique Strauss-Kahn around the same time expressed his desire for a Europe stretching “from the cold ice of the Arctic in the North to the hot sands of the Sahara in the South (. . .) and that Europe, I believe, if it continues to exist, will have reconstituted the Mediterranean as an internal sea, and will have reconquered the space that the Romans, or Napoleon more recently, attempted to consolidate.”

And Lévy reminds us:

After years of being subjected to embargo and treated as a pariah, Colonel Kadhafi undertook the rapprochement mentioned above with the West, which notably took the form in December 2003 of an official renunciation of any nuclear arms program in exchange for guarantees of non-aggression promised specifically by Washington. Eight years later, there is no getting around the fact that that commitment lasted only up until the day when they felt they now had reasons to trample it under foot. Suddenly, in the four corners of the earth everyone can measure the worth of the word given by the powerful and just how much they value the commitments they have made.

Sarkozy speaks in the voice of previous centuries, when Europe would supposedly bring the three Cs to Africa, Christianity, civilization, and commerce, with the unlimited arrogance to call Europe “the only force capable of carrying forward a project of civilization“. European and American development has been financed for centuries by Africa. France would have been a minor player in international affairs without the wealth of Africa. The west owes Africa for western development, instead it plans returning to take more. The doctrine of the self styled “international community”, the US and Western Europe, is our old nemesis: might makes right.

Two articles sum up NATO’s accomplishments in Libya. NATO has instigated race war, and has so damaged the infrastructure of an independent economically successful developing country that it has created a failed (or soon to fail) state for the profit of NATO countries:

NATO’s Glorious Race War in Libya by Glen Ford
and
NATO’s War on Libya is an Attack on African Development by Dan Glazebrook

Tripoli Street in Misrata, photographed in 2007 and again in 2011. There is nothing freedom loving or humanitarian about what happened here.

From NATO’s Glorious Race War in Libya:

The western media find it more difficult to deny a pattern of murderous ethnic cleansing by the racist Libyan rebels they have treated as saints and heroes for the past six months. Thousands of black Libyans and sub-Saharan immigrants have been murdered by NATO-financed, heavily Islamist fighters who, as African Union chairman Jean Ping says, seem to “confuse black people with mercenaries.” In truth, the Libyan rebels are no more confused about the identity of their victims than South Carolina lynch mobs or German Nazis; they’re racist killers, pure and simple.

… now that the imperial mission is no longer seen to be at jeopardy – the corporate media are at last willing to acknowledge the racial aspects of the Libyan conflict. As long as the outcome remained uncertain, western correspondents, who had swarmed the rebels like shameless paparazzi since the armed outbreak began in Benghazi in late February, pretended not to notice that their heroes were behaving like rampaging Ku Klux Klansmen.

African media were alive with reports from the 1.5 million Black immigrant workers in Libya of mass killings, gruesome public lynchings, savage burnings, and organized rapes


As honorary (or acting) whites, the rebels were entitled to understanding and empathy, even as it became undeniable that their mission was ethnic cleansing, through terror and on-the-spot executions of darker-skinned people, including fellow Libyans. From the early days of the rebellion to the present, western media attempts to justify rebel anti-black bigotry and brutishness as a natural reaction to Gaddafi’s use of sub-Saharans as mercenaries. The black mercenary is deployed as the great justifier for rebel racism, just as the ubiquitous black rapists of the American South were what supposedly drove whites to “excesses” of violence. Of course, rapes of southern (or northern) white women by blacks were exceedingly rare, and genuine black mercenaries were not in evidence at all in eastern Libya, according to international investigators. But the idiots of CNN et al still endlessly chatter about black mercs, to put into “context” the horrors perpetrated on blacks in Tripoli under rebel occupation: … daily disappearances and kidnappings of blacks trapped in city neighborhoods; Arab gangs invading African worker encampments bent on raping women; hundreds of black Africans held incommunicado as suspected mercenaries, hundreds more acknowledged immigrant workers imprisoned, even as low level Arab Gaddafi supporters are set free.

Six months of the most intense western media attention – don’t dare call it “reporting” – have succeeded in transforming a purely theoretical, factually nonexistent government military massacre in Benghazi into a cause for actual mass murder of Libyan soldiers and civilians, destruction of the national infrastructure, and regime change. Whether the rebels, who are heavily weighted with jihadis, realize it or not, their country is on the path to become an international protectorate – a kind of Haiti-hood.

Racial pogroms, massacres and ethnic cleansing are on Libya’s immediate agenda, thanks to the civilizing influence of NATO, AFRICOM, and the First Black President of the U.S.A.

Dan Glazebrook provides a clear tight summary of western dependence on Africa, and how Libya is part of the continuing story. Centuries of economic development in the west have been financed and made possible by the labor and resources of Africa.

From NATO’s War on Libya is an Attack on African Development

African labour and resources- as any decent economic historian will tell you – has been key to global economic growth for centuries.

When the Europeans discovered America five hundred years ago, their economic system went viral. Increasingly, European powers realised that the balance of power at home would be dictated by the strength they were able to draw from their colonies abroad. Imperialism (aka capitalism) has been the fundamental hallmark of the world’s economic structure ever since.

The slave trade was devastating for African economies, which were rarely able to withstand the population collapse; but the capital it created for plantation owners in the Caribbean laid the foundations for Europe’s industrial revolution. Throughout the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, as more and more precious materials were found in Africa (especially tin, rubber, gold and silver), the theft of land and resources ultimately resulted in the so-called “Scramble for Africa” of the 1870s, when, over the course of a few years, Europeans divided up the entire continent (with the exception of Ethiopia) amongst themselves. By this point, the world’s economy was increasingly becoming an integrated whole, with Africa continuing to provide the basis for European industrial development as Africans were stripped of their land and forced down gold mines and onto rubber plantations.

After the Second World War, the European powers, weakened by years of unremitting industrial slaughter of each another, contrived to adapt colonialism to the new conditions in which they found themselves. As liberation movements grew in strength, the European powers confronted a new economic reality – the cost of subduing the ‘restless natives’ was starting to near the level of wealth they were able to extract from them.

Their favoured solution was what Kwame Nkrumah termed ‘neo-colonialism’ – handing over the formal attributes of political sovereignty to a trusted bunch of hand-picked cronies who would allow the economic exploitation of their countries to continue unabated. In other words, adapting colonialism so that Africans themselves were forced to shoulder the burden and cost of policing their own populations.

In practice, it wasn’t that simple. All across Asia, Africa and Latin America, mass movements began to demand control of their own resources, and in many places, these movements managed to gain power – sometimes through guerrilla struggle, sometimes through the ballot box. This led to vicious wars by the European powers – now under the leadership of their upstart protege, the USA – to destroy such movements. This struggle, not the so-called “Cold War”, is what defined the history of post-war international relations.

So far, neo-colonialism has largely been a successful project for the Europeans and the US. Africa’s role as provider of cheap, often slave, labour and minerals has largely continued unabated. Poverty and disunity have been the essential ingredients that have allowed this exploitation to continue. However both are now under serious threat.

Chinese investment in Africa over the past ten years has been building up African industry and infrastructure in a way that may begin to seriously tackle the continent’s poverty. …

To prevent this ‘threat of African development’, the Europeans and the USA have responded in the only way they know how – militarily. Four years ago, the US set up a new “command and control centre” for the military subjugation of the Africa, called AFRICOM. The problem for the US was that no African country wanted to host them; indeed, until very recently, Africa was unique in being the only continent in the world without a US military base. And this fact is in no small part, thanks to the efforts of the Libyan government.

Gaddafi had been actively working to scupper AFRICOM. …

Perhaps even more worrying for US and European domination of the continent were the huge resources that Gaddafi was channelling into African development. …

NATO’s war is aimed at ending Libya’s trajectory as a socialist, anti-imperialist, pan-Africanist nation in the forefront of moves to srengthen African unity and independence. The rebels have made clear their virulent racism from the very start of their insurrection, rounding up or executing thousands of black African workers and students. All the African development funds for the projects described above have been ‘frozen’ by the NATO countries and are to be handed over to their hand-picked buddies in the NTC to spend instead on weapons to facilitate their war.

For Africa, the war is far from over
.The African continent must recognise that NATO’s lashing out is a sign of desperation, of impotence, of its inability to stop the inevitable rise of Africa on the world stage. Africa must learn the lessons from Libya, continue the drive towards pan-African unity, and continue to resist AFRICOM. Plenty of Libyans will still be with them when they do so.

The NATO destroyers, calling themselves the Friends of Libya, are getting busy divvying up the spoils:

“Friends of Libya” meet in Paris for imperialist carve-up by Bill Van Auken, Sept 2, 2011.

The “Friends of Libya” conference held in Paris Thursday signaled the beginning of the imperialist carve-up of the oil-rich North African country.

Jointly chaired by French President Nicolas Sarkozy and British Prime Minister David Cameron, the conference included participation by those countries which provided the fire-power under the umbrella of NATO and using a United Nations resolution as a cover to bring down the government of Colonel Muammar Gaddafi in a six-month war for “regime change.” These include the US, France, Britain, Italy and Qatar. All of them are jockeying to reap the greatest possible return on their “investment” of bombs and missiles that have claimed thousands of lives and left much of Libya’s infrastructure in ruins.

Also attending will be Germany, Russia, China, India and Brazil, which abstained on the UN Security Council resolution utilized as a legal fig leaf for the colonial-style war. These countries all fear that their significant investments and deals in Libya will be lost to the intervening Western powers.

In all, the conference included 31 heads of state, 11 foreign ministers and the leaders of the United Nations, NATO and the Arab League, along with the chief figures in the NTC, Justafa Abdul-Jalil, who until February was Gaddafi’s justice minister, and Mahmoud Jibril, a free-market economist who was the Gaddafi regime’s point man on attracting foreign investment.

Meanwhile, reports of massacres and atrocities carried out by the guardians of the new “democratic Libya” continue to mount, many of them directed against the large numbers of sub-Saharan African migrant workers who have been killed, abused and detained solely on the basis of the color of their skin.

The “friends” came to Paris not to discuss aid to Libya, but rather
the lifting of economic sanctions imposed under the Gaddafi regime and the unfreezing of Libyan assets in foreign banks, measures designed to get money and resources flowing out of the North African country


Quoting an earlier statement of Sarkozy insisting that France was acting in accordance with a “universal conscience” simply to “protect the civilian population,” Liberation comments: “Be that as it may, the French oil corporations might benefit amply from the military campaign.”

Spelling out that France considered its part in the war an investment that would be rewarded with Libyan oil wealth

Libya’s oil reserves are the largest in Africa, estimated at 44 billion barrels. Before the war, Libya was producing about 1.6 million barrels of oil a day. France was its second biggest market, second only to Italy, with over 15 percent of its imports coming from Libyan oilfields.

France’s aggressive pursuit of the spoils of the Libyan war has given rise to evident tensions with its European NATO allies.

Media commentary in both Italy and Britain has been dominated by warnings that France is stealing a march on Italian and British oil and business interests with its drive to be the first to go to war as well as first to recognize the NTC and reopen its embassy in Tripoli.


The countries that stand to lose the most are Russia and China, which abstained from the UN Security Council vote and criticized NATO’s use of the UN resolution as a pretext for regime change.

Moscow hastily recognized the NTC on the eve of the conference in a transparent bid to protect its economic interests. The Russian foreign ministry issued a statement insisting that it expected “all previously agreed treaties and other mutual obligations will be implemented in good faith.”


Beijing … said it accepted the council’s “significant position and role” and sent a vice foreign minister to the Paris conference. The official People’s Daily carried an article Thursday warning “Western powers … not to turn the Paris conference into “another Versailles [referring to the colonial carve-up that followed World War I], with Western powers scrambling to promote their interests in a war-torn country.”

The article described China as “a long-term constructive player” in Libya, working on some 50 projects worth $18.8 billion and with 35,000 Chinese workers on the ground before the war began.

One of the strategic objectives of US imperialism and its Western European counterparts was precisely to counter growing Chinese influence in Libya and Africa generally, as well as Russia’s ambitions, which included talks with the Gaddafi government on acquiring a Mediterranean port for its navy in Benghazi.

The “Friends of Libya” conference was held on the 42nd anniversary of the coup by Gaddafi’s Free Officers Movement that overthrew the Western-backed regime of King Idris on September 1, 1969. The anniversary was noted by US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and others in their remarks. No doubt Washington and the other imperialist powers see more than a coincidence in the anniversary as they endeavor to return Libya to the status of semi-colony, under the thumb of the energy conglomerates and the direct military control of the US and NATO
.

Meanwhile,

US Assistant Secretary of State Jeffrey Feltman, … the highest American official to visit Libya, praised the new regime, dismissed concerns about Islamist influence in the NTC and declared US “commitment to supporting the Libyan people as they chart their country’s future.”

Feltman’s cynical reference to the Libyan people determining their own path is belied by the neo-colonial character of NATO’s intervention and the NTC’s complete dependence on the Western powers—militarily, politically and economically. Like the other major powers making tracks to Tripoli, the US is primarily concerned about establishing a strategic outpost in North Africa and securing dominance over the country’s oil reserves.

The fragility of the new NATO-backed regime was underscored by its announcement yesterday that it would remain in Benghazi until after the seizure of the remaining pro-Gaddafi strongholds. The decision will delay the implementation of the NTC’s “roadmap,” which outlines plans for a new constitution and elections over a 20-month period, allowing the NTC more time to consolidate its grip on power.

The NTC, which is an unstable coalition of former top Gaddafi officials, CIA assets and Islamist tendencies, is already confronting divisions in its ranks.

Addressing a meeting in Misrata on Monday, Jibril gave the green light for further reprisals …
The espousal of vigilantism by the man likely to be the next prime minister is the sharpest indication of the draconian measures that the NATO-installed regime will employ to deal with any political opposition.

Things do not look good for Libya, a divided country, with little to offer it any promise of unity. It is now engaging in a race war that will further weaken it internally and externally. And race is hardly the only division. NATO imperial sponsors do not want a unified government that will stand up for the Libyan people. What they want is a failed state with a weak and powerless government, with unaccountable NGOs performing some rudimentary functions of government, and serial humanitarian disasters, very much in the manner of Haiti. They will be able to tut-tut about how weak, corrupt, and ineffective the Libyans are. That way the imperial powers can extract the resources with minimal responsibility or accountability to the Libyan people. The Qaeda linked Islamists in Benghazi will only assist the imperial narrative, requiring an AFRICOM base, constant fearmongering, and ongoing massive counter terrorist activities. Libya looks destined to be another state failed by imperial powers for imperial profit.

Added September 16:

Pepe Escobar observes, following the visit of Sarkozy and Cameron to Libya. For their photop in Benghazi “they went straight to the site at which the rebels publicly beheaded an alleged pro-Gaddafi “mercenary” only weeks before”:

[Sarkozy] felt the need to tell an unsuspecting world, “What we did was for humanitarian reasons. There was no hidden agenda.”

But just in case – and with Tripoli’s top two hotels swarming with multilingual contractors/vultures – the chairman of the dodgy Transitional National Council (TNC), Mustafa Abdul Jalil, had to spell out the agenda: “allies and friends” would “have priority within a framework of transparency” in sharing the loot. So many juicy oil and gas (and water and uranium and reconstruction) contracts to bag, so little time.

NATO in Libya conquered essentially a strip of highway peppered with a few cities by the Mediterranean. Nobody knows what’s really going on in the desert. NATO’s real agenda is to wait and see while Gaddafi and his forces regroup and rearm in Niger and southern Algeria, and start a real guerrilla. That will be the perfect excuse for NATO to stay – like in Afghanistan.

There’s also the not small matter of hundreds, perhaps thousands, of sub-Saharan Africans either harassed or massacred by the “NATO rebels” – something that guarantees large swathes of Africa actively backing Gaddafi.

There’s no evidence the TNC has the strength to disarm the current, already Iraqi-style, militia hell in Tripoli and beyond. If the TNC won’t do it, NATO will happily oblige. In this case, bets are on Libya turning not into Afghanistan 2.0 or Iraq 2.0, but Somalia 2.0.

Horace Campbell has written a brilliant piece of history and analysis of NATO and Libya, Global NATO and the recolonisation of Africa. He tells us:

This intervention clarified for many African military forces that their alliance with the United States and France will not spare them when it is in the interest of the NATO forces to dispense with former allies.

But the crux of the matter of the relationship between Africa and Libya can now be seen in the killing of Africans in Libya on the grounds that they were and are mercenaries. These racist actions by the so-called ‘rebels’ were reported from the start of this ‘humanitarian’ intervention

The African Union has condemned the racist attacks and maintained that political negotiations are still necessary. Jean Ping, chairperson of the Commission of the African Union, decried the attacks on black Africans and reiterated the reasons why the African Union wanted to see an inclusive government in Libya. Jean Ping declared, the ‘Blacks are being killed. Blacks are having their throats slit. Blacks are accused of being mercenaries. Do you think it’s normal in a country that’s a third black that blacks are confused with mercenaries?’

Ping continued, ‘There are mercenaries in Libya, many of them are black, but there are not only blacks and not all blacks there are mercenaries. Sometimes, when they are white, they call them “technical advisors”.’

This reminder, that Libya is in Africa and that a third of the country is black is for those forces who are celebrating the success of a NATO mission to protect Africans which has ended up killing Africans. Africans do not consider the NATO mission a success. In fact, this has been a disaster for peace and reconstruction in Africa. The Russians and Chinese do not consider this operation a success but the leaders of Africa and the leaders of the BRICS societies have awoken too late to the new form of imperial intervention using Global NATO.

The one positive impact of this new imperial adventure is to send alarm bells among all of the military forces in Africa aligned to the West. The other impact is to alert the popular forces to the reality that governments with big armies are literally ‘paper tigers.’ Proper organising, political education, and disciplined activity by the working people can shift the international balance of power and rid Africa of other long serving despots. There is a new scramble for Africa and the progressive forces will have to learn the lessons from the new multilateral imperial interventions that are now being planned by Global NATO.


Global NATO has awakened many leaders to the reality of the ways in which third parties and private military forces will be used to invade Africa. Even the former president of Nigeria, Olusegun Obasanjo has had to speak out forcefully against NATO in Libya. While these leaders are speaking, the rank and file in Africa are paying attention to the fact that France, Britain and the USA will go to all lengths to invade Africa in the new scramble for resources. General Carter Ham of AFRICOM has already travelled to Nigeria to enact the drama on the stage that had been set up by former US ambassador to Nigeria, John Campbell who predicted that Nigeria will break up within 16 years. General Carter Ham urged partnership between the government of Nigeria and AFRICOM knowing full well that such a partnership would be to fulfil the wishes of those who do not want to see the unity and peace of Nigeria and Africa.

China, Russia, Brazil and India will have to make a choice. They will either be integrated into the spoils of the current scramble for land, oil water and seeds or will join with the people of Africa to democratise the United Nations and support the forces of peace and reconstruction. China has sent one signal by becoming the principal paymaster for Europe becoming the stopgap for the crisis in the Eurozone.

Campbell says much more and the entire article is key to understanding what is going on and what may follow:
Global NATO and the recolonisation of Africa.

__________

Added October 20, 2011

Here is a picture of Sirte now, not much R2P involved here, unless it is the Right 2 Plunder.

Sirte in October 2011, damage from the NATO sponsored assault

As this comment, 6, put it:

Lybians can say good bye to health care, free studies, marriage stipends, etc. Westerners like to say that was all paid for by oil revenues, which is in part true, they sure help, but contrast with Saudi, Venezuela or Nigeria. Lybia under Khadafi had a functioning central bank and had no (or almost no) sovereign debt. None of its citizens / municipalities / local entities had significant debts of any kind, and ‘never’ to foreign entities. (Compare with Iceland or Greece..) I guess Austerity measures had to be implemented at bomb and gun point…

And Pepe Escobar was scathing following the death of Gaddafi:

The US power grab in Africa

A few hundred soldiers and no less than 80,000 civilians have been bombed for weeks by NATO and the former “rebels”. Only 20,000 civilians have managed to escape. There’s no food left. Water and electricity have been cut off. Hospitals are idle. The city – under siege – is in ruins. Sirte imams have issued a fatwa (decree) allowing survivors to eat cats and dogs.

What Gaddafi never did to Benghazi – and there’s no evidence he might have – the TNC is doing to Sirte, Gaddafi’s home town. … Sirte is being destroyed in order to “save it”. Sirte, the new Fallujah, is brought to you by NATO rebels. R2P, RIP.

Unified Protector, Odyssey Dawn and all other metaphors Homeric or otherwise for the Africom/NATO 40,000-plus bombing of Libya have yielded the desired result; the destruction of the Libyan state (and much of the country’s infrastructure, to the delight of disaster capitalism vultures). It also delivered the lethal unintended consequence of those anti-aircraft missiles appropriated by Islamists – a supremely convincing reason for the “war on terror” in northern Africa to become eternal.

Washington couldn’t care less about R2P; as the Libyan Clinton hop shows, the only thing that matters is the excuse to “securitize” Libya’s arsenal – the perfect cover story for US contractors and Anglo-French intel ops to take over Libyan military bases.

The iron rule is that “free” Libya should be under the control of the “liberators”. Tell that to the “irregular militias”, not to mention the Abdelhakim Belhaj gang and his al-Qaeda assets now in military control of Tripoli.

The big picture remains the Pentagon’s Africom spreading its militarized tentacles against the lure of Chinese soft power in Africa, which goes something like this: in exchange for oil and minerals, we build anything you want, and we don’t try to sell you “democracy for dummies”.

The Bush administration woke up to this “threat” a bit too late – at Africom’s birth in 2008. Under the Obama administration, the mood is total panic. For Petraeus, the only thing that matters is “the long war” on steroids – from boots on the ground to armies of drones; and who are the Pentagon, the White House and the State Department to disagree?

In Libya, the objective is to occupy an absolutely strategic crossroads between the Mediterranean, northern Africa and the Middle East, with the added (nostalgic?) benefit of the West – as in Paris, London and Washington – finally getting to hold military bases as when King Idris was in power (1951 to 1969). As a whole, control must be established over northern Africa, central Africa, eastern Africa and – more problematically – the Horn of Africa.

The trillion-dollar question ahead is how China – which plots strategic moves years in advance – is going to react.

AFRICOM continues constantly expanding seabasing and riverine warfare activities, continuing efforts to monitor and control African nations and African resources for the benefit of the US and the West.

I’ve collected together a number of photos of seabasing and riverine warfare exercises from the last 12 months. You can see how AFRICOM is busily engaged around the entire coastline of the continent, and inland on the rivers.

MOMBASA, Kenya - The guided-missile frigate USS Samuel B. Roberts (FFG 58) arrives in Mombasa to take part in a training

DAKAR, Senegal - High Speed Vessel Swift (HSV 2) makes a stop for refueling on its way to Ghana, June 26, 2011. Swift is currently taking part in Africa Partnership Station (APS) 2011. APS is an international security cooperation initiative, facilitated by U.S. Naval Forces Europe-Africa, aimed at strengthening global maritime partnerships through training and collaborative activities in order to improve maritime safety and security in Africa. (U.S. Navy Photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Ian Carver)

AGADIR, Morocco - U.S. Naval Ship Pililaau ports at Agadir, Morocco recently as part of exercise African Lion 2011. The largest exercise sponsored by U.S. Africa Command, African Lion is a joint, combined U.S.-Moroccan exercise that is designed to promote interoperability and mutual understanding of each nation's military tactics, techniques and procedures. The exercise is scheduled to conclude June 18.

TOUBAKOUTA, Senegal - A group of service members from the U.S. and Senegalese Marine Corps and Nigerian Navy search for targets during a live-fire shoot on the river in Toubakouta, Senegal April 23, 2011. Approximately 45 U.S. marines and sailors, along with about 100 Senegalese commandos and Nigerian Navy Special Boat Service troops are participating in Africa Partnership Station 2011, a U.S. Africa Command (U.S. AFRICOM) maritime security assistance program that is designed to strengthen participating nations' maritime security capacity through multilateral collaboration and cross-border cooperation. Marine Corps Forces, Africa is supporting APS 11 with a security assistance force based out of Camp Lejeune, N.C. (Marine Corps Forces Africa photo by Master Sergeant Grady Fontana)

DOUALA, Cameroon - Cameroonian Navy visit, board, search, and seizure teams approach USS Robert G. Bradley (FFG 49) during the multi-national training exercise Obangame Express 2011 as part of Africa Partnership Station (APS) West, March 21, 2011. APS is an international security cooperation initiative, facilitated by Commander, U.S. Naval Forces Europe-Africa, aimed at strengthening global maritime partnerships through training and collaborative activities in order to improve maritime safety and security in Africa. (U.S. Navy photo by Petty Officer 1st Class Darryl Wood)

KINSHASA, Democratic Republic of the Congo - A Democratic Republic of Congo Navy boat accompanies Exercise Kwanza review participants on a cruise of the Congo River in October 2010. Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS) held the exercise in order to validate Central African Multinational Force to African Union (AU) standards. The force is one of five brigade-size elements that make up the AU's Africa Standby Force--created to respond to crises on the African continent. (U.S. Army photo by Major George K. Allen Jr.)

TOUBAKOUTA, Senegal - Sergeant Austin Sabin maneuvers a fire team of Senegalese commandos through a final military operation in urban terrain exercise at the end of a three week partnered evolution in Toubakouta, Senegal, recently. The partnership was an Africa Partnership Station 2011 initiative, in which the Marines of second platoon, Ground Combat Element, Security Cooperation Task Force, APS-11 exchanged concepts and cultures with Senegalese commandos. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Corporal Timothy L. Solano)

TOUBAKOUTA, Senegal - Commando marines with Senegal's Company Fusiliers Marine Commando unit patrol the hot dusty trail in army base center training tactics zone 3, in Toubakouta, Sengegal, during Africa Partnership Station 2011. These Senegalese marines are participating in Africa Partnership Station 2011, a U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM) maritime security assistance program that is designed to strengthen participating nations' maritime security capacity through multilateral collaboration and cross-border cooperation. Marine Corps Forces, Africa is supporting APS 11 with a security assistance force based out of Camp Lejeune, N.C. (Marine Corps Forces, Africa photo by Master Sergeant Grady Fontana)

TOUBAKOUTA, Senegal - Staff Sergeant Shaun Grant and Gunnery Sergeant Michael Connors exit the water after finishing the Senegalese water obstacle course in the Sadoum River April 24, 2011. This exercise was one of many that the marines of second platoon, Ground Combat Element, Security Cooperation Task Force, Africa Partnership Station 2011 have engaged in during the APS-11 partnered military-to-military exchange. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Corporal Timothy L. Solano)

TOUBAKOUTA, Senegal- U.S. Marines, Senegalese Commandos and members of the Nigerian Navy Special Boat Service lay in the prone position during a beach raid exercise launched from rubber raid craft, recently. The raid formation once on the beach is designed to provide 360 degrees of security. (Photo by Lance Corporal Timothy Solano)

MEDITERRANEAN SEA -- Sailors assigned to the deck department aboard the amphibious transport dock ship USS Ponce (LPD 15) prepare for a replenishment at sea March 10, 2011, with the fleet replenishment oiler USNS Kanawha (T-AO 196) and the Amphibious assault ship USS Kearsarge (LHD 3). Ponce is part of Kearsarge Amphibious Ready Group, supporting maritime security operations and theater security cooperation efforts in the U.S. 6th Fleet area of responsibility. (U.S. Navy photo by Petty Officer 1st Class Nathanael Miller/Released)

LOME TOGO, Togo - Sailors aboard USS Robert G. Bradley (FFG 49) man the rails during a port visit to Lome, Togo, February 1, 2011. The port visit marks the start of the fifth iteration of Africa Partnership Station (APS) East. APS is an international security cooperation initiative, facilitated by commander, U.S. Naval Forces Europe-Africa, aimed at strengthening global maritime partnerships through training and collaborative activities in order to improve maritime safety and security in Africa.(U.S. Navy photo by Lieutenant junior grade Lorna Mae Devera)

PEMBA ISLAND, Tanzania - U.S. Navy Lieutenant Clint Phillips (left) and Petty Officer 2nd Class Bruce Edmunds (2nd from left), Maritime Civil Affairs Team (MCAT) 115, wade through shallow water on their way to Fundo Island, a small islet that is part of Pemba Island, September 14, 2010. The Little Creek, Virginia-based MCAT 115 is deployed to Tanzania as part of Combined Joint Task Force - Horn of Africa. Maritime Civil Affairs Teams are deployed worldwide to assess partner-nation infrastructure and enhance capacity. (U.S. Navy photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Nathan Laird)

ARTA BEACH, Djibouti - The first group of Navy FY-11 Chief Petty Officer selectees awaits instruction to begin their first waterborne obstacle during a water survival course at the French Foreign Legion's Combat Training Center September 6, 2010. The selectees from Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa (CJTF-HOA), Camp Lemonnier, Djibouti, completed the course as part of the team building portion of the induction season. (U.S. Navy photo by Chief Mass Communication Specialist Frank Montellano)

USCGC MOHAWK, At Sea - Petty Officer 3rd Class Antonio Seisdedos fires a .50 Caliber Machine Gun during a gunnery exercise off the coast of Senegal on August 29, 2010, during African Maritime Law Enforcement Partnership (AMLEP) operations. U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Mohawk (WMEC 913) is currently conducting a 10-day underway period in Senegal's territorial waters and exclusive economic zone in support of the AMLEP program. AMLEP enables African partners to build maritime security capacity and improve management of their maritime environment through real-world combined law enforcement operations. (U.S. Africa Command photo by Lieutenant Commander James Stockman)

GULF OF GUINEA - A Togolese defender-class patrol boat comes alongside the guided-missile frigate USS Robert G. Bradley (FFG 49) as part of visit, board, search and seizure training with U.S. and Togolese Sailors during Africa Partnership Station (APS) West, February 8, 2011. APS is an international security cooperation initiative to improve maritime safety and security in Africa training and collaborative activities. (U.S. Navy photo by Ensign Sean J. McMahon)

LUANDA, Angola - An Angolan visit, board, search and seizure team watches during a tactics demonstration given by U.S. Sailors aboard USS Robert G. Bradley (FFG 49), March 30, 2011. Robert G. Bradley, an Oliver Hazard Perry-class frigate, is homeported out of Mayport, Florida, and is on a scheduled deployment to west and central Africa. (U.S. Navy photo by Petty Officer 1st Class Darryl Wood)

INDIAN OCEAN - French navy La Fayette-class frigate, FS Guepratte (F714) prepares to come alongside USS Stephen W. Groves (FFG 29) as part of a "leap frog" exercise simulating an underway replenishment during Africa Partnership Station (APS) East deployment, March 14, 2011. APS is an international security cooperation initiative, facilitated by Commander, U.S. Naval Forces Europe-Africa, aimed at strengthening global maritime partnerships through training and collaborative activities in order to improve maritime safety and security in Africa. (U.S. Navy photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class William Jamieson)

LAGOS, Nigeria - Nigerian special operations sailors and U.S. sailors conduct visit, board, search and seizure training at the Joint Maritime Special Operations Training Command as part of Africa Partnership Station (APS) West in Lagos, April 13, 2011. APS is an international security cooperation initiative, facilitated by Commander, U.S. Naval Forces Europe-Africa, aimed at strengthening global maritime partnerships through training and collaborative activities in order to improve maritime safety and security in Africa. (U.S. Navy photo by Petty Officer 1st Class Darryl Wood)

LAGOS, Nigeria - Rear Admiral Kenneth J. Norton, U.S. Naval Forces Europe-Africa deputy chief of staff for strategy, resources and plans, along with other U.S. Navy personnel, ride with a Nigerian visit, board, search and seizure team during Africa Partnership Station (APS) West, August 8, 2011. APS is an international security cooperation initiative, facilitated by Commander, U.S. Naval Forces Europe-Africa, aimed at strengthening global maritime partnerships through training and collaborative activities in order to improve maritime safety and security in Africa. (U.S. Navy Photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Ian Carver)

POINTE NOIRE, Republic of the Congo - Congolese sailors participate in a boarding team operations course hosted by High Speed Vessel Swift (HSV 2) as part of Africa Partnership Station (APS) 2011 July 26, 2011. APS is an international security cooperation initiative, facilitated by U.S. Naval Forces Africa, aimed at strengthening global maritime partnerships through training and collaborative activities in order to improve maritime safety and security in Africa. (U.S. Navy Photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Ian Carver)

TOUBAKOUTA, Senegal-Corporal Brandon Blackmon of second platoon, Ground Combat Element, Security Cooperation Task Force, Africa Partnership Station 2011, provides front security for the Marines and Senegalese Commandos of a combat rubber raiding craft as they conduct a beach assault training exercise, recently. The inter-military assault teams were created during the APS 2011 security cooperation partnership, in which U.S. Marines, Senegal Commandos and Nigerian Special Service Group troops train alongside one another to compare military and cultural perspectives. (Photo by Lance Corporal Timothy Solano)

DOUALA, Cameroon - A Cameroonian Rapid Intervention Battalion boat patrols the Cameroon coastal waters after the multi-national training exercise Obangame Express 2011, part of Africa Partnership Station (APS) West, March 23, 2011. APS is an international security cooperation initiative, facilitated by Commander, U.S. Naval Forces Europe-Africa, aimed at strengthening global maritime partnerships through training and collaborative activities in order to improve maritime safety and security in Africa. (U.S. Navy photo by Petty Officer 1st Class Darryl Wood)

LAGOS, Nigeria - Sailors from High Speed Vessel Swift (HSV 2) look at a fishing boat during a community relations project at a local village as part of Africa Partnership Station (APS) West. APS is an international security cooperation initiative, facilitated by Commander, U.S. Naval Forces Europe-Africa, aimed at strengthening global maritime partnerships through training and collaborative activities in order to improve maritime safety and security in Africa. (U.S. Navy Photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Ian Carver)

USCGC MOHAWK, At Sea - Petty Officer 1st Class Matthew Lowry (right) and Petty Officer 3rd Class Shawn Cooper (left) guide a Senegalese fishing vessel away from U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Mohawk (WMEC 913) on September 3, 2010. Mohawk is currently conducting operations in Senegal's territorial waters and exclusive economic zone in support of the African Maritime Law Enforcement Partnership (AMLEP) program. AMLEP enables African partners to build maritime security capacity and improve management of their maritime environment through real-world combined law enforcement operations. (U.S. Africa Command photo by Lieutenant Commander James Stockman)

ATLANTIC OCEAN - A Cape Verdean visit board, search and seizure team circles the guided-missile frigate USS Robert G. Bradley (FFG 49), during exercise Saharan Express off the coast of Cape Verde April 27, 2011. Saharan Express is a counter narcotics and proliferation exercise that is part of Africa Partnership Station (APS) West. APS is an international security cooperation initiative designed to strengthen global maritime partnerships through training and collaborative activities to improve maritime safety and security in Africa. (U.S. Navy photo by Petty Officer 1st Class Darryl Wood)

The US Africa Command has been busy all around and throughout the continent. I thought I would put together some of the pictures, so people could get a more visual idea of what is going on.

U.S. Navy EOD1 John C. Richards, Master EOD technician assigned to the Navy Explosive Ordnance Disposal Mobile Unit Eleven (EODMU-11) gives the range control safety brief April 28th 2011, prior to range training in Namibia. From the August 2011 issue of All Hands magazine of the US Navy.

The last time this blog visited EODMU-11 was when they were investigating AFRICOM’s Lake Victoria Secret. These three photos featuring EODMU-11 in Namibia came from the US Navy magazine All Hands. h/t Roger Pociask

Namibian Defense Force (NDF) Sergeant Eugene M. Salionga, explosive ordnance technician student, attaches a non-electric blasting cap to the detonation priming loop April 28 as U.S. Navy Chief Explosive Ordnance TechnicianChief Petty Offcer Justin Berlien, Explosive Ordnance Disposal Mobile Unit11 (EODMU-11), Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa, looks on. (Photo by MC2(EXW) Todd Frantom)

Namibia Defense Forces Warrant Officer Mashatu Jonas, Explosive Ordnance Disposal technician, initiates a demolition shot April 28 during the practical application phase of demolition initiation procedures in Namibia.

SEKONDI, Ghana - Ghanaian sailors practice security maneuvers during a tactical combat casualty care course at Sekondi Naval Base, August 17, 2011. The course is being taught in support of Africa Partnership Station (APS) West. APS is an international security initiative, facilitated by Commander, U.S. Naval Forces Europe-Africa, aimed at strengthening global maritime partnerships through training and collaborative activities in order to improve maritime safety and security in Africa. (U.S. Navy Photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Ian Carver)

POINTE NOIRE, Republic of the Congo (July 26, 2011) Congolese sailors participate in a boarding team operations course hosted by High Speed Vessel Swift (HSV 2) as part of Africa Partnership Station 2011. Africa Partnership Station is an international security cooperation initiative intended to strengthen global maritime partnerships through training and collaborative activities in order to improve maritime safety and security in Africa. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Ian Carver/Released)

Added December 31:

The US Navy’s September 2011 issue (large PDF) of All Hands Magazine featured the Navy’s new emphasis on riverine warfare on the cover and with an article. The article describes training exercises in the Chesapeake Bay along the coast of Virginia.

Cover and feature article of All Hands Magazine September 2011.

One way in which the Navy’s deployment of security forces has shifted is the use of its riverine patrol teams. The focus now is bridging the gap between the brown-water (river) and blue-water (open ocean) patrol. The Navy’s newest, state-of-the-art boat, the Riverine Command Boat (RCB), is pushing further into green-water (coastal) zones to achieve that goal.

The RCB is a unique incarnation of the riverine mission, attached to Navy Expeditionary Combat Command’s Riverine Group 1, Riverine Squadron 2, Detachment 2 (RIVRON 2 DET 2) located on Joint Expeditionary Base Little Creek-Fort Story, Va. At the core, the Riverine Force is a combat-arms force that performs point-defense, fire-support and interdiction operations along coastal and inland waterways to defeat enemies and support U.S. naval and coalition forces.

The RCB is a lethal supplement to their already menacing arsenal, giving riverine squadrons the ability to travel not only in rivers, but also out to bays and coastal regions, expanding the capabilities of command and control and the riverine squadrons’ maritime security reach.

“With the addition of the RCB platform we are now able to potentially stop any threat

Riverine Command Boat fires the .50 caliber gun in reaction to simulated enemy forces on shore.

The craft has proven the ability to operate in between blue and brown water, referred to by coastal security vessels as green water …

“We’re a double threat,” said Gunner’s Mate Seaman Adam Heredia. “Although we work in the coastal environment conducting escorts, security, surveillance, and anti-piracy, we can still operate in a traditional riverine environment.”

The crew aboard a Riverine Command Boat retrieve the crew of a small rigid hull inflatable boat during a night exercise along the shores of the Chesapeake Bay

Sailors attached to to RIVRON 2 DET 2, role play as “enemy forces” firing simulated rounds toward Riverine Command Boat craft off the coast during a night training evolution.

Riverine Command Boat gives Riverine squadrons the ability to travel not only in rivers, but also out to bays and coastal regions, expanding the capabilities of command and control and the Riverine squadrons’ maritime security reach with un-matched fire power

The RCB is equipped with an array of weapons that are sure to deter any potential foes. The arsenal includes a 7.62-caliber M240B machine gun, an electric motor-driven Gatling gun which fires 2,000 rounds per minute, a Mark-19 automatic grenade launcher, twin .50-caliber machine guns, an additional M2 .50-caliber machine gun and a remote-operated, .50-caliber gun.

With its versatility, the RCB serves as the primary boat in combat or patrolling missions. It can serve as a combat information center, and can even be configured as an ambulance boat. It is designed to land on a variety of shorelines, including solid rock, and to drop off and extract personnel from any area.

The Navy’s newest state-ofthe-art boat, the Riverine Command Boat, posts a force protection watch off the coast during a night training evolution.

These exercises are all part of the activities pictured above around the coasts and creeks of Africa. The “enemies” in Africa will be Africans. Many of these “enemies” will be pan-Africanists and local patriots who do not want their countries run as resource troughs for US corporations.

There are many lessons Africa should learn from the Pentagon’s counter revolution against the Arab Spring. Keep in mind that America talks about democracy, but the Pentagon is actively working against democracy in numerous places around the world. It has been particularly active in Africa.

As the Arab Spring blossomed and President Barack Obama hesitated about whether to speak out in favor of protesters seeking democratic change in the Greater Middle East, the Pentagon acted decisively. It forged ever deeper ties with some of the most repressive regimes in the region, building up military bases and brokering weapons sales and transfers to despots from Bahrain to Yemen.

As state security forces across the region cracked down on democratic dissent, the Pentagon also repeatedly dispatched American troops on training missions to allied militaries there. During more than 40 such operations with names like Eager Lion and Friendship Two that sometimes lasted for weeks or months at a time, they taught Middle Eastern security forces the finer points
of counter-insurgency, small unit tactics, intelligence gathering, and information operations skills crucial to defeating popular uprisings
.

These recurrent joint-training exercises, seldom reported in the media and rarely mentioned outside the military, constitute the core of an elaborate, longstanding system that binds the Pentagon to the militaries of repressive regimes across the Middle East. Although the Pentagon shrouds these exercises in secrecy, refusing to answer basic questions about their scale, scope, or cost, an investigation by TomDispatch reveals the outlines of a region-wide training program whose ambitions are large and wholly at odds with Washington’s professed aims of supporting democratic reforms in the Greater Middle East.

United States Africa Command (AFRICOM), the Pentagon’s regional military headquarters that oversees operations in Africa, has planned 13 such major joint-training exercises in 2011 alone from Uganda to South Africa, Senegal to Ghana, including African Lion.

The military also refused to comment on exercises scheduled for 2012. There is nonetheless good reason to believe that their number will rise as regional autocrats look to beat back the forces of change

This spring, as Operation African Lion proceeded and battered Moroccan protesters nursed their wounds, Obama asserted that the “United States opposes the use of violence and repression

(Nick Turse: Did Pentagon help strangle the Arab Spring ?)

AFRICOMs exercises throughout the African continent have grown in number and size every year. In countries where AFRICOM has been most aggressive, it has been consistent in working in the interests of repressive regimes and against the interests of democracy in the same way CENTCOM has been doing throughout the Middle East. The main source of terrorism in Africa is the threat African militaries pose to African people. AFRICOM trains, supports, and expands that threat.

Satellite view of a portion of the Nile flowing through the rich land of South Sudan

Here are two noteworthy stories about water and water rights. In summary, growing food or commercial crops in one country to transfer to another country also constitutes a transfer of water from the first country to the second, usually a transfer of water from a poorer country to a richer country. Two scientists have diagrammed and analyzed global water transfers which increasingly benefit the already rich countries. Africa has been a popular target of land grabs that are also water grabs. The second article discusses how the World Bank, often using the IFC, is working to privatize water rights into the hands of a few large corporations. Those corporations are mostly concerned with maximising short term profits, with no interest in infrastructure, conservation or development.

African land grab could lead to future water conflicts
New Scientist | 26 May 2011
by Anil Ananthaswamy

IS THIS the face of future water conflicts? China, India and Saudi Arabia have lately leased vast tracts of land in sub-Saharan Africa at knockdown prices. Their primary aim is to grow food abroad using the water that African countries don’t have the infrastructure to exploit. Doing so is cheaper and easier than using water resources back home. But it is a plan that could well backfire.

“There is no doubt that this is not just about land, this is about water,” says Philip Woodhouse of the University of Manchester, UK.

Take Saudi Arabia, for instance. Between 2004 and 2009, it leased 376,000 hectares of land in Sudan to grow wheat and rice. At the same time the country cut back on wheat production on home soil, which is irrigated with water from aquifers that are no longer replenished – a finite resource.

Meanwhile, firms from China and India have leased hundreds of thousands of hectares of farmland in Ethiopia. Both China and India have well-developed irrigation systems, but Woodhouse says their further development – moving water from the water-rich south to northern China, for instance – is likely to be more costly than leasing land in Africa, making the land-grab a tempting option.

But why bother leasing land instead of simply importing food? Such imports are equivalent to importing “virtual water”, since food production accounts for nearly 80 per cent of annual freshwater usage. A new study into how this virtual water moves around the world offers an explanation for the leasing strategy. Ignacio Rodriguez-Iturbe of Princeton University and Samir Suweis of the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne have built the first mathematical model of the global virtual water trade network, using the UN Food and Agricultural Organization’s data on trade in barley, corn, rice, soya beans, wheat, beef, pork, and poultry in 2000. They combined this with a fine-grained hydrological model (Geophysical Research Letters, DOI: 10.1029/2011GL046837).

The model shows that a small number of countries have a large number of connections to other countries, offering them a steady and cheap supply of virtual water even if some connections are compromised by drought or political upheaval. A much larger number of countries have very few connections and so are vulnerable to market forces.

Most importantly, the model shows that about 80 per cent of the water flows over only about 4 per cent of the links, which Rodriguez-Iturbe calls the “rich club phenomenon”. In total, the model shows that in 2000, there were 6033 links between 166 nations. Yet 5 per cent of worldwide water flow was channelled through just one link between two “rich club” members – the US and Japan.

The power of the rich club may yet increase. The model allows the team to forecast future scenarios – for example, how the network will change as droughts and spells of violent precipitation intensify due to climate change. Predictably, this will only intensify the monopoly, says Suweis. “The rich get richer.”

China and India are not currently major players in the virtual water network on a per capita basis, and as the network evolves they could find themselves increasingly vulnerable to market forces and end up paying more for the food they import. Leasing land elsewhere is an attempt to secure their food and water supply in a changing world. But it could be a short-sighted move.

Last year, Paolo D’Odorico of the University of Virginia at Charlottesville showed that a rise in the virtual water trade makes societies less resilient to severe droughts (Geophysical Research Letters, DOI: 10.1029/2010GL043167). “[It] causes a disconnect between societies and the water they use,” says D’Odorico. The net effect is that populations in nations that import water can grow without restraint since they are not limited by water scarcity at home.

Although this could be seen as a good thing, it will lead to greater exploitation of the world’s fresh water. The unused supplies in some areas that are crucial in case of major droughts in other areas will dry up. “In case of major droughts we [will] have less resources available to cope with the water crisis,” says D’Odorico.

In the end, then, the hunt for water that is driving emerging economies to rent African land to grow their crops could come back to haunt them.

Although the next story is not as specifically about African land and water, it has huge implications for Africa. Africa is a favorite target of water grabs.

WATCH OUT: THE WORLD BANK IS QUIETLY FUNDING A MASSIVE CORPORATE WATER GRAB
March 10, 2011
Scott Thill, AlterNet

Billions have been spent allowing corporations to profit from public water sources even though water privatization has been an epic failure in Latin America, Southeast Asia, North America, Africa and everywhere else it’s been tried. But don’t tell that to controversial loan-sharks at the World Bank. Last month, its private-sector funding arm International Finance Corporation (IFC) quietly dropped a cool 100 million euros ($139 million US) on Veolia Voda, the Eastern European subsidiary of Veolia, the world’s largest private water corporation. Its latest target? Privatization of Eastern Europe’s water resources.

“Veolia has made it clear that their business model is based on maximizing profits, not long-term investment,” Joby Gelbspan, senior program coordinator for private-sector watchdog Corporate Accountability International, told AlterNet. “Both the World Bank and the transnational water companies like Veolia have clearly acknowledged they don’t want to invest in the infrastructure necessary to improve water access in Eastern Europe. That’s why this 100 million euro investment in Veolia Voda by the World Bank’s private investment arm over the summer is so alarming. It’s further evidence that the World Bank remains committed to water privatization, despite all evidence that this approach will not solve the world’s water crisis.”

All the evidence Veolia needs that water grabs are doomed exercises can be found in its birthplace of France, more popularly known as the heartland of water privatization. In June, the municipal administration of Paris reclaimed the City of Light’s water services from both of its homegrown multinationals Veolia and Suez, after a torrent of controversy. That’s just one of 40 re-municipilazations in France alone, which can be added to those in Africa, Asia, Latin America, North America and more in hopes of painting a not-so-pretty picture: Water privatization is ultimately both a horrific concept and a failed project.

“It’s outrageous that the World Bank’s IFC would continue to invest in corporate water privatizations when they are failing all over the world,” Maude Barlow, chairwoman of Food and Water Watch and the author of Blue Covenant: The Global Water Crisis and the Fight for the Right to Water, told AlterNet. “A similar IFC investment in the Philippines is an unmitigated disaster. Local communities and their governments around the world are canceling their contracts with companies like Veolia because of cost overruns, worker layoffs and substandard service.”

The World Bank has learned nothing from these disasters and continues to be blinded by an outdated ideology that only the unregulated market will solve the world’s problems

But asking the World Bank to learn from disaster would be akin to annihilating its overall mission, which is to capitalize on disaster in the developing world in pursuit of profit. Its nasty history of economic and environmental shock therapy sessions have severely wounded more than one country

“In the past, the World Bank pushed privatization as the way to increase investment in basic infrastructure for water systems,” said Gelbspan. “But since then bank officials have admitted that the transnational corporations don’t want to invest in infrastructure, and instead want only to pare down operations and skim profits. The World Bank has lowered the bar, satisfied with so-called ‘operational efficiency,’ that cuts utility workforce, tightens up bill collections and shuts off people who can’t pay.”

That’s been a recipe for failure and protest

… the World Bank is simply spinning off its compromised philosophy to the IFC. So while the World Bank may be torn in its endorsement of water privatization, the IFC has no such reservations, in hopes of dodging the slings and arrows of public outcry, and perhaps legal liability.

“What’s really scary,” O’Callaghan added, “is that we are increasingly seeing the International Finance Corporation pick up where the Bank has left off in water privatization. The IFC is a Bank-sponsored institution whose goal is to promote the private sector, and because their financing also comes from the private sector, they can be more difficult to hold accountable. Worse yet, according to our 2000-2008 stats, 80 percent of IFC loans had gone to the four largest multinational water companies, further concentrating the global water industry.”

“Droughts and deserts are spreading in over 100 countries,” Barlow said. “It is now clear that our world is running out of clean water, as the demand gallops ahead of supply. These water corporations, backed still by the World Bank, seek to take advantage of this crisis by taking more control over dwindling water supplies.”

Which is another way of saying that, regardless of the refreshing trend toward re-municipalization, no one should expect the World Bank or its IFC untouchables to give up the privatization and deregulation ghost anytime soon. That means that every city, and citizen, is due for a day of reckoning of some sort, and should fight back against the bankrupt privatization paradigm with everything in its arsenal.

“Get involved at the local level,” O’Callaghan said. “Know where your water comes from. Fight against privatization schemes. Promote conservation. Don’t drink bottled water.”

And Barlow adds, “The only path to a water-secure future is water conservation, source water protection, watershed restoration and the just and equitable sharing of the water resources of the planet. Water is a commons, a public trust and a human right and no one has the right to appropriate for profit when others are dying from lack of access.”

I can only second these sentiments, and repeat: Water is a commons, a public trust and a human right and no one has the right to appropriate for profit when others are dying from lack of access. All of us in every community everywhere should be watching where our water is coming from, and stay involved in questions of water management in our home communities.

The crab does not bite, it is the handshake that hurts. – Proverb

Somalia belongs to HOA Phase Zero of AFRICOM’s activities in Africa according to a CJTF-HOA slideshow. You don’t see any mention of partnerships or listening to African partners on this list of Phases from the beginning of the slideshow. If you look at the Phases listed on the slide, Phase 1 is to Deter, Phase 2 is Seize. Anything the US is seizing in Africa does not belong to the United States. Phase 3 is to Dominate, followed by Phase 4, Stabilize. That is what stability operations are, keeping the dominated stabilized and under control, aka peacekeeping, and then, Phase 5, Enabling them to serve the dominant, or enabling them to get out of the way of dominant interests. For all these Phases in Africa, AFRICOM needs proxies, proxy soldiers and proxy governments. That is what Africans solving Africa’s problems means. It means solving local and continental problems to the advantage of the United States, and arranging the business of government to serve the US and the West through the use of proxies and client governments.

Phase Zero

Roger Pociask linked to the DTIC pdf slideshow from his blog. He has some important observations for the US Africa Command, he says:

In spite of the good things that AFRICOM has accomplished across the continent, by and large you have been viewed by the natives as nothing but an embarrassment to be mistrusted across Africa. Your self-declared benevolence (or security cooperation) is absolutely NOT believed by anyone. They smile and nod and readily accept millions of U.S. dollars.

CJTF-HOA strategic objectives

Above you see a list of CJTF-HOA strategic objectives over the banner Africans Solving Africa’s Problems. Nothing on the itemized list is specifically African other than The middle item, Engage African Union. The items are all about the Africa Command. To what purpose does the Africa Command engage the African Union? The US has certainly done its best to marginalize and ignore the African Union on the subject of Libya, AFRICOM’s first war in Africa. The US also made quite cynical use of the African Union in the post electoral conflict in Ivory Coast this year.

Mark Fancher at Black Agenda Report writes With Friends Like AFRICOM, Who Needs Enemies?

The crab does not bite, it is the handshake that hurts.

Beware of Americans bearing gifts, guns, and an AFRICOM patch; their embrace can turn fatal. “One minute, Gadhafi was America’s best friend in northern Africa and in the next minute he was an evil menace.” The turnabout can be sudden.

Public statements issued by U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM) frequently refer to Africa’s governments and military forces as “our African partners.” The following AFRICOM website excerpts are typical:

“An important part of this approach is that we learn from our African partners what is important to them.”

“Our African partners have expressed four common, defense-oriented goals that are consistent with U.S. interests and AFRICOM objectives…”

“U.S. AFRICOM’s programs and activities support the development of capable, professional partner military forces…”

Partnerships typically involve trust, mutual respect and shared decision-making. These may be hard to find in relationships that AFRICOM has with Africa’s armies because history and circumstances have determined that Africa’s true, best interests and U.S. interests will always diverge. Consequently, in any relationship between Africa and the U.S., one set of interests will likely dominate the other.

For its part, AFRICOM has declared: “As a military organization, our responsibility to the American people is to support U.S. national security priorities.” Africa’s security priorities were forced to yield to so-called U.S. national security priorities when AFRICOM initiated military attacks against Libya at the same time that the African Union was calling for dialogue as a means of resolving conflicts in that country. This provides the best clue that if an African “partner” were to attempt to give African interests priority over U.S. objectives, the partnership would be short-lived.

Historically U.S. imperialism has embraced selected governments as “allies,” or “friends,” or “partners” when there is something to be gained from the relationship. But when these “friends” in some way jump ship, the U.S. turns on them like an enraged schizophrenic. Libya is the latest example.

when it comes to fickle friends, the U.S. has no peer, and this should give pause to any African country considering a relationship with AFRICOM.

Lest any would-be AFRICOM “partner” assume that Libya is an aberration, it is important to recall that Gadhafi is not the only African leader to be kicked to the curb. Robert Mugabe too has been romanced by imperialism and then jilted.

Mobutu in the Congo was a long time client of the US until it turned against him. Saddam Hussain in Iraq was another US client the US turned against. Uganda’s Museveni and Rwanda’s Kagame are currently US favorites for their military cooperation, and for their incursions into the Congo that advantage US, Canadian, and other Western mineral and mining interests. This has led to the deaths of millions of citizens in the Congo, as Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi, the Congolese Army, and various militias vie for control of the mineral trade. It has led to the use of rape on an unimaginble scale as a weapon of terror and war. Recent oil discoveries and projected discoveries are likely to exacerbate the violence and conflicts. The US spends a lot of money on training the Ugandan and Rwandan militaries. And the US has recently begun training the DRC Congo military as well.

Fancher continues:

African countries considering “partnerships” would do well to engage in sober analysis when AFRICOM arrives bearing gifts of humanitarian assistance and military training. Given the treatment accorded other U.S. “friends” who have fallen out of favor, it is worth contemplating the dangers of having to tell AFRICOM “no” if one day a request is made to participate in a mission that is clearly contrary to Africa’s best interests. This is not a far-fetched potential dilemma.

AFRICOM announced that one of its exercises for this summer is called “Shared Accord.” Its purpose is to train “… U.S. and African forces to conduct peacekeeping operations in sub-Saharan Africa.” Once trained, who will be the targets of these “peace keepers”? Will they include the Movement to Emancipate the Niger Delta (MEND)? According to reports, MEND recently vowed to attack facilities of an Italian company that MEND accuses of theft of Nigeria’s oil. MEND claims its attacks are in solidarity with Libyans enduring imperialist attacks by Italy and others.

Or then again, perhaps AFRICOM will decide to move militarily against Robert Mugabe. Whatever the target, if prospective “partners” don’t have the stomach for anti-African imperialist missions, or the wherewithal to resist U.S. retaliation for refusing to cooperate, they should probably refuse to answer the door when AFRICOM comes a knocking.

The US has clearly and frequently taken sides in internal conflicts in African countries, Libya, Ivory Coast, Somalia, are just a few of the most recent. The DJTF-HOA slideshow pictures the post election violence in Kenya as one of the things it wishes to protect against. It ignores the US role in subverting the counting of the votes that led to the violence.

And the US fear of Shabab in Somalia is not really about growing terrorism but about a political threat to what the US sees as its interests. As Johnnie Carson told us last July in Kamapala”

It is important that the TFG be strengthened, for if it is not, Shabaab will continue to emerge as a significant political threat not only in the south, but also throughout the region.

Currently for the World’s Worst Humanitarian Crisis in Somalia: U.S. Sends in the Marines and More Drones

Even as U.S. militarization of the Horn of Africa has contributed massively to the threatened starvation of millions, the Americans have announced an escalation of drone attacks against Somalia and the establishment of a Marine task force for the region. A United Nations spokesman describes the food and refugee emergency in Somalia as the “worst humanitarian crisis in the world,” with millions at immediate risk. Not coincidentally, the epicenter of the disaster is the area where Somalia, Kenya and Ethiopia meet – which is also a focus of U.S. Special Forces, surveillance and logistics activity.

Whenever the U.S. rachets up its armed interventions in Somalia, disaster follows.

In addition to the famine in which 3.7 million people are in crisis and more than 10 million affected, two current major stories about Somalia are Jeremy Scahill’s The CIA’s Secret Sites in Somalia and the creation of AFRICOM Marine task force to help train militaries fighting al-Qaida-linked groups in Somalia, Maghreb region For more background and analysis on these two stories and Somalia’s situation in general, please see africa comments.

AFRICOM continues its incursions into Africa. Roger Pociask calls our attention to a brief article in the Indian Ocean Newsletter, for which he provides a screenshot:

AFRICOM in Juba South Sudan, click to enlarge

South Sudan is on the western borders of Ethiopia and Kenya while Somalia is on their eastern borders. South Sudan is the target of intense US military interest and part of the reason for military buildup in the region. There is significant oil there. South Sudan is also where US investors have been making highly questionable purchases of large tracts of land without much or any reference to the people who are actually living on and using the land, who are its ancestral owners. For the new colonial “landowners” to enforce their purchases, they intend to use force. As the head of Jarch Capital LLC said:

“You have to go to the guns, this is Africa,” Mr Heilberg said by phone from New York.

[He is] backed by former CIA and state department officials

AFRICOM will be getting busy training proxies in South Sudan to look after Mr. Heilberg’s land acquisitions as well as those of other US investors such as Nile Trading. The proxy armies it is training can evict any of the present local inhabitants from their ancestral land if they object or are in the way, in Sudan, or in other countries.

The government of South Sudan barely exists, there is little or no infrastructure and little or nothing in the way of government institutions, as this report from AlJazeera English describes. If AFRICOM comes in for “partnering” and training, the armed forces will be by far the strongest institution in the country, unless there are other equally well funded efforts to build the institutions that do the real business of government. I don’t see any signs of that at present. It should be fairly easy to install a US client military government and keep it starved for anything other than more military buildup. The people who worked and voted for independence may discover they have brought themselves a harsh colonial client dictatorship instead. They may stand to lose more than they have gained.

Returning to AFRICOM’s CJTF-HOA slide show, take a look at the last two slides in succession:

Africans (pictured as children) solving African problems, CJTF-HOA Overview Summary

CJTF-HOA asking if there are any questions

The Summary looks more about AFRICOM than Africa, but the banner says Africans solving Africa’s problems. The Africans pictured are all children. It looks like there may be one US soldier at the back of a classroom holding up a child. The children are huddled together in order to be in the shot, but they look huddled together. Are these children supposed to be Africa’s problems? Or are they supposed to solve Africa’s problems? There are no African adults pictured as problem solvers. If you look at just the graphics in the two slides below you will see how the US and AFRICOM see Africans and the US role in Africa, a bunch of children facing the military might of the United States arrayed before them, perhaps I should say arrayed against them. Questions?

CJTF-HOA images on the last two slides

Huge Marine Drill Confirms Ground Invasion of Libya, from Kurt Nimmo at InfoWars. Exercise Mailed Fist, covering much of theeast coast of the United States, has been underway this week to test equipment and readiness for a ground invasion planned for some time in October.

MAGTF artists rendition

“On Sunday, CNN reported on a huge Marine war exercise dubbed Exercise Mailed Fist.

“The exercise is designed to test the capability of every type of Marine Corps aircraft, including MV-22 Ospreys and F/A 18 Hornets, as well as some Navy ships and Air Force planes,” CNN reported.

The exercise will encompass a large area on the U.S. East Coast – from Quantico Marine Base in northern Virginia to the Navy’s Pinecastle Bombing Range in Florida. Most of the exercise activity will occur above North and South Carolina.

The drill begins today and ends on Friday.

Thousands of Marines will take part. According to CNN, it will be biggest drill of its kind ever held on the East Coast.

“Exercise Mailed Fist is the first exercise of its specific kind and the largest 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing exercise conducted in recent history,” Staff Sgt. Roman J. Yurek, Marine Corps spokesman, told CNN. “In the past, 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing units had to deploy to the West Coast to conduct this type of training.”’

Marines with Battery K fire 120mm mortars here June 21. The battery provides artillery and indirect fire for Battalion Landing Team 3/1, the ground-combat element of the 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit. The unit is training with the Expeditionary Fire Support System for an upcoming deployment later this year. 6/21/2011 9:19:00 PM Photo: Cpl. Gene Allen Ainsworth III 110621-M-CR943-093.JPG

“It appears the Pentagon has released information about the exercise exclusively to CNN. A Google News Search produces scant results on Exercise Mailed Fist.

CNN is a notorious focal point for Pentagon psyops. In 2000, the Pentagon confirmed that psyops personnel, soldiers and officers, have worked in the CNN headquarters in Atlanta. In February of that year, Dutch journalist, Abe de Vries, reported on the presence of U.S. Army personnel at CNN for the Dutch daily newspaper Trouw.

Obama will visit Fort Drum in New York on Thursday. It is speculated he will announce a decision on drawing down U.S. forces in Afghanistan, but the visit may also be related to a plan to send ground troops into Libya.

The huge military exercise comes at a critical time. As we reported last week, the United States is in the preparatory stages of a ground invasion of Libya and a campaign against Syria.

…Other calls to the Alex Jones Show from military personnel confirmed the reports.”

Syria and Iran are also subject to speculation as possible targets. The Marines run exercises all the time, but this is a particularly large scale exercise.

The earlier report by Aaron Dykes at InfoWars on June 15:

“Infowars.com has received alarming reports from within the ranks of military stationed at Ft. Hood, Texas confirming plans to initiate a full-scale U.S.-led ground invasion in Libya and deploy troops by October.

The source stated that additional Special Forces are headed to Libya in July, with the 1st Calvary Division (heavy armor) and III Corps deploying in late October and early November. Initial numbers are estimated at 12,000 active forces and another 15,000 in support, totaling nearly 30,000 troops.

This information was confirmed by numerous calls and e-mails from other military personnel, some indicating large troop deployment as early as September. Among these supporting sources is a British S.A.S. officer confirming that U.S. Army Rangers are already in Libya. The chatter differs in the details, but the overall convergence is clear– that a full-on war is emerging this fall as Gaddafi continues to evade attempts to remove him from power

A caller identified as “Specialist H” working for mortuary affairs under USCENTCOM revealed that there have already been American casualties inside Libya. He confirmed that at least 2 soldiers and 3 civilians have died from combat bullet wounds, something the media has yet to report, and needs to investigate and address.

Geo-political expert Dr. Webster Tarpley also told the Alex Jones Show today that wider war is being planned for Libya, while the count of simultaneous U.S. wars has reached five conflicts– including Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Libya and Yemen. The potential for an even greater spread of regional conflict could well provoke a World War III scenario, drawing in tenuous nations like Syria, Lebanon, Iran or even Saudi Arabia, according to Tarpley.

For his part, President Obama has brushed off demands to answer to Congress for continuing military action beyond the 60 day limit set under the war powers act. The engagement he first claimed would be over in mere days, Obama then dubbed a “kinetic action” rather than a war. Further, Obama has justified his commitment of American forces under a United Nations mandate, unconcerned by his own admission with the will of Congress. Now, with significant overlap in reports, we can confirm an apparent decision by Obama to support wider war and a longer-term involvement in Libya.”

If this information is correct, I guess we can hang up any hopes that United States policy will make sense or present a positive face to Africa or anywhere else in the world.

Marine air ground task force, MAGTF (click to enlarge enough to read text)

President Obama Ignored Advice of Top Legal Advisors, OLC in Waging War in Libya. From the New York Times:

“President Obama rejected the views of top lawyers at the Pentagon and the Justice Department when he decided that he had the legal authority to continue American military participation in the air war in Libya without Congressional authorization, according to officials familiar with internal administration deliberations.

Jeh C. Johnson, the Pentagon general counsel, and Caroline D. Krass, the acting head of the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel, had told the White House that they believed that the United States military’s activities in the NATO-led air war amounted to “hostilities.” Under the War Powers Resolution, that would have required Mr. Obama to terminate or scale back the mission after May 20.

But Mr. Obama decided instead to adopt the legal analysis of several other senior members of his legal team — including the White House counsel, Robert Bauer, and the State Department legal adviser, Harold H. Koh — who argued that the United States military’s activities fell short of “hostilities.” Under that view, Mr. Obama needed no permission from Congress to continue the mission unchanged.”

If US personel are already dying from gunfire in Libya, there are hostilities. In addition to the President seizing “blatently unconstitutional powers” I also understand the military personel in Libya are receiving combat pay, another indicator of genuine hostilities.

________________

Here are some descriptions of Exercise Mailed Fist from Havelock News in North Carolina:

June 22, 2011

Elements from the 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing at Cherry Point are being joined in the 11-day exercise by Marines from New River, Beaufort, S.C. and other Marine, Navy and Air Force units from Florida to Virginia. The exercise, the largest for area Marines in a decade, ends Friday.

Essentially, MWSS-274 mobilized as though it was deploying to a faraway place to create an operational air base capable of supporting up to 600 personnel. Marine Attack Squadron 542 brought a fleet of AV-8B Harriers and associated support personnel to Bogue Field.

The first thing the Marines got operating on the first day was their water purification system, which puts out 21,000 gallons a day drawn right from Bogue Sound.

“The water is actually eight times more pure than the water that comes out of your tap at your house,” said Cpl. Matthew L. Cheney, a water purification support technician.

He said each purifier uses micro-filtration and reverse osmosis to remove impurities, including nuclear or biological warfare agents that might be in the water during a battlefield situation.

“We draw water directly out of Bogue Sound and in 10 minutes we’ve got completely purified water that’s ready to go,” Conway said. “You can drink it right out of the machine.”

Over the weekend, Marine families were invited to the camp, and all were able to get a taste.

“Everybody was able to come by and drink it, and 10 minutes before it had been home to a fish,” Conway said.

Clean water is the foundation of the operation, Conway said.

“If you lose that capability, you’ve basically shut everything down,” he said.

Next in line would be nourishment, and the field mess is able to prepare three hot meals a day.

Heavy equipment was brought in to build temporary runways and helicopter landing pads.

“It allows us to break the equipment out, and instead of inspecting it every day and just maintaining it, they actually get to use it, and it increases both our proficiency with the equipment and their proficiency of actually operating the equipment,” Conway said. “That’s the greatest way to keep it operating is to actually use it.”

MWSS-274 firefighters and their trucks and equipment came along too, and crews are always ready with reflective gear capable of pulling a pilot from a downed plane burning at 1,200 degrees.

“Our job is not to put out the fire but to make rescues,” said Gunnery Sgt. Raymond Secoy, leader of the aircraft firefighting crew.

All 2nd MAW aircraft, from jets to KC-130J refuelers to helicopters, are involved in the exercise.

VMA-542 pilot Capt. B.R. Stevens said Harriers are outfitted with small practice bombs and practice missiles that converse electronically with the pilot as though they were the real thing.

“It allows the pilot the same flight characteristics as a 500-pound bomb,” he said. “You are able to get the same training as regular ordnance, except you are not carrying the weight or drag of 1,500 pounds of dumb bombs,” Stevens said.

Sgt. Wesley Peck, an avionics technician with VMA-542, keeps the Harriers flying “so they can drop bombs on the bad guys.”

He said Mailed Fist was good for his 50-man support crew.

“This exercise gets us in the mindset,” Peck said.

Lance Cpl. Steve Squires is a powerline mechanic.

“We get into the right mentality and get to see how everything is going to get set off and how everything is going to go down,” he said.

Conway said the training less than 40 miles from Cherry Point offers the same benefits as training at more remote locations.

“It allows us to have the flexibility to make some honest mistakes and to learn the lessons on the cheap and you apply them so you don’t keep making those mistakes again and then you can apply those lessons learned when you are going a little further away when you don’t have those instant reach-back capabilities to Cherry Point,” he said.

“You set it up, you take it down, you learn the lessons and you apply them. You just get that much more efficient at your job. So that when we get the notice — whether it’s a notified deployment where we have several months to work up to it or it’s a limited-to-know deployment where it’s pack your stuff, get out, get over there — we can be operational.”

And saving money while training is a key part, he said.

“When we just went through the budgetary continuing resolutions, we weren’t sure where the funding was coming from,” Conway said. “At one point in time I was down to less than $100 in my operating budget while we were waiting for the next round of money to hit.”

June 17, 2011

Air and ground assets from Virginia to Florida are part of a massive readiness exercise led by the 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing at Cherry Point.

Exercise Mailed Fist 1-11 is continuing through June 24, and residents in the area should expect an increase in military aircraft and ground activity in the region, according to a release from Cherry Point.

The exercise is one of the largest for the 2nd MAW in recent history. It is designed to ensure that personnel remain prepared to serve as part of a rapid-deployment aviation force in readiness, according to the release.

The exercise involves Marine units from Cherry Point, New River and Beaufort, S.C., along with other Marine, Navy and Air Force units from the East Coast, according to the release. Bases involved include Cherry Point, New River, Bogue Field, Atlantic Field and Camp Davis, as well as others in the region such as Beaufort, S.C., Vadalia Regional Airport in Georgia, Fort A.P. Hill, Va., Fort Pickett, Va., MCAS Quantico, Va., and the Navy Pinecastle Bombing Range in Florida.

The training involves, for the first time in more than 10 years, the deployment of a Cherry Point Harrier squadron to Bogue Field in Carteret County, from where it will operate as part of the exercise, according to the release. The training also involves all other type of aircraft operated by the 2nd MAW.

The training also involves a newly built Wing Operations Center at Cherry Point that uses a variety of communications technologies, according to the release.

Previous such exercises have involved deployment to the West Coast, and by combining previous separate training events, the cost of the training is less expensive, according to the release. A specific figure was not provided.

 

Is NATO bombing two thirds of the population of Libya in order to protect the other one third from the (alleged) danger of being slaughtered?

According to a rebel spokesman quoted the Washington Post on June 14:

If the rebels take Zlitan, they would be within 85 miles (135 kilometers) of the eastern outskirts of Tripoli. … they face challenges in advancing on the city.

“We need the people of Zlitan to push more courageously forward. They are dependent on our movements, but the problem is only a third of that city is with the rebels,” said Ibrahim Beatelmal, a rebel military spokesman in Misrata

R2P, responsibility to protect? (read: rush to plunder) is certainly selective. NATO’s chosen third derive their tenuous legitimacy solely from NATO’s choice to back them. Meanwhile, the R2P is continuing bombing every half hour round the clock, 50 or 60 times a day.

In Zlitan, where the rebel leader said 2/3 of the population, the majority, do not support the rebels, only a minority does support them, the rebels are calling for NATO bombs so they can seize the town.

As you know our forces could not get into Zlitan,” said Zuwawi. “We need Nato help. We are very surprised because Nato has delayed to bomb the grad [rocket artillery] forces.”

Nato insists it is taking an active role, but Misrata’s rebels say the alliance’s current level of engagement will not be enough to save Zlitan’s population.

This is to save the 1/3 of the population the rebels claim supports them. The rebels are fine with bombing the other 2/3 of the population. No one could describe that as democratic in spirit or in action.

The rebel stronghold city, may not be entirely enthusiastic about the rebels. I found this account from the end of April about a:

… “second front” in Benghazi. This front consists of the armed groups of civil militia, ordinary citizens who are seeking restoration of the rule of law in Benghazi. They declared that they wouldn’t stand so-called “rebels” any more in their city, who are fighting each other and expose violence on city’s population.

It is difficult to confirm, especially relying on western media. But it appears credible based on what we hear about the rebels.
.

Claiming that NATO is only bombing military targets is disingenuous. Believing the bombs only strike or aim at military targets is naive. Here are a few pictures of the bombing in Tripoli.

NATO bombs strike neighborhoods in Tripoli

NATO bombs strike Kadhafi's neighborhood

NATO bombs neighborhoods in Tripoli

NATO bombs hit neighborhoods in Tripoli

NATO bombs light the night sky over homes in Tripoli

Visiting Zambia, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton -

said Saturday that “we don’t want to see a new colonialism in Africa,” when asked about China’s growing influence in the continent during a television interview in Lusaka, Zambia.

She might as well have said: “we don’t want to see a new [read Chinese] colonialism in Africa,” so we are bringing back the old colonialism. In fact the old colonial masters are back as well, joined together in NATO.

Another laugh provoker among Clinton’s remarks:

Clinton also said on Friday that Washington was concerned that China’s foreign assistance and investment practices in Africa have not always been consistent with generally accepted international norms of transparency and good governance

Her words have truth, but the problem is hardly limited to China. Clinton’s words should cause people to fall about laughing except for the fact that people are dying in Libya, in Somalia, in Ivory Coast, in the DRC, and in many more places. On the plus side for US corporations, the dying and destruction provide product demonstrations, testing and merchandising for US weapons manufacturers. It is all good for business.

If the US was providing ANYTHING other than military assistance in Africa it might not be so bad. It is so distorted that a lot of people in the US think that the military assistance IS foreign aid rather than the coercion and dominance it is in fact.

There is something about Clinton’s words reminiscent of the way Ben Ali and Mubarak eloquently demonstrated how far removed they were from the realities in their streets, worse than the fuddling effects of alcohol.

Hilary Clinton’s warning to African nations against “the creeping new colonialism” of foreign investors and governments interested in extracting natural resources to enrich themselves would have been meaningful, if the US had not already gone kinetic in Libya and the Ivory Coast for the same reasons.

It is no longer enough to simply qualify their acts as double-standards, when they involve acts of aggression, impunity, crimes against humanity, chicanery, and plain banditry. Whilst condeming Gaddafi and calling on Africans not to have any dealing with a “regime that is killing its own people”, Obama meets, wines and dines with the Crown Prince of Bahrain. As Juan Gonzalez reads in Democracy Now! Headlines news of June 09, 2011, Obama Hides Meeting with Top Bahraini Leader—And Mutes Criticism of Ongoing Crackdown

I have no great love for the Chinese presence in Africa. They are as ruthless and exploitive as anyone, including of their own people. And I really don’t appreciate them bringing Chinese labor to Africa to do the work. But at least African countries have some chance to maximize their own development with Chinese money if they are willing to take the opportunity and be tough and forward thinking. Unfortunately we have a lot of bad leadership around the continent (and around the world, including in the US) who think the purpose of government is to enrich the governing class.

And the US is offering Africa nothing but military government, which is the main source of terrorism in Africa, and something most people in Africa want to leave behind.

________

h/t The Odikro
h/t MoA

Harvard and other major American universities are working through British hedge funds and European financial speculators to buy or lease vast areas of African farmland in deals, some of which may force many thousands of people off their land …

No one should believe that these investors are there to feed starving Africans, create jobs or improve food security

Much of the money is said to be channelled through London-based Emergent asset management, which runs one of Africa’s largest land acquisition funds, run by former JP Morgan and Goldman Sachs currency dealers.
… Emergent’s clients in the US may have invested up to $500m in some of the most fertile land in the expectation of making 25% returns.

Africa land grab and hunger map (click to enlarge enough to read)

“These agreements – many of which could be in place for 99 years – do not mean progress for local people and will not lead to food in their stomachs. These deals lead only to dollars in the pockets of corrupt leaders and foreign investors.”

“The scale of the land deals being struck is shocking”, said Mittal. “The conversion of African small farms and forests into a natural-asset-based, high-return investment strategy can drive up food prices and increase the risks of climate change.

Research by the World Bank and others suggests that nearly 60m hectares – an area the size of France – has been bought or leased by foreign companies in Africa in the past three years.

“Most of these deals are characterised by a lack of transparency, despite the profound implications posed by the consolidation of control over global food markets and agricultural resources by financial firms,” says the report.

“We have seen cases of speculators taking over agricultural land while small farmers, viewed as squatters, are forcibly removed with no compensation,” said Frederic Mousseau, policy director at Oakland, said: “This is creating insecurity in the global food system that could be a much bigger threat to global security than terrorism. More than one billion people around the world are living with hunger. The majority of the world’s poor still depend on small farms for their livelihoods, and speculators are taking these away while promising progress that never happens.” (The Guardian)

Africa biofuels land grab map (click to enlarge enough to read)

THIS NEW scramble for African land has visited a multitude of problems on ordinary Africans and set the stage for ecological crisis and widespread hunger.

As many critics have pointed out, African governments have falsely claimed that land available for sale is unused. As journalist Joan Baxter writes:

Some defend the investors’ acquisition of land in their countries, saying it is “virgin” or “under-utilized” or “uncultivated” or “degraded” land…This suggests they know precious little about the importance of fallows and the resilience and diversity of agroforestry systems, or about sustainable agriculture and the knowledge base of their own farmers.

Communal land, small farmers and even entire villages are often displaced in the drive for land purchases. The Oakland Institute think-tank released a report on the African land grab, which points out:

Experts in the field, however, affirm that there is no such thing as idle land in…Africa…Countless studies have shown that competition for grazing land and access to water bodies are the two most important sources of inter-communal conflict in [areas] populated by pastoralists.

According to Michael Taylor, a policy specialist at the International Land Coalition, “If land in Africa hasn’t been planted, it’s probably for a reason. Maybe it’s used to graze livestock or deliberately left fallow to prevent nutrient depletion and erosion. Anybody who has seen these areas identified as unused understands that there is no land…that has no owners and users.”

In other words, as activist Vandana Shiva puts it, “We are seeing dispossession on a massive scale. It means less food is available and local people will have less. There will be more conflict and political instability and cultures will be uprooted. The small farmers of Africa are the basis of food security. The food availability of the planet will decline.”

In fact, because much of its food is produced for export, sub-Saharan Africa is the only region in the world where per capita food production has been declining, with the number of people that are chronically hungry and undernourished currently estimated at more than 265 million.

Nations with large amounts of land sold or leased to foreign owners are often food importers, and their inability to feed their own populations is exacerbated by the displacement of food producers who grow for local use. The UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) reports that Africa has lost 20 percent of its capacity to feed itself over the past four decades. Ethiopia alone has 13 million people in immediate need of food assistance, yet its government has put over 7 million acres of land up for sale.

And worsening hunger is still to come. …

Large-scale land acquisition poses massive ecological threats to the African environment. The dangers are numerous: hazardous pesticides and fertilizers cause water contamination from their runoff, the introduction of genetically modified seeds and other problems. Land previously left to lie fallow is now threatened with overuse from intensified agricultural development, a trend further exacerbated by speculative investment and the drive for short-term profits.

Yet deals transferring vast tracts of land are typically taking place far removed from local farmers and villagers with virtually no accountability. As Khadija Sharife writes on the Pambazuka Web site:

The deals involving these concessions are often cloaked in secrecy, but African business has learned that they are usually characterized by allowing free access to water, repatriation of profits, tax exemptions and the ability for investors to acquire land at no cost whatsoever, with little or no restriction on the volume of food exported or its intended use, in return for a loose promise to develop infrastructure and markets

In many cases, farmers and pastoralists have worked this land for centuries. However, governments are claiming this land is idle in order to more easily sell or lease it to private investors. (New African Land Grab)

I found this a particularly telling passage from (Mis)investment in Agriculture: The Role of the International Finance Corporation In Global Land Grabs (PDF) a publication of the Oakland Institute.

Proponents of the land deals will dismiss my concerns and claim that this type of foreign investment will benefit the local people by providing jobs and creating infrastructure. They will also say that the land being offered is “unused.” These are hollow arguments. Investors have been quoted as saying they will employ 10,000 people and use high-tech, high-production farming techniques. The two promises are completely incongruous. As a farmer, I can tell you that high-tech, high production devices are appealing precisely because they reduce labor. Investors will not hire significant numbers of people and simultaneously scale-up their production techniques. And if they choose the former, they are likely to create low-paying jobs and poor working conditions. I may be making assumptions, but they are based on history—a history dating back to colonialism and one that has exploited both natural resources and people.

Particularly disconcerting is the notion that the “available” land is “unused.” This land is in countries with the highest rates of malnutrition on the only continent that produces less food per capita than it did a decade ago. In most cases, this land has a real purpose: it may support corridors for pastoralists; provide fallow space for soil regeneration; provide access to limited water sources; be reserved for future generations; or enable local farmers to increase production. The fact that rich and emerging economies do not have or do not respect pastoralists or use land for age-old customs does not mean we have a right to label this land unused.

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