Two items came out this past week that are intimately related, although probably not intentionally linked. Foreign Policy and The Fund For Peace released their annual Index of Failed States. Africa Ia A Country calls them out, it is a failed index.

We at Africa Is a Country think Foreign Policy and the Fund for Peace should either radically rethink the Failed States Index, which they publish in collaboration each year, or abandon it altogether. We just can’t take it seriously: It’s a failed index.

Foreign Policy’s 2012 Failed States Index, note the color key and the continent of Africa.

This year, pro forma, almost the entire African continent shows up on the Failed States map in the guiltiest shade of red. The accusation is that with a handful of exceptions, African states are failing in 2012. But what does this tell us? What does it actually mean? Frankly, we have no idea. The index is so flawed in its conception, so incoherent in its structuring criteria, and so misleading in its presentation that from the perspective of those who live or work in those places condemned as failures, it’s difficult to receive the ranking as anything more than a predictable annual canard issued from Washington, D.C. against non-Western — and particularly African — nations.

The problem is that there are any number of reasons why the Fund for Peace might decide that a state is failing. The Washington-based think tank has a methodology of sorts, but Foreign Policy insists on making the list accessible primarily through a series of “Postcards from Hell.” Flipping through the slide show, it’s impossible to shrug off the suspicion that the whole affair is a sloppy cocktail of cultural bigotries and liberal-democratic commonplaces — a faux-empirical sham that packs quite a nasty racialized aftertaste. How do we know if a state is failing or not? Old chestnuts like the rule of law are certainly considered, but also in play are things like economic growth, economic “success,” poverty, inequality, corruption, nonstate violence, state violence, human rights abuses, body counts, terrorism, health care, “fragility,” political dissent, social divisions, and levels of authoritarianism. And yes, we’ll be indexing all of those at once, and more.

The golden principle by which this muddle is to be marshaled oh-so-objectively into a grand spectrum of state failure coefficients is apparently the idea of “stability.” But is it really?

Stability is where the other item falls into place. William Easterly published the a new ad from the Marine Corps, calling it The Worst Promotional Aid Video of All Time

Courtesy of the Marines, ad during the Euro Cup final paid for with your taxpayer dollars, “Moving towards the sounds of chaos”.

“We are the first to move towards the sounds of tyranny, injustice, and despair” (image of helicopter gunship carrying boxes labelled “aid”)

The target audience of the commercial included vast numbers of people from the majority of the world whose states the Index labels failed or failing.

This is aid at gunpoint, it is also called stability operations, the reason the US Africa Command was created. The notion of stability is meant to be incoherent. It needs to be redefined for each country whose resources the US wants to acquire. Stability operations are needed to quell and control any groups or individuals who may stand in the way of perceived US interests, including acting against legally constituted governments.

Military aid and questionable trade are the twin pillars of US involvement in Africa. Imperial acquisition masquerades as humanitarian aid and manifests as the militarization of the continent through the US Africa Command, AFRICOM. Of course AFRICOM’s fact sheet speaks about working with military partners. These partners are intended to be proxies or surrogates that will provide stability without accountability for corporate interests to extract resources.

Below are stills from the commercial. The invasion pictured is exactly what the US is training itself and its intended African proxies to do along the coasts and in the creeks of the entire continent.

View of coastal military “aid” invasion from helicopter gunship

By sea, by air, military invasion to apply “aid”

Charging through to surf

By land, by sea, by air, bringing “aid” with very big guns

Boxes of Aid, filled with who knows what

Military vehicles carrying boxes marked Aid

View from a helicopter gunship carrying a box marked Aid

The invading forces deliver the Aid at gunpoint

Polling in 2010 revealed something about US citizens’ understanding of the country’s budget. Although 1% of the federal budget is spent on foreign aid, when asked, American’s median response was to say 25% of the budget goes to foreign aid. One may deduce the reason for the discrepancy between the reality and the perception of aid is that many Americans think their military activity around the world is aid. The Marines commercial is certainly intended to reinforce that view.

Stability operations are intended to stabilize a country, not to make it more democratic, not to make its government more accountable, but to make it easier and more efficient for corporations to extract the resources they want from a country. Instead of being self governed, countries are subjected to military occupation with unaccountable NGOs supposedly doing the service work of government. Failed states may be more desirable to deal with than states with democratic or somewhat representative government. Those states must answer to their own people, not US or international corporations. The US has been trying to label Nigeria a failed state for more than a decade. The kind of “humanitarian” invasion so vividly depicted in the commercial (although there is no blood in the commercial) is quite likely to bring, or increase, tyranny, injustice, and despair to the countries it targets.

The US Africa Command puts heavy emphasis on fighting terrorism. But a terrorist may be anyone acting against US perception of its self interest, frequently those called terrorists are just political opposition. You can see this at work in the Index of Failed States.

Foreign Policy explains to its readers that Malawi (No. 36 on this year’s index) is to be considered a failed state on account of the 19 people killed by police during popular protests against Bingu wa Mutharika’s government a year ago. Yet such dissent is evidence of the strength of Malawian civil society and the determination of ordinary Malawians not to get screwed by their government. Malawi is undoubtedly better off for these protests, not worse. What makes the country’s listing as a failed state look even sillier is that Malawi recently endured a blissfully peaceful transition of power following Mutharika’s sudden death, with constitutional guidelines scrupulously adhered to despite the vested interests of many of the country’s ruling class.

… So how exactly can a democratic country like, say, Nigeria ever hope to satisfy the whimsical judgment of Foreign Policy magazine? The Occupy Nigeria movement that demonstrated against corruption and the removal of the country’s fuel subsidy in January was a peaceful mass movement that achieved major gains for working people. It was a thoroughly global protest, with Nigerians in the diaspora taking to the streets of Brussels, London, New York, and Washington, D.C., to demand better governance in Nigeria. Yet these protests are listed on the country’s “postcard” alongside terrorist attacks by Boko Haram as equal evidence of Nigeria’s “hellishness.” For some reason, the postcard neglects to mention the extraordinary spectacle of protesters in Nigerian cities standing guard outside each other’s places of worship — Muslims outside churches, Christians at the doors of mosques — so that each group could pray without fear of further bombings.

Many of the Postcards from Hell, in fact, simply show popular protests taking place, as though dissent and social demonstrations are themselves signs of state failure. What kind of half-baked political theory is this? Maybe protests are bad for business and troublesome, but for whom exactly? And are we ranking the state or the society? Or both at once?

The Postcards from Hell also insist that there are no white people in this year’s story of state failure …

There will never be a Postcard from Hell that bears a picture of an American street. But what if there were? What would go on there?

Perhaps the picture could be of the moment last year when a police officer seized a U.C.-Berkeley college professor by the hair and flung her to the ground.

One thing is certain, Foreign Policy and The Fund for Peace are enabling the lie that military intervention is humanitarian aid, particularly in resource rich Africa. They reinforce the notion that poor people are dangerous people. In doing so they are actively working against development in Africa and against the best interests of African people. They help justify the poisonously destructive picture of aid painted by the Marine Corps commercial.

Added July 5

What we see in the Marine Corps ad is a Marine Air Ground Task Force. In 2010 the US Africa Command began developing MAGTF units for use in Africa.

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

“MAGTF’s are readily available, self-sustaining, combined arms warfighting organizations,” the Marines’ Web site explains, noting among other things that such task forces are equipped to move forces into crisis areas without revealing their exact destination or intentions and project combat power at night and under adverse weather.

These are warfighting units designed to project US power and defend US interests.

Who would need to give permission for these strike forces to strike? What would constitute a legal and appropriate use of these forces? Suppose the US government, or US based corporations do not like the policies of a certain African government? Would that government be subject to attack? Or suppose the US government or US based corporations are very happy with a particular government but that government is highly unpopular with its own people. Will the US strike against the opposition? Would it strike against political demonstrations? What would make such a strike legitimate? I can’t think of any good answers to these questions, but they must be answered, and in fact will be answered, in deed and by default, if not with diplomacy. The message the US is sending is that it feels entitled to take what it wants, wherever it wants, by force. This is the basic message of colonialism.

William Easterly, @bill_easterly, had several relevant tweets today. He sums it up most succinctly:

“Failed State” means “state which somebody is advocating invading.”

And adds:

“Failed State” is conveniently vague for Great Powers that want to intervene in their own interests

1 Term justifies Drug War MexicoColombia and War on Terror IraqAfghanistanYemenPakistanSomalia

He pointed out the flaws in the term “failed state” over two years ago:

Top 5 reasons why “failed state” is a failed concept

1) “State failure” is leading to confused policy making.

For example, it is causing the military to attempt overly ambitious nation-building and development to approach counter-terrorism, under the unproven assumption that “failed states” produce terrorism.

2) “State failure” has failed to produce any useful academic research in economics

3) “State failure” has no coherent definition.

4) The only possible meaningful definition adds nothing new to our understanding of state behavior, and is not really measurable.

5)  “State failure” appeared for political reasons.

You can read more explanation and detail and view diagrams tracking the term at the link. His initial tweet on the subject today still sums it up.

“Failed State” means “state which somebody is advocating invading.”

In his Nobel acceptance speech President Obama said:

… the United States of America has helped underwrite global security for more than six decades with the blood of our citizens and the strength of our arms.

Stream crossing on the road to Tunis shows a by-pass built by engineers after enemy blew up an ancient stone bridge near the mill beyond. Strange procession of jeeps, peeps, half-tracks, tanks, oxcarts, Arabs and soldiers moves across the waterway, which is several miles behind the front lines. Light traffic uses the timber roadbed and steel bridge, while heavier vehicles ford the stream. Soldiers strip and wash away the dust of a campaign.

US forces in Tunisia 1943, illustration by Fletcher Martin, click to enlarge and read caption. (link provided below)

Over at Open Left, Paul Rosenberg examines Obama’s claim:

Just take a look [at the list below], and ask yourself, is this what global security looks like? Or is it a confused mish-mash best explained not as a defense of freedom and global security, but as the unaccountable workings of empire? Remember, not a single one of the interventions listed … was authorized by a congressional declaration of war–the legally prescribed process under the Constitution. UN Security Council approval–required under international law, which is also binding under the US Constitution–has been almost as rare, meaning that virtually everything listed below is a specific collective national act of lawless violence, carrying with it countless individual acts of violence as well. But this is the record of ‘underwriting global security’ that Obama blithely claims as justification for yet more of the same lawless violence in the name of ‘peace.’ Here’ the table of contents from Killing Hope: US Military and CIA Interventions Since World War II by William Blum:

1. China – 1945 to 1960s: Was Mao Tse-tung just paranoid?
2. Italy – 1947-1948: Free elections, Hollywood style
3. Greece – 1947 to early 1950s: From cradle of democracy to client state
4. The Philippines – 1940s and 1950s: America’s oldest colony
5. Korea – 1945-1953: Was it all that it appeared to be?
6. Albania – 1949-1953: The proper English spy
7. Eastern Europe – 1948-1956: Operation Splinter Factor
8. Germany – 1950s: Everything from juvenile delinquency to terrorism
9. Iran – 1953: Making it safe for the King of Kings
10. Guatemala – 1953-1954: While the world watched
11. Costa Rica – Mid-1950s: Trying to topple an ally – Part 1
12. Syria – 1956-1957: Purchasing a new government
13. Middle East – 1957-1958: The Eisenhower Doctrine claims another backyard for America
14. Indonesia – 1957-1958: War and pornography
15. Western Europe – 1950s and 1960s: Fronts within fronts within fronts
16. British Guiana – 1953-1964: The CIA’s international labor mafia
17. Soviet Union – Late 1940s to 1960s: From spy planes to book publishing
18. Italy – 1950s to 1970s: Supporting the Cardinal’s orphans and techno-fascism
19. Vietnam – 1950-1973: The Hearts and Minds Circus
20. Cambodia – 1955-1973: Prince Sihanouk walks the high-wire of neutralism
21. Laos – 1957-1973: L’Armée Clandestine
22. Haiti – 1959-1963: The Marines land, again
23. Guatemala – 1960: One good coup deserves another
24. France/Algeria – 1960s: L’état, c’est la CIA
25. Ecuador – 1960-1963: A text book of dirty tricks
26. The Congo – 1960-1964: The assassination of Patrice Lumumba
27. Brazil – 1961-1964: Introducing the marvelous new world of death squads
28. Peru – 1960-1965: Fort Bragg moves to the jungle
29. Dominican Republic – 1960-1966: Saving democracy from communism by getting rid of democracy
30. Cuba – 1959 to 1980s: The unforgivable revolution
31. Indonesia – 1965: Liquidating President Sukarno … and 500,000 others
East Timor – 1975: And 200,000 more
32. Ghana – 1966: Kwame Nkrumah steps out of line
33. Uruguay – 1964-1970: Torture — as American as apple pie
34. Chile – 1964-1973: A hammer and sickle stamped on your child’s forehead
35. Greece – 1964-1974: “Fuck your Parliament and your Constitution,” said
the President of the United States
36. Bolivia – 1964-1975: Tracking down Che Guevara in the land of coup d’etat
37. Guatemala – 1962 to 1980s: A less publicized “final solution”
38. Costa Rica – 1970-1971: Trying to topple an ally — Part 2
39. Iraq – 1972-1975: Covert action should not be confused with missionary work
40. Australia – 1973-1975: Another free election bites the dust
41. Angola – 1975 to 1980s: The Great Powers Poker Game
42. Zaire – 1975-1978: Mobutu and the CIA, a marriage made in heaven
43. Jamaica – 1976-1980: Kissinger’s ultimatum
44. Seychelles – 1979-1981: Yet another area of great strategic importance
45. Grenada – 1979-1984: Lying — one of the few growth industries in Washington
46. Morocco – 1983: A video nasty
47. Suriname – 1982-1984: Once again, the Cuban bogeyman
48. Libya – 1981-1989: Ronald Reagan meets his match
49. Nicaragua – 1981-1990: Destabilization in slow motion
50. Panama – 1969-1991: Double-crossing our drug supplier
51. Bulgaria 1990/Albania 1991: Teaching communists what democracy is all about
52. Iraq – 1990-1991: Desert holocaust
53. Afghanistan – 1979-1992: America’s Jihad
54. El Salvador – 1980-1994: Human rights, Washington style
55. Haiti – 1986-1994: Who will rid me of this turbulent priest?
56. The American Empire – 1992 to present
Appendix I: This is How the Money Goes Round
Appendix II: Instances of Use of United States Armed Forces Abroad, 1798-1945
Appendix III: U. S. Government Assassination Plots

* * * * *

Reaching farther back Zoltán Grossman provides:

table and commentary at the link.

COUNTRY OR STATE || Dates of intervention || Forces || Comments
SOUTH DAKOTA || 1890 (-?) || Troops || 300 Lakota Indians massacred at Wounded Knee.
ARGENTINA || 1890 || Troops || Buenos Aires interests protected.
CHILE || 1891 || Troops || Marines clash with nationalist rebels.
HAITI || 1891 || Troops || Black revolt on Navassa defeated.
IDAHO || 1892 || Troops || Army suppresses silver miners’ strike.
HAWAII || 1893 (-?) || Naval, troops || Independent kingdom overthrown, annexed.
CHICAGO || 1894 || Troops || Breaking of rail strike, 34 killed.
NICARAGUA || 1894 || Troops || Month-long occupation of Bluefields.
CHINA || 1894-95 || Naval, troops || Marines land in Sino-Japanese War
KOREA || 1894-96 || Troops || Marines kept in Seoul during war.
PANAMA || 1895 || Troops, naval || Marines land in Colombian province.
NICARAGUA || 1896 || Troops || Marines land in port of Corinto.
CHINA || 1898-1900 || Troops || Boxer Rebellion fought by foreign armies.
PHILIPPINES || 1898-1910 (-?) || Naval, troops || Seized from Spain, killed 600,000 Filipinos
CUBA || 1898-1902 (-?) || Naval, troops || Seized from Spain, still hold Navy base.
PUERTO RICO || 1898 (-?) || Naval, troops || Seized from Spain, occupation continues.
GUAM || 1898 (-?) || Naval, troops || Seized from Spain, still use as base.
MINNESOTA || 1898 (-?) || Troops || Army battles Chippewa at Leech Lake.
NICARAGUA || 1898 || Troops || Marines land at port of San Juan del Sur.
SAMOA || 1899 (-?) || Troops || Battle over succession to throne.
NICARAGUA || 1899 || Troops || Marines land at port of Bluefields.
IDAHO || 1899-1901 || Troops || Army occupies Coeur d’Alene mining region.
OKLAHOMA || 1901 || Troops || Army battles Creek Indian revolt.
PANAMA || 1901-14 || Naval, troops || Broke off from Colombia 1903, annexed Canal Zone 1914.
HONDURAS || 1903 || Troops || Marines intervene in revolution.
DOMINICAN REPUBLIC || 1903-04 || Troops || U.S. interests protected in Revolution.
KOREA || 1904-05 || Troops || Marines land in Russo-Japanese War.
CUBA || 1906-09 || Troops || Marines land in democratic election.
NICARAGUA || 1907 || Troops || “Dollar Diplomacy” protectorate set up.
HONDURAS || 1907 || Troops || Marines land during war with Nicaragua
PANAMA || 1908 || Troops || Marines intervene in election contest.
NICARAGUA || 1910 || Troops || Marines land in Bluefields and Corinto.
HONDURAS || 1911 || Troops || U.S. interests protected in civil war.
CHINA || 1911-41 || Naval, troops || Continuous occupation with flare-ups.
CUBA || 1912 || Troops || U.S. interests protected in civil war.
PANAMA || 1912 || Troops || Marines land during heated election.
HONDURAS || 1912 || Troops || Marines protect U.S. economic interests.
NICARAGUA || 1912-33 || Troops, bombing || 10-year occupation, fought guerillas
MEXICO || 1913 || Naval || Americans evacuated during revolution.
DOMINICAN REPUBLIC || 1914 || Naval || Fight with rebels over Santo Domingo.
COLORADO || 1914 || Troops || Breaking of miners’ strike by Army.
MEXICO || 1914-18 || Naval, troops || Series of interventions against nationalists.
HAITI || 1914-34 || Troops, || bombing 19-year occupation after revolts.
DOMINICAN REPUBLIC || 1916-24 || Troops || 8-year Marine occupation.
CUBA || 1917-33 || Troops || Military occupation, economic protectorate.
WORLD WAR I || 1917-18 || Naval, troops || Ships sunk, fought Germany for 1 1/2 years.
RUSSIA || 1918-22 || Naval, troops || Five landings to fight Bolsheviks
PANAMA || 1918-20 || Troops || “Police duty” during unrest after elections.
HONDURAS || 1919 || Troops || Marines land during election campaign.
YUGOSLAVIA || 1919 || Troops/Marines || intervene for Italy against Serbs in Dalmatia.
GUATEMALA || 1920 || Troops || 2-week intervention against unionists.
WEST VIRGINIA || 1920-21 || Troops, bombing || Army intervenes against mineworkers.
TURKEY || 1922 || Troops || Fought nationalists in Smyrna.
CHINA || 1922-27 || Naval, troops || Deployment during nationalist revolt.
HONDURAS || 1924-25 || Troops || Landed twice during election strife.
PANAMA || 1925 || Troops || Marines suppress general strike.
CHINA || 1927-34 || Troops || Marines stationed throughout the country.
EL SALVADOR || 1932 || Naval || Warships send during Marti revolt.
WASHINGTON DC || 1932 || Troops || Army stops WWI vet bonus protest.
WORLD WAR II || 1941-45 || Naval, troops, bombing, nuclear || Hawaii bombed, fought Japan, Italy and Germay for 3 years; first nuclear war.
DETROIT || 1943 || Troops || Army put down Black rebellion.
IRAN || 1946 || Nuclear threat || Soviet troops told to leave north.
YUGOSLAVIA || 1946 || Nuclear threat, naval || Response to shoot-down of US plane.
URUGUAY || 1947 || Nuclear threat || Bombers deployed as show of strength.
GREECE || 1947-49 || Command operation || U.S. directs extreme-right in civil war.
GERMANY || 1948 || Nuclear Threat || Atomic-capable bombers guard Berlin Airlift.
CHINA || 1948-49 || Troops/Marines || evacuate Americans before Communist victory.
PHILIPPINES || 1948-54 || Command operation || CIA directs war against Huk Rebellion.
PUERTO RICO || 1950 || Command operation || Independence rebellion crushed in Ponce.
KOREA || 1951-53 (-?) || Troops, naval, bombing , nuclear threats || U.S./So. Korea fights China/No. Korea to stalemate; A-bomb threat in 1950, and against China in 1953. Still have bases.
IRAN || 1953 || Command Operation || CIA overthrows democracy, installs Shah.
VIETNAM || 1954 || Nuclear threat || French offered bombs to use against seige.
GUATEMALA || 1954 || Command operation, bombing, nuclear threat || CIA directs exile invasion after new gov’t nationalized U.S. company lands; bombers based in Nicaragua.
EGYPT || 1956 || Nuclear threat, troops || Soviets told to keep out of Suez crisis; Marines evacuate foreigners.
LEBANON || 1958 || Troops, naval || Marine occupation against rebels.
IRAQ || 1958 || Nuclear threat || Iraq warned against invading Kuwait.
CHINA || l958 || Nuclear threat || China told not to move on Taiwan isles.
PANAMA || 1958 || Troops || Flag protests erupt into confrontation.
VIETNAM || 1960-75 || Troops, naval, bombing, nuclear threats || Fought South Vietnam revolt & North Vietnam; one million killed in longest U.S. war; atomic bomb threats in l968 and l969.
CUBA || l961 || Command operation || CIA-directed exile invasion fails.
GERMANY || l961 || Nuclear threat || Alert during Berlin Wall crisis.
LAOS || 1962 || Command operation || Military buildup during guerrilla war.
CUBA || l962 || Nuclear threat, naval || Blockade during missile crisis; near-war with Soviet Union.
IRAQ || 1963 || Command operation || CIA organizes coup that killed president, brings Ba’ath Party to power, and Saddam Hussein back from exile to be head of the secret service.
PANAMA || l964 || Troops || Panamanians shot for urging canal’s return.
INDONESIA || l965 || Command operation || Million killed in CIA-assisted army coup.
DOMINICAN REPUBLIC || 1965-66 || Troops, bombing || Marines land during election campaign.
GUATEMALA || l966-67 || Command operation || Green Berets intervene against rebels.
DETROIT || l967 || Troops || Army battles African Americans, 43 killed.
UNITED STATES || l968 || Troops || After King is shot; over 21,000 soldiers in cities.
CAMBODIA || l969-75 || Bombing, troops, naval || Up to 2 million killed in decade of bombing, starvation, and political chaos.
OMAN || l970 || Command operation || U.S. directs Iranian marine invasion.
LAOS || l971-73 || Command operation, bombing || U.S. directs South Vietnamese invasion; “carpet-bombs” countryside.
SOUTH DAKOTA || l973 || Command operation || Army directs Wounded Knee siege of Lakotas.
MIDEAST || 1973 || Nuclear threat || World-wide alert during Mideast War.
CHILE || 1973 || Command operation || CIA-backed coup ousts elected marxist president.
CAMBODIA || l975 || Troops, bombing || Gas captured ship, 28 die in copter crash.
ANGOLA || l976-92 || Command operation || CIA assists South African-backed rebels.
IRAN || l980 || Troops, nuclear threat, aborted bombing || Raid to rescue Embassy hostages; 8 troops die in copter-plane crash. Soviets warned not to get involved in revolution.
LIBYA || l981 || Naval jets || Two Libyan jets shot down in maneuvers.
EL SALVADOR || l981-92 || Command operation, troops || Advisors, overflights aid anti-rebel war, soldiers briefly involved in hostage clash.
NICARAGUA || l981-90 || Command operation, naval || CIA directs exile (Contra) invasions, plants harbor mines against revolution.
LEBANON || l982-84 || Naval, bombing, troops || Marines expel PLO and back Phalangists, Navy bombs and shells Muslim positions.
GRENADA || l983-84 || Troops, bombing || Invasion four years after revolution.
HONDURAS || l983-89 || Troops || Maneuvers help build bases near borders.
IRAN || l984 || Jets || Two Iranian jets shot down over Persian Gulf.
LIBYA || l986 || Bombing, naval || Air strikes to topple nationalist gov’t.
BOLIVIA || 1986 || Troops || Army assists raids on cocaine region.
IRAN || l987-88 || Naval, bombing || US intervenes on side of Iraq in war.
LIBYA || 1989 || Naval jets || Two Libyan jets shot down.
VIRGIN ISLANDS || 1989 || Troops || St. Croix Black unrest after storm.
PHILIPPINES || 1989 || Jets || Air cover provided for government against coup.
PANAMA || 1989 (-?) || Troops, bombing || Nationalist government ousted by 27,000 soldiers, leaders arrested, 2000+ killed.
LIBERIA || 1990 || Troops || Foreigners evacuated during civil war.
SAUDI ARABIA || 1990-91 || Troops, jets || Iraq countered after invading Kuwait. 540,000 troops also stationed in Oman, Qatar, Bahrain, UAE, Israel.
IRAQ || 1990-? || Bombing, troops, naval || Blockade of Iraqi and Jordanian ports, air strikes; 200,000+ killed in invasion of Iraq and Kuwait; no-fly zone over Kurdish north, Shiite south, large-scale destruction of Iraqi military.
KUWAIT || 1991 || Naval, bombing, troops || Kuwait royal family returned to throne.
LOS ANGELES || 1992 || Troops Army, || Marines deployed against anti-police uprising.
SOMALIA || 1992-94 || Troops, naval, bombing || U.S.-led United Nations occupation during civil war; raids against one Mogadishu faction.
YUGOSLAVIA || 1992-94 || Naval || NATO blockade of Serbia and Montenegro.
BOSNIA || 1993-? || Jets, bombing || No-fly zone patrolled in civil war; downed jets, bombed Serbs.
HAITI || 1994 Troops, naval || Blockade against military government; troops restore President Aristide to office three years after coup.
ZAIRE (CONGO) || 1996-97 || Troops || Marines at Rwandan Hutu refugee camps, in area where Congo revolution begins.
LIBERIA || 1997 || Troops || Soldiers under fire during evacuation of foreigners.
ALBANIA || 1997 || Troops || Soldiers under fire during evacuation of foreigners.
SUDAN || 1998 || Missiles || Attack on pharmaceutical plant alleged to be “terrorist” nerve gas plant.
AFGHANISTAN || 1998 || Missiles || Attack on former CIA training camps used by Islamic fundamentalist groups alleged to have attacked embassies.
IRAQ || 1998-? || Bombing, Missiles || Four days of intensive air strikes after weapons inspectors allege Iraqi obstructions.
YUGOSLAVIA || 1999 || Bombing, Missiles || Heavy NATO air strikes after Serbia declines to withdraw from Kosovo. NATO occupation of Kosovo.
YEMEN || 2000 || Naval || USS Cole, docked in Aden, bombed.
MACEDONIA || || 2001 Troops || NATO forces deployed to move and disarm Albanian rebels.
UNITED STATES || 2001 || Jets, naval || Reaction to hijacker attacks on New York, DC
AFGHANISTAN || 2001-? || Troops, bombing, missiles || Massive U.S. mobilization to overthrow Taliban, hunt Al Qaeda fighters, install Karzai regime, and battle Taliban insurgency. More than 30,000 U.S. troops and numerous private security contractors carry our occupation.
YEMEN || 2002 || Missiles || Predator drone missile attack on Al Qaeda, including a US citizen.
PHILIPPINES || 2002-? || Troops, naval || Training mission for Philippine military fighting Abu Sayyaf rebels evolves into combat missions in Sulu Archipelago, west of Mindanao.
COLOMBIA || 2003-? || Troops || US special forces sent to rebel zone to back up Colombian military protecting oil pipeline.
IRAQ || 2003-? || Troops, naval, bombing, missiles || Saddam regime toppled in Baghdad. More than 250,000 U.S. personnel participate in invasion. US and UK forces occupy country and battle Sunni and Shi’ite insurgencies. More than 160,000 troops and numerous private contractors carry out occupation and build large permanent bases.
LIBERIA || 2003 || Troops || Brief involvement in peacekeeping force as rebels drove out leader.
HAITI || 2004-05 || Troops, naval || Marines land after right-wing rebels oust elected President Aristide, who was advised to leave by Washington.
PAKISTAN || 2005-? || Missiles, bombing, covert operation || CIA missile and air strikes and Special Forces raids on alleged Al Qaeda and Taliban refuge villages kill multiple civilians.
SOMALIA || 2006-? || Missiles, naval, covert operation || Special Forces advise Ethiopian invasion that topples Islamist government; AC-130 strikes and Cruise missile attacks against Islamist rebels; naval blockade against “pirates” and insurgents.
SYRIA || 2008 || Troops || Special Forces in helicopter raid 5 miles from Iraq kill 8 Syrian civilians

* * * * *

The picture at the top from Tunisia in 1943 is by Fletcher Martin, war artist for Life magazine. This picture appeared along with others in the December 1943 issue. Although it comes out of the past, it speaks to the present as well, showing American soldiers in an African country, amongst the traditional architecture and culture of that country. Martin is a superb illustrator. His portraits of soldiers faces, if you follow the link, could have come from Iraq or Afghanistan today as easily as from Tunisia in 1943, though being 1943, only white soldiers are pictured.

The question yet to be answered in this century is what is the US fighting for today, why is it fighting. There have been lots of misleading explanations, and even more speculation. But we have no genuine and truthful answers as to what? and why?

The US Africa Command, AFRICOM, is just the latest expression of the historical process delineated in the lists above.