by BAR executive editor Glen Ford
As the U.S. and its NATO allies move southward to further consolidate their grip on Africa, following the seizure of Libya and its vast oil fields, most of the continent’s leadership seems to welcome re-absorption into empire. “Africa is the most vulnerable region in America’s warpath, a continent ripe for the plucking due to the multitudinous entanglements of Africa’s political and military classes with imperialism.” AFRICOM is already in the cat-bird seat, placed there by Africans, themselves.
Africa Lies Naked to Euro-American Military Offensive
by BAR executive editor Glen Ford
“The United States and its allies, principally the French, are positioned to ‘take’ much of the continent with the collaboration of most of its governments.”
The United States and its allies are engaged in an Asian and African offensive, a multi-pronged assault thinly camouflaged as humanitarian intervention that, in some regions, looks like a blitzkrieg. This frenzied aggression, still in its first year, saw NATO transformed into an expeditionary force to crush the unoffending Gaddafi regime in Libya and is now poised to topple the secular order in Syria. Although drawing on longstanding schemes for overt and covert regime change in selected countries, and fully consistent with global capital’s historic imperative to bludgeon the planet into one malleable market subordinate to Washington, London and Paris, the current offensive had a particular genesis in time: the nightmare vision of an Arab awakening.
The prospect of an Arab Spring at the dawn of 2011 sparked a general hysteria in imperial capitals. Suddenly, they stared in the face of geopolitical death at the hands of the Arab “street.” Washington understands full well that the emergence of Arab governments that reflect the will of the people would soon result, as Noam Chomsky is fond of saying, in the U.S. being “thrown out” of the region – the final toll of the bell, not just for the oil-hungry West, but for international capital’s annexes in the autocratic cesspools of the Persian Gulf.
“The prospect of an Arab Spring at the dawn of 2011 sparked a general hysteria in imperial capitals.”
With centuries of Euro-American domination flashing before their eyes, Washington, London and Paris quickly configured NATO to unleash Shock and Awe on the victim of choice in North Africa: Muammar Gaddafi. The momentum of that show of force has led an expanding cast of imperial actors to the gates of Damascus. But Africa is the most vulnerable region in America’s warpath, a continent ripe for the plucking due to the multitudinous entanglements of Africa’s political and military classes with imperialism. The awful truth is, the United States and its allies, principally the French, are positioned to “take” much of the continent with the collaboration of most of its governments and, especially, its soldiers.
AFRICOM, established in 2008 by the Bush administration and now fully the creature of President Obama’s “humanitarian” interventionist doctrine, claims military responsibility for the entire continent except Egypt. The U.S. military command has assembled a dizzying array of alliances with regional organizations and blocs of countries that, together, encompass all but a few nations on the continent – leaving those holdouts with crosshairs on their backs. As the U.S. bullies its way southward in the wake of the seizure of Libya, its path has been smoothed by the Africans, themselves.
The long U.S. war against Somalia, dramatically intensified with American backing for the Ethiopian invasion in late 2006, is now sanctioned by IGAD, the International Authority on Development in East Africa, comprised of Ethiopia; the puppet government in Somalia’s capital, Mogadishu; Kenya; Uganda; the de facto French and U.S. military protectorate, Djibouti; and, nominally, Sudan.
“As the U.S. bullies its way southward in the wake of the seizure of Libya, its path has been smoothed by the Africans, themselves.”
This year’s French-led, but nominally United Nations operation to oust the regime of Laurent Gbagbo, in Ivory Coast, was vouchsafed by ECOWAS, the 16-member Economic Community of West African States, including Benin Burkina Faso, Cape Verde, Ivory Coast, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Liberia, Mali, Nigeria, Senegal, Sierra Leone, and Togo.
AFRICOM stages a huge, annual military exercise called African Endeavor, which trains African militaries to use “standard communications practices.” African armies are taught U.S. command-and-control procedures, on American-made equipment, that is serviced by American advisors. In 2009, the militaries of 25 African nations took part in the exercise. This year, 40 nations joined Operation African Endeavor, accounting for the vast bulk of the continent’s men under arms.
More insidiously, through AFRICOM’s “soldier-to-soldier” doctrine, U.S. and African military peers are encouraged to forge one-on-one relationship up and down the levels of command: general-to-general, colonel-to-colonel, major-to-major, and even captain-to-captain. AFRICOM hopes these peer partnerings will forge personal relationships with African armed forces over the long haul, regardless of whatever regime is in power.
In the Sahel, AFRICOM maintains close relationships with virtually every nation along the vast band of land south of the Sahara desert that stretches from the Indian Ocean to the Atlantic, all under the heading of “anti-terrorism.” These include Mauritania, Mali, Chad, and Niger, plus Nigeria and Senegal. To the north, AFRICOM has similar ties to the Maghreb countries: Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia and, until this year, Gaddafi’s Libya.
“This year, 40 nations joined Operation African Endeavor, accounting for the vast bulk of the continent’s men under arms.”
AFRICOM is often the real power behind nominally African missions. AMISOM, officially the African Union’s so-called peace keeping force in Somalia, is in fact comprised of troops from Uganda and Burundi, U.S. client states that act as mercenaries for Washington, and paid for mainly by the Americans. They are soon to be joined by 500 soldiers from Djibouti. For years, AMISOM was all that saved the puppet regime in Mogadishu from instant annihilation in its tiny enclaves at the hands of the Shabab resistance. Today, the reinforced “African Union” fighters are on the offensive, along with Kenyan and Ethiopian invaders, aimed at smashing the Shabab in a pincer movement. U.S. drones based in Ethiopia and Djibouti bring death from overhead. Thus, a force nominally fielded by the African Union is an active belligerent in a U.S. engineered war that has set the Horn of Africa ablaze – a conflict also sanctioned by IGAD, the regional cooperative body.
It is only a matter of time before Eritrea, an adversary of Ethiopia and one of the few African nations outside the AFRICOM orbit, is attacked – doubtless by nominally African forces backed by the U.S. and French. Certainly, the thoroughly compromised African Union will be in no position to object.
No sooner than the last loyalist stronghold fell in Libya, President Obama extended his “humanitarian” interventionist reach deep into central Africa, sending 100 Special Forces troops to Uganda for later assignment to the Democratic Republic of Congo, the new nation of South Sudan, and the Central African Republic, the French neocolonial outpost where the Americans sent Haitian President Jean Bertrand Aristide after kidnapping him in 2004. Supposedly, the American Green Berets will hunt for the 2,000 or so fighters of the Lord’s Liberation Army – a force the Ugandans themselves could snuff out if they were not busy acting as America’s mercenaries elsewhere on the continent. (Washington’s other loyal hit man in the region, Rwanda, was cited by a United Nations report as bearing responsibility for some the millions slaughtered in Congo.)
“A force nominally fielded by the African Union is an active belligerent in a U.S. engineered war that has set the Horn of Africa ablaze.”
NATO’s aggression in Libya was made inevitable when Nigeria, South Africa and Gabon dishonored themselves at the United Nations Security Council by voting in favor of the bogus “No Fly Zone.” The momentum of the Euro-American offensive flows southward, and will soon set much of the continent afire. The Horn of Africa is already a charnel house of flame and famine, engineered by the Americans but fully joined by Africans and their regional institutions. In the west, ECOWAS legitimizes imperial policies, while in the Sahel, Africans scramble to identify targets for the Americans. Each year, most of the continent’s militaries gather round the Americans to learn how to command and control their own troops, thus making their armies useless to resist the real enemy: the U.S. and NATO.
Betrayed by a political/military class eager to integrate itself into the imperial system on any terms, Africa lies naked to the Euro-Americans.
It will be up to the slums and the bush to reverse this catastrophe. If the Americans and Europeans are to be resisted, Africans will have to fight their own governments, first.
BAR executive editor Glen Ford can be contacted at [email protected].