Saturday, December 10, 2011

AFRICOM, the 4-G Upgrade

by Chioma Oruh on Wednesday, March 30, 2011
In May 2009, President Muammar Gadaffi met with General William “Kip” Ward, former commander of the USAFRICOM to express his support of the “new America”.  Ironically, 2009 was also the same year that Gadaffi decided to nationalize more oil fields than previously under state control in the past. Admittedly, despite his socialist rhetoric Gadaffi remains a complex neocolonial political force that has made many selfish, opportunist and controversial moves while all the time retaining his position as ruler of Libya. Perhaps his over confidence as state ruler for life led him to make the miscalculations made in relationship to US military presence in Africa. Or could he really have sipped on the same kool aid that suggests Obama’s America is somehow a different flavor from any other presidency in US imperialist history? Whatever the case maybe, Gadaffi’s struggles are the gateway drug for many more foreign military exercises to come in Africa.

Imperial Military in Realtime

In the midst of the UN resolutions 1970 and 1973 that sanctioned a no fly zone and gave permissions for NATO sponsored air strikes, Gadaffi has woken to a sobering hangover that this “new America” is no different than the old one.  The question remains, when will the rest of the African world awake to the upgraded version of militarism of white power in black face? Just hours after President Barack Obama (also fondly known as the white house-negro) announced at the National Defense University his plans to order warships into the Mediterranean for “humanitarian reasons” did the US make a move. On the morning of March 29th, a U.S. Navy P-3C Maritime Patrol aircraft, a U.S. Air Force A-10 Thunderbolt attack aircraft and guided-missile destroyer USS Barry (DDG-52) engaged with the Libyan Coast Guard vessel Vittoria and two smaller crafts in a military altercation. This is the first big military move after 100+ missiles launched on Libya on March 19th.  Even as Obama made promises to the television audience that he would not commit any ground troops, the A-10 Thunderbolt that just attacked Libya is well known to be an aircraft specifically designed for ground troop support.  Such military moves make the arrival of US troops an inevitable move and war its only mission.

Obama also noted that the military attack of Libya is done in “coalition” efforts led by NATO and endorsed by the Arab league.  Forget that the weak opposition of the African Union hasn’t got much press, what’s most ironic is that Obama didn’t even bat an eye as he made the same illegitimate case for war that George Bush did in 2003 at the dawn of the Iraq War.  Operation Odyssey Dawn in Libya is looking a lot like Operation Iraqi Freedom. It is also important to note that the US contributes the most military weaponry and manpower to NATO, and so whether it’s the war in Iraq or Afghanistan or Libya, NATO is code word for US military command efforts.  In the case of Libya, AFRICOM is already being mentioned with curiosity as militarists at the Pentagon are salivating at the opportunity to give their four-year efforts a test-run.

AFRICOM: the Centerfold of the US Command Plan

The current political climate in North Africa is truly the perfect storm for AFRICOM to flex its muscles and sharpen its mission to “ conduct sustained security engagement through military-to-military program, military-sponsored activities and other military operations” in Africa.   Born as the brainchild project of Donald Rumsfeld as he stood on his last political leg during the Fallujah scandal in 2006, former President George Bush brought AFRICOM to public attention in a February 2007 press statement announcing this new and humanitarian version of a military command program. It spent its first year as a concept with a $50 million budget focused on public relations.  Four years later, not only does AFRICOM’s have a budget increase of $302 million, but it has its headquarter in Stuggart, Germany, sub-stations at US Embassies throughout Africa and many active programs on the ground.  One of its prominent programs is called “Hub” training as part of the African Partnership Station (APS). “Hub” has trained soldiers and police from Djibouti, Kenya, Mauritius, Mozambique and Tanzania by US naval forces.  APS focuses on maritime law and concentrates its focus on border nations that allows for US military forces an excuse to remain involved in all strategic trade posts at all times.

AFRICOM, unlike its counterpart in the Middle East and parts of Asia known as CENTCOM, is young and fresh without the historic baggage of dethroning the Shah in the 1950s, fighting Israel’s war for her in the 1960s, getting kicked out of Afghanistan in the 1970s, making a mess in Iran in the 1980s, being exposed as a gluttonous oil-monger in Kuwait in the 1990s and completely going war-crazy with the dual assaults on Iraq and Afghanistan in the first decade of the 21st century.  AFRICOM is part and parcel of a neocolonial makeover plan to give imperialism a new strategy with new leadership and new methods of forwarding an age-old imperial agenda to carry a big stick with a flashing smile.

Gadaffi is an easy mark to make a moral argument for “humanitarian intervention” as his own contradictions as an illegitimate political patriarch allow for imperial exploitation.  As traumatizing as it is to hear of over 100 missiles dropping on the Libyan people or the Djibouti sub-station (along with the US embassies in Tunisian and Egypt) being used as a launch pad for future military aggression, the worst of military aggression is yet to come.

The Future of US Militarism, AFRICOM in 4-G

Retired AFRICOM commander, Kip Ward, is currently on a speaking tour to continue to assist with the public relations of AFRICOM as he has passed the baton to General Carter F. Ham. Unlike Ward and many other generals, Ham has extensive combat experience to go along with his officer training. In sum, he is a strategist and has been called the “go-to guy” for Defense Secretary Robert Gates. Why the upgrade? It’s simple. The US is going to war on Africa and will execute an aggressive campaign to intervene in the plethora of unstable states in the region.  It is safe to say that the training wheels are off and AFRICOM as a military machine is fully operational.

It is estimated the US Defense budget will reach $1 Trillion in 2012 and because AFRICOM’s budget is sure to increase significantly as war necessitates more weapons, infantry support, intelligence operations and administrative staff salaries.  The AFRICOM website alludes to a substantial increase in funding and credits this potential inflated budget to a re-shuffling of monies given to the DoD as part of a $150 Billion “reinvestment for efficiency savings”.  When the real numbers are announced, jaws are most certain to drop.  Yet, any surprised responses on the US stepping up its military aggression on Africa are unfounded. The motivation for sustained military presence in Africa are too many to list, yet, it is important to outline some key places that will be met with greater force in the next few years.

Coastline countries will be of increasing interest for maritime operations. Countries that border places like the Gulf of Guinea (Cote d’Ivoire, Ghana, Nigeria), the Gulf of Aden (Djibouti, Ethiopia, Somalia) and Africa’s borders on the western Indian Ocean (Kenya, Madagascar, South Africa).  Of course Libya, which borders the Mediterranean, is significant and is the christening border location for these increased military strategies. In addition to the oil-resource that border countries offer, they also are strategic trade posts (with the War on Drugs as the perfect excuse to create stations as AFRICOM has already launched the APS training programs).  Each of the countries listed as border countries are sure to make headlines in the next coming months as unstable and creating the necessary political climate for more US “humanitarian intervention”.  Cote d’Ivoire will soon erupt in a civil war, upcoming Nigerian elections is sure to irritate the militants of the Niger Delta, Somalia remains unstable, Ethiopia-Eritrean border tensions are sure to result in conflict in the region, Kenyan and Ghana drug trade will allow for foreign intervention, oppositional forces in Madagascar will make more aggressive moves against the newly elected government and South Africa’s President Zuma will eat his words for speaking out against the US attack on Libya.  Of course, there are also countries of the Great Lakes, with particular focus on the DRC, which are of high interest to the US imperial agenda due to resource wealth. Political instability in the region also gives way to increased military aggression.

All the while, AFRICOM will continue to make headway and state-sovereignty in every African country (both on the coast and in the mainland) will continue to deteriorate. Of course, this story has a potential plot twist with the birth of a new African liberation movement looking to unify and define itself. Obama is living out the main reason he was allowed the seat of presidency of a historically unapologetic white supremacist nation-state project of Manifest Destiny. The dual dose of a reality check that both AFRICOM and Obama offer is filled with the promise to rejuvenate a defeated liberation movement waiting in the periphery to make real revolution for Africa. And for this reason (and many more) luta continua!

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