FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

A New Wave of Barbarism

by BEN SCHREINER

The French military intervention into Mali on Friday — France’s second in as many years into a former African colony — was reportedly “seconded” by the United States.  This ought to come as no great surprise, given the Pentagon’s deepening penetration into Africa.

According to the U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM), the Pentagon plans on deploying soldiers to 35 different African countries in 2013.  As NPR reports, upwards of 4,000 U.S. soldiers will “take part in military exercises and train African troops on everything from logistics and marksmanship to medical care.”  (The Malian army officer responsible for the country’s March coup just so happened to have received U.S. military training.)

Of course, the U.S. military already has a significant on-the-ground presence in Africa.  For instance, the “busiest Predator drone base outside of the Afghan war zone” — with 16 drone flights a day — is located at Camp Lemonnier in Djibouti.

But as the Army Times notes, “the region in many ways remains the Army’s last frontier.”  And in order to satiate the U.S. appetite for global “power projection,” no frontiers are to be left unconquered.

Thus, as a June report in the Washington Post revealed, the preliminary tentacles of the U.S. military already extend across Africa.  As the paper reported, U.S. surveillance planes are currently operating out of clandestine bases in Burkina Faso, Mauritania, Uganda, Ethiopia, Djibouti, and Kenya, with plans afoot to open a new base in South Sudan.

The Post reported further that, “the Pentagon is spending $8.1 million to upgrade a forward operating base and airstrip in Mauritania, on the western edge of the Sahara. The base is near the border with strife-torn Mali.”

And with such assets already in place, the Pentagon was in position to not only “second” France’s intervention into Mali, but, as the New York Times reported, to weigh a “broad range of options to support the French effort, including enhanced intelligence-sharing and logistics support.”

Illuminating what such U.S. support may come to eventually look like in Mali, J. Peter Pham, director of the Atlantic Council’s Africa Center in Washington and a senior strategy advisor to AFRICOM, commented: “Drone strikes or airstrikes will not restore Mali’s territorial integrity or defeat the Islamists, but they may be the least bad option.” A rather ominous sign, given that employing such a “least bad option” has already led to the slaying of hundreds of innocents in the U.S. drone campaign.

Of course, much the same as with the drone campaign, the Pentagon’s push into Africa has come neatly packaged as an extension of “war on terror.”  As a June Army Times report notes, “Africa, in particular, has emerged as a greater priority for the U.S. government because terrorist groups there have become an increasing threat to U.S. and regional security.”

But what intervention hasn’t come to be justified by employing some variant of the ever handy “war on terror” refrain?  As French President François Hollande declared on Friday, “The terrorists should know that France will always be there when the rights of a people, those of Mali who want to live freely and in a democracy, are at issue.”

“The ideology of our times, at least when it comes to legitimizing war” Jean Bricmont writes in his book Humanitarian Imperialism, “is a certain discourse on human rights and democracy.”  And, we might add, a certain cynical discourse on combating terror.

Naturally, then, the notion that the West’s renewed interest in Africa is derived from an altruistic desire to help African states combat terrorism and establish democracy is rather absurd.  It was the NATO alliance, lest one forgets, that so eagerly aligned with Salifi fighters to topple Muammar Gaddafi in Libya.  Moreover, it is this very same military alliance that is now simultaneously cheering Salifists in Syria, while bombing them in the AfPak region, Somalia, Yemen, and now Mali.

Clearly, only those practicing doublethink stand a chance of comprehending the ever shifting terrain of the Western “war on terror.”

Indeed, for once the veils of protecting “democracy” and combating “terror” are lifted, the imperial face is revealed.

Thus, the imperative driving the renewed Western interest in Africa, as Conn Hallinan helps explain, is the race to secure the continent’s vast wealth.

“The U.S. currently receives about 18 percent of its energy supplies from Africa, a figure that is slated to rise to 25 percent by 2015,” Hallinan writes.  “Africa also provides about one-third of China’s energy needs, plus copper, platinum, timber and iron ore.”

What’s more, as Maximilian Forte contends in Slouching Towards Sirte, “Chinese interest are seen as competing with the West for access to resources and political influences.  AFRICOM and a range of other U.S. government initiatives are meant to count this phenomenon.”

And this explains NATO’s 2011 foray into Libya, which removed a stubborn pan-Africanist leader threatening to frustrate AFRICOM’s expansion into the Army’s “last frontier.”  And this explains the French-led, U.S. supported intervention into Mali, which serves to forcibly assert Western interests further into Africa.

Intervention, we see, breeds intervention.  And as Nick Turse warned back in July, “Mali may only be the beginning and there’s no telling how any of it will end.”

All that appears certain is a renewed wave of barbarism, as the scramble for Africa accelerates.

Ben Schreiner is a freelance writer based in Wisconsin.  He may be reached at bnschreiner@gmail.com or via his website.

Ben Schreiner is the author of A People’s Dictionary to the ‘Exceptional Nation’.  He may be reached at bnschreiner@gmail.com or via his blog.

More articles by:

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550

zen economics

Weekend Edition
February 17, 2017
Friday - Sunday
David Price
Rogue Elephant Rising: The CIA as Kingslayer
Matthew Stevenson
Is Trump the Worst President Ever?
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Flynn?
John Wight
Brexit and Trump: Why Right is Not the New Left
Diana Johnstone
France: Another Ghastly Presidential Election Campaign; the Deep State Rises to the Surface
Neve Gordon
Trump’s One-State Option
Roger Harris
Emperor Trump Has No Clothes: Time to Organize!
Joan Roelofs
What Else is Wrong with Globalization
Andrew Levine
Why Trump’s Muslim Travel Ban?
Mike Whitney
Blood in the Water: the Trump Revolution Ends in a Whimper
Vijay Prashad
Trump, Turmoil and Resistance
Ron Jacobs
U.S. Imperial War Personified
David Swanson
Can the Climate Survive Adherence to War and Partisanship?
Andre Vltchek
Governor of Jakarta: Get Re-elected or Die!
Patrick Cockburn
The Coming Destruction of Mosul
Norman Pollack
Self-Devouring Reaction: Governmental Impasse
Steve Horn
What Do a Louisiana Pipeline Explosion and Dakota Access Pipeline Have in Common? Phillips 66
Brian Saady
Why Corporations are Too Big to Jail in the Drug War
Graham Peebles
Ethiopia: Peaceful Protest to Armed Uprising
Luke Meyer
The Case of Tony: Inside a Lifer Hearing
Binoy Kampmark
Adolf, The Donald and History
Robert Koehler
The Great American Awakening
Murray Dobbin
Canadians at Odds With Their Government on Israel
Fariborz Saremi
A Whole New World?
Joyce Nelson
Japan’s Abe, Trump & Illegal Leaks
Christopher Brauchli
Trump 1, Tillerson 0
Yves Engler
Is This Hate Speech?
Dan Bacher
Trump Administration Exempts Three CA Oil Fields From Water Protection Rule at Jerry Brown’s Request
Richard Klin
Solid Gold
Melissa Garriga
Anti-Abortion and Anti-Fascist Movements: More in Common Than Meets the Eye
Thomas Knapp
The Absurd Consequences of a “Right to Privacy”
W. T. Whitney
The Fate of Prisoner Simón Trinidad, as Seen by His U. S. Lawyer
Brian Platt
Don’t Just Oppose ICE Raids, Tear Down the Whole Racist Immigration Enforcement Regime
Paul Cantor
Refugee: the Compassionate Mind of Egon Schwartz
Norman Richmond
The Black Radical Tradition in Canada
Barton Kunstler
Rallying Against the Totalitarian Specter
Judith Deutsch
Militarism:  Revolutionary Mothering and Rosie the Riveter
Nyla Ali Khan
Kashmir Evoked a Lot More International Attention in the 1950s Than It Does Now
Adam Phillips
There Isn’t Any There There
Louis Proyect
Steinbeck’s Red Devils
Randy Shields
Left Coast Date: the Dating Site for the ORWACA Tribe
Charles R. Larson
Review: Bill Hayes’ “Insomniac City”
David Yearsley
White Supremacy and Music Theory
February 16, 2017
Peter Gaffney
The Rage of Caliban: Identity Politics, the Travel Ban, and the Shifting Ideological Framework of the Resistance
Ramzy Baroud
Farewell to Doublespeak: Israel’s Terrifying Vision for the Future
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail