FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Total Militarized Lunacy

by ANDRE VLTCHEK

Imagine a small country, the size of Massachusetts, with no arable land, irrigation, or permanent crops, nor any forests. The rocky desert is everywhere, falling all the way to the sea.

To ‘cheer one up’, there is the lowest point on land, in Africa (and the third lowest on earth); an eerie crater lake called ‘Lac Assal’ (−155 m). And there are countless rock formations, bare, hostile, and frightening.

This tiny country has one of the most strategic locations on earth, at least from the West’s geopolitical interest’s point of view. It lies between Somalia, Ethiopia and what is often called the ‘African Cuba’ – defiant Eritrea. Just 12 miles across the narrowest point of the Red Sea, spreads the Arabian Peninsula, and the country of Yemen.9780745333878

The capital city of Djibouti is also called Djibouti. That is where two thirds of the population lives. But in reality, this entire area, around the capital, is one huge sprawl of Western military bases, as well as countless facilities servicing them.

There are barracks built for French legionnaires, there is a French naval base, a US military base, and an enormous military airport for Western and allied air-forces, used by the countries that are as distant from Africa, as Japan and Singapore.

In the meantime, garbage dots the desert, from the border with Somaliland, to the center of the city. The omnipresent Western military presence seems to have almost no positive impact on the country; Djibouti has one of the lowest HDI (UNDP Human Development Index) in the world, 151th out of the 178 countries surveyed. More than half of the population is unemployed and about half is illiterate. The average life expectancy in Djibouti is 43 years of age.

It is a brutal, militarized world, it is aggressive and definitely not at peace with itself. A small Muslim country, with approximately one million inhabitants, has for years basically made a living from being some sort of a service station for foreign legions and regular combat troops. Its only claim to fame is that it allows foreigners to control the Red Sea; that it is at the doorsteps of Somalia and Yemen, helping to keep pressure on Eritrea, and keeping an eye on Ethiopia.

Technically, Djibouti gained independence from France in 1977, but practically it is still fully under the French and Western sphere of influence.

According to the U.S. Department of State report of 21 August 2013:

Djibouti is located at a strategic point in the Horn of Africa, and is a key U.S. partner on security, regional stability, and humanitarian efforts in the greater Horn. The Djiboutian Government has been supportive of U.S. interests and takes a proactive position against terrorism. Djibouti hosts a U.S. military presence at Camp Lemonnier, a former French Foreign Legion base in the capital. Djibouti has also allowed the U.S. military, as well as other militaries with presences in Djibouti, access to its port facilities and airport.

Djibouti is the place where miserable human-pulled carts can be seen right next to decaying vehicles and military equipment, right in the middle of the desert. It is the place where at the Sheraton Hotel, I observed the breakfast room being full of uniformed German troops, and military cooks serving them food.

It is a country with one of the highest infant mortality rates in the world, where many women still go through the horror of genital mutilation. Our kind of place! A good ally; a good client state!

As I was leaving the country, with the Kenyan Airways aircraft waiting on the tarmac, my passport and boarding card were checked on several occasions. Before the gate it all became ridiculous: as two staffers, one in uniform, one in civilian clothing, were performing surveillance only one meter apart from each other.

“Any more of this down the road?” I asked sarcastically.

A soldier, almost 2 meters tall, immediately jumped on me. He threw me and my camera against a concrete wall, and smashed the lens, all in full view of the other passengers, and the Kenyan crew. I tried to fight back.

“Stop and just walk to the plane… Let it be… Or he is going to kill you”, whispered a plain-clothed man. I had no idea who he was, but he most probably saved my life.

There is no place on Earth like Djibouti. Thanks god there really isn’t!

Do not cross his path copy

Do not cross his path copy.

Yemen is across

Beach games.

still life at Djibuti desert copy

Still life in the Djibuti desert.

misery copy

Poverty.

Loyada - border with Somaliland copy

Loyada – border with Somaliland.

in the middle of Djibuti desert

In the middle of Djibuti desert.

foreign master guarding his airport copy

Foreign master guarding his airport.

Andre Vltchek is a novelist, filmmaker and investigative journalist. He covered wars and conflicts in dozens of countries. His discussion with Noam Chomsky On Western Terrorism is now going to print. His critically acclaimed political novel Point of No Return is now re-edited and available. Oceania is his book on Western imperialism in South Pacific. His provocative book about post-Suharto Indonesia and market-fundamentalist model is called “Indonesia – The Archipelago of Fear”. He just completed feature documentary “Rwanda Gambit” about Rwandan history and the plunder of DR Congo. After living for many years in Latin America and Oceania, Vltchek presently resides and works in East Asia and Africa. He can be reached through his website or his Twitter.

Andre Vltchek is a philosopher, novelist, filmmaker and investigative journalist. He covered wars and conflicts in dozens of countries. His latest books are: “Exposing Lies Of The Empire” and Fighting Against Western ImperialismDiscussion with Noam Chomsky: On Western TerrorismPoint of No Return is his critically acclaimed political novel. Oceania – a book on Western imperialism in the South Pacific. His provocative book about Indonesia: “Indonesia – The Archipelago of Fear”. Andre is making films for teleSUR and Press TV. After living for many years in Latin America and Oceania, Vltchek presently resides and works in East Asia and the Middle East. He can be reached through his website or his Twitter.

More articles by:

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

August 24, 2016
John Pilger
Provoking Nuclear War by Media
Jonathan Cook
The Birth of Agro-Resistance in Palestine
Eric Draitser
Ajamu Baraka, “Uncle Tom,” and the Pathology of White Liberal Racism
Jack Rasmus
Greek Debt and the New Financial Imperialism
Robert Fisk
The Sultan’s Hit List Grows, as Turkey Prepares to Enter Syria
Abubakar N. Kasim
What Did the Olympics Really Do for Humanity?
Renee Parsons
Obamacare Supporters Oppose ColoradoCare
Alycee Lane
The Trump Campaign: a White Revolt Against ‘Neoliberal Multiculturalism’
Edward Hunt
Maintaining U.S. Dominance in the Pacific
George Wuerthner
The Big Fish Kill on the Yellowstone
Jesse Jackson
Democrats Shouldn’t Get a Blank Check From Black Voters
Kent Paterson
Saving Southern New Mexico from the Next Big Flood
Arnold August
RIP Jean-Guy Allard: A Model for Progressive Journalists Working in the Capitalist System
August 23, 2016
Diana Johnstone
Hillary and the Glass Ceilings Illusion
Bill Quigley
Race and Class Gap Widening: Katrina Pain Index 2016 by the Numbers
Ted Rall
Trump vs. Clinton: It’s All About the Debates
Eoin Higgins
Will Progressive Democrats Ever Support a Third Party Candidate?
Kenneth J. Saltman
Wall Street’s Latest Public Sector Rip-Off: Five Myths About Pay for Success
Binoy Kampmark
Labouring Hours: Sweden’s Six-Hour Working Day
John Feffer
The Globalization of Trump
Gwendolyn Mink – Felicia Kornbluh
Time to End “Welfare as We Know It”
Medea Benjamin
Congress Must Take Action to Block Weapon Sales to Saudi Arabia
Halyna Mokrushyna
Political Writer, Daughter of Ukrainian Dissident, Detained and Charged in Ukraine
Manuel E. Yepe
Tourism and Religion Go Hand-in-Hand in the Caribbean
ED ADELMAN
Belted by Trump
Thomas Knapp
War: The Islamic State and Western Politicians Against the Rest of Us
Nauman Sadiq
Shifting Alliances: Turkey, Russia and the Kurds
Rivera Sun
Active Peace: Restoring Relationships While Making Change
August 22, 2016
Eric Draitser
Hillary Clinton: The Anti-Woman ‘Feminist’
Robert Hunziker
Arctic Death Rattle
Norman Solomon
Clinton’s Transition Team: a Corporate Presidency Foretold
Ralph Nader
Hillary’s Hubris: Only Tell the Rich for $5000 a Minute!
Russell Mokhiber
Save the Patients, Cut Off the Dick!
Steven M. Druker
The Deceptions of the GE Food Venture
Elliot Sperber
Clean, Green, Class War: Bill McKibben’s Shortsighted ‘War on Climate Change’
Binoy Kampmark
Claims of Exoneration: The Case of Slobodan Milošević
Walter Brasch
The Contradictions of Donald Trump
Michael Donnelly
Body Shaming Trump: Statue of Limitations
Weekend Edition
August 19, 2016
Friday - Sunday
Carl Boggs
Hillary and the War Party
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Prime Time Green
Andrew Levine
Hillary Goes With the Flow
Dave Lindorff
New York Times Shames Itself by Attacking Wikileaks’ Assange
Gary Leupp
Could a Russian-Led Coalition Defeat Hillary’s War Plans?
Conn Hallinan
Dangerous Seas: China and the USA
Joshua Frank
Richard Holbrooke and the Obama Doctrine
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail