Click amount to donate direct to CounterPunch
  • $25
  • $50
  • $100
  • $500
  • $other
  • use PayPal
Please Support CounterPunch’s Annual Fund Drive
We don’t run corporate ads. We don’t shake our readers down for money every month or every quarter like some other sites out there. We only ask you once a year, but when we ask we mean it. So, please, help as much as you can. We provide our site for free to all, but the bandwidth we pay to do so doesn’t come cheap. All contributions are tax-deductible.
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

The US Military’s African “Footprint”

The United States Africa Command, otherwise known as AFRICOM, describes its mission like this: “United States Africa Command, in concert with interagency and international partners, builds defense capabilities, responds to crisis, and deters and defeats transnational threats in order to advance U.S. national interests and promote regional security, stability, and prosperity.” Like every other Pentagon mission, the security this mission statement refers to is the security of the financial, political and military establishment of the United States. It is useful to point out that the statement does not mention aspects of the mission that even pretend to be for the betterment of the people actually living in the countries where AFRICOM troops are stationed. In part, this is because they are not a priority. The other reason is that they barely exist.51aJTpNmUJL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_

Just like in Iraq and Afghanistan, humanitarian projects like schools and clinics for civilians are rarely completed or are not built at all; the funds going directly into the pockets of US corporations and local officials instead. For anyone who has followed the numerous operations in Iraq and Afghanistan since the beginning of this millennium, they know that this has become the standard operating procedure for the Pentagon and its political co-conspirators in Washington and Wall Street. This is but one reason it is despised by many in the world.

Most US residents have probably never heard of AFRICOM nor could they point out on a map where the countries are located that where it operates. Journalist Nick Turse’s recently released book Tomorrow’s Battlefield: US Proxy Wars and Secret Ops in Africa aims to at the least make more of the people paying for this military intervention aware of AFRICOM and its mission. Essentially a series of investigative articles that appeared over the course of 2014, Tomorrow’s Battlefield is a fairly detailed laundry list of secret operations, military maneuvers, army and air force facilities creation, and other such phenomena undertaken by the US military in Africa. What becomes clear as one reads this text is that the US military in Africa is essentially on a war footing and is expanding rapidly. Furthermore, the foreign policy behind this expansion seems muddled at best–much like that in Afghanistan and the Middle East–and grounded in what is an essentially colonialist mindset. In other words, Washington assumes it knows what is best for the people whose land it is operating on. As history makes clear, when arrogance like this informs the foreign policy of a nation, the citizens of foreign lands often suffer.

Two examples of the aforementioned arrogance and its consequences that come forth in this book revolve around the recently formed country called South Sudan. Despite helping to create the this new nation and installing its government, Washington is now supporting a rebel force trying to overthrow that entity. Meanwhile China is supporting the government once considered Washington’s ally. Important to both outside nations is the oil underneath the surface of South Sudan. In discussing this situation, Turse raises the question of the role economic competition plays in the military buildup that is the topic of the book. Just as it has been for centuries, the continent of Africa remains a source of raw materials and cheap labor. From Turse’s telling, this would seem to be Washington’s primary motivation for its increasing presence there. Indeed, articles in military publications have compared the current US military involvement in Africa to the Banana Wars in Latin America in the twentieth century. China, on the other hand, also understands that with economic development will come an expanded market for finished goods as well. Consequently, Beijing is tailoring its involvement towards development that provides education, health and education. While both nations desire the resources abundant on the continent, Beijing’s approach curries more favor than Washington’s militaristic one. This isn’t to say that China has no military involvement. As Turse points out, the fact that China has become more capitalist has caused it to expand its economic reach to satisfy the needs of its economy. It has also committed military troops to defend its investments. However, its mission is not primarily military like Washington’s.

Although it seems fair to state that the US military presence in Africa would have increased no matter who was in the White House the past seven years, it is interesting to note that it has seen its greatest expansion while an African-American man sat in the Oval Office. Of course, at one time Africans sold other Africans into slavery. Tomorrow’s Battlefield provides a fairly detailed introduction to what Washington is up to in the countries of the African continent. Unfortunately, if Turse is correct, it is only the first of many such books with a similar focus.

More articles by:

Ron Jacobs is the author of Daydream Sunset: Sixties Counterculture in the Seventies published by CounterPunch Books. His latest offering is a pamphlet titled Capitalism: Is the Problem.  He lives in Vermont. He can be reached at: ronj1955@gmail.com.

October 15, 2018
Rob Urie
Climate Crisis is Upon Us
Conn Hallinan
Syria’s Chessboard
Patrick Cockburn
The Saudi Atrocities in Yemen are a Worse Story Than the Disappearance of Jamal Khashoggi
Sheldon Richman
Trump’s Middle East Delusions Persist
Justin T. McPhee
Uberrima Fides? Witness K, East Timor and the Economy of Espionage
Tom Gill
Spain’s Left Turn?
Jeff Cohen
Few Democrats Offer Alternatives to War-Weary Voters
Dean Baker
Corporate Debt Scares
Gary Leupp
The Khashoggi Affair and and the Anti-Iran Axis
Russell Mokhiber
Sarah Chayes Calls on West Virginians to Write In No More Manchins
Clark T. Scott
Acclimated Behaviorisms
Kary Love
Evolution of Religion
Colin Todhunter
From GM Potatoes to Glyphosate: Regulatory Delinquency and Toxic Agriculture
Binoy Kampmark
Evacuating Nauru: Médecins Sans Frontières and Australia’s Refugee Dilemma
Marvin Kitman
The Kitman Plan for Peace in the Middle East: Two Proposals
Weekend Edition
October 12, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Becky Grant
My History with Alexander Cockburn and The Financial Future of CounterPunch
Paul Street
For Popular Sovereignty, Beyond Absurdity
Nick Pemberton
The Colonial Pantsuit: What We Didn’t Want to Know About Africa
Jeffrey St. Clair
The Summer of No Return
Jeff Halper
Choices Made: From Zionist Settler Colonialism to Decolonization
Gary Leupp
The Khashoggi Incident: Trump’s Special Relationship With the Saudi Monarchy
Andrew Levine
Democrats: Boost, Knock, Enthuse
Barbara Kantz
The Deportation Crisis: Report From Long Island
Doug Johnson
Nate Silver and 538’s Measurable 3.5% Democratic Bias and the 2018 House Race
Gwen Carr
This Stops Today: Seeking Justice for My Son Eric Garner
Robert Hunziker
Peak Carbon Emissions By 2020, or Else!
Arshad Khan
Is There Hope on a World Warming at 1.5 Degrees Celsius?
David Rosen
Packing the Supreme Court in the 21stCentury
Brian Cloughley
Trump’s Threats of Death and Destruction
Joel A. Harrison
The Case for a Non-Profit Single-Payer Healthcare System
Ramzy Baroud
That Single Line of Blood: Nassir al-Mosabeh and Mohammed al-Durrah
Zhivko Illeieff
Addiction and Microtargeting: How “Social” Networks Expose us to Manipulation
ADRIAN KUZMINSKI
What is Truth?
Michael Doliner
Were the Constitution and the Bill of Rights a Mistake?
Victor Grossman
Cassandra Calls
Ralph E. Shaffer
Could Kavanaugh’s Confirmation Hearing Ended Differently?
Vanessa Cid
Our Everyday Family Separations
Walaa Al Ghussein
The Risks of Being a Journalist in Gaza
Ron Jacobs
Betrayal and Treachery—The Extremism of Moderates
James Munson
Identity Politics and the Ruling Class
P. Sainath
The Floods of Kerala: the Bank That Went Under…Almost
Ariel Dorfman
How We Roasted Donald Duck, Disney’s Agent of Imperialism
Joe Emersberger
Ecuadorian President Lenin Moreno’s Assault on Human Rights and Judicial Independence
Ed Meek
White Victimhood: Brett Kavanaugh and the New GOP Brand
Andrew McLean, MD
A Call for “Open Space”
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail