Click amount to donate direct to CounterPunch
  • $25
  • $50
  • $100
  • $500
  • $other
  • use PayPal
Spring Fund Drive: Keep CounterPunch Afloat
CounterPunch is a lifeboat of sanity in today’s turbulent political seas. Please make a tax-deductible donation and help us continue to fight Trump and his enablers on both sides of the aisle. Every dollar counts!
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.

May 22, 2018
Stanley L. Cohen
Broken Dreams and Lost Lives: Israel, Gaza and the Hamas Card
Kathy Kelly
Scourging Yemen
Andrew Levine
November’s “Revolution” Will Not Be Televised
Ted Rall
#MeToo is a Cultural Workaround to a Legal Failure
Gary Leupp
Question for Discussion: Is Russia an Adversary Nation?
Binoy Kampmark
Unsettling the Summits: John Bolton’s Libya Solution
Doug Johnson
As Andrea Horwath Surges, Undecided Voters Threaten to Upend Doug Ford’s Hopes in Canada’s Most Populated Province
Kenneth Surin
Malaysia’s Surprising Election Results
Dana Cook
Canada’s ‘Superwoman’: Margot Kidder
Dean Baker
The Trade Deficit With China: Up Sharply, for Those Who Care
John Feffer
Playing Trump for Peace How the Korean Peninsula Could Become a Bright Spot in a World Gone Mad
Peter Gelderloos
Decades in Prison for Protesting Trump?
Thomas Knapp
Yes, Virginia, There is a Deep State
Andrew Stewart
What the Providence Teachers’ Union Needs for a Win
Jimmy Centeno
Mexico’s First Presidential Debate: All against One
May 21, 2018
Ron Jacobs
Gina Haspell: She’s Certainly Qualified for the Job
Uri Avnery
The Day of Shame
Amitai Ben-Abba
Israel’s New Ideology of Genocide
Patrick Cockburn
Israel is at the Height of Its Power, But the Palestinians are Still There
Frank Stricker
Can We Finally Stop Worrying About Unemployment?
Binoy Kampmark
Royal Wedding Madness
Roy Morrison
Middle East War Clouds Gather
Edward Curtin
Gina Haspel and Pinocchio From Rome
Juana Carrasco Martin
The United States is a Country Addicted to Violence
Dean Baker
Wealth Inequality: It’s Not Clear What It Means
Robert Dodge
At the Brink of Nuclear War, Who Will Lead?
Vern Loomis
If I’m Lying, I’m Dying
Valerie Reynoso
How LBJ initiated the Military Coup in the Dominican Republic
Weekend Edition
May 18, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Andrew Levine
The Donald, Vlad, and Bibi
Robert Fisk
How Long Will We Pretend Palestinians Aren’t People?
Jeffrey St. Clair
Wild at Heart: Keeping Up With Margie Kidder
Roger Harris
Venezuela on the Eve of Presidential Elections: The US Empire Isn’t Sitting by Idly
Michael Slager
Criminalizing Victims: the Fate of Honduran Refugees 
John Laforge
Don’t Call It an Explosion: Gaseous Ignition Events with Radioactive Waste
Carlo Filice
The First “Fake News” Story (or, What the Serpent Would Have Said)
Dave Lindorff
Israel Crosses a Line as IDF Snipers Murder Unarmed Protesters in the Ghetto of Gaza
Gary Leupp
The McCain Cult
Robert Fantina
What’s Wrong With the United States?
Jill Richardson
The Lesson I Learned Growing Up Jewish
David Orenstein
A Call to Secular Humanist Resistance
W. T. Whitney
The U.S. Role in Removing a Revolutionary and in Restoring War to Colombia
Rev. William Alberts
The Danger of Praying Truth to Power
Alan Macleod
A Primer on the Venezuelan Elections
John W. Whitehead
The Age of Petty Tyrannies
Franklin Lamb
Have Recent Events Sounded the Death Knell for Iran’s Regional Project?
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail