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Proxy warfare: Is this the new global economy?

Imagine the scene: a country is wrenched by violence. Civil war rages between rival factions, supported by forces from various neighboring states. The country abounds in some of the rarest and most valuable resources in the world, resources vital for industrial economies everywhere. Meanwhile, US special forces and mercenaries employed by private military contracting firms like Halliburton, Dyncorp, and MPRI, quietly guard massive, modern, sophisticated industrial operations for the extraction and shipment of these strategic resources, right in the midst of the surrounding turmoil. Is this Iraq a year from now?

Try Congo today, according to Keith Harmon Snow. Snow has spent the last four years investigating events in Central Africa, including Congo (DRC), Rwanda, Burundi, Uganda, Cameroon, and the Central African Republic. He spent seven months on the ground in Central Africa, collecting eyewitness accounts from refugees, and witnessed the activities of US based multinationals in mining and other mineral extraction operations. His conclusion: citizens in the outside world have been fed an elaborately crafted lie concerning events in the Congo and surrounding countries, a lie intended to completely whitewash the role of US and other industrialized countries in deliberately sponsoring and fomenting war, supplying modern weapons and training to armed groups in exchange for privileged, royalty free access to rare minerals vital to industrial economies... But the atrocities are in Africa, and the world is silent...
Genocide in Central Africa...
Genocide in Central Africa...
Alongside modern, sophisticated industrial operations
Alongside modern, sophisticated industrial operations

Is there a massive, secret, US proxy war happening right now under our noses?


Imagine the scene: a country is wrenched by violence. Civil war rages between rival factions, supported by forces from various neighboring states. The country abounds in some of the rarest and most valuable resources in the world, resources vital for industrial economies everywhere. Meanwhile, US special forces and mercenaries employed by private military contracting firms like Halliburton, Dyncorp, and MPRI, quietly guard massive, modern, sophisticated industrial operations for the extraction and shipment of these strategic resources, right in the midst of the surrounding turmoil. Is this Iraq a year from now?

Try Congo today, according to Keith Harmon Snow. Snow has spent the last four years investigating events in Central Africa, including Congo (DRC), Rwanda, Burundi, Uganda, Cameroon, and the Central African Republic. He spent seven months on the ground in Central Africa, collecting eyewitness accounts from refugees, and witnessed the activities of US based multinationals in mining and other mineral extraction operations. His conclusion: citizens in the outside world have been fed an elaborately crafted lie concerning events in the Congo and surrounding countries, a lie intended to completely whitewash the role of US and other industrialized countries in deliberately sponsoring and fomenting war, supplying modern weapons and training to armed groups in exchange for privileged, royalty free access to rare minerals vital to industrial economies. He cites the trade in cobalt as an example. Cobalt is a strategic element used extensively for superalloys in aerospace applications. Its importance is great enough to the US military that the government here has created a strategic stockpile of the metal. Congo is home to two thirds of the estimated world supply. Columbium tantalite, or "coltan," for short, is another strategic mineral used in high resistance capacitors, especially cellphones, and has received some fame in the last few years. Congo is estimated to contain 80% of world reserves of the mineral. While the supplies of these resources continue to flow out of the region, four million people have died in the last four years in genocidal atrocities there, and none of the people who live in the country have seen any benefits from the minerals trade.

A recent "power-sharing" agreement has now provided a legal figleaf for the armed looting of the country, awarding the vice presidency of Congo to Jean-Pierre Bemba, a military thug sponsored by neighboring Uganda, and a man grown to become one of the richest men in Africa from the spoils of the looted wealth. Bemba was formally convicted and sentenced in absentia in a Belgian court in May of this year to a year in prison for "trafficking in human beings," for smuggling domestic servants illegally into the country. Further actions are contemplated against him for crimes against humanity against indigenous people of the Ituri rainforests.

Meanwhile, US companies like American Mineral Fields, Inc, attract investors with boasts of their profitable joint ventures with the DRC "government."

Snow's reports have been awarded a place in Project Censored's top 25 most under-reported stories for 2003.

Snow points out that if this were Palestine or Iraq, people would be in the streets, demanding action. Violence and atrocities on this scale are rivalled rarely in history. All the classic elements of the most brutal epochs of Western imperialism are present: strategic resources, mass murder of indigenous civilians, and Western military involvement. But these atrocities are in Africa, and the world is silent. Where are the voices of the peace and social justice movements worldwide? With a few honorable exceptions, such as former US Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney, they are silent.

Thank you! 12.Oct.2003 09:21

Gertha

The behavior of western corporations throughout Africa is grotesque! Of course, it goes on everywhere, but there is so little coverage of it from Africa. This is a massive issue that we could probably have some effect on. These companies operate almost invisibly, we need to turn the light on them. Collusion between arms dealers, mining, oil, and other corporations, and US military forces is hardly news, but it is atrocity.

I would STRONGLY recommend that everyone read both Covert Action Quarterly, and Cultural Survival Quarterly, as methods of keeping up on some of this stuff. It's important to us, not only for reasons of our personal outrage, but because people in the US need to know what their privilege is based on. The hard repression, eviornmental destruction, and brutal conditions of resource industry nearly led the workers of the US to revolution 100 years ago. The descendants of those workers need to know that those conditions were not defeated, they were simply moved to other countries. Now all US citizens, like the Fat Cats of early industrialism, live off the backs of near (and often times actual) slave labor, ethnicide, and ecocide.

speaking of proxy warfare... 12.Oct.2003 09:45

this thing here

the entire "war on terrorism" is a proxy war. the reality is that it is a war between states.

under the excuse of going after terrorists and combating terrorism, america has invaded two separate, sovereign nations: afghanistan and iraq. there are more to come, if syria is any indication. the proxy nature of this "war" is that by using searches for individual terrorists and terrorist groups as an excuse, the real war between states such as america and iraq can be masked.

the prize here isn't the capture or destruction of indivuals or groups. that is NOT what sending tens of thousands of troops and spending billions and billions of dollars is aimed at. the prize is what those states, as states, have to offer. their natural resources, their physical positions on the face of the earth, their infrastructure, such as air bases. THESE are the real prizes.

the bush admin.'s demonstrated response to terrorism (terrorism as in a "new" and evil threat which is amorphous, stateless and can "happen anywhere", requiring a "new" type of war), the invasion of soveriegn states, cannot be reconciled to the problem of terrorism. UNLESS you refuse to get fooled, and realize what the bush admin. is really up to. unless you realize that the "war" "on" "terrorism" is nothing more than an excuse and a mask for a very, very, very OLD type of war for the same very old things states have always fought each other for.

Another thank you 12.Oct.2003 09:53

a.l.

Thanks for posting this information. Many of us are unaware of what happens anywhere in Africa, as it is almost completely ignored by the media. It's as if the entire continent doesn't even exist. What are other sources of information, besides the ones that Gertha cited? And what else can be done? Any suggestions?

Another thank you 12.Oct.2003 10:03

a.l.

Thanks for sharing this information. Many of us are unaware of what happens in Africa because it's completely ignored by the media--it's as if the entire contintent doesn't even exist. What are other sources of information, besides the ones cited by Gertha? And what else can be done? Any suggestions?

Info... 12.Oct.2003 10:16

Gertha

I sometimes check out these sites:
corpwatch.org
minesandcommunities.org
moles.org
...and there are, of course, several Indymedia sites that would probably help out.

Central Africa: what we can do 12.Oct.2003 14:06

gb

Keith Harmon Snow argues that, first and foremost, we should be calling the Western media out on their lies. He maintains that there is a deliberate campaign in the media to ensure that the truth is not told, because the private interests of the very men and women who preside over the "interlocking directorate" of major media and big multinationals who profit from this business are affected. He goes even further, and claims that even NGOs like WWF are compromised, and have been loathe to really challenge the line put out by the corporate media, for fear of losing funding, or because their own directors in some cases include major big business moguls.

Mind you, this is not just any story: Four million people dead in four years. An entire country, one of the poorest countries in the world, being looted of billions of dollars in natural resources. This is a scale and intensity of exploitation and mass murder rarely rivalled in history. You have to go back to the time of King Leopold's "Congo Free State" to find something like it. But there is an element of continuity that is especially sickening. Even if some Americans and other citizens of rich countries are dimly aware of the crimes of the high age of Western imperialism, they usually assume that that was the "bad old days," that surely the world has moved past such primitive brutalities of racist colonialism. Read _King Leopold's Ghost_, Adam Hochschild's account of the history of that former era, when King Leopold of Belgium secretly ruled the entire Congo as his personal playtoy, and murdered some ten million people in the process of looting the country of its wealth (at that time predominantly rubber and ivory) while making himself the richest man in the world.

The same disparities continue today: The most wretched grinding poverty, misery, and insecurity for millions of people, side-by-side with modern, rational, industrial processes of mineral extraction. How can sophisticated, modern industrial operations take place in the midst of a brutal civil war, the wealth then being shipped efficiently right out of the country, unless the very interests controlling this trade manage to a large extent also to control the civil war?

Maybe if enough of us start to discuss this appalling armed robbery and genocide happening right under our noses, something can start to be done about. If you read the book by Adam Hochschild, he describes how, though an unprecedented (for that time) grassroots human rights campaign around the turn of the century, spearheaded by some quite ordinary people, the world managed to force King Leopold out of the Congo. At that time, it took decades for the campaign to pick up sufficient momentum to force the hand of world leaders. One would think that today, in our modern era of mass communications, it would be much harder to get away with this sort of massive crime, and much easier to publicize it and put a stop to it. But the irony is that it appears as if the media blackout and public ignorance about what is really going on there now is just about as pervasive now as it was then, a century ago.

to: this thing here 12.Oct.2003 15:12

a.l.

Yes, totally agreed on these being proxy wars between states. I also wonder if Israel, in attacking Syria, is doing so as a proxy of the U.S. In addition, I sometimes wonder if the U.S. itself is, in some aspects, working as a proxy of multi-national corporations. A lot has been said about U.S. imperialism, and I agree that the U.S. is imperialistic, but the power of corporations seems transcendant in this day and age. How to resist that steamroller is a huge question. Sometimes the power seems almost invisible-behind the scenes-but it's there: they call the shots.

THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK 15.Nov.2003 10:53

keith harmon snow keith@allthingspass.com

Amongst the most egregious imminent threats to Africa is taking shape under the guise of the CONGO BASIN FOREST PARTNERSHIP. This is an agreement orchestrated by the Bush II gang, negotiated by Colin Powell in August and September of 2003. All the leading dictators have signed this agreement, which is telling in an of itself.

Noam Chomsky notes that the dictactor of Equatorial Guinea (See SMALL IS NOT ALWAYS BEAUTIFUL about terrorism in Eq. G) was recently received at the White House. Of course, Mobutu was one of the first thugs invited to the White House under the Bush I regime. For thirty plus years terror reigned in Zaire under Mobutu and it was totally sanctioned by the US government and the rest of the international "community". Such is teh deception rooted in profits. In any case, the "leaders" of Central African Republic, Gongo-Kinshasha (DRC), Congo-Brazzavile, Gabon, Eq. Guninea, Rwanda -- that's right Paul Kagame -- and Angola have all signed on to teh new Congo Basin Forest Partnership.

Get a very unique but incredibly DECEPTIVE take on the CBFP out of the September 2003 issue of the National Geographic. What a MASSIVE deception! Here you have another of the famous OUTSIDE MAGAZINE writers -- this time David Quammen -- selling the US military program under the guise of rainforst protection. Its all about the National Security Apparatus and the establishment of total hegemony over the people and natural resources in the region. That includes offshore, deep-sea diamond mining (enter Woods Hole); petroleum (enter every major petroleum company); timber (enter the US Forest Stewardship Council of some similar agency). NASA is involved, and, sorry to say, it is much more than remote sensing, and exactly what has yet to be determined.

The National Geographic feature -- Saving Africa's Eden -- is a major perception mangement tool selling out the world -- and especially the people of Gabon's -- by opening vast tracts of the country to US logging. Save a few little parks, clearcut the rainforest. Gabon is a leading petroleum exporter and the onshore blocks are tradede herein for a few pockets of wilderness. Enter the National Security aspects -- all classifed at this point -- and it becomes quite a different animal.

While David Quammen extols the virtues of Gabons multi-decade dictator, he never tells you the reader about Bongo's massacres of thousands of students (circa Tianamen Square) in teh 1989--1991 time frame . In Gabon -- Port Gentil -- it went virtually unreported. Blackout. Whiteout. A client state, subject to no criticism. Off the media agenda. Read the National Geo article keeping this in mind:

Some 2000 citizen's bodies are reported to lie in mass graves that have never been exhumed, or investigated. This is a "country" where dissidents are routinely disappeared via oil company helicopter. Tortured, mutilated, dumped out beyond the offshore oil derricks. Like Equatorial Guinea and Togo and Cameroon, Gabon has a thirty year history of incredible force and violence deployed at will against the citizenry and virtually unreported. So where are the academic journals talking about this? Want to pursue African Studies? Go to Africa. See for your self. The colleges and universities in the United States are compromised.

Its all about interests. How do interests manifest?

Here's an interesting example: Adam Hocschild. The author of teh wonderfully investigative King Leopold's Ghost, and now several very articilate commentaries on the current political scene in DRC, most notably a brief on war and pillage in DRC used by Amnesty International, Hocschild never reveals one of the most interesting driving factors behind his investment in writing about Congo/Zaire/DRC: His father's multinational corporation that -- at least at one time -- was operating there! Such is teh nature of interests. Hocschild teaches journalism, I believe. So ask him why he didn't mention that in his book?

Such is the nature of interests. If you doubt the nature of WWF interests, for example, just look at the directors. Ditto for Environmental Defense. More to come on this subject.

keith harmon snow
www.allthingspass.com