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The Pentagon is co-opting Northern Africa

The Pentagon's new "Africa Engagement" means it will not let ungoverned areas fester as terrorist havens -- and North Africa is on the receiving end of our military aid and our political will.
Global Terror Threat Prompts US to Review Importance of Military Involvement in Africa
Voice of America, 19 Apr 2004

Ten years ago, following the deaths of 18 American soldiers in a single battle in Somalia, it seemed U.S. forces could not disengage from Africa quickly enough - a policy decision that meant tragically there would be no U.S. intervention when genocide erupted in Rwanda. Now, though, the Pentagon appears firmly settled on a new course of involvement in Africa - a decision accelerated by the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on New York and Washington.

Ten years ago, writing for the Army War College's Strategic Studies Institute, then American ambassador to Somalia Daniel Simpson asked why the United States should concern itself with Africa.

"It is not easy," Ambassador Simpson wrote, "and it is sometimes dangerous as well as expensive to work there."

He went on to assert that in the wake of the deaths of American troops in Somalia in late 1993, it was clear the United States was no longer ready to expend American blood in pursuit of such policy objectives in Africa as democratization, conflict resolution and economic development.

There is still little desire on the part of defense officials to risk American lives in Africa, especially with U.S. forces strained by involvement in Afghanistan and Iraq.

But now senior military commanders are looking at Africa as a strategic part of the world - and not just because of its vast natural resources or exploding population.

General Charles Wald told VOA in a recent interview the threat of terrorism has effectively re-awakened the United States to the importance of the continent.

"It has always had a lot of resources. It has always had a lot of people. But strategically, it has [just] been there, if you will," he said. "It has changed a lot. The terrorism issue, the whole environment of the world is changing dramatically and the fact that unstable governments and large areas of potentially ungoverned or maybe not ungoverned, but not patrolled landscape are a breeding ground for terrorism, and in North Africa in particular that is a huge issue."

General Wald is the four-star Air Force officer who is deputy commander of the European Command, which oversees military activities in most of Africa. He is a prime driver of the Pentagon's new engagement on the continent, an engagement that includes an expanded training program as well as logistical support for African militaries and, crucially, intelligence-sharing at what appears to be a greater level than ever before.

That help has in recent months led to the disruption of terrorist activities in the Sahel region as well as in the Horn of Africa.

Speaking this month at the American Enterprise Institute, a Washington policy studies organization, General Wald said the United States had learned a lesson from Afghanistan, not to let ungoverned areas fester as terrorist havens.

He told the audience of academics, businessmen and diplomats the U.S. government will not let another September 11th happen.

homepage: homepage: http://www.iwar.org.uk/news-archive/2004/04-19-5.htm

U.S. $660 Million for 'peace operations' (primarily Africa) 19.Apr.2004 19:03

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Apr. 19, 2004 12:52

US to fund international peacekeeping forces

By JPOST.COM STAFF

US President George Bush has pledged $660 million over the next five years to train, equip and provide logistical support to forces in nations willing to participate in peace operations, reported the Washington Post Monday.

Global Peace Operations Initiative, will be aimed primarily at Africa, but is a result of administration difficulties in recruiting forces for peacekeeping missions in places like Haiti., where 6,000 to 7,000 international troops are needed to 3,800 troops from the United States, France, Canada and Chile.

Bush's initiative envisions 75,000 foreign troops - in addition to regular UN forces - who could be deployed on short notice and perform a wide range of peacekeeping activities.


onward, to AFRICA ! ! 19.Apr.2004 19:15

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 http://portland.indymedia.org/en/2003/01/40808.shtml

The Bush administration's search for more secure sources of oil is leading it to the doorsteps of some of the world's most troubled and repressive regimes: the petroleum-rich countries of West Africa.

Government and energy industry officials say the strategy is a sensible way to reduce U.S. dependence on Middle East oil, particularly if it's accompanied by aggressive efforts to promote economic development and governmental reform.

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Africa: Oil, al-Qaeda and the US Military
 http://portland.indymedia.org/en/2004/03/284472.shtml

As early as the fall of 2002, Britain's Economist magazine charged that oil "is the only American interest in Africa". In a fall 2003 interview with Asia Times Online, noted US security analyst Michael Klare, author of Resource Wars, had warned of America's potential African involvement. When queried as to where the next oil flash point might be after Iraq, Klare replied: "I've been looking at Africa. It's heating up over there." Illustrating the basis for such statements, in 2001 Vice President Dick Cheney's report on a US National Energy Policy declared Africa to be one of America's "fastest-growing sources of oil and gas". By February 1, 2002, the assistant secretary of state for African affairs, Walter Kansteiner, declared: "This [African oil] has become of national strategic interest to us." And a December 2001 report by the US National Intelligence Council, Global Trends 2015, forecast that by 2015 a full quarter of US oil imports would come from Africa.

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US sends special forces into north Africa
 http://portland.indymedia.org/en/2004/03/282929.shtml

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West Africa = diamonds + oil
 http://portland.indymedia.org/en/2003/07/267592.shtml

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Genocide/mass rape in Sudan
 http://portland.indymedia.org/en/2004/03/283423.shtml

The US will likely try to exploit this crisis to gain leverage against the Sudanese government, to control the horn of Africa, and also to further increase our presence in Chad, to control the region surrounding Nigeria (which produces 15% of the oil we use).