The Son of Africa Claims a Continent's Crown Jewels For The U.S.
by John Pilger
On 14 October, President Barack Obama announced he was sending United States
special forces troops to Uganda to join the civil war there. In the next few
months, US combat troops will be sent to South Sudan, Congo, and Central
African Republic. They will only "engage" for "self-defense," says Obama,
satirically. With Libya secured, an American invasion of the African
continent is under way.
Obama's decision is described in the press as "highly unusual" and
"surprising," even "weird." It is none of these things. It is the logic of
American foreign policy since 1945. Take Vietnam. The priority was to halt
the influence of China, an imperial rival, and "protect" Indonesia, which
President Nixon called "the region's richest hoard of natural resources . . .the
greatest prize." Vietnam merely got in the way; and the slaughter of more
than three million Vietnamese and the devastation and poisoning of their
land was the price of America achieving its goal. Like all America's
subsequent invasions, a trail of blood from Latin America to Afghanistan and
Iraq, the rationale was usually "self defense" or "humanitarian," words long
emptied of their dictionary meaning.
In Africa, says Obama, the "humanitarian mission" is to assist the
government of Uganda defeat the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA), which "has
murdered, raped, and kidnapped tens of thousands of men, women and children
in central Africa." This is an accurate description of the LRA, evoking
multiple atrocities administered by the United States, such as the bloodbath
in the 1960s following the CIA-arranged murder of Patrice Lumumba, the
Congolese independence leader and first legally elected prime minister, and
the CIA coup that installed Mobutu Sese Seko, regarded as Africa's most
Obama's other justification also invites satire. This is the "national
security of the United States." The LRA has been doing its nasty work for 24
years, of minimal interest to the United States. Today, it has fewer than
400 fighters and has never been weaker. However, US "national security"
usually means buying a corrupt and thuggish regime that has something
Washington wants. Uganda's "president-for-life" Yoweri Museveni already
receives the larger part of $45 million in US military "aid" - including
Obama's favorite drones. This is his bribe to fight a proxy war against
America's latest phantom Islamic enemy, the rag-tag al-Shabaab group based
in Somalia. The RTA will play a public relations role, distracting western
journalists with its perennial horror stories.
However, the main reason the US is invading Africa is no different from that
which ignited the Vietnam war. It is China. In the world of self-serving,
institutionalized paranoia that justifies what General David Petraeus, the
former US commander and now CIA director, implies is a state of perpetual
war, China is replacing al-Qaeda as the official American "threat." When I
interviewed Bryan Whitman, an assistant secretary of defense at the Pentagon
last year, I asked him to describe the current danger to America. Struggling
visibly, he repeated, "Asymmetric threats . . . asymmetric threats." These
justify the money-laundering state-sponsored arms conglomerates and the
biggest military and war budget in history. With Osama bin Laden airbrushed,
China takes the mantle.
Africa is China's success story. Where the Americans bring drones and
destabilization, the Chinese bring roads, bridges, and dams. What they want
is resources, especially fossil fuels. With Africa's greatest oil reserves,
Libya under Muammar Gadhafi was one of China's most important sources of
fuel. When the civil war broke out and NATO backed the "rebels" with a
fabricated story about Gadhafi planning "genocide" in Benghazi, China
evacuated its 30,000 workers in Libya. The subsequent UN security council
resolution that allowed the west's "humanitarian intervention" was explained
succinctly in a proposal to the French government by the "rebel" National
Transitional Council, disclosed last month in the newspaper Liberation, in
which France was offered 35 per cent of Libya's gross national oil
production "in exchange" (the term used) for "total and permanent" French
support for the NTC. Running up the Stars and Stripes in "liberated" Tripoli
last month, US ambassador Gene Cretz blurted out: "We know that oil is the
jewel in the crown of Libyan natural resources!"
The de facto conquest of Libya by the US and its imperial partners heralds a
modern version of the "scramble for Africa" at the end of the 19th century.
Like the "victory" in Iraq, journalists have played a critical role in
dividing Libyans into worthy and unworthy victims. A recent Guardian front
page carried a photograph of a terrified "Gadhafi" fighter and his wild-eyed
captors who, says the caption, "celebrate." According to General Petraeus,
there is now a war "of perception . . . conducted continuously through the news
For more than a decade the US has tried to establish a command on the
continent of Africa, AFRICOM, but has been rebuffed by governments, fearful
of the regional tensions this would cause. Libya, and now Uganda, South
Sudan and Congo, provide the main chance. As WikiLeaks cables and the US
National Strategy for Counter-terrorism reveal, American plans for Africa
are part of a global design in which 60,000 special forces, including death
squads, already operate in 75 countries, soon to be 120. As Dick Cheney
pointed out in his 1990s "defense strategy" plan, America simply wishes to
rule the world.
That this is now the gift of Barack Obama, the "Son of Africa," is
supremely ironic. Or is it? As Frantz Fanon explained in Black Skin, White
Masks, what matters is not so much the color of your skin as the power you
serve and the millions you betray.
[NATO forces will remain in Libya for a long time to come. In immediate
terms, no matter Resolution 2016, NATO warplanes will continue to patrol
Libyan skies, while NATO trainers will create the Libyan armed forces, which
will adopt the alliance's standards in training and will buy weapons (with
its petrodollars) that make them "inter-operable" with NATO.
All this goes parallel with the creation of a new regime in Tripoli. For all
purposes, Libya is becoming a NATO protectorate.
The Libyan experience becomes the first test case of NATO's new "strategic
concept" adopted at the Lisbon summit one year ago, which turned the
alliance into a new international security presence in the 21st century
capable and willing to intervene in global "hotspots" with or without a
mandate from the UN.--M K Bhadrakumar, "NATO
settles down in Libya," atimes.com, November 1, 2011]
[To sum it all up; think of all this as the GCC
as a de facto annex to NATO.
NATO will soon rule over the whole Mediterranean as a NATO lake. Africom is
implanting itself deeper and deeper in Africa. Centcom rules the Persian
Gulf with the GCC in tow.--Pepe Escobar, "The
Pentagon-Arab Spring love story," atimes.com, November 2, 2011]
[AFRICOM, though, did not come out of the blue and was years in the making
before its realization. Not long after 9/11, in early January 2002, a key
symposium titled "African Oil: A Priority for U.S. National Security and
African Development" took place in Washington, DC; it was hosted by the
neoconservative think-tank, the Institute for Advanced Strategic and
Political Studies (IASPS).--Steve Horn, "Has
Obama Just Kicked Off Another Oil War -- This Time in Africa?,"
alternet.org, November 8, 2011]