Thursday, June 07, 2007

Africa - The next GWOT target?

On February 27, I posted Beyond Iran - Is West Africa Next? Today I’d revise that title to “In addition to Iran, Africa is already a target in Bush’s global war on terrorism.”

On February 7, President Bush announced the the establishment of an African military command – AFRICOM – “to promote U.S. national security objectives in Africa and in its surrounding waters.”

In my February post, I linked to the report of the Center for International Policy, titled Nigeria and the United States: Convergent Interests. The Executive Summary describes what this country is doing as “a risky strategy to arm and train the militaries of oil-producing West African countries under the rationale of pursuing the Global War on Terror.” And, “These policies are deeply flawed because they will serve to undermine America’s energy security even as they breed growing resentment and violence against the U.S. economic and strategic interests.”

I haven’t seen anything about AFRICOM until recently. On May 28, the Washington Post article by Walter Pincus, U.S. Africa Commmand Brings New Concerns - Fear of Militarization of Continent Cited opened with “The creation of the Defense Department Africa Command, with responsibilities to promote security and government stability in the region, has heightened concerns among African countries and in the U.S. government over the militarization of U.S. foreign policy, according to a newly released study by the Congressional Research Service.”
The CRS report published May 17, 2007, is available here. According to the 25 page report, “AFRICOM faces myriad challenges, both in its establishment and its operation. Some of these challenges may become issues for Congress. Members of Congress have expressed interest in the creation of an Africa Command, and in 2006, Senator Russ Feingold introduced legislation requiring a feasibility study on the establishment of a new command for Africa. Key oversight questions for Congress relating to the command include the following: Is an Africa Command necessary or desirable? Is its mission well-defined? There are nine more questions for Congressional consideration.

Scott Horton, who blogs at Harper’s No Comment, posted The African Front this Wednesday. He links the formation of AFRICOM with another front in Africa, involving detentions and transfers [of suspected terrorists] in the Horn of Africa [northeast Africa]. Horton described this front: “The shadowy operation has a focus on ‘filtration,’ namely a large number – certainly thousands – of persons suspected of having a connection with a violent Islamic organization of whatever flavor are swept up and sent to filtration camps, usually run under the auspices of the Ethiopian Government. In fact, however, these camps are organized, paid for and operated by the U.S. Government, and the conditions there are abysmal. Detainees at the camps are subjected to interrogation over extended periods, and a decision is made either to return, release or transfer the detainees. Those selected as probable activists or sympathizers may be passed to a CIA blacksite.”

Horton adds, “While mainstream media has generally ignored these developments (the exception being an Associated Press report that went out when an FBI agent assigned to the project expressed his horror about what was going on), Tom Porteous has done a good survey on OpenDemocracy.

I find it quite amazing that something as significant as a February 7 announcement of the U.S.’s plan to militarize Africa and more secret detentions merit minimal, if any, mainstream media attention.

(photo of boy in Nigeria near oil flares – Jacob Silberberg for the New York Times)


Anonymous said...

Is this to help the victims of Darfur or the oil industry??!! alt

Anonymous said...

It seems clear that the militarization of our foreign policy has as its objective the protection of oil production by foreign companies, mostly US companies. It's as if the brains behind this policy believe that there would be no oil to be had absent militarization.

Of course, there would be oil (there is now), and it would be produced by the countries who own it. And most likely its production would not stir such animosity against the US as is the case now.

A think-tank should (if one has not done so already) do a comparison of costs and benefits--including especially WHO gets the benefits--for a couple of scenarios, including production by owner countries, production by foreign companies with attendant protection by the US military or proxy military, etc.

I bet some good wine that it would be a whole lot cheaper to buy oil at the market price on the international market than trying to "protect" the oil [for US and other foreign companies].

Anyone want to bet?


Anonymous said...

No bet from me.

What to do to stop them?

Wake the media up! How?


Gail Jonas said...

It's definitely about oil.
When the Department of Defense announced the establishment of AFRICOM last February, it was made clear that it is intended to "spearhead an 'oil and terrorism' policy."

Troy said...

I've been thinking this over. I guess maybe somewhere, consciously or unconsciously America still feels al right about demonizing people of darker skin color.

I guess, in the middle East at least, the pallor is too light and out cry too great so we must find our oil under darker feet.