Into Africa – Uncle Sam Goes Colonial
by Eric Margolis: The
Gadaffi I Knew
all unhappy Americans!
wasting $1 trillion in the futile Iraq war? And having your high-tech
backsides kicked by medieval Afghan tribesmen?
Can’t pay your
bills at home or abroad? Government paralyzed? Drowning in debt?
is gobbling up Africa’s resources?
to all this is simple.
Don your pith
helmets and dive into Africa’s conflicts.
off former ally Muammar Gadaffi, the Pentagon, its new Africa Command,
and CIA are now focusing on East Africa.
In recent weeks,
the long simmering conflict in the Horn of Africa burst into flames
as the US and France intensified military operations against Somalia’s
rag-tag nationalist/Islamist militia, Shebab.
and media warn Shebab is a dire international threat that must be
stamped out, though most of them could not find Somalia on a world
map. Having failed to figure out Afghanistan, the Pentagon and its
political cheerleaders are about to plunge into the deep mysteries
of Central Africa.
chief Leon Panetta recently admitted only 25-50 al-Qaida members
were active in Afghanistan, it seems new al-Qaida threats are popping
up all over Africa and the Mideast. Al-Qaida has become the Pac-Man
of our era.
just in time for Halloween, the ghost of Osama bin Laden is haunting
The US will
send 100 special hunter-killer Special Forces troops to Uganda,
an undemocratic US ally and American protectorate. This new US force
will also reportedly operate in Congo (ex-Zaire), the Central African
Republic, Kenya, and South Sudan.
new nation is interesting because its secession from Sudan was recently
engineered by Washington. Coincidentally, South Sudan has substantial
oil deposits. Washington is working on a plan to build a pipeline
from South Sudan’s oil fields through Uganda to the Kenyan coast,
thus shutting down the current export route through Sudan, which
is on America’s doo-doo list.
reason America’s new involvement in darkest Africa is a deeply obscure
bunch of Ugandan bush rebels, the Lord’s Resistance Army, that has
been kidnapping villagers and stealing chickens for decade. Washington
must have looked very hard to come up with this feeble excuse for
At the same
time, Washington is bankrolling the current Kenyan invasion of southern
Somalia; France is providing Kenya with naval support and arms.
it is reacting to attacks from Somalia by Shebab. But the real attackers
were likely traditional local Somali bandits known as "shiftas."
Why Kenya chose to stick its head into the Somali hornet’s nest
is uncertain. It could have something to do with money.
US-financed mercenaries, Predator drones and Ethiopian forces are
increasingly active in Somalia attacking Shebab. A new, semi-secret
French-American base in Djibouti has been mounting these operations.
All this should
have been unnecessary. In 2005, a moderate Muslim movement, the
Islamic Courts Union, had established control over most of chaotic
southern and central Somalia. This was its first stable government
since 1991 and should have been welcomed by Washington and the West.
But the low-IQ
Bush administration, still reeling from 9/11, went ballistic over
the name "Islamic" and foolishly ordered the Courts Union
In early 2006,
Washington financed Ethiopia, a close US ally, to invade Somalia.
The Courts Union government was duly ousted, but the Ethiopians,
ancient blood foes of the Somalis, had to eventually withdraw, leaving
more chaos in their wake. Ethiopia’s own blood enemy, Eritrea, got
involved in this fracas.
invasion gave birth to Shebab, an Islamic youth organization dedicated
to liberating Somalia from foreign control. Its fiery leaders took
Somaliland’s epic 19th Century resistance to British
and Italian colonialism as their model, and imposed Sharia law.
northern Somalia went its own way in the form of autonomous Puntland
and Somaliland, from whose coasts piracy flourishes.
The US set
up a figurehead regime in the Somali capital, Mogadishu, the grandly
titled but powerless and derided "Transitional Federal Government."
This puppet regime was sustained by 9,000 US-financed Ugandan and
Burundian mercenaries - branded the "African Union Peace Force"–
and backed by Ethiopian forces on the border. The tame US media
always refers to these mercenaries as "peacekeepers."
fighter aircraft and special forces now routinely attack Somali
targets as well as ones in Yemen. Israel is also discreetly involved
in the melee in the Horn of Africa, Uganda, South Sudan and Kenya.
In the midst
of this bloody confusion, famine and drought are ravaging the Horn
of Africa, producing millions of desperate refugees. Shebab is accused
of blocking food aid. But Shebeb sees the UN and other aid groups
as "soft power" tools of the western powers.
have enough on its plate without sending troops to Uganda and Somalia,
or South Sudan?
The US is moving
into southern Africa for two main reasons. First, to secure oil
deposits in South Sudan and expected energy finds in Uganda. Second,
to block the further spread of Chinese economic influence in the
region. France’s government, led by neoconservatives, is also greatly
alarmed by China’s involvement in France’s formerly unchallenged
African sphere of influence.
are manifest dangers for the US in Central Africa and the Horn of
Africa the US. Washington may get sucked into yet another complex,
turbulent region in which it has no real strategic interests other
than the lust for energy and a knee-jerk reaction to anything Islamic.
White House is supposed to be slashing spending at a time when budgets
are out of control and 44 million Americans subsist on food stamps.
Yet US forces are getting ever more deeply involved in North Africa,
the Saharan region, and now Black Africa.
squabbling politicians deal with boring budget headaches, says the
mighty US military-security complex. Onward to Kampala and Juba!
Break out the safari wear! It’s the White Man’s Burden, all over
him mail] is the author of War
at the Top of the World and the new book, American
Raj: Liberation or Domination?: Resolving the Conflict Between the
West and the Muslim World. See his
© 2011 Eric Margolis
Best of Eric Margolis