October 20, 2011
The New Statesman

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.

logo 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.

Proxy war

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 venal tyrant.

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!"

World domination

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 media."

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.


David Leigh and David Pallister, "The New Scramble For Africa," Guardian, June 1, 2005

"The New Scramble For Africa: Darfur Deception," The Wisdom Fund, September 9, 2008

"The New Scramble For Africa: Sudan President Charged With War Crimes," The Wisdom Fund, March 4, 2009

Paul I. Adujie, "AFRICOM: African Security or Western Interests?," New Liberian, August 22, 2009

November 26, 2010

"The Illegal War on Libya: Mission Accomplished, Gaddafi Killed," The Wisdom Fund, August 30, 2011

October 22, 2011

Pepe Escobar, "How the West won Libya,", October 22, 2011

Enver Masud, "Five Things You May Not Know About Muammar Gaddafi," The Wisdom Fund, October 24, 2011

Scott Shane, "West Sees Opportunity in Postwar Libya for Businesses,", October 28, 2011

[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,", November 1, 2011]

"As NATO Ends Libyan Bombing Campaign, Is the U.S. Seeking Greater Military Control of Africa?,", 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,", 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?,", November 8, 2011]

David Axe, "Reports: U.S. Military to Help Fight Nigerian Terrorists,", November 11, 2011

Jill Richardson, "How the US Sold Africa to Multinationals,", May 27, 2012

Glen Ford, "White House Strategy for Africa Revealed: Intensified Militarization and War on Terror,", June 20, 2012

Dambisa Moyo, "Beijing, a Boon for Africa,", June 27, 2012

Nick Turse, "Obama's Scramble for Africa: Secret Wars, Secret Bases, and the Pentagon's 'New Spice Route',", July 12, 2012

Heba Saleh and Kiran Stacey, "West faces 'decades' of conflict in N Africa,", January 21, 2013

DOCUMENTARY: "The French African Connection,", August 9, 2013

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