Peace Activists Must Oppose the US Africa Command
In February 2007, President Bush announced that the Defense Department would create a new Africa Command (Africom) to coordinate U.S. government interests on the continent. Under this plan all governmental agencies of the US would fall under the military, i.e., USAID, the State Department, the US Departments of Energy, Treasury, and the Department of Education, etc. In pursuance of the plans for the militarization of Africa, the US Department of Defense announced the appointment of General William “Kip” Ward (an African American) as head of this new military command. On September 28, 2007, Ward was confirmed as the head of this new imperial military structure and, on October 1, 2007, Africom was launched in Stuttgart, Germany. The major question that is being posed by African peace activists and by concerned citizens is, why now? One answer may lie in the diminished power of the United States in the aftermath of the fiascos in Iraq and Afghanistan. I will maintain in this article that it is urgent that peace activists who want reconstruction and transformation in Africa oppose the plans for the remilitarization of Africa under the guise of fighting terrorism in Africa.
At the end of the era of formal apartheid, the US military had established the Africa Crisis Response Initiative (ACRI) with the goal of supporting humanitarianism and ending genocide. This was the same US government that had lobbied the United Nations to withdraw troops from Rwanda in the midst of the fastest genocide in Africa.
Throughout this period the US military had been cautious about involvement in Africa in the aftermath of the painful experience in Somalia in 1993. This cautious stance changed after the events of September 2001. In the next year, the USA updated its ACRI “plans” to organize the African Contingency Operations Training Assistance (ACOTA). Under ACOTA, African troops were supposed to be provided with offensive military weaponry, including rifles, machine guns, and mortars. The Africa Regional Peacekeeping Program (ARPP) was also established in order to equip, train, and support troops from selected African countries that are involved in “peacekeeping” operations. Additionally, the US government launched a Pan Sahel anti-terrorism initiative (later called Trans Sahara Counter Terror Initiative). Behind these grand mutations lay one clear fact: the USA wanted to control the oil resources from Africa. Presently Africa supplies more petroleum to the USA than the Middle East, and US corporations want the US military to guarantee the dominance of US oil conglomerates.
The Failures in the Middle East
African Oil – The Real Objective
Challenging the European Union and China in Africa
In the past, when there was a crisis (such as the period after the Vietnam War), the US could transfer the crisis to other countries via the IMF. But the European Union has challenged this calculus and created the Euro as an alternative to the US dollar.
It will not be possible for the IMF to transfer the crisis to Asia, Europe, India, the Middle East or Latin America.
This means that there is only one area of the world where the US imperialists will have free rein. This is in Africa. It is also in Africa where there is a movement against the economic terrorism of neo-liberalism and the unjust conditions of the IMF and World Bank.
In 1980 when the US Central Command was being debated, the citizens of the Middle East and North Africa did not sufficiently grasp the full meaning of this new military structure. After the militarization of the Middle East, five major wars and millions dead, however, it is urgent that peace activists oppose the plans to bring Africa closer into this arc of warfare.
The quest for peace in Africa has been hampered by the crude materialism of the present period and the intensified exploitation of Africans in the era of imperialist plunder and looting. This looting is hidden behind the Orwellian wordplay of “liberalization”, “privatization”, “the freedom of markets”, “humanitarianism” and “the global war on terror”. Racist images of war, anarchy and “failed states” are mobilized by the international media to justify the launch of the US military command structure for Africa. Those who support real cooperation, solidarity and anti-racism must oppose the US Africa command.
We should remember the statement by New York Times columnist, Thomas Friedman who has written, “The hidden hand of the market will never work without the hidden fist – McDonald’s cannot flourish without McDonnell Douglas, the designer of the F-15. And the hidden fist that keeps the world safe for Silicon Valley’s technologies is called the United States Army, Air Force, Navy and Marine Corps.”
About the Author
Professor Horace G. Campbell is a scholar-activist who teaches African American Studies and Political Science at Syracuse University. Reprinted by permission of the author, from: the Syracuse Peace Council Newsletter, December 2007.