I was at a presentation in Syracuse at the time of the demonstration at the Hancock drone base in April, in which Horace Campbell said, "Keep an eye on AFRICOM: the U.S. military's Africa Command. This is where the U.S. is going next."
At the time I thought, "Really?" Could it really be that Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan aren't enough? Sure, I knew that the drone war had spread to Yemen . . . and even to Somalia . . . and there was that little thing in Libya . . . but surely our leaders were trying to keep us out of another big theater of operations, weren't they?
The need for a new "mission"
To those of us who have worked hard to get U.S. troops out of Afghanistan, it is flabbergasting to see reports that U.S. officials see a "need" for someplace else to send troops and material: apparently, there's no such thing as demobilization, only re-deployment.
(See "U.S. military investing heavily in Africa")
Current Department of Defense P.R. benefits from accounts that support a "global war on terrorism" narrative -- such as the recent Shabab attack in Kenya. At the same time, it is becoming clear that analysts are starting to push back against the effort to paint every use of force as "terrorist," and the public is indicating a broad sentiment that they're ready for the "global war on terrorism" to end.
Nonetheless, Africa has a lot going for it, if you're someone who wants to justify military involvement. It's big, diverse, with all kinds of mayhem -- in most cases teed up to perfect by a history of foreign exploitation and oppression -- and, most important of all, most members of the public have very little knowledge of Africa and are inclined by race prejudice to keep it that way.
"Heart of darkness"
There is so much mystification about Africa among people in our society -- about "deepest darkest Africa," about "primitive Africa" -- that extreme caution needs to be exercised when our powerholders start building a discourse for intervening in Africa in any fashion.
There is a very dangerous tendency to justify military intervention in Africa as "humanitarian." This is particular true in light of recent history, in which the international community failed to intervene successfully in violence like the genocide in Rwanda.
We have a lot of confusion about the need to intervene, the definition of humanitarian, and the temptation to use power, force, violence.
What should people do? First, read accounts of new "crises" in Africa that require U.S. intervention with a critical eye. Second, start now to learn about what's happening in Africa -- from sources of your choosing! (A good place to start is Horace Campbell's recent book, "Global Nato and the Catastrophic Failure in Libya".)Third, get into conversations with others who care about issues of war and peace about how to stop the U.S. expansion into Africa.
U.N. forces use drones for first time, in eastern Congo)
This is a bad idea for at least three reasons.
(See UN Drones Over the Congo: BAD IDEA!)
"Humanitarian intervention" -- the great pretext for US intervention in Africa. Glenn Greenwald gave an outstanding talk in Chicago in May, 2012, in which he warned against humanitarian interventions: "The US -- no, everybody -- always says the reason for military intervention is 'humanitarian.' . . . "
(See Greenwald Was Right: "Humanitarian" War in Syria? It's Just More War)
Why is the U.S. in a permanent state of war? More than anyone else, the beneficiaries of permawar are the politicians who thrive on the power to make and control wars.
(See J'ACCUSE: The Beneficiaries of Permawar)
(See Is Germany the Key to Resisting AFRICOM's Africa Takeover? )