Mission Creep In Darkest Africa

Authored by Eric Margolis via Orinetal Review,

The British Empire, which at the end of the 19th century ruled one quarter of the earth’s land surface, is long gone. But its robust successor and heir, the United States, has set about enlarging it.

As I sought to explain in my last book ‘American Raj – How the US Rules the Muslim World,’ the US imperium exerts its power by controlling tame, compliant regimes around the world and their economies. They are called ‘allies’ but, in fact, should be more accurately termed satrapies or vassal states. Many states are happy to be prosperous US vassals, others less so.

The US power system has successfully dominated much of the world, except of course for great powers China, Russia and India. Germany and much of Western Europe remains in thrall to post WWII US power. The same applies to Canada, Latin America, Australia, and parts of SE Asia.

There is one part of the globe that has remained free from heavy US influence since 1945, sub-Saharan Africa. But this fact is clearly changing as the US military expands its operations the width and breadth of the Dark Continent.

We are seeing a rerun of the fine old 1930’s film, ‘Beau Geste’ which was taken from a cracking good 1924 Victorian novel by C. Percival Wren. Set in French North Africa, Wren’s dashing French Legionnaires end up defending a remote fort against masses of hostile Arab and Berber tribesman.

The novel and film negatively shaped western attitudes to the Arab world and its peoples but glorified the French Foreign Legion. Wren claimed to have been a member of the Legion which was the primary enforcement arm of France’s African colonial empire.

The famed Legion, which fought from Mexico to Indochina, has now shrunken to a pitiful 8,000 men. France’s thread-bare finances proved a deadlier enemy than Saharan horsemen.

Even so, the Legion is still used by Paris for sudden shock interventions across West Africa to support client French regimes and punish those who challenge the status quo. I’ve lifted  a glass with many Legionnaires. They are an amazingly tough bunch: you never know whether they are going to kill you or buy you drinks.

US troops have now stepped into the boots of ‘La Legion.’ Almost unnoticed, US Special Forces – our version of the Legion – have been slipping into Africa, the newest and most exciting market for the Pentagon.

Creation of the new US Africa Command in 2007, with headquarters in Germany, was discreet but it signaled active US military and geopolitical interest in resource-rich Africa, a key target of Chinese interest. No one in Washington seems to know how many US troops operate in Africa, but it’s at least 12,000 not counting mercenary contractors and CIA units. There was consternation in Congress when these facts emerged last week.

The key US base in Africa is at Djibouti, a poxy, fly-blown French colony on the Red Sea that is also shared by the Legion and, curiously, a Chinese naval station. US forces in Djibouti operate into Yemen, South Sudan, Somalia and Central Africa. US forces in West Africa operate in Mali, Chad, Burkina Faso, Nigeria, Liberia, Uganda, and anywhere that pro-US regimes are under pressure. Mali and Chad, where nomadic tribes battle the central government, are key operating regions. Both are under nasty dictatorial regimes backed by Washington.

As in the British Empire, the ‘natives’ are kept under control by small numbers of skilled Western troops. There’s no need for big battalions of regulars. The key is western air power and intelligence. Particularly so in often barren sub-Saharan West Africa where French and US warplanes patrol the skies. `We have the Maxim gun (machine gun) and they have notwrote a Victorian poet. Nothing much has changed.

France’s previous president, Francois Hollande, charged into a local tribal squabble in Mali, a key uranium supplier, between black town dwellers and nomadic Tuareg and assorted Islamists. Unable to afford the spreading war, France asked for US help and got it. The bitterly anti-Muslim Trump administration could not miss a chance to attack Muslims in West Africa under the banner of ‘anti-terrorism.’

A ‘terrorist’ in this case is anyone who challenges the western-dominated political order, from Malian nomads to Central African Republic rebels. In the brutal dictatorial regimes of former French West Africa the only effective opposition comes from groups calling themselves Islamic. This pulls the chain of the Trump administration and its Christian fundamentalist allies at home who seek to uproot fast-spreading Islam from Africa.

So off the US military charges into Africa, with little understanding of the region and even less strategic planning. It’s Vietnam-style ‘mission creep’ all over again.

Washington is still trying to figure out what happened to Herzegovina in the Balkans while it plunges into darkest West Africa. That’s why Trump and French president Emmanuel Macron are so chummy these days.

Comments

Escrava Isaura HowdyDoody Thu, 11/09/2017 - 04:16 Permalink

Most Hedges these days only know how to focus on the low hang fruit…….Easy stuff while missing the big picture. Here’s an example from below. Jus7tme: This article is exactly right. After a murderous failure in the Middle East, The US military is looking for fresh new locations in which they have not failed YET. Firstly, Africa is not fresh. Africa is supposed to be resources for the Europeans after WW2 (Bretton Woods Conference). Then, with these resources, Europe produces finishes goods that are sold to the US. With those ‘acquired’ dollars the Europeans then buy oil and explorer more resources in Africa while the US runs their security and the financial aspects. Secondly, US has not failed in the Middle East. Yes, some setbacks but, for the most part, Middle East is going accordingly to plan, which is to take their resources, and have those resources be sold in dollars thus generating liquidity to Americans and inflation to the rest of the world.    
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In reply to by HowdyDoody

Manthong Escrava Isaura Thu, 11/09/2017 - 04:45 Permalink

…gee… I am a loss for words  except GET THE FLYING F OUT OF AFRICA…. Except if you want to want to compete with the Chinese building infrarastructure……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………… 

In reply to by Escrava Isaura

ptolemy_newit Manthong Thu, 11/09/2017 - 06:31 Permalink

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China had helped other developing countries build 442 economic infrastructure projects, including: 1.              The Sana’a-Hodeida Highway in Yemen 2.              The Karakoram Highway and Gwadar 3.              Port in Pakistan The Tanzania-Zambia Railway 4.              The Belet Uen-Burao Highway in Somalia 5.              The Dry Dock in Malta 6.              The Lagdo Hydropower Station in Cameroon Nouakchott’s Friendship Port in Mauritania 7.              Railway improvements in Botswana 8.              Six bridges in Bangladesh 9.              One section of the Kunming-Bangkok Highway in Laos 10.           The Greater Mekong Sub-region Information Highway in Myanmar 11.           The Shar-Shar Tunnel in Tajikistan 12.           The No.7 Highway in Cambodia 13.           The Gotera Interchange in Addis Ababa of Ethiopia   http://www.china-briefing.com/

In reply to by Manthong

BarkingCat ptolemy_newit Thu, 11/09/2017 - 08:24 Permalink

China is not building any of these things out of generosity towards others. They're building infrastructure so they can exploit the region. I've read that in some former colonial areas the natives wish the change to go away and the British return. The say that the British brought them culture and education while Chinese simply seek to explore them like slaves.Is it true? Probably.  The Chinese treat their own like slaves.

In reply to by ptolemy_newit

ptolemy_newit BarkingCat Thu, 11/09/2017 - 09:38 Permalink

No! its bilateral trade win/win. have you been to Ethiopia? China has 300 million middle class, the most billionaires in the world and no one living on the street. The greatest transportations systems, 350 miles per hour trains, NO POT HOLE in the roads, gardens and parks everywhere. Everyone works or no lunch.  Children go to school 8 hours a day.  Greatest medical system. Get a passport. 

In reply to by BarkingCat

STP baldknobber Thu, 11/09/2017 - 13:56 Permalink

The big difference between the US and China as far as building infrastructure in these countries, is that China builds it, with the express cooperation of the government in helping to lease farm land, extract resources (at a fair price, I suppose, to both) and that's it.   The Chinese don't tell them, how to run their country.  They could careless if it's a dictatorship, kingdom, democracy, whatever.  The US is a different story.  The US often demands regime change, military insertion of troops, bases, with a focus on strategic placement for command and control and maybe, a little infrastructure help, like Michelle Obama holding up a stupid sign.

In reply to by baldknobber

ptolemy_newit factorypreset Thu, 11/09/2017 - 18:16 Permalink

Is the Islamic view on finance and economy not just a preference for Productive Capitalism and a statement against Financial Capitalism? Or is the Western economy and finance just too heavy influenced/poisoned by looting principles: as it facilitates a drain from the real economy towards the financial economy. And: Is draining the real economy a good/smart concept? Yet that’s just what Financial Capitalism does. As it widens the wealth gap within economies/societies.   Better said: the Islamic finance and economic models are delivering Productive Capitalism (with all its advantages) and prevents the rise of Financial Capitalism (with all its downsides) NYSE- what companies have the greatest profits? 

In reply to by factorypreset

TexasDave Escrava Isaura Thu, 11/09/2017 - 09:46 Permalink

The policy that is detailed above is anathema to those who love liberty and law, but instead of down voting and decrying something the majority of us understand represents evil we ought to closely study these rare windows into the truth of the banking cabals worldview. Destroyed countries and the devastation of people groups is not a failure to the mic and their banking masters. It merely begets more opportunities to seize a tighter grip on the human experience through rebuilding and restructuring under their "wise" leadership. Peace or war, it's all priced into their road map.The only way their plan is disrupted, derailed, or experiences failure is if the FED ceases to exist, money is sound again, and the current political power structure and all those who are involved from mic ceos to lobbying firms to all federal contractors and employees are ejected from the political sphere. Then you might see their plans and expectations mightily disrupted. Until then it's all part of the plan.-Dave

In reply to by Escrava Isaura

BarkingCat Par Contre Thu, 11/09/2017 - 08:29 Permalink

One problem with the others article is that he fails to mention that the French Foreign Legion means foreigners. The line about not knowing whether they will kill you or buy you a drink is probably accurate. These were a collection of foreign misfits and criminals who joined the French foreign Legions to escape the legal system and stay out of prison. There is truly nothing admirably about these psychopathic misfits

In reply to by Par Contre

Jus7tme Thu, 11/09/2017 - 03:39 Permalink

This article is exactly right. After a murderous failure in the Middle East, The US military is looking for fresh new locations in which they have not failed YET.

HardAssets Jus7tme Thu, 11/09/2017 - 08:38 Permalink

US foreign policy and military actions are narrowly focused to benefit a few - oil companies, private military contractors, officers bucking for promotion, etc. Of course, the biggest beneficiaries are the private banks who own the federal reserve note and do not want competition from anything of actual value.
The ‘war on terrorism’ is the perfect excuse to intervene anywhere in the world. History has shown that such a policy leads to failure and national decline. Empire over reach is a very old story.

In reply to by Jus7tme

slipreedip Thu, 11/09/2017 - 03:55 Permalink

The only country swaggering around the world looking for trouble is the United States.Most  developed countries dont want, and arent actively pursuing war with any other countries.This constant state of conflict bullshit is cultivated by the US relentlessly.Look at Trump in SK at the moment.Yes, there are localised issues in some areas but were not really talking nation states for the most part.These areas where it is happening have largely been carry over disputes originating pre/post ww1 and 2.(ie israel etc)Americas passive aggressive foreign policy and bullying is cast in a poor light when considering someof the trading links and programs employed by the  Chinese and Russians.Im not saying their sheets are completely white, but a road and belt initiative to promote travel and trade will usually be far more welcome than parking a few battlegroups off the coast.  

SmittyinLA Thu, 11/09/2017 - 03:59 Permalink

Mission creep my ass, this is all about protecting FOREIGN donor assets by our whored out military and a State Dept on the take. Why is the federal government in a partnership with Soros and Helios towers in Africa other than to provide him with free money and free security?

It's American taxpayer Chumpville.

The military is in Africa to provide security for private monopolies in water, power and communications owned by federal govt insiders-not Americans but paid for with federally guaranteed loans, the water and land acquisition policies are also driving African refugees into the EU, every land purchase authorized some "designated chief" is a displacement of locals.

HedgeJunkie Grandad Grumps Thu, 11/09/2017 - 05:27 Permalink

Odd.  A few years back I was asked by the Census about our Iron Workers, we are along a major rail line.They asked if you had unlimited resources and unlimited manpower how much product could we turn out.I answered "Is this a trick question, it would be unlimited once a spur was introduced.  Don't ask me this type of question ever again."Haven't had to answer since.

In reply to by Grandad Grumps