Moon of Alabama Brecht quote
February 22, 2007

Understanding AFRICOM - Part III

Understanding AFRICOM:
A Contextual Reading of Empire's New Combatant Command

(This is the last part of the Understanding AFRICOM series. You may want to start with reading part I and part II. A PDF version of the complete series is available. Your comments on this are welcome here.)

by b real


A New Cold War in Africa

Apart from its role in protecting oil and natural gas supplies, AFRICOM will inherit additional responsibility on a continent that is fast becoming the geopolitical centerpiece in a new Cold War.  Aimed toward countering China, this context will cast the new combatant command on a parallel with that of EUCOM in its task containing the Eastern Bloc during the decades following the Second World War.

The most significant challenge to U.S. policy in Africa in the coming years may be China. The immediate topic of most strategic discussions regarding China and Africa is oil competition. "Twenty years ago, China was East Asia's largest oil exporter. Now it is the world's second-largest importer; last year, it alone accounted for 31 percent of global growth in oil demand." Just as the U.S. is recognizing the importance of African oil to its interests, China is actively seeking to expand its own market share. But China's economic (and thus political) engagement of Africa since the turn of the century goes far beyond the hunt for energy. China's overall trade with Africa doubled from 2002 to 2003, and then doubled again between 2003 and 2005. This 400% growth in three years comes atop 700% growth in the decade of the 1990s, and there is no end in sight. China is now Africa's third largest trading partner, behind the U.S. and France, and ahead of former colonial power Britain.
...
Thus Chinese engagement in Africa threatens to substantially reduce the leverage of the U.S. and its Western allies, and thereby undermine the political and economic reform agendas the West has been pushing in Africa for two decades. More than this, however, successful economic engagement by China could open a huge new market for trade and investment, which it would be in position to dominate. The political implications of an economically emerging Africa in close alliance with China are disconcerting in the U.S. policy circles. China's engagement in Africa may soon challenge the longstanding American perception that 'there is no there there,' and encourage serious, interest-driven U.S. engagement with Africa for the first time in history. [48]

Africa weighs heavily in China's plans for the future. Government officials have been making regular trips to Africa for the last few years, buying stakes in oil and natural gas fields, dealing for a variety of resources & agricultural products vital to its rapidly growing economy, signing trade agreements with 45 nations, handing out loans to starving governments, canceling debts, and lining up infrastructure projects. A three-year plan revealed at last November's Forum on China-Africa Cooperation in Beijing clearly outlines objectives on multiple fronts to build upon a partnership between China and the majority of African nations.

The plan pledges that China will:

  • Double aid to Africa by 2009 (to about $1bn)
  • Set up a $5 bn China-Africa development fund to encourage Chinese companies to invest in Africa
  • Provide $3 bn in preferential loans and $2 bn in preferential buyer's credits to African countries
  • Cancel all debt stemming from Chinese interest-free government loans that matured by the end of 2005, for the 31 highly indebted and least developed countries (LDCs) in Africa that have relations with China (an amount estimated at around $1.4 bn)
  • Further open China's markets to exports from African LDCs by increasing from 190 to 440 the number of products receiving zero-tariff treatment
  • Train 15,000 African professionals, double the number of Chinese government scholarships given annually to Africans (to 4,000) and send 100 senior agricultural experts and 300 youth volunteers
  • Build 30 hospitals, 30 malaria treatment centers and 100 rural schools [49]
  • Chinese entrepreneurs have also been making inroads into the continent. As one analysis pointed out, "The 800 Chinese companies in Africa are viewed by Beijing as fulfilling both political and economic roles, and as part of a diplomatic effort to project influence." [50] Africa has become both a necessary market for Chinese goods and a laboratory for new products and market campaigns. The influence is continent-wide and largely received favorably by many nations looking to get out under the claws of the Western neoliberal institutions.  And this reality is making the imperialists in Washington see red.

    China has secured oil fields and exploration rights in nations ranging from Kenya and Sudan in the East to Congo in Central Africa, and Angola in the West. And Nigeria, holding 70 percent of Africa's oil, has not gone ignored either.

    Obasanjo is also shaking up the oil industry in a double maneuver interpreted as a rap on the knuckles for his Western allies and a last ditch effort to secure a legacy as the one Nigerian leader who tamed corruption in that sector.
    American, British, and French oil companies enjoyed a virtual monopoly of Nigeria's oil industry. Royal Dutch Shell's joint venture with the government produces half of the country's daily output of 2.5 million barrels. Two U.S. companies, Chevron Texaco and Mobil, are also key players. Obasanjo's new oil policy threatens this dominance.
    China made a dramatic entry into the picture last April, when Nigerian officials announced that China National Offshore Oil Corporation (CNOOC) had bought a 45% stake in a Nigerian oil field for more than $2 billion. That field will pump 225,000 barrels per day when it begins production in 2008. Obasanjo also negotiated a loan of $1 billion from the Chinese government to finance repair of Nigeria's railways and buy new rolling stock.
    These deals were brokered at the height of the constitutional drama, when America said it would not support an attempt by the government to extend its stay in office unconstitutionally. In addition to rolling out the welcome mat for energy-hungry China, oil ministry officials say they will tighten financial regulations and impose sanctions on companies seen as defaulting on tax and royalty payments - moves apparently aimed as local subsidiaries in the Niger Delta. [51]

    Two months after the $2.27 billion deal for the offshore oil-mining license, CNOOC paid Nigeria another $60 million USD for a 35 percent stake in one more offshore license. And Nigeria has currently opened another 50-60 oil and gas blocks up for investors, of which China is only one expected taker. [52] Basically, China has a lot of money to invest in Africa, and securing energy supplies prominently figures into its agenda.

    Obviously, this conflicts with the United States' priorities, as do the economic inroads that China has been successfully establishing in the continent, and Africa finds itself the major set piece for the grand game.

    In More Than Humanitarianism, the Council on Foreign Relations ... depicts the leading threat as coming from China: "China has altered the strategic context in Africa. All across Africa today, China is acquiring control of natural resource assets, outbidding Western contractors on major infrastructure projects, and providing soft loans and other incentives to bolster its competitive advantage." China imports more than a quarter of its oil from Africa, primarily Angola, Sudan, and Congo. It is Sudan's largest foreign investor. It has provided heavy subsidiaries to Nigeria to increase its influence and has been selling fighter jets there. Most threatening from the standpoint of U.S. grand strategists is China's $2 billion low-interest loan to Angola in 2004, which has allowed Angola to withstand IMF demands to reshape its economy and society along neoliberal lines.
    For the Council on Foreign Relations, all of this adds up to nothing less than a threat to Western imperialist control of Africa. Given China's role, the council report says, "the United States and Europe cannot consider Africa their chasse gardé [private hunting ground], as the French once did in francophone Africa. The rules are changing as China seeks not only to gain access to resources, but also to control resource production and distribution, perhaps positioning itself for priority access as these resources become scarcer." The council report on Africa is so concerned with combating China through the expansion of U.S. military operations in the region, that none other than Chester Crocker, former assistant secretary of state for African affairs in the Reagan administration, charges it with sounding "wistfully nostalgic for an era when the United States or the West was the only influence and could pursue its ... objectives with a free hand." [53]

    AFRICOM is a vital centralization of that military expansion into the 21st century scramble for Africa. The U.S. naval buildup along Africa's coasts is part of a new "force projection" that not only serves to monitor and protect strategic waterways, but also to intimidate and deter Empire's enemies. Pentagon and think-tank strategists, responding to perceptions of China's buildup of their own naval powers, are moving their game pieces around the world accordingly, "making sure that strategic waterways are under their control from the Straits of Hormuz to the Malacca Straits."

    The United States' desperation to control and patrol one of the world's vital sea lanes - the Malacca Strait - indicates just how advanced the U.S. China geo-political containment policy is. A third of all world trade goes through the Strait, as well as eighty percent of China's oil imports.  ... Due to threats of 'terrorism' and 'piracy' America has set up the PSI (Proliferation Security Initiatives) and RMSI - the 'Regional Maritime Security Initiative' - which is designed to 'protect' and 'patrol' this waterway. Discussing the issue in the Jakarta Post in June 2006, Ria Jaslim wrote: "China's fast-paced economic growth and strengthening defense capabilities place them in a position to challenge America's leadership in the Asia-Pacific region. This latent competition will likely prompt the U.S. to adopt a strategy to contain China. This would include controlling the sea-lines of communication and strategic maritime checkpoints, such as the Strait of Malacca, and thus indirectly controlling the movement of raw materials and goods to China.
    Thus, the real reason America wants to bolster its presence in the region, and specifically the Strait of Malacca, is to limit China's access to oil, raw materials, technology and industrial equipment, and to contain China's influence in the region. Using the threat of terrorism and piracy to strengthen the Proliferation Security Initiatives is the most likely strategy."[54]

    These increases in naval activity and initiatives in and around the Gulf of Guinea can be interpreted in the same manner. The possibility of a large strategic naval base on the island of Sao Tome and Principe [55] reminds one of an earlier era of U.S. imperial expansion aimed at the East. Efforts underway to sell resistant Gulf nations on the needs for maritime security programs, building maritime interoperability, forge the bottom section of the "ring fencing" of Nigeria. On the ground to the north, the TSCTI is connecting local militaries under U.S. command, fed regularly on a diet of GWOT pabulum and Congressional funding.

    In FY 2005, the TSCTI received $16 million; in FY 2006, nearly $31 million. "The big push comes in 2008, when the administration hopes to get $100 million each year for five years." All of this far exceeds the $7.75 million allocated to the earlier Pan-Sahel Initiative. If and when the new African Command is approved by President Bush, funding will be ramped up accordingly. [56]

    The goal of building large regional battalions may very well foreshadow larger proxy wars, as well as attempts at the strategic blocking of resource routes from Sub-Saharan to Northern Africa. Efforts are already under way to block access to deep seaports along the Horn of Africa, limiting seaway lanes to China (and India). Regime changes continue in the objective of gaining accommodating client states in strategic zones across the continent. Increases in arms trade and military hardware to gain stability. Agencies and contractors on the ground, building HUMINT. Money changes hands to arm insurgents and warlords. Election results are overturned to keep useful leaders in power. Intelligence equipment and assistance are offered for neutralizing "terrorists." Already, the U.S. supports unpopular governments in nations such as Equatorial Guinea, Ethiopia, Central African Republican, Somalia, and Algeria.

    Perhaps the most worrying of America's new military partners in the [Sahel] region is Algeria. According to [former EUCOM deputy commander General Charles] Wald, European Command is working "heavily" with the Algerian government. When asked about Algeria's contribution to the war on terrorism, Wald has said, "I think they're doing a fantastic job," and that the U.S. military has "a lot to learn from the Algerians." But as Tom Malinowski, the Washington advocacy director of Human Rights Watch, recently told the House of Representatives: "In human rights terms, Algeria, with its documented record of torture and 'disappearances,' is in many ways a model of how not to fight terrorism." During Algeria's long-running struggle with the GSPC and other Islamic insurgents, Malinowski explained, "security forces arrested and tortured thousands of suspects. They engaged in summary executions, often rounding up victims arbitrarily in reprisal for attacks on their own troops. And between 1993 and 1997, they picked up and made 'disappear' an estimated 7,000 Algerians who remain unaccounted for until this day." [57]

    This sort of "support" is only bound to increase as rhetoric of stabilizing Africa makes the dailies, copied directly out of official AFRICOM press releases. Readers of the mainstream media can expect to encounter more frequent usages of terms like "blunder" and "misguided." Already the propagandists decry China's human rights record and support for Sudan and Zimbabwe while ignoring the ongoing violations of Western corporations engaged in the various extraction industries as they plunder natural resources and pollute other peoples homelands, of U.S. gunships mowing down villagers in the Horn, and of SOF-trained armies reportedly committing atrocities across the continent to pacify rebellions over territorial and resource disputes and "shore up" repressive regimes.

    In that December Report to Members of the Committee on Foreign Relations, one can read the following example of U.S. priorities in the human and civil rights context.

    One Central African country in particular illustrates the need for State Department perspective and guidance to temper Defense Department enthusiasm. The country is unstable, desperately poor, and run by a repressive government that is being challenged by a persistent armed resistance. Desperate for a military strong enough to protect it from the rebels, the government has signed an Article 98 agreement, exempting U.S. military personnel from International Criminal Court procedures and thus enabling it to receive military assistance. It has also signed a Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) with the United States. With extensive "under-governed spaces" as potential terrorist havens and bordering countries with equally uncertain futures, the country was termed "a model country for security assistance" by the regional combatant command. Civilian embassy officials, however, are demonstrably less keen. They question the rate at which military programs are rapidly escalating and the sizable and still growing presence of U.S. military personnel in-country. A U.S.-labeled backpack, observed on a government soldier undergoing U.S. training, underscored for SFRC staff the potential complications of a too-close association with the country's military. It would be a major setback if the United States were to be implicated in support of operations shoring up the repressive regime, regardless of the stated intent of such training. [58]

    A new cold war is underway in Africa, and AFRICOM will be at the dark heart of it.

    Conclusion

    Africa has been through this before, caught in the middle of a global chessboard during the first Cold War as competing world powers sought to win friends and contain enemies at the expense of those in the way. Militaries were trained and armed to fight proxy battles or overthrow unsympathetic regimes. Rhetorical allusions to notions of human rights and democratic governments lost out to the more pragmatic ends of protecting economic ideologies. For the most part, the blood that spilled was largely that of Africa, again prevented from achieving true independence, self-identity, and prosperity. The old Cold War blew in primarily on the exaggerated vapors of ideology. This one is not so abstract.

    Africa is now perceived as the final frontier for the world's energy supplies, crucial for the preservation of hi-tech global civilizations, and this new scramble will be much more serious. This is the context in which the new combatant command enters the history books, at the junction of the early 21st century and the pending flare out of the petroleum age.  Expanding the military reach of the most powerful empire the planet has ever known, AFRICOM will be tasked with the responsibility of achieving full-spectrum dominance over mother Africa for fuel. Operating as both energy-protection service and strategic Cold War front, the unified command will concentrate whatever military forces are necessary to keep the furnaces of Empire lit. Whether AFRICOM will succeed in this directive is beside the point, for, while ends may justify the means for the elite in power, their so-called "national interest" payoff, it is regular people who pay the full price at all times. And it does not require a crystal ball or great imagination to realize what the increased militarization of the continent through AFRICOM will bring to the peoples of Africa.

    ---
    A PDF version of the complete series is available.
    Your comments on this are welcome here.
    ---
    Notes:

    48. Lawson
    49. Ernest Harsch, "Big leap in China-Africa ties," African Renewal, Vol.20 #4 (January 2007), page 3, [link]
    50. Bright B. Simons, Evans Lartey and Franklin Cudjoe, "China On Safari: Emperor Hu's new clothes for Africa," Asia Times Online, February 8, 2007, [link]
    51. Ike Okonta, "Obasanjo's Troubling End-Game," Project Syndicate, July 2006, [link]
    52. "Nigeria To Launch New Oil and Gas Licensing Round," Alexander's Gas & Oil Connection, January 16, 2007, [link]
    53. Foster
    54. Maryann Keady, "U.S.-China and a New Cold War," January 14, 2007, [link]
    55. [link]
    56. Lubeck, Watts and Lipschutz
    57. Khatchadourian
    58. "Embassies As Command Posts in the Anti-Terror Campaign," p.5

    Posted by b on February 22, 2007 at 12:20 UTC | Permalink

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    second DoS article on the recent panel on the niger delta states

    The United States will help, but Nigerians hold the key to ending violence in the oil-rich Niger Delta region by implementing democracy and anti-corruption measures themselves, says Phil Carter, director of the State Department's Office of West African Affairs.
    ...
    Despite the need for Nigeria to solve its own problems, he said, "Nigeria's friends do not expect the country to go it alone."

    He said that since 2005, the United States, Nigeria and its international partners have met quarterly in "Gulf of Guinea Energy Security Strategy" meetings, discussing ways to overcome the violence in the delta and keep production from plummeting.

    The main areas of focus are community development, financial crimes/transparency, coastal and maritime security, and small arms trafficking, according to Carter.

    To counter corruption, Carter said, the United States can provide funds and training to combat money laundering and strengthen customs enforcement and offer advisers to improve state budget transparency.

    At the same time, he said, "we welcome the chance to expand community-policing projects from Kaduna into the delta region to improve police performance and respect human rights, as well as link policy to aspirations of the local populace."

    He added that the United States is also in the process of providing state-of-the-art security equipment for all of Nigeria's international airports.

    Nigeria's national elections, set for April, also are important to security in the delta, Carter told the panel.

    If well-run, they will provide a model of good governance and transparency that could undercut a great deal of citizen dissatisfaction. "Credible elections should open up political space and provide officials with the means to follow up with concrete measures, delivering services and good governance," he said.

    "That is why the United States has provided over $15 million over the past three years to train political parties, electoral commission staff and civil society in facilitating preparation for free and fair polls," the diplomat said.

    Carter said the elections will involve 300,000 election monitors and observers, who will serve at more than 10,000 polling stations.

    He told the panel that the United States "wants to help Nigeria's federal and state governments invest in their people in a transformational way. By having Nigerians own the process, we help to empower the population to resolve political issues peacefully and to build strong, lasting, democratic Nigerian institutions."

    The day after Carter spoke, the White House announced his nomination by President Bush to be the next U.S. ambassador to Guinea.

    "own the process" but not design the program

    audio from the two panels at the event, The Niger Delta: Prospects for Elections and the Future Reform Agenda, avail here

    photos from on the ground in the niger delta
    The Drilling and the Damage Done
    Photojournalist Ed Kashi's saga of injustice, devastation, and violence in the oil-rich but cash-poor Niger Delta.

    National Geographic Interactive Edition: Sights & Sounds -- Nigerian Oil

    -----

    Soyinka - We're Heading for Anarchy

    Nobel Laureate Professor Wole Soyinka yesterday took a look at the unfolding political drama in the country - April polls, tug of war between President Olusegun Obasanjo and Vice President Atiku Abubakar, the Petroleum Technology Development Fund (PTDF) saga and the disqualification of aspirants - and declared that the nation was heading for anarchy.

    Soyinka in a statement titled 'Will of One and the Rule of Law' said preparations for the April polls had been slipshod and that the utterances and actions of INEC Chairman, Professor Maurice Iwu leaves much to be desired.

    The Nobel Laureate said: "I watched the performance of Professor Iwu, INEC's Chairman, on television last night (Thursday). It would be excessive to claim that I was frightened for the nation. Let me restrict myself to admitting that I felt very apprehensive. The Obasanjo-Atiku saga has taken a dimension that reaches far beyond the issues that are actually touted, the loudest being corruption, probity, integrity etc. etc. We are now firmly within the terrain, not even of the rule of law, but of the paranoid will of any individual, however powerful, against the very fabric of society, against such seeming intangibles as confidence in the ability of the law to protect the individual and the community. In other words, we are speaking of freedom and its protective mechanisms."

    Posted by: b real | Mar 17 2007 20:34 utc | 101

    re the report i mentioned in #99

    Government administration in Lower Jubba province, southern Somalia, ordered the security forces in the region to kill anyone they suspect of being a threat to the security and peace in the coastal province near the Kenyan border.

    Ilyas Badal, the government administrator for the provincial main town of Kismayu, was quoted as saying that he had given the security forces the authority to shoot dead anyone they believe is hazardous to general tranquility of the province.


    i guess some people really take such orders seriously
    Police commander killed in southern Somalia
    Mogadishu 18, March.07 ( Sh.M.Network) The commander of the police station in the port town of Kismayu, southern Somalia, Abdi Hussein Abdulle (Abdi Gaab) was killed by one his security guards last night, police said.

    Police sources said the commander died from his wounds minutes after he was shot by one his security officers.

    Posted by: b real | Mar 19 2007 2:36 utc | 102

    now here's a 'global security' analyst who knows how to frame a good story

    The United States and Africa: eyes on the prize


    ...
    One way to explain the policy decision is to put it in the context of the establishment of another US military command almost a generation ago.
    ...
    Centcom was a fully integrated command, along the lines of other overseas US military organisations such as Southern Command (which covers Latin America) and Pacific Command. Centcom was at the core of the war against Iraq in 1991, with its commander, General Norman Schwarzkopf, in overall charge of the military operation; more recently it has run the war in Afghanistan and the second Iraq war. Its origins, however, are rooted in the experience of the mid-1970s and relate particularly to oil security.
    ...
    This is the context in which the United States is planning to establish a new unified military centre, this time covering the continent of Africa - which is currently "shared" between Centcom and the Pacific and European commands (Pacom and Eucom). When it becomes operational in September 2008 it will initially occupy headquarters alongside Eucom in Germany. Africom will share with Centcom a primary concern with resource security, but it will also keep a careful watch on two other current perceived threats: international terrorism and the rise of China.

    whereas i wrote

    In many ways, a context for the pending strategic role of AFRICOM can be gained from an understanding of the origins of CENTCOM and the role that it continues to provide in Iraq, Iran, Saudi Arabia, and the many "stans" popping up after the implosion of the former U.S.S.R. That context is centered on strategic energy supplies and, explicitly, that of oil.
    ...
    Apart from its role in protecting oil and natural gas supplies, AFRICOM will inherit additional responsibility on a continent that is fast becoming the geopolitical centerpiece in a new Cold War. Aimed toward countering China, this context will cast the new combatant command on a parallel with that of EUCOM in its task containing the Eastern Bloc during the decades following the Second World War.
    ...
    This is the context in which the new combatant command enters the history books, at the junction of the early 21st century and the pending flare out of the petroleum age.

    Posted by: b real | Mar 19 2007 15:41 utc | 103

    PINR's latest analysis on the sitch in somalia

    Somalia's Drama: Can the T.F.G. Do It?

    Expect the reversion to fragmentation in Somalia to continue, as the T.F.G. is allowed to proceed with its brand of reconciliation. The T.F.G. is the weak protagonist in a drama beyond its control.

    Posted by: b real | Mar 20 2007 14:55 utc | 104

    apparently, there's more to worry about in the niger delta than just the effects from the oil extraction industry

    nigeria: FG Sues Shell Over Toxic Waste

    The Federal Government has filed a law suit against Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC) and three other companies for violation of nuclear safety and radiation law by allegedly dumping radioactive substances in Warri, Delta State.
    ...
    Other defendants in the suit are C and E Global Limited and two international companies, Western Atlas and E D Wales, who were all accused of carrying and transporting radioactive substances from Port Harcourt, Rivers State, to Warri without authorisation from the regulatory agency.

    In the charge cited as FHC/ABJ/CR/30/2007 and filed before the Federal High Court in Abuja last Friday, 17 members of staff of these companies were also listed as defendants.

    The accused were said to have conspired between September 9 and October 9, 2006 to carry, transport, handle, stored and transfer the radio active sources to an unauthorised person.

    The Director of Public Prosecution (DPP), Salihu Aliyu, said the accused failed to obtain requisite clearance from the Department of State Services, an action contravening Section 14(2) of the Nigerian Transportation of Radioactive Sources Regulations 2006.

    The charge brought against 21 accused persons in Abuja, stated that Western Atlas among others, transported radioactive sources (namely one neutron source, m - Be with serial No 48474, one density, Cs-137 with serial No 969, one neutron verifier Am-Be with serial No D-311, two density verifier Cs -137 with serial number V- 1008 and v-1031, one Gamma ay-rig, Ra -226 with serial No WA-644) from Port Harcourt to Warri in violation of section 77 of the Nigerian Basic Ionization Radiation regulations 2003 and section 41 of the Nuclear Safety and Radiation Protection Act 1995."

    The accused, according to the charge, have therefore committed an offence contrary to section 516 of the criminal Code Act Cap 77 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria 1990.

    The FG stated further that the accused contravened section 5(2)(c) of the Nigerian safety and security of radioactive sources regulatory 2006 and therefore punishable under Section 45(1)(a) of the Nuclear Safety and Radiation Protection Act 1995.

    E D Wayles International was accused of handling radio active materials including towing a barge called Emonina 11 containing radio active bunker from SPDC Ogunnu jetty to Perker rig 73 in Warri, Delta State, without valid licence or authorisation from the Nigerian Nuclear Regulatory Authority.

    Posted by: b real | Mar 26 2007 15:32 utc | 105

    The East African Standard (Nairobi): A Scramble for the Continent We May Not Gain From

    The US presence is not likely to be felt in a whole lot more American boots on the ground just yet. Some theorise that Africom will create 'forward staging areas', spots to which large numbers of troops can be sent as needed. Their task will be to bring 'freedom' (remove regimes, even if popularly elected, that do not suit their interests) and 'stability' (protect regimes, even if dictatorial, that do).

    For this work, they will count on many African governments. 'Leverage' is likely to be a sore point in years to come. This is especially so as the military head of Africom - a four-star general - will have a civilian counterpart whose job will be to use diplomacy, political and economic aid to get Washington's way on the continent.

    Western nations already have great economic leverage over African governments. Some are keen to rush into Chinese arms to break this hold. Whether this will do any good as the US positions itself in Africa remains to be seen. One thing we can be sure of is that the noise about China closing its eyes to atrocities in Sudan and Zimbabwe is but a minor distraction.

    The US and Britain have in the past supported regimes not much different because it suited their purposes. And should getting access to local resources require looking the other way as atrocities are committed (like the case in Nigeria), look away they will. Looking at US alliances with authoritarian governments in Africa, one can see that what plays best to the media is not always what works best in the world of realpolitik.

    Posted by: b real | Mar 27 2007 2:38 utc | 106

    that deputy assistant secretary of defense (DASD) for african affairs the u.s. has, theresa whelan, should get a great big smiley face stamped on her next evaluation. seriously.

    The command also plans to re-focus efforts to help African navies and coastal forces cut down on illegal fishing, especially in the Gulf of Guinea and southwest Indian Ocean, she said. AFRICOM shaping up as model of support

    not sure if that tops her previous explanation for understanding AFRICOM, but they're both top-notch

    we actually like to think of AFRICOM as a new kind of fire department. Normally, you have the fire department, they stay in their firehouse and they spend time polishing their shiny fire truck. And when a fire breaks out, then they rush to the fire and they try to put the fire out. And then when they're done, they go back to their fire house and they go back to polishing their truck and waiting for the next fire.

    However, we want AFRICOM to be a command that essentially goes out and helps to develop, along with our African partners, fire safety techniques, advises on putting in sprinkler systems in order to reduce damage from fire and do preventative things so that hopefully, fires won't break out. But because accidents happen and you can't control everything in life, if a fire does break out, the fire will not be as severe and it might be put out a little bit more easily and maybe it might not impact as many people. So I think that would be the way that we would look at it.

    Posted by: b real | Mar 29 2007 4:53 utc | 107

    thanks @107

    so the Chinese are hard at work in the hot sun, building roads, dams, rail-systems, power-systems, schools, hospitals ... while the Americans sit around in their "forward" base, playing cards & waiting for a fire to happen.

    we're talking about the Niger Delta, where the sky above is literally ablaze from gas flaring by Shell, Mobil & their friends.

    Nope, wrong fire, my bad. silly me.

    Posted by: jony_b_cool | Mar 29 2007 11:47 utc | 108

    Ethiopia’s Invasion of Somalia: Neoconservative Approach of State Building

    There is no disagreement among the expert that Ethiopia’s decision to invade Southern Somalia was supported by US government, given its United Nations draft resolution adopted by the UN Security Council on December 6, 2006, which lifted arms embargo and authorized the deployment of African peacekeeping force in Somalia to help the unpopular Transitional Federal Government (TFG), at a time when southern Somalia was under unified authority since 1991 - after the fall of Barre’s regime - with improved security, and opening of sea-port and the airport, and remarkably all this was achieved less than two month without any resistance. In addition, the adopted resolution 1725 was intended to provoke Union of Islamic Courts (UIC) – which was an umbrella organization for Mogadishu’s dozen clan courts – that ascended in to power after they have defeated US backed warlords who declared war on the UIC and alleged of giving protection to US wanted foreign terrorist. The brief visit of Gen. John P. Abizaid the head of the United States Central Command to Addis Ababa in early December to meet Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Meles Zenawi, to discuss the raising tension between his government and the UIC showed the degree of US involvement. According New York Times report The Prime Minister told Gen Abazaid that he could defeat the Islamist forces “in one to two weeks.”

    In this paper I would like to explore why Zenawi’s regime is so obsessed in Somalia’s conflict, and why he made a unilateral action to invade a sovereign country to infuriate its population and escalate tension in the region. Is it a “benevolent hegemony”? Or it is premeditated aggression to weaken the grass root efforts that improved security and stabilized the country in order to exert its influence on weak and divided Somalia. What are the implications of its invasion in Somalia and the outcome of the government they have imposed on Somali people? We will also discuss the level of US involvement in this conflict and the groups who are pushing this new policy.

    salim lone doesn't need so many words to slice it & dice it. the power player behind the fragmentation of somalia is not the ethiopian empire but the washington one
    Only Bold Action in Somalia Will Put End to the Chaos

    In Somalia, the US helped topple the Islamic Courts Union and the peace they had brought, but the government has no hope of winning national support because it was put in place by the two countries most reviled by Somalis.

    The greatest indictment of President Bush's reign is that he turned many relatively stable situations into murderous chaos in pursuit of short-term goals, negating his own strategic aim of a more secure world for the US.

    Outcome aside, this was the most illegal war fought in recent history. It violated the UN Charter, and also two explicit Security Council resolutions adopted in 1993 (arms embargo) and in December (which continued much of the embargo and forbade neighbouring countries from sending troops into Somalia).

    Kenya also blemished its excellent international record by contravening humanitarian laws by turning over scores of Kenyan and other alleged ICU supporters to Somalia, where they might have faced torture or death.

    Posted by: b real | Mar 31 2007 6:12 utc | 109

    human rights watch: People Fleeing Somalia War Secretly Detained

    (New York, March 30, 2007) – Kenya, Ethiopia, the United States and the Transitional Federal Government of Somalia cooperated in a secret detention program for people who had fled the recent conflict in Somalia, Human Rights Watch said today.

    In a March 22 letter to the Kenyan Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Human Rights Watch detailed the arbitrary detention, expulsion and apparent enforced disappearance of dozens of individuals who fled the fighting between the Union of Islamic Courts and the joint forces of the Transitional Federal Government and Ethiopia from December 2006 through January 2007.

    “Each of these governments has played a shameful role in mistreating people fleeing a war zone,” said Georgette Gagnon, deputy Africa director of Human Rights Watch. “Kenya has secretly expelled people, the Ethiopians have caused dozens to ‘disappear,’ and US security agents have routinely interrogated people held incommunicado.”
    ...
    US and other national intelligence services interrogated several foreign nationals in detention in Nairobi, who were denied access to legal counsel and their consular representatives. At least 85 people were then secretly deported from Kenya to Somalia in what appears to be a joint rendition operation of those individuals of interest to the Somali, Ethiopian, or US governments.

    Human Rights Watch obtained the flight manifests for three flights from Kenya to Mogadishu and Baidoa, Somalia in January and February 2007. Each manifest listed the names of several Kenyan police officers who accompanied the detainees.

    Many of the people expelled from Kenya were later transferred from Somalia to Ethiopia, but their exact locations in Ethiopia are unknown. Several detainees managed to briefly contact relatives prior to or following their transfer to Ethiopia, and said they were being held with numerous other people who had been deported from Kenya and Somalia.

    “Dozens of people have effectively disappeared into Ethiopian detention facilities,” said Gagnon. “It’s imperative that the Ethiopians acknowledge the people they are holding and permit independent international access to them.”

    Posted by: b real | Mar 31 2007 19:16 utc | 110

    African foray

    The Bush administration has also been interested in bringing about "regime change" in some other African countries. Sudan and Zimbabwe are high on its list. The subterfuge of "humanitarian intervention" could be resorted to in the ongoing bid for regime change. The American preoccupation with Darfur is a case in point. Darfur, which is the size of France, is known to have vast oil and gas reserves. Late last year, Sudan warned the United Nations against a "hostile invasion of Darfur". Neighbouring Chad is already exporting huge quantities of oil to the West. The U.S. is also unhappy that the oil from southern Sudan is flowing to China, India and other emerging nations. It has been backing the secessionist movements in southern Sudan.

    It is, therefore, not much of a surprise that most observers of the African scene view the new military initiative of the Bush administration in the African continent as being motivated primarily by the greed for oil. Four major U.S. oil companies have exclusive concessions in Somalia. If the U.S.-led military intervention succeeds in bringing peace to Somalia, then the American oil industry will be able to cash in on a bonanza. Geologists and oil industry sources are confident that the country has huge oil and gas reserves.

    Senior American officials have expressed the hope that the Gulf of Guinea on the West African coast would be able to meet a quarter of the U.S.'s oil needs within a decade. Many of the oil-producing countries in the Gulf of Guinea are afflicted with the kind of "instability" Africom wants to address. In Nigeria, oil production has been adversely affected because of the activities of separatist guerillas in the Niger Delta. A spokesman for the guerillas criticised the creation of Africom, saying that "oil is the key concern of the U.S. in establishing the African command". Other countries in the region are also facing a politically uncertain future and their beleaguered governments could always ask the Americans to bail them out.

    The Bush administration, meanwhile, continues to insist that the sole aim of Africom is to counter terrorism. There are very few takers for this stance even in the U.S.

    Posted by: b real | Apr 4 2007 16:01 utc | 111

    Here comes the second part of "Mercenaries for Hire", MMegi 2nd March 2007.
    Unfortunetely not put on the Internet


    SECOND PART OF THE PLAYERS IN THE FAILED COUP IN EQUATORIAL
    GUINEA


    After having named the British players, who wanted to hugely benefit from a
    successful coup, we turn now to the South African players, not to the foot
    soldiers, who were earmarked for the fighting and dying, but to the
    Ex-apartheid officers

    - Nick du Toit, former officer of the apartheid murder and destruction
    gang Reconnaissance commando (Recce), part of the advance party in
    Equatorial Guinea, posing as an entrepreneur. Sentenced to 34 years in
    prison
    He allegedly came on 14th June 1985 to Gaborone with Recce 5. They murdered
    14 people including a pregnant mother and a 6 year old child and blew up a
    number of houses afterwards.
    He still has to be tried in Botswana for these crimes aganist humanity,

    - Bones Boonzaaier, part of the advance party,
    sentenced to a long prison term for his involvement, however released
    prematurely because of ill health last year. He experienced mercy, that he
    himself was never prepared to deliver to black people.
    Boomzaaier came in 1975 with an apartheid killer commando to Shatowa in
    Zambia,
    "culling" 190 SWAPO freedom fighters in their tents.

    Three British Ex Soldiers on Mercenary Safari

    To get a broader picture about the players behind the scenes lets focus
    first on the mercenary past of two more Britisch ex special forces
    soldiers apart from Simon Mann: ,Tony Buckingham and Tim Spicer.

    Buckingham and Spicer as well as Mann are no newcomers in the mercenary
    business that means getting mineral rights in exchange for military
    hardware and software. The
    software consiting of old apartheid soldiers.

    For example Sierra Leone in 1998:
    Tony Buckingham's mercenary company Sandline, of which Tim Spicer, Ex SAS,
    Ex
    British Colonel, OBE, was the chief executive until 2000, offered their
    service to
    the ousted president Kabbah in exchange for diamond mining rights
    They offered old apartheid soldiers of the well
    known killer units, now firming under a new name: Executive Outcomes.

    The unit was founded and headed by one Eeben Barlow, former member of the
    Buffalo Battalion and then of the Civil Cooperation
    Bureau (CCB) the latter an South African apartheid death squad, which can
    take credit for countless extrajudicial killings inside and outside South
    Africa including hundreds of captured SWAPO freedom fighters allegedly
    killed with poison delivered by a Dr. Wouter Basson and the bodies thrown
    out of a plane over the Atlantic Ocean.


    A Crook named Rakesh Saxena

    An international crook by the name of Rakesh Saxena, resident in Canada
    since 1996 after fleeing from Thailand, who was also allegedly running a
    fraud dependance in Gaborone by the name of Investor
    Relations and Platinum Asset Management,
    offered them 10 million US Dollars, he had mining interests there as well.
    With Saxena's money Spicer bought tons of weapons in Bulgaria and
    elsewhere.


    This was the start, of what was later called the Arms to Africa Affair.
    Active in this scheme there were also Simon Mann and Nick du Toit.
    This military intervention in Sierre Leone was in flagrant violation of an
    UN arms embargo, who cares, and with the approval of the resident British
    High Commissioner, Penfold. When the things came out, it nearly brought down
    the Blair Government.


    Mercenaries go global

    Already before their Sierra Leone job, Spicer, Mann and Buckingham had gone
    global in 1997, this time to the other end of the globe, Papua New Guinea
    for a lump sum of 36 million US Dollars to be paid by one of the poorest
    states on earth.

    The Government there fought unsuccessfully against a rebel group on the
    Island of Bougainville to get hold of a copper mine, owned by the British
    company Rio Tinto. The fight erupted because of the environmental disaster,
    caused by the mine, that threatened to destroy the livelihood of the people
    there.
    Buckingham, Spicer and Simon Mann offered "help", the mercenary way via
    Sandline and Sandline subcontracting the dreck of the Ex Out mercenaries.


    Also with them Lafras Luitingh, another former member of the Apartheid-CCB,
    who allegedly can take credit for having been involved in the murder of ANC
    activist Dr. David Webster on 1st May 1989 in Johannesburg and SWAPO
    Advocate Anton Lubowski in Windhoek on 12 October 1989.

    However the army rebelled, Spicer was arrested and later released only
    thanks to discrete diplomatic pressure by the British government. Still they
    made their fortune, as they had worked on prepaid basis.

    In preparation for the Wonga Coup attempt of 2004 Simon Mann was collecting
    these former Executive Outcomes mercenaries, promising them huge returns and
    off
    they went, their journey ended prematurely at Harare International Airport.
    ,
    Epilogue

    There Mann still is, guest of President Robert Mugabe in his Chikurubi
    Maximum prison, serving a four year prison term for illegally buying arms of
    war and earmarked for the extradition to Equatorial Guinea.

    Meanwhile mercenary Tim Spicer was busy elsewhere, He opened a new mercenary
    company after he left Sandline, by the name of Aegis and the Invasion of
    Iraq brought him
    a fat contract by the Pentagon to the tune of 293 million US Dollar. He is
    now overall in charge of all the mercenaries in Iraq, totaling more than
    20.000> quite a few former Executive Outcomes dreck with him.
    And Tony Buckingham is busy in Iraq as well.
    In 1995 he paid a courtesy call to Iraq, walking in the Hotel lobby of the
    Al Rasheed Hotel over a distorted picture of former US president Bush and
    exploring with former Iraq's Oil minister possible oil ventures.

    After he Invasion he is back, go with the flow, having good contacts with
    Iraqi Oil ministry officials and getting a prospecting license in Kurdistan
    for his company Heritage Oil.
    And he quickly closed the mercenary company Sandline after the failed coup
    on 16th April 2004 with the flimsy excuse, that he did not get enough
    support from the British government whilst at the same time Tim Spicer got
    his 293 million US contract with the Pentagon.

    Simon Mann has not revealed, who is behind the failed coup.
    Did they have the tacit approval of the British
    government?

    The British Government got wind of the planned coup two month before it
    started. The Foreign office called in mercenary Tim Spicer, yes, Spicer,to
    tell the coup plotters something - what? Something what?

    And what was the role of the British secret service Mi6?
    Justin Longley was an employee of Simon Mann. He is the nephew of Sir
    Dearlove, who was the head of the Mi6 at that time.

    What did Germany's Foreign Office know, who tries to put the alleged torture
    and death of Gerhard Merz in Malabo under the carpet and how much was Spain
    involved, where Severo Moto lives?

    The witnesses in the Pretoria trial, that has, at least for now, ended,
    have claimed, that Britain, the US and
    Spain were heavily involved. They wanted to get hold of the oil reserves, in
    order to stabilize the oil prize.
    The coup plotters obviously mixed up the Africa of 2004 with the Africa of
    the 60s when
    mercenaries like Bob Denard, Jaques Schramme and Congo-Mueller were causing
    havoc in postcolonial Africa.


    Dr. Alexander von Paleske
    Head, Department of Oncology
    Princess Marina Hospital
    Gaborone/Botswana
    Ex Barrister-at-Law, High Court Frankfurt (M), Germany

    Posted by: Dr Alexander von Paleske | May 11 2007 18:30 utc | 112

    via secrecynews,
    here's a pdf copy of the congressional research service report on AFRICOM that helps inform congress

    This report provides a broad overview of U.S. strategic interests in Africa and the role of U.S. military efforts on the continent as they pertain to the creation of a new Africa Command. Although the command is still in the planning phase, a discussion of AFRICOM's potential mission, its coordination with other government agencies, and its basing and manpower requirements is included.

    also has two appendices, "History of U.S. Military Involvement in Africa," and "Instances of the Use of U.S. Armed Forces in Africa, 1900-2006."

    Africa Command: U.S. Strategic Interests and the Role of the U.S. Military in Africa," May 16, 2007. [pdf -- 395 KB]

    Posted by: b real | May 17 2007 22:28 utc | 113

    some comments on the CRS rpt for congress i linked to above

    it does point out some issues for congress to deal w/, such as "concern that the military may overestimate its capabilities as well as its diplomatic role in Africa, or pursue activities that are not a core part of its mandate" and the friction between DoS and DoD for setting policy, but the report also is weak on its research, if the idea is to provide an objective overview of AFRICOM. i suppose that this is what one should expect, though, when much of the material is taken from DoD PR and statements.

    so you kind of have to read between the lines

    As proposed by DOD, AFRICOM's mission will be to promote U.S. strategic objectives by working with African states and regional organizations to help strengthen stability and security in the region through improved security capability, military professionalization, and accountable governance. [emphasis mine]

    three pages later, in the footnotes, we read that

    DOD defines stability operations as "military and civilian activities conducted across the spectrum from peace to conflict to establish or maintain order in States and regions." [bold emphasis mine]

    and further on, we read that "a large part of AFRICOM's mandate wil be to build the indigenous capacity of African defense forces..."

    so that's how "accountable governance" -- accountable to the u.s., that is -- will be established, through the control of the military. if you're suddenly envisioning the notorious school of the americas that supplied beau-coup military/govt leaders thoughout latin america, i'd say you get the gist.

    relatedly, this passage provides another window into the values of the u.s. WRT africa,

    The Africa Center for Strategic Studies (ACSS) was created in 1999 as one of DOD's five regional centers for strategic studies. It conducts a variety of academic activities for African, American, and European military and civilian officials aimed at promoting good governance and democratic values, countering ideological support of terrorism, and fostering regional collaboration and cooperation in the African defense and security sectors. ACSS, which is based in Washington, DC, opened an annex at the U.S. embassy in Ethiopia in 2006 and is planning future annexes elsewhere on the continent. [emphasis mine]

    in case you didn't get the joke, ethiopia is dictatorship. actually, that same year that DoD opened that annex, ethiopia's PM, meles zenawi, held the distinction of "dictator of the month" for february. (it wasn't his first time to hold the title.) here's some brief testimony on the host government's "good governance and democratic values," courtesy of amnesty international.

    but that's not all the gags that members of congress are being treated to in this report

    for instance, in what surely must be lifted directly from the donald rumsfeld school of logic, there's this gem

    Of primary concern to policy makers is the possible challenge posed by "ungoverned spaces," defined as "physical or non-physical area(s) where there is an absence of state capacity or political will to exercise control." [emphasis mine]

    but hey, we're talking about a regime that declared war on a noun... they've never lacked for an imaginative use of the english language. take, for example, "the phase zero campaign"

    Although U.S. armed forces have traditionally focused on "fighting and winning wars," defense strategy is now evolving to look at conflict prevention, or "Phase Zero," addressing threats at their inception through theater security cooperation (TSC) and capacity building of allies.

    the related footnote states that

    Some analysts view four traditional phases for a military campaign: deter/engage, seize initiative, decisive operations, and transition. DOD officials have recently begun using a phrase, "Phase Zero" to encompass efforts prior to the first phase aimed a preventing the conflict.

    what conflict? may be someone had a problem w/ somebody else's "non-physical" ungoverned space...

    another gag, sure to bring a smile to even the most cynical congresscritter, is the bush regime's compassionate concern for the oceans of the world & just how much of a national security issue they present.

    Africa's coastlines, particularly along the Gulf of Guinea, the Gulf of Aden, and the waters of Somalia, have been highly susceptible to illegal fishing .... In 2005, the Bush Administration introduced its National Strategy for Maritime Security, identifying the freedom of the seas and the facilitation and defense of commerce as top national priorities and indicating to fund border and coastal security initiatives with African countries. [emphasis mine]

    yea, "freedom of the sea" from chinese oil tankers, more likely... but congress doesn't need that much info, apparently.

    the report also directly misinforms members of congress too, repeating the story that al qa'idah reportedly funded operations through the "conflict diamond" trade. well sure, you can report anything you want, but that doesn't make it true. tell ya what, if any congressional researcher happens across my words here, do yourself a favor & read r.t. naylor's The Political Economy of Diamonds for a debunking of the "conflict diamond"/AQ fable.

    there are also other instances of misinformation throughout the report, like stating that the u.s. military debacle in somalia in the 1990s resulted "in the deaths of 18 American soldiers and hundreds of Somalis." "hundreds"? why i suppose that is correct in a way, even ambassador oakley at the time said that more than a thousand somalis had been killed during the battle of modadishu, which has been estimated upwards of double that.

    and the slant in the rest of the appendices renders them practically useless.

    the report also uses more words than it needs to, like in saying

    The U.S. government also provides loans (the United States waives repayment of these loans for African countries) to foreign governments to finance the purchase of [military] equipment through the Foreign Military Financing [FMF] program.

    okay, the report is solely focused on africa, so why even bother to call these "loans"? aren't they just giving military equipment to these govts w/ the outright understanding that no financial reimbursement is involved? here, let me fix that sentence

    The U.S. government also provides free military equipment to African governments through the Foreign Military Financing [FMF] program.

    see? knocked it down to 18 from 34 words. easier to read. gets right to the point. leaves more room for knee slappers like the following

    U.S. reaction to the proposed creation of a new command for Africa has been largely positive...

    while the footnote points to two articles from council on foreign relations and heritage foundation as evidence for this elation. stop the presses! the CFR reacted positively to the news? no kidding...

    the congressional research service, folks. no wonder CRS director mulhollan wants to limit access to these pieces of work.

    Posted by: b real | May 18 2007 4:36 utc | 114

    Thanks b real - looks like they hired Orwells nephew for the CRS.

    Posted by: b | May 18 2007 7:16 utc | 115

    bloomberg headline kinda says it all

    Securing African Oil a Major Role for New Command

    May 18 (Bloomberg) -- The U.S. military's new Africa command will help safeguard West African nations' oil and other energy production against rebel or terrorist attacks, the general organizing the command said today.

    The U.S. wants to help countries such as Nigeria, its fifth- largest supplier of oil, improve its military's ability to thwart the kind of attacks by militants who in the past year halted production by about 600,000 barrels a day.

    "You look at West Africa and the Gulf of Guinea, it becomes more focused because of the energy situation," U.S. Army General Bantz Craddock, head of the European Command, told reporters in Washington. Safeguarding energy "obviously is out in front."

    Continuing unrest in the Middle East puts a premium on U.S. security alliances and energy resources in Africa. The continent supplied 24 percent of U.S. daily crude oil imports in February, ahead of the Mideast's 18.6 percent, the Energy Department said.

    leading four 'graphs focus on oil.

    the sixth states that

    Other factors including improving African responses to humanitarian crises like the conflict in Darfur, they said.

    humanitarian concerns, you say (or, repeat)?

    Libyan leader says world aggravates Darfur conflict

    May 18, 2007 (LONDON) — Libyan leader Muammar Gadhafi has said that the people of Darfur should be left alone to resolve the conflict in their region. He further accused the international community of aggravating the conflict.

    "In Darfur, and problems similar to Darfur, we leave the problem for the people of Darfur," Gadhafi reportedly told students at Oxford University, central England, according to a transcript of an address released by the BBC Friday.

    "They will solve the problems by themselves," he was quoted as saying of the people in the war-torn western Sudanese region.

    "We do not need to aggravate the situation. Intervention is aggravating the situation — to the extent that there is a conflict between America and China because of the oil in Darfur.

    "So the problem is not only the Darfur people — it belongs to the international community as well, because the Darfur conflict is aggravating, it is escalating, because some countries are willing to obtain that oil in Darfur."

    and, in another article reporting on his talk,

    The Libyan leader began his talk addressing the challenges the African continent faces today amid competing foreign interferences, namely the US and China.

    Gathafi argues that while in the past Africa had been a fighting ground between American and former Soviet interests, today the dark continent faces the same dilemma, only this time it is between the US and China.

    Although both of the US and China are competing to obtain more influence in Africa, the Libyan leader continues, American interference has been much more harmful and hypocritical.

    The US only uses terms like ‘democracy’ or ‘human rights’ to set foot in the African continent, while it pursuits its own personal interests in a brutal manner, said Gathafi.

    It is time that this conflict over interests is exposed to the larger public, and we must not shy away from addressing the issue, he added.

    very much agreed

    Posted by: b real | May 19 2007 7:39 utc | 116


    the USA should stop acting like a one-trick pony in its policies towards Africa. They should instead create strong incentives for American companies to partner with African companies -- to export goods (raw, processed & finished) to China (and India). Afterall thats where the markets and greenbacks are. China needs a lot more than oil & gas from Africa. They also need cocoa (chocolate), palm-oil, rubber, minerals, grains, seeds, tubers, fruits, peanuts, almonds, veggies, bitumen ...

    Many Americans would love the opportuniy to run with this.

    Posted by: jony_b_cool | May 19 2007 15:18 utc | 117

    I want to thank you for this series of articles. I found them when I was trying to get some background on Africom. They have stimulated my thinking, and caused me to start writing about subjects I have thought about for decades, spoken about some with friends and family, but had never really put my thoughts in order. Your work has been quite an inspiration to me.
    Ghana is lucky not to have oil. Ghana does have relative stability, but that could prove more fragile than it looks. What goes on in the neighborhood effects us all.

    Posted by: crossedcrocodiles | May 23 2007 13:33 utc | 118

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