Moon of Alabama Brecht quote
May 05, 2008

Africom: Talking Points for Screwing Mother Africa

by b real

Stars and Stripes: AFRICOM halts HQ plan; will phase in staff

STUTTGART, Germany — The U.S. Africa Command has shelved plans to build a new headquarters on the African continent in favor of placing staff there as needs arise.

The new command already uses 13 Offices of Defense Cooperation at U.S. embassies in African capitals. It plans to open 11 more over the next four years.

The offices are typically staffed by two to four people who act as liaisons between U.S. and host-nation militaries. The offices’ names will be changed to Offices of Security Cooperation.
AFRICOM had planned to select a site on the continent for a headquarters by Oct. 1, when it is to assume control of ongoing U.S. military missions there. The command last summer also favored building about six regional offices throughout the vast, 53-nation continent.

But public and private push-back from Africans led the command to back off from its original plan and instead focus on organizing and building its 1,300-person command in Stuttgart.

Undeniably, this is a setback for the fledgling combatant command, since immediately from the start there was an overriding push for securing a physical HQ presence on the continent, which only compounded AFRICOM's public relations disasters. While this may indeed be a temporary response, reality check maybe, to the widespread resistance that the command has generated, it may also reflect the continued problems finding funding for establishing a new HQ and a network of regional hubs.

The budget released earlier this year called for $398 million just for startup costs. A EUCOM estimate from last fall figured it would require around $5 billion to stand up the HQ on the continent. A December 2007 report from a CSIS task force noted that:

this would represent a significant increase from the current annual U.S. expenditures on security programs in Africa, which run slightly more than $250 million, and there is a major question as to where these resources will come from - or whether Congress will approve them.

One of the prominent reasons for finding a suitable host country becomes apparent when you consider distance and timezones. Aside from the fact that Africa itself is a huge continent with limited western-style infrastructure scattered across six timezones, I've read that the flight time itself from Stuttgart to the continent is 11 hours. So don't be misled into thinking that they're just going to drop the idea. No doubt any number of oil companies would step up to foot the bill eventually even if Congress, for whatever reason, fails to give the Pentagon all the money it needs.

For the moment, though, this setback presents an opportunity to score some propaganda points. Continuing with the Stars and Stripes article:

“The African nations have told us, ‘Go slow, take your time, go ahead and do your work, provide value (to us) the way that you said, and it will work itself out,’ ” said Brig. Gen. Michael A. Snodgrass, AFRICOM’s chief of staff. “And we’re taking their advice. It’s their nations that we’re talking about.

“When the time is right, we will establish a presence on the continent in a headquarters fashion more than what we are seeing today from our ODCs, [the base in Djibouti] and the embassies.”

This is a PR talking point, intended to give African leaders the impression of their input in the planning of a U.S. unified combatant command. Snodgrass stressed the same message at a business expo hosted by AFRICOM near the German base on May 1st.:

“We’re going to take this one step at a time, we’re going to listen to the Africans and take their advice,” Snodgrass said. “At an appropriate time, we will be invited by countries to come to Africa to bring our presence, which then means (there) will be an increase in activity and an increase in effectiveness in our programs.”

As we have documented here off and on following the February 2007 public announcement of the creation of AFRICOM, one thing that its spokespersons, planners and transition team have typically not done is listen to Africans or anyone bringing up things they don't want to hear. It's hard to imagine that changing much at this point, other than trotting out those African representatives already on board and "advising" the U.S. on how to best to go about accomplishing their objectives.

Going from the lineups presented at the various thinktank conferences and seminars, a high percentage of these influential Africans are military officers, usually graduates of IMET or other U.S. training programs.

And actually, this decision has little to do with "advice" from Africans. The CSIS report cited above recommended last year that DoD:

either postpone any decision on basing AFRICOM's in Africa to a much later point or suspended action altogether. Priority focus should instead be upon demonstrating AFRICOM's ability to bring concrete gains in its critical emerging partnerships with African governments.

And right before the U.S. president's visit to the continent a couple months back, AFRICOM made the timely announcement that, for the here and now, the HQ would remain in Stuttgart, so this latest is not necessarily anything new. It just helps to repeat the message occasionally to placate the restless natives.

Another talking point specifically designed to assuage resistance from African officials was reiterated at that aforementioned expo by Vice Adm. Robert T. Moeller, AFRICOM’s Deputy of Military Operations, while explaining the U.S. decision to centralize its "command" over the continent:

“Before, we would go do something and not return for a very long time,” he said. “We need to be engaged with them on a long-term basis.”

This point is part of one of the priorities stressed in a consultative publication from the thinktank CSIS in early March -- Strengthening AFRICOM's Case:

Historically, our security cooperation with African counterparts has tended to be episodic and brief; we should counter that by emphasizing that AFRICOM is committed to enlarge, strengthen, and sustain its engagement to build capacity in Africa.

These recommendations were directed toward the then-upcoming appearance of AFRICOM's Gen. William "Kip" Ward before the House Armed Services Committee on 13 March, which saw the release of the first official posture statement [pdf - 54kb] by the new command. And Ward did drill in on the point in that document, employing the phrase "persistent engagement" five times throughout the 22-page text which emphasizes the long-term focus on building the capacity to help Africans help the U.S. take advantage of Africa's wealth in "human capital and mineral resources."

As would be expected, maintaining control of the perception of AFRICOM is very important in the initial stages of the new command. However, since the official public image of AFRICOM ("a new kind of command" combining humanitarian missions with the pentagon's soft power capabilities to help Africans help themselves) hardly matches up with the command's true mission (secure and guarantee U.S. access to vital energy sources and distribution channels while containing China's growing superpower status), AFRICOM, and everyone involved in promoting it, will remain beset by their own contradictions and weaknesses.

Perhaps this was accomplished below the conscious threshold, but an apt signifier for how bad the U.S. wants to screw (over) Mother Africa is readily visible in the AFRICOM logo.

For yet another example of these contradictions, that very same Stars and Stripes article that has AFRICOM’s chief of staff Snodgrass saying “The African nations have told us, ‘Go slow, take your time" ends with one final announcement at the AFRICOM business expo in Stuttgart last week,

Gen. William E. Ward, the AFRICOM commander, told the business expo that the command would move full speed ahead while minding the yellow and red flags it is sure to encounter.

Posted by b on May 5, 2008 at 12:37 UTC | Permalink


Wow. I'm sure someone will mind those 'yellow-and-red flags', but what kind of 'encounter' will it be?

Posted by: | May 5 2008 15:17 utc | 1

Can't we just, like, buy Madagascar and turn it into an armed camp?

But I do enjoy pointing out to anyone I meet from Stuttgart that as far as the US Armed forces are concerned, they're living in Africa...

Posted by: ralphieboy | May 5 2008 15:20 utc | 2

Africome already exists. Somewhere in the Chinese strategic planning branch of the PRC military.

Posted by: CluelessJoe | May 5 2008 15:29 utc | 3

re propaganda

usa today: Pentagon launches foreign news websites

The Pentagon is setting up a global network of foreign-language news websites, including an Arabic site for Iraqis, and hiring local journalists to write current events stories and other content that promote U.S. interests and counter insurgent messages.

The news sites are part of a Pentagon initiative to expand "Information Operations" on the Internet. Neither the initiative nor the Iraqi site,, has been disclosed publicly.

At first glance, looks like a conventional news website. Only the "about" link at the bottom of the site takes readers to a page that discloses the Pentagon sponsorship. The site, which has operated since October, is modeled on two long-established Pentagon-sponsored sites that offer native-language news for people in the Balkans and North Africa.

Journalism groups say the sites are deceptive and easily could be mistaken for independent news.

"This is about trying to control the message, either by bypassing the media or putting your version of the message out before others (and) … there's a heavy responsibility to let people know where you're coming from," says Amy Mitchell, deputy director at the Project for Excellence in Journalism. A disclosure on a separate page "isn't something most people coming to the site are likely to see."

Pentagon officials say the sites are a legitimate and necessary way to promote U.S. policy goals and counter the messages of political and religious extremists. They also note that the United States and its allies have been outgunned in the battle to get information to audiences in Iraq and elsewhere.
In a memo last summer, Deputy Defense Secretary Gordon England told all regional commanders that developing such sites was "an essential part of (their) responsibility … to shape the security environment in their respective areas." The previously unreleased memo, provided by the Pentagon at USA TODAY's request, directed that all site content be "accurate and true in fact and intent."

Content for the news sites is written by local journalists hired to write stories that fit the Pentagon's goals for the sites, such as promoting democracy, security, good government and the rule of law. Military personnel or contractors review the stories to ensure they are consistent with those goals. Reporters are paid only for work that is posted to the sites.
The new websites follow the Pentagon's launch last year of a "Trans Regional Web Initiative" expected to lead to "a minimum of six" news sites run by military commands around the globe, according to a Special Operations Command notice for contractors interested in running the sites.

The initiative has its roots in the Balkans, where U.S. commanders set up a website in 1999 to rebut then-Yugoslavian president Slobodan Milosevic's nationalist rhetoric in the Kosovo conflict. In 2002, it became a news site, employing local reporters, and hundreds of thousands of people turn to the Southeast European Times for news on politics, culture, sports or weather in 10 languages.

Neither that site nor those being set up are allowed to accept ads. They're not about profit; they're about shaping perceptions.
The websites suggest a pattern of Pentagon efforts to promote its agenda by disseminating information through what appear to be independent outlets, says Marvin Kalb, a fellow at Harvard University's Joan Shorenstein Center on the Press, Politics and Public Policy.

"This is deliberate deception, and it's bad … (because) it weakens the image of journalism as an objective bystander," Kalb says, noting that many of the Pentagon's intended audiences live in a world where they expect the government to control their news. "We're the exception, and unfortunately, we begin to look more and more like the rest of the world when we do this sort of thing."

the north african website is

related l.a. times article from 2005
Pentagon Calls Its Pro-US Websites Legal

US military websites that pay journalists to write articles and commentary supporting military activities in Europe and Africa do not violate US law or Pentagon policies, a review by the Pentagon's chief investigator has concluded. But a senior Defense Department official said this week that the websites could still be shut down to avoid the appearance of impropriety.
The two websites are run by US European Command, based in Stuttgart, Germany, and maintained by Anteon Corp., a Fairfax, Va., contractor. The European Command is one of five regional US military headquarters around the world and is given authority for US operations in Europe and most of Africa.The Pentagon inspector general's inquiry concludes that two websites targeting audiences in the Balkans and in the Maghreb region of northern Africa are consistent with US laws prohibiting covert propaganda, are properly identified as US-government products and are maintained in close coordination with US embassies abroad, according to a previously undisclosed summary of the report's findings.

Yet a top Pentagon official, chief spokesman Lawrence DiRita, said he was concerned that a Pentagon practice of hiring news reporters to advance a US government agenda could draw criticism and that an ever larger military role in shaping public opinion overseas might have negative consequences.

The Pentagon's efforts to win hearts and minds abroad have come under intense scrutiny since it was revealed last month that the military had hired a private contractor, Lincoln Group, as part of a separate operation to pay Iraqi newspapers to print positive stories written by US troops.

(AFRICOM has since taken over responsibility for the magharebia site)

The European Command created the Africa website in October 2004. It attempts to advance US interests in a region long sympathetic to Islamic fundamentalism. The Maghreb region encompasses Algeria, Libya, Tunisia, Mauritania and Morocco, countries that are in the European Command's area of responsibility.

Neither the Southeast European Times nor the African website, called Magharebia, prominently states its connection to the US military, although both link to a disclaimer saying that the sites are "sponsored by the US Department of Defense."
As part of broad assessment of Pentagon policies, doctrine and weapons systems, a Defense Department working group has been trying to develop guidelines for the proper role of information dissemination during wartime. DiRita leads the working group.

the same disclaimers remain in place now, so any 2005 working group evidently found that to be good enough.

from what i've seen, alot of africans are well aware that magharebia is an AFRICOM project. it would be interesting to see how many of the original content there gets picked up elsewhere, but i have noticed at least one instance where a u.s. media outlet, bloomberg, cited content from that site in an article uncritically promoting AFRICOM GWOT talking points. while the author of the piece did ambiguously qualify the source as "the U.S.-funded Web site", he failed to disclose the direct relationship to the command. and it's not like he wouldn't be aware of this - he was writing it from stuttgart.

Posted by: b real | May 5 2008 15:36 utc | 4

@ #1 - yea, i thought about commenting on that specific choice of words. ward was speaking at a biz expo seeking capitalist partnerships for "developing" africa in the face of china's aggressive economic africa policy. was it a deliberately coded metaphor that the audience could be expected to pick up on? or was it a freudian slip? either way, just another illustration of how AFRICOM continues to dig more holes for itself. unfortunately, though, not enough to bury it yet.

Posted by: b real | May 5 2008 15:55 utc | 5

Thanks to b real and b. I'm busy these days, but do try to stay informed here. The news you provide is like a breath of fresh air enlivening the prevailing mediatic vacuum.

Posted by: Hannah K. O'Luthon | May 5 2008 15:58 utc | 6

from stuttgart to fuerteventura (paralel of sahara) is about 4h15min in comercial planes.

Posted by: curious | May 5 2008 16:09 utc | 7

thanks curious. i did not research this point & just found where i must've seen it - a footnote in a heritage foundation article. my memory was not specific enough b/c it was refering to the flight time to south africa, all the way across the continent.
U.S. Africa Command: Challenges and Opportunities

[31] Maintaining a headquarters on the African continent would have many benefits. In addition to the relationships that would be built and strengthened through a physical presence, interaction between command staff and their African counterparts, as well as with civilian employees and nongovernmental organizations, would be significantly enhanced due to close geographic proximity. For example, the flight time from Germany to South Africa is approximately 11 hours. However, reducing this tyranny of distance, although beneficial, should not take precedence for AFRICOM.

flight time to the oil production states of nigeria & angola, on the west coast of africa, would be less.

Posted by: b real | May 5 2008 16:32 utc | 8

I'n glad you caught the error in your geography. Flight time from Stuttgart to North Africa is under two hours; 11 hours to Capetown. About the same flight time as from
Stuttgart to Los Angeles.

Posted by: Vince | May 5 2008 19:18 utc | 9

As for listening to African voices, I invite you to take a look at our Website, You will find that our blog, African Dialogue, contains a diversity of African viewpoints. You'll also see quite a number of transcripts from news conferences, and many examples of the kind of work the U.S. military does across Africa.

Vince Crawley
U.S. Africa Command

Posted by: Vince | May 5 2008 19:28 utc | 10

Didn't take long for Mr.(?) Crawley to show up. You'll LOVE jungle warfare Mr.(?) Crawley.

Posted by: R.L. | May 5 2008 19:42 utc | 11

Yes, I'm a "Mister" -- half our staff is civilian. I don't anticipate any jungle fighting. Thus far, my travels have included taking a look at peacekeeper training, port security training, U.S.-funded health clinics, and a U.S.-funded African Union logistics hub. Some years ago, in a previous job, I took a two-hour cross-country journey with an NGO group to visit the reputed oldest man in Africa. Alas, when we arrived, in true shaggy-dog story form, we were told he was asleep.

Take care,
Vince Crawley

Posted by: Vince | May 5 2008 20:15 utc | 12

I had a kneejerk reaction. It is Mr. Vince Crawley.He is a former reporter for Stars and Stripes,Army Times and other military pubs.He was a EM reporter while on active duty with the Army.Maybe he wont,but the rest of Africom will LOVE jungle warfare.........Oil closed at $120.00 a bar. today.We get about 1/3 of our oil from Africa that will only increase.We'll be fighting in Africa and it wont be long!......Long Live the Empire!

Posted by: R.L. | May 5 2008 20:21 utc | 13

Vince!....You beat me while I was on Google. You and others are doing a great job monitering the blogs.I forgot to mention that you joined State Dept. in 2005(However that plays in this)...........Take Care Yourself!

Posted by: R.L. | May 5 2008 20:29 utc | 14

Talk about the White Man's Burden...

Posted by: | May 5 2008 20:41 utc | 15

Another reason they might be slow-rolling the military presence: the US is billeting intel specialists in multilateral IMAT teams. Intel is all they can hope to do for now - not that they have any more area expertise in Africa than elsewhere. At this point the logistics of fucking with Africa is less of a constraint than the resource limitations.

Posted by: ...---... | May 5 2008 23:58 utc | 16

and what gifts did you leave for the "oldest man in Africa". I am curious. And if you really have to save Africa (all over again), please do whatever you can, also, for the devastated peoples that Katrina left behind.

"when Vinny comes marching home again, hurrah, hurrah .... "

Posted by: jony_b_cool | May 6 2008 1:02 utc | 17

Sombody should change the strategy because the present one is creating worldwide rebellion. Is there not enough enemies in the World we got to make more by killing babies? Every time I fill er up I'm reminded of the massive oil profits pouring into Russia, Iran, Saudi Arabia and Venezuela etc. as a direct result of invading Iraq. Just how is that supposed to help America? You would think that the country that uses the most oil in the World would want to be friendly with countries that sell oil.

Posted by: Sam | May 6 2008 3:45 utc | 18

would one of our fellow francophone patrons please tell if the following article in le point is doing anything more than stating that the four "pirates" whisked away & on trial in paris are also darod clansmen or is there something in there to lead us to believe that they're actual immediate family members of the transitional somali warlord-president yusuf?

EXCLUSIF - Ponant : 4 pirates membres de la famille du président somalien

Aussi incroyable que cela puisse paraître, quatre des six pirates du Ponant , arrêtés par l'armée française et embarqués pour Paris dans un avion militaire le 16 avril dernier, appartiennent à la famille du président somalien, Abdullah Yusuf Ahmed. Ce dernier sera officiellement reçu à l'Élysée par Nicolas Sarkozy, ce lundi en fin d'après-midi.

Certes, cette "famille" présidentielle forme plutôt un clan de plusieurs centaines de personnes, celui des Darod-Majteen. Et le Président, ancien responsable du pseudo-État du Puntland, dont sont également issus les pirates, ne saurait être tenu pour personnellement responsable des agissements de tous ses membres. Il n'empêche...

the machine translation is just damn ugly & my french is worse than my bembe...

it's already well-known that the TFG is behind much of the piracy in somalia, as a recent guardian article pointed out

The Transitional Federal Government (TFG) of President Abdullahi Yusuf, which is packed with former warlords, exercises little authority and claims to be unable to stop the piracy. But it is perhaps telling that during the six-month reign of the Somali Council of Islamic Courts over much of south and central Somalia in 2006, attacks on passing ships all but stopped.

Andrew Mwangura, head of the Mombasa-based Seafarers' Assistance Programme, and one of the foremost experts on Somali piracy, says there are five main pirate groups operating, sometimes together.

'Most of them are linked to warlords,' he said. 'And the warlords are linked to the TFG, all the way to the top.'

i've pointed out the figures before on the number of reported incidents during the ICU period, but they're worth linking to again since the media ain't likely to bring it up very often. see the graph in the UNOSAT map "Reported Incidents of Pirate Attacks & Hijackings off the Coast of Somalia (2007)" found here (3rd one down), which states that

The associated graph represents the number of reported pirate attacks since January 2005. Of special interest is the apparent reduction of pirate activity during the period of Union of Islamic Courts (UIC) control, as well as the rising levels of activity following the Ethiopian intervention in December 2006.

there were a total of 3 reported incidents from june-dec 2006. before & since then, the TFG & co have been going overboard. makes one wonder if the AMISOM fellas are getting a cut too, seeing how one of their only two bases is at the port in mogadishu.

and, fittingly, sunday's edition of the east african ran the following story

US wants world action against E.Africa pirates

The United States is calling for concerted multinational action to halt the rampant piracy in East Africa’s waters.

The move comes in response to a recent series of hijackings and attacks on vessels, including a Japanese oil tanker. The price of oil spiked to a record level on international markets after the tanker was hit by rocket fire off the coast of Somalia on April 21.

Saying it is “very concerned about the increasing number of acts of piracy and armed robbery at sea,” the US is drafting a United Nations Security Council resolution intended to help Somalia’s Transitional Federal Government (TFG) counter the upsurge in attacks.

The resolution would reportedly allow UN member states to pursue pirates into Somalia’s territorial waters and to arrest them in that zone. At present, many nations will act to apprehend pirates only in international waters.

The US State Department noted last week that the TFG had asked the Security Council in February for assistance in combating piracy within Somalia’s territorial waters.

the TFG wants more cash, arms & equipment.

hey! here's an idea - if you seriously want to curb these acts, then how about helping the somali people get rid of the warlords you've repeatedly help retain power? or is that just too sensible?

Posted by: b real | May 6 2008 3:58 utc | 19

Thanks again to b real for excellent material. I am also happy to see Vince contributing and openly stating his affiliation, which I take to be different from shilling on behalf of occult sponsors or attempting to debase the conversation in this bar. It's unlikely that future exchanges will always be characterized by Olympic detachment and rational discussion, or even good will, but I am confident that b will do his utmost to maintain decorum and facilitate a lively exchange of opinion. Needless to say, I count myself among those isolationists who view the budding Africom experiment in a negative light both on principle and in view of recent history. Nevertheless, I thank Vince for the link to the Africom website, which, I suspect may turn out to be a useful future source of documentation.

Posted by: Hannah K. O'Luthon | May 6 2008 5:19 utc | 20

"When the Bush Administration recently unveiled its new African military command – AFRICOM – Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense Theresa Whelan said that the initiative was aimed at “promoting security, to build African capacity to build their own environments and not be subject to the instability that has toppled governments and caused so much pain on the continent.”

And yet hardly was the announcement made when the Bush administration organized the overthrow of the first stable government Somalia has had since 1991, stirring up a hornet’s nest of regional rivalries in the strategic Horn of Africa."

Posted by: denk | May 6 2008 7:02 utc | 21

President Yusuf is asking the French for help with the pirates. Reports state the crew was a group of fellow Daarod clansmen from Puntland.

Posted by: | May 6 2008 17:51 utc | 22

remember that april 21 stmt from jomo, addressed @ bush?

MEND Blows Up Oil Pipelines, Invites President Carter To Mediate

Today's attack was prompted by the continuous injustice in the Niger Delta region of Nigeria where the root issues have not been addressed by the illegal and insincere government of Umaru Yar'Adua and Goodluck Jonathan. It also dispels the false impression that peace and security have been restored in order to gain the confidence of potential investors in the oil and gas sector; to protest the continuous detention and secret trial of Henry Okah who was taken hostage during a supposed truce and who must be a key participant in any on-going peace process to make it acceptable to us. Then finally, to show our way of saying "welcome" to the US Naval warship, USS Swift which is transiting the Gulf of Guinea.
Mr president, your warships do not intimidate us. Instead they only embolden our resolve in fighting the Goliaths of the world that support injustice. Do you consider the over 4,000 precious lives of your compatriots wasted in that senseless war in Iraq? You have meddled negatively in other countries using false excuses and information in deceiving a gullible American public.

It was your country that once backed a blood thirsty despot called Mobuto and conspired in killing the visionary Lumumba. Now you are repeating the same evil in the Niger Delta and the gulf of Guinea.You dined with Olusegun Obasanjo, who not only committed genocide against the people of Odi, in Bayelsa state but is being discovered as the biggest thief in the history of Nigeria. In your God fearing heart, you know the truth concerning the fraudulent electoral process that has ascended Yar'Adua and his deputy to the presidency, yet your country looked the other way.

We have nothing to loose because he that is down need fear no fall. Our waters and farms have been polluted by oil companies with double standards. Our girls are raped by soldiers of the Nigerian army with impunity and protesting youths are assaulted and killed daily. Even journalists from your country can not visit the region to report the truth without being arrested and embarrassed.

MEND is prepared for talks and will prefer Ex President Jimmy Carter to mediate. Mr carter is not in denial as the rest of you who brand freedom fighters as terrorists, forgetting their integral role in any sustainable peace process just as he has demonstrated in his meeting with Hamas.

If the root issues such as the control of our resources continues to be swept under the carpet, and the governments deception of the Niger Delta people continues; including holding sons of the Niger Delta hostage in Northern Nigeria, then, like Otto von Bismarck once remarked, "the great questions of the time will be decided, not by speeches and resolutions, but by iron and blood".

well, today MEND announces the following

President Jimmy Carter Offers To Mediate Niger Delta Conflict!

Former American President, Jimmy Carter, has offered to play a role in the intractable conflict in Nigeria’s Niger delta region if the federal government and other parties to the conflict want him to.

In a statement made available to the media today, the region’s leading rebel group, The Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND) said that Carter has offered to play a role and that it welcomes such a move and will cease all hostilities if the Nigerian government accepts President Carter as a mediator.

“The Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND) has received today, May 6, 2008 a confirmation from The Carter Center through its Vice President, Mr John Stremlau that the former President of the United States of America, Jimmy Carter has graciously accepted to mediate in the Niger Delta crisis on the condition that the Nigerian government and any other relevant stake holder invites him.” MEND said in a statement released by the group’s spokesman, Jomo Gbomo.

”President Carter represents transparency, impartiality, humility and integrity; four key ingredients critical in the mediator recipe towards ensuring a genuine and enduring peace process for the region. The Federal government's acceptance of President Carter to mediate and also visit Henry Okah will demonstrate its seriousness to embrace genuine peace and reconciliation.” The statement said.

”For a government that talked so much about a peaceful resolution to the Niger Delta problem, President Carter's new initiative should be seen as a golden opportunity for a peaceful resolution of the over 50 years of injustice perpetrated against the peace loving people of the Niger Delta.

”We urge the Nigerian government to accept this olive branch offered by President Carter in place of the jamboree called the Niger Delta Summit scheduled for Abuja. We do not believe the Abuja summit will achieve any meaningful goal and have no interest in attending it.

“We are ready to call off all hostilities and hold a temporary ceasefire in honor of President Carter should the Nigerian government accept President Carter's initiative. However, if as expected, the government fails to seize on this new opportunity for peace, our actions will continue to speak volumes beyond the Nigerian shores.”

will yar'adua offer that invitation though? when he's not off in the hospital somewhere he appears to be fulfilling a role on behalf of his godfather upgrade following last years' visit to the muzunga house.

a recent ISN security watch article conveys the essence of that role
Nigeria, US ties may chart AFRICOM path

A different vision of military partnership with Washington being espoused by Nigerian President Umaru Yar'Adua appears set to get AFRICOM going and possibly chart its future. During a visit to the White House in December last year, Yar'Adua argued that what Africa needed was support for standby forces working under the various regional economic groupings in the continent to deal with perceived security threats without direct US military involvement.

"We shall partner AFRICOM to assist not only Nigeria but also the African continent to actualize its peace and security initiatives," Yar'Adua told reporters during his White House visit. Amid media reports in Nigeria that his statement meant acceptance of AFRICOM, Yar'Adua insisted upon his return that he had not changed his government's earlier position against the stationing of US troops in Africa.

"I did not accept AFRICOM in my discussions with Bush," he said in a Nigerian radio interview. "I asked for assistance and told Bush that we have our plans to establish bases for African countries. We asked for [weapons training] and training to establish our bases to be managed by our people," Yar'Adua added, mentioning specifically plans by Gulf of Guinea countries to set up a joint security force.

that analysis takes yar'adua at his word, though, as we covered here at MoA last year, those words were largely spun after the fact to make the initiative & offer for help appear to be indigenous. similar in a way to the indigenous guy on the great seal of the massachusetts bay colony way back when. only that indian probably didn't have a fraudulent election & the courts to content with.

permit me to interject a relevant passage from frank kitson's bunch of five

..three separate factors have to be brought into play in order to make a man shift his allegiance. First, he must be given an incentive that is strong enough to make him want to do so. This is the carrot. Then he must be made to realize that failure will result in something very unpleasant happening to him. This is the stick. Third, he must be given a reasonable opportunity of proving both to himself and to his friends that there is nothing fundamentally dishonorable about his action. Some people consider that the carrot and stick provide all that is necessary, but I am sure that many people will refust the one and face the other if by doing otherwise they lose their self-respect...

[flash mental picture of yar'adua's goofy grin, seated next to bush's]

continuing w/ the ISN article,

Signs are emerging that Yar'Adua's model may be acceptable to the US, offering it a chance to maintain an effective but less obtrusive military presence in Africa.

puh-leez. his model? obviously the correspondent has overlooked the well-established u.s. focus on "capacity building," "security assistance" & partnering, esp wrt it's peacekeeping training over the years. the "primary AFRICOM mission" is, as gen. ward concretized in the AFRICOM posture stmt (cited in the orig post up top), "to promote African security by building the capacity of partner nations and organizations" in order to "reduce the risk that US forces will be required to deploy there in the future."

the ISN article ends w/ the views of a security analyst who, while entirely missing the real crimes & victims in the niger delta & exaggerating yar'adua's "approach", eventually gets to the most realistic conclusion:

"Yar'Adua's approach appears to be to use every force he could leverage upon, including US, domestic and regional might, to end the oil region uprising," Alex Powell, a London-based security analyst who advises oil companies working in the Gulf of Guinea, told ISN Security Watch. "This appears to have pushed the delta militants into more desperate action, such as the blowing up of pipelines, which have dramatic effects on oil prices."

If the Nigerian government is able to neutralize the militants without direct US involvement in protecting oil exports, it will make a good case for the idea of supporting African forces to maintain security in the continent, said Powell. But with largely demoralized troops under corrupt governments in the region, it is unlikely that the proposed Gulf of Guinea Guard will suffice.

"The more the regional governments are unable to maintain security, the more likely it is the US may be forced to intervene directly in its own interest," Powell concluded.

Posted by: b real | May 7 2008 4:11 utc | 23

thanks #22 - that's what i gathered

and thanks too, HKOL. saw where the u.s. officially slapped victor bout w/ four terrorism charges on tuesday.

Posted by: b real | May 7 2008 4:18 utc | 24

Thanks again to b real, both for the material on MEND, and
also Victor Bout. Apparently some "conspiracy theories" are to be taken
seriously enough to merit prosecution. I can't help wondering if Bout is being "parked" in out-of-the-way Thailand until after the U.S. election,
safely under arrest and U.S. indictment so as not to provide grist for a potential embarrassment or partisan campaign propaganda. The (few) photos I've seen of him after his arrest seemed to show a rather relaxed defendant. As always, I make no claim to know what I'm talking about here.

Posted by: Hannah K. O'Luthon | May 7 2008 5:16 utc | 25

Call for inquiry into US role in Somalia

Amnesty International has called for the role of the United States in Somalia to be investigated, following publication of a report accusing its allies of committing war crimes.

The human rights group yesterday listed abuses carried out by Ethiopian and Somali government forces, and some committed by al-Shabaab, an anti-government militia which the US designated a terrorist group.

According to the report, based on the testimonies of refugees who have fled Somalia's capital, Mogadishu, in recent weeks, Ethiopian troops have killed civilians by slitting their throats. Ethiopian and Somali forces were also accused of gang-raping women and attacking children.

A refugee, named Haboon, accuses Ethiopian troops of raping a neighbour's 17-year-old daughter. When the girl's brothers – aged 13 and 14 – tried to help her, Ethiopian soldiers gouged out their eyes with a bayonet.
US troops trained Ethiopian forces involved in military operations in Somalia, and the US government supplied military equipment to the Ethiopian military.

"There are major countries that have significant influence," said Amnesty's Dave Copeman. "The US, EU and European countries need to exert that influence to stop these attacks."

After attacks by Ethiopian and Somali forces on civilian areas in Mogadishu last year, European lawyers considered whether funding for Ethiopia and Somalia made the EU complicit. The results of their deliberations were never made public.

So Mr. Vince Crawley, you say my travels have included taking a look at peacekeeper training, port security training, U.S.-funded health clinics, and a U.S.-funded African Union logistics hub.

Where you part of training Ethiopian "peacekeepers" ...

Posted by: b | May 7 2008 6:53 utc | 26

excellent stuff, Thanks b real,

also, the Nigerian govt. is going to be very nervous about participating in a Jimmy Carter (JC) led negotiation with the Niger-Delta militants, On one hand they (the Nigerian govt) would desperately like to see a solution, But they also know that a JC effort could lead to an unwelcome internationalization of the crisis and thats fraught with all sorts of dangers possibly including a massive upsurge in international support for the militants cause.

and the Nigerian govt also expects (and they are probably right) that the militants will immediately designate Henry Okah (now under custody) as their chief negotiator, Very little is known about Henry Okah but his importance to the militants seems very clear. If he is indeed one and the same as Jomo Gbomo, he is a very intelligent and highly educated person and a most articulate spokesperson for the militants cause. But he has never made a public statement so far.

also guessing that both sides may see JC as an opportunity to come to some limited agreement in the interim that also includes the release of Henry Okah as well as promises by the militants to back-off on blowing up pipelines and ...

one thing thats important to understand is that both sides (the govt & militants) are very much in tune with the reality that only a political solution is possible (or welcomed by the masses or even acceptable) and also that theres no easy path to getting there. Its much less of a vengeful hateful conflict than its like a massive sometimes bitter disagreement within a family. This is what it is. Its the vibe & direction it has increasingly taken over the years. JC in all his wisdom & stature will not be telling either party anything they do not already know. He should'nt waste his time doing that.

actually, Bill Clinton might want to team-up with JC on this effort. Because Bill would very quickly figure out where the best opportunity for tangible results are.

Posted by: jony_b_cool | May 7 2008 11:23 utc | 27

i see that uncle sham is into Philanthropy these days, spending all that monies and resources........coz he wants to help the somalians to get those damned pirates. [sic]

uncle has been volunteering his service in the malacca straits too, where pirates attacks are common. but the malaysians and indons are weary of such display of selflessness from uncle sham, the malaysians had actually told uncle off in no uncertain terms, "stop making up excuses to try to control the world".

for the uninitiated, not a drop of us oil pass thru the malacca straits, whereas its the "choke point " of china's oil supplies, 90 % to be exact.
this is how a "freeper" put it, "a huge fraction of China's oil goes there. If we ever had to get them by the balls, this is where the US Navy would do it."

but you cant put a good men down for long. after a spate of escalating attacks in the straits, the locals relented and uncle finally got his wish.
last yr, uncle just conducted a major joint exercise in the bay of bengal, which just happened to "spilled into malacca straits", , how convenient ?

Posted by: denk | May 7 2008 16:04 utc | 28

half our staff is civilian**

could those "civies" be ned/ usaid by any chance ?

Posted by: denk | May 7 2008 16:48 utc | 29

denk - good points. have you seen my feb 2007 article - understanding AFRICOM?

wrt the civilian staffing, here's USAID's michael hess, from his prepared testimony before the house subcommittee on african last august

USAID has been involved in the operational planning for AFRICOM from the beginning. In November 2006 we sent staff to participate in the Implementation Planning Team which developed the initial conceptual framework for AFRICOM. We have also participated in the AFRICOM Transition Team (TT) since February 2007 when it was established at the headquarters for U.S. European Command (EUCOM) in Stuttgart, Germany. USAID has two full-time staff people there, representing both the Bureau for Democracy, Conflict and Humanitarian Assistance, which I lead, and the Bureau for Africa. They are intimately involved in all of the operational details required to help AFRICOM achieve IOC on time, including the shape of the command structure, outreach, staffing patterns, and legal authorities among others issues. In addition to the collaboration in Stuttgart, here in Washington we are in close and continual consultations with our colleagues at the Departments of State and Defense that have responsibility for AFRICOM.

on the subject of oil, shipping lanes & china, i found this rpt on u.s. ops in the philippines to be very helpful -- 'At the Door of all the East': The Philippines in United States Military Strategy

This report seeks to document and explain why and how the United States has been attempting to re-establish its military presence in the Philippines in the period beginning in 2001. Diverging from the common explanation attributing increased US military presence in the country to the so-called “global war on terror,” this report instead locates US actions in the Philippines and in the Asia-Pacific region in the larger context of the US’ objectives and strategy.

The self-avowed aim of the US is to perpetuate its position of being the world’s sole superpower in order to re-order the world. Its strategy to perpetuate its status is to prevent the rise of any rivals. To do this, it is seeking the capacity to deter and defeat potential enemies anywhere in the world by retaining and realigning its “global posture” or its ability to operate across the globe through its worldwide network of forward-deployed troops, bases, andaccess agreements. Today, the US believes that, of all its potential rivals, China poses the greatest threat and must therefore be contained before it becomes even more powerful.

To persuade China that it is better to submit to a US-dominated world order, the US is attempting to convince it that the alternative will be worse; that defeat will be inevitable. To make this threat credible, the US is attempting to enlist countries around China to take its side and to encircle China with bases and troops. Because of its strategic location, the Philippines is among the countries in which the US wants to establish bases, secure access agreements, and station troops. But apart from the Philippines, the US also wants the same in other countries in the region. The problem is, these other countries on whom it is relying for support do not want to go against China and are not necessarily willing to give the US what it needs, thereby posing problems for US strategy. Thus, because of its favorable disposition towards the US compared to other countries, the Philippines becomes even more critical to US military strategy in the region and in the world.

there are a few references to AFRICOM in there, specifically parallels b/w the JSOTF-P and the CJTF-HOA, "cooperative security locations", and the pretext of humanitarian missions. also mention of the malacca straits.

in addition, something that would be interesting/enlightening is to flesh out the parallels b/w the impact of u.s. foreign policies in central & south america wrt the panama canal to those of the current era now around the gulf region & other vital communication/shipping lines/lanes.

finally, the u.s. also has this concept of a "thousand ship navy" which it is ramping up, enlisting india & others to help accomplish its visions across the blue parts of the planet. more exploration of this initiative would be helpful.

Posted by: b real | May 7 2008 17:28 utc | 30

b real,

fantastic, i will read your africom piece tomorrow,
signing off for now, [way past bedtime !!]

before that , here's one from my archive,
War games with US targeted China

Posted by: denk | May 7 2008 18:08 utc | 31

Vince ... could those "civies" be ned/ usaid by any chance ?

No "ned" folks that I'm aware of, a few USAID staffers, a few Department of State representatives, reps from other agencies. Mostly U.S. federal employees such as myself. One of the points we're trying to get across is that this doesn't mark a dramatic change in U.S. policy toward Africa. The U.S. military has been working with African nations for decades, and the level of work is expected remain about the same. Instead of those military people reporting to U.S. European Command, U.S. Central Command and U.S. Pacific Command, they'll be reporting to U.S. Africa Command, and Africa Command will seek to do a better job of coordinating that work with other U.S. government programs.

To a large extent, Africa Command is a bureaucratic restructuring of existing U.S. military programs such as peacekeeper training, health programs, etc. I just ran across an interesting article by Alex Belida, a Voice of America reporter, who in 2002 filed a report noting that the Department of Defense had yet to create an Africa Command --

Vince Crawley
U.S. Africa Command
Public Affairs Office

Posted by: Vince | May 7 2008 20:32 utc | 32

mr vince

you & yr kind are the worst form of apologists. there is neither decency or humanity within you or the 'civilian' & armed cadre of your policies

i am not even the slightest bit interested in what passes in your world for discourse because behind that discourse is dread & behind that dread -death

you sanitise what is in fact day to day terror tho you would dress that up as oeacekeeping, or aid, or charité or whatever holds sway that month in your boardrooms

your usaid types were & are the administrative form of what was taught at the school of americas & we knew them in vietnam, in indonesia in latin & central america

i suppose you think you are being genial & generous. i find you grotesque

Posted by: remembereringgiap | May 7 2008 21:36 utc | 33

khadija sharife: Branding guns as roses: USAfricom

“We’re not inflicting pain on these people…When people kill us they should be killed in greater numbers. I believe in killing people who try to hurt you. And I can’t believe we’re being pushed around by these two-bit pricks.” Bill Clinton, President of the US to Tony Lake, National Security Advisor on Operation Restore Hope, Somalia; quoted in the book All Too Human by George Stephanopoulos.

How should the US’s ‘humanitarian intervention’ in Somalia via AFRICOM be perceived now?

Daniel Volman, the Director of the African Security Research Project in Washington, DC, and a specialist on U.S. military policy in Africa, says, “Africa is only covered by the media when there is some disaster or outbreak of violence without any reference to the role of the United States or former colonial powers like the UK and France in creating these problems.”

How does the media justify the militarization of these resource rich regions, under the pretext of humanitarian aid?

“The emphasis that US government spokespeople place on America’s humanitarian interests and proclaimed interest in promoting economic development, security, and democracy are–in my opinion–just an effort to sell AFRICOM both in the US (particularly in the US Congress) and in Africa.

“The PR effort is designed to conceal the true purposes of AFRICOM which are primarily to secure resources, bolster the capabilities of allies and surrogates to repress internal political opposition, and act as proxies for the US (as Ethiopia is doing in Somalia for example), and counter the growing political and economic influence of China.

“AFRICOM is generally treated as if it were some generous and benign action by the US on behalf of Africa when, of course, it is an instrument of American military power created to serve what the administration has defined as US interests.”

How is the humanitarian effort perceived by the American public?

“The American people tend to fluctuate between paternalistic desires to do good in Africa, which the government plays upon to justify its own activities and the paternalistic contempt for Africans, as ungrateful and incapable of becoming like us –- which is what Americans assume the world wants to be.

“This literally allows the government to get away with murder.”

The media tends to provide only skeletal information, microscopically reducing situations to monolithic conditions -– famine, tribal wars etc. Who is responsible and how do the ‘armed and propped’ satellite regimes provide the ‘evil native skin’ required to convince the American public, that the fault lies in Africa?

“Countries such as Rwanda and Ethiopia often act as surrogates or proxies for the US. They are believed to be threatened by terrorist linked to Al–Qaeda, or where China is increasing its economic and political connections.

“There is a direct line between US Security Assistance (political, economic, military policing of Africa in general) and African poverty. The US is not the only culprit, Europe, China etc all play a big role and African governments bear a significant portion of the blame, but there is no doubt in my mind that US policies are responsible in part for the violence, tyranny and poverty in Africa.”

she also talked w/ ben bagdikian about the role of the media in this. nice blog post.

Posted by: b real | May 8 2008 2:14 utc | 34

to tie into #30 above

sales pitch (w/ final closing sequence) from the prepared remarks by admiral (retd) dennis blair, USN, at last month's IISS-citi india global forum

Let me turn now to the Indian-American military relationship in particular. I mentioned at the outset the growth in activity in recent years. However I must say that the activity has been generic and without a focused policy content.
However for the long term, the armed forces of two countries must base their military relationship on the military operations that they are likely to conduct together - they must define the common political objectives of their countries that military forces contribute to and then plan and practice them together.

The United States and India have not moved to this level of a military relationship, and I believe it is time to do so. Let me suggest four areas that I think are the enduring common missions of the future that our armed forces should pursue:

First, maritime security. The United States Navy has recently published a maritime strategy explaining the concept of the "thousand-ship Navy." The concept calls for all responsible maritime nations - and coast guards - to pool their resources in making the seas safe for lawful commerce and other use. The concept calls for common action against pirates, smugglers, arms proliferators, and nations that threaten commerce.

India and the United States, along with other seafaring nations, have a lot of work to do together to turn this concept into reality. The Indian Ocean is bounded by two straits that are important to the world's economy - Hormuz to the west and Malacca to the east. Safe passage through these restricted sealanes is the responsibility of the littoral nations, and in Malacca, Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore have taken steps in the right direction. The United States, India and other seafaring nations have assisted on occasion. The situation in Hormuz is more complicated; in fact there have been attacks on strait-bound shipping in the past by littoral nations. It is in the interests of all nations to ensure that these narrow passages are safe, underwritten by the collective maritime capabilities of local littoral and outside seafaring nations.

There are other similar maritime challenges in the region:

- Off Somalia pirates shake down merchantmen and fishermen;

- Arms cross the Andaman Sea from the Thai isthmus to Sri Lanka, fuel the cruel insurgency there;

- In the water space south of the Philippines, pirates, arms smugglers and terrorists threaten lives and plot atrocities.

There is plenty of work for the U.S. Navy and Coast Guard, the Indian Navy and the sea services of many other countries in making these waterways safe.

Second, peacekeeping operations. India has a long and proud peacekeeping tradition, one that includes many successes and some notable disasters. The United States, too has deployed forces many times to restore order and prosperity, and has its share of successes and failures. The current deployment in Iraq, largely unilateral, is an exception in the history of American involvement in troubled countries. Generally the United States has deployed in coalitions, and under UN mandates.

I would point to Africa - perhaps starting in the Horn of Africa - as a good initial area of focus. The United States has just established a new organization - Africa Command - that combines military and civilian agencies that will work in Africa. India has interests, experience and proximity.

By working together, I do not mean simply tactical exercises at peacekeeping centers. I mean serious discussions of strengthening the world's peacekeeping capabilities, from the understaffed and often inept UN DPKO to new forms of international peacekeeping. I mean serious discussions of the relationship between military forces in peacekeeping and non-military organizations, official and non-official. Afghanistan today is a good place to start, where the United States has both military and civil teams helping that country, and India has a strong commitment of civil reconstruction teams.

Third, counterinsurgency and counter terrorist training. India in Jammu and Kashmir and the United States in Afghanistan and Iraq are facing fundamentalist Islamic terrorists who probably trained at some of the same centers. To combat them effectively, we should share our experience and trade our skills. There are of course many policy questions to be worked out between the two countries if we were to conduct a joint counterterror operation. However there is much that can be done between us to ensure that we benefit from one another's best practices, and that units are ready should the two governments decide to conduct a joint operation.

Fourth, humanitarian response. The United States and India both responded to the tragic tsunami that rolled over Aceh and Sri Lanka. We coordinated on the scene. We can do better in terms of prior planning, training together and involving others.

In all these four areas I have mentioned, India and the United States should not be alone. As I said at the outset, these are military activities that contribute to the common good. We should welcome countries like Japan and China, who also have much to contribute.

Before closing, however, I need to mention several specific administrative steps that India and the United States need to make if our military relationship is to proceed to the next level.

There are three very basic and routine agreements that must be signed so that our armed forces can get on with the business of working together.

These are the Mutual Logistic Support Agreement, the Communications Interoperability and Security Memorandum of Agreement, and the End Use Monitoring Agreement.

These are very routine, technical documents that are signed among cooperating armed forces around the world. They allow logisticians, communicators and acquisition officials to do their jobs. In a business situation, any Indian international company would have had a third-level official sign these agreements months ago. Because they are not signed, the Indian-American military relationship is slowed and there are extra expenses involved for India. We need to sign these technical documents and get on with our cooperation.

just some very routine paperwork here, nothing important, just needs your signature here by the x ... we'll have our secretary send you a copy so you can read it later

Posted by: b real | May 8 2008 4:01 utc | 35

some recent materials of interest re china in africa

pambazuka news: China still a small player in Africa

Open any newspaper and you would get the impression that the African continent, and much of the rest of the world, is in the process of being ‘devoured’ by China. Phrases such as the ‘new scramble for Africa’, ‘voracious’, ‘ravenous’ or ‘insatiable’ ‘appetite for natural resources’ are typical descriptors used to characterise China’s engagement with Africa. In contrast, the operations of western capital for the same activities are described with anodyne phrases such as ‘development’, ‘investment’, ‘employment generation’(Mawdsely, 2008). Is China indeed the voracious tiger it is so often portrayed as?

China’s involvement in Africa has three main dimensions: foreign direct investment, aid and trade. In each of these dimensions China’s engagement is dwarfed by those of US and European countries, and often smaller than those of other Asian economies.

Foreign direct investment (FDI) of Asian economies globally has been growing. The total flow of foreign direct investment (FDI) from Asia to Africa is estimated to have been an annual average of $1.2 billion during 2002-2004 (UNCTAD, 2006). Chinese FDI in Africa has in fact been small in comparison to investment from Singapore, India and Malaysia, which are the principal Asian sources of FDI in Africa according to UNDP (2007) with investment stocks of $3.5 billion and $1.9 billion each by 2004, respectively. Such investments are greater than those of China. The same report goes on to say, however, that Asian investments in Africa are dwarfed by those of the United Kingdom (with a total FDI stock of $30 billion in 2003), the United States ($19 billion in 2003), France ($11.5 billion in 2003) and Germany ($5.5 billion in 2003). And if China sits in fourth place amongst the Asian ‘tigers’, the scale of its investments in Africa are miniscule in comparison to the more traditional imperial powers.

ian taylor @ csis' africa policy forum
Common Sense About China’s Ties with Africa

congressional research service rpt for the senate foreign relations committee (via secrecy news blog)
China’s Foreign Policy and ‘Soft Power’ in South America, Asia, and Africa

“The study opens with an overview section discussing China’s presumed foreign policy goals, the attractions and limitations of China’s ’soft power,’ and the implications and options for the United States. The memorandum proceeds to an analysis of China’s relations with countries in Latin America and the Caribbean, the Southwest Pacific, Japan and South Korea, Central Asia, Southeast Asia, and Sub-Saharan Africa.”

The study was released by Senator Joseph Biden, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

“It is my hope that this study will inform debate about China and help point the way toward policies that will not only respond to those Chinese actions that are at odds with U.S. interests, but will also build on the many common interests created by China’s enhanced integration with the international community,” Sen. Biden wrote in a foreword.

Posted by: b real | May 8 2008 4:47 utc | 36

b real,

bravo your africom primer,
yes, africom is just another scam for world domination, cloaked in the guise of wot, [sic]
as noted, the yanks are busy painting china as the new coloniser in africa, as bad, if not worse, as the westerners.
its istructive to listen to what the locals have to say for a change.

Posted by: denk | May 8 2008 16:35 utc | 37

i hope the funky functionary from africom understands that b real & b have the waterfront covered. i do not speak for our community here but i prefer not to hear from the criminals themselves

Posted by: remembereringgiap | May 8 2008 16:44 utc | 38


Vince Crawley
U.S. Africa Command
Public Affairs Office

so vince is in pr,
part of the "giant wurlitzer".

i have the highest respect for pros like vince.
since the days of nam, practically every day there are some reports somewhere which run something like this,...."us warplanes attack a suspected terrarists stronghold this morning, dozens of civilians were killed, including many women and children.".
in other words, the "world cop" has been getting away with murder on a daily basis for more than five decades.
but CHINA is the international pariah now, for clamping down on a cia engineered ethnic riot.
and the likes of bush, mccain, pelosi etc have been lecturing china on hr and demanding action from the "international communities".

"we can play the world media like a giant wurlitzer"
[Deputy Director Frank Wisner, cia]

well done,
play it again, sham.

Posted by: denk | May 8 2008 17:43 utc | 39

'giap: though i wholeheartedly share your disdain for the apologists of empire, i believe prying open the mentality of those active within the machinations of empire is crucial, if you believe the system is salvageable (BIG IF). the information that comes out through whistleblowers, or direct action by those in positions to stop catastrophes before they happen, will be indispensable if and when they occur.

who knows, maybe last august the nuclear warhead/us airforce fiasco surfaced through actions or leaks taken at the risk of death, which seems probable considering several soldiers have mysteriously and accidently died surrounding the (severely underplayed) incident.

you never know. comrades might start appearing in the strangest of places.

Posted by: Lizard | May 8 2008 19:34 utc | 40


i know you say is correct

but sometimes listening to their discourses in 3 languages i feel sometimes iverwhelmed by fatigue & pessimism

Posted by: remembereringgiap | May 8 2008 20:24 utc | 41

you make a very strong point and I would also like to point out that all of us, and I mean all of us, have been subject to various manners & regimes of brainwashing and thats what we think through and reflect upon every day of this journey, and there is a greater good in what you say, though growth must continue even as any interruptions are minimalized.

Posted by: jony_b_cool | May 9 2008 1:07 utc | 42

good 15 minute democracy now interview friday w/ the director of a long-in-the-works documentary

Free From Nigerian Military Custody, “Sweet Crude” Director Sandy Cioffi on Oil Politics in the Niger Delta

transcript is not up at the time i'm writing this, but links to the video & audio are available there

she makes some good points about how the media spins MEND, focusing on jomo while there are actually five leaders in the coalition. also touches on how AFRICOM figures in here. not new info, but info that rarely gets acknowledged/covered in the media or its propaganda filters. not to say that factions in MEND don't also play to certain images/stereotypes that fit into media soundbites to get their messages out there, but the mvmt encompasses many layers & tactics and those, and thus a more concrete understanding of the situation, usually get intentionally shut out.

Posted by: b real | May 9 2008 17:05 utc | 43

Sandy Cioffi mentions Jomo Gbomo but not Henry Okah (currently under detention charged with treason and gun-running). Maybe they are one and the same but it has not been established yet. Suffice to say two things: the Nigerian govt must believe Okah is Gbomo otherwise whats the basis for charging him with treason. Also, recent statements from MEND as well as the one after they blew up four pipelines (sending the price of oil up $5 and still climbing) have all demanded the release of Okah. Still nobody knows who is this Henry Okah except that his existence is causing a lot of problem.

Posted by: jony_b_cool | May 9 2008 23:26 utc | 44

admiral dennis blair [35]
***Let me turn now to the Indian-American military relationship in particular. I mentioned at the outset the growth in activity in recent years. However I must say that the activity has been generic and without a focused policy content. **

"The actual "quo" was a de facto military alliance between India and the United States, but we don't talk about that in front of the children."

Posted by: denk | May 10 2008 4:23 utc | 45

As we have documented here off and on following the February 2007 public announcement of the creation of AFRICOM, one thing that its spokespersons, planners and transition team have typically not done is listen to Africans or anyone bringing up things they don't want to hear. It's hard to imagine that changing much at this point, other than trotting out those African representatives already on board and "advising" the U.S. on how to best to go about accomplishing their objectives.

I respect your right to debate the merits of U.S. Africa Command. However, I don't follow the reasoning of your initial premise above, that two postings on your own Website, respectively 11 and 10 months old, constitute evidence that U.S. Africa Command has not and does not consult with African and international leaders.

First, I'll observe that your principle source of information has been the Stars and Stripes newspaper, which is owned and operated by the Department of Defense. If you consider this a reliable source of information about Africa Command, then that implies acknowledging there are elements within the U.S. Department of Defense capable of conveying trustworthy information. Some of the contributors to your blog do not have a high opinion of U.S. government officials who work with the news media. However, it is public affairs officials who have arranged all of the news conferences and interviews which you have cited since February 2007.

Second, the Africa Command Transition Team formally ceased to exist October 1 ,2007, when General William Ward became commander of U.S. Africa Command following his confirmation by the U.S. Senate. Prior to assuming command, Ward was deputy of U.S. European Command, a position which for the past two decades has involved extensive travel to meet with African leadership. In November 2007, Ward's first trip as commander of Africa Command was to visit the European Union. See the Transcript of his November 8, 2007, newsconference posted on our Website. It reads, in part:

GENERAL WARD: When I mentioned that I met leaders, I was specifically referring to leaders within the African Union. I have met leaders over the continent of Africa in my previous capacity [as Deputy Commander of U.S. European Command] in over 25 African countries. And I would have to go through a list, but leaders in Uganda, in Rwanda, Ghana, Senegal, South Africa, North Africa, all over. But on this particular trip, leaders within the AU up to this point.

Just as the previous question that pertained to a headquarters, there has been discussion again about how the command might be organized to stay in tune with activities on the continent. One of those concepts does include the notion that portions of the headquarters might be distributed in various places on the continent. But again, there have been no decision taken on any of that. Again, a very deliberate process. I take into account the many factors and variables that would influence it. And until that very deliberate process has occurred, and the associated dialogue and consultations, there have been no decisions.

In September 2007, senior U.S. defense and State Department officials met with ambassadors and defense attaches from more than 40 African nations at the Airlie House conference center in Warrenton, Virginia, to discuss Africa Command. See>this speech. A follow-up Airlie House event in March 2008 was better documented, with again more than 40 African nations represented during presentations by> Deputy Defense Secretary Gordon England and> Ambassador Mary Yates. Also see>this article and> Command Aims to Partner with African Nations.

On October 3, 2007, Ward met with international and African media at Foreign Press Center in Washington, D.C. See the transcript. After visiting the African Union, his travels also have included visits to> Botswana and Gabon,> Egypt, Cameroon, ">"> Mali and> Uganda. While in Washington in late April, Ward attended a ">"> meeting of African ambassadors at the Embassy of Ghana.

One of Africa Command's co-equal deputies is Ambassador Mary Carlin Yates , former U.S. ambassador to Ghana and Burundi, with extensive postings across Africa during her career, including service in then-Zaire during the 1994 Rwandan genocide. Since its formal creation October 1, 2007, the command has become a destination for the many people across the U.S. military and government who have extensive experience working in Africa with Africans.

Ambassador Yates and her co-deputy, Vice Admiral Bob Moeller, also travel extensively, and their visits have included Nigeria,> Liberia, and> Zambia .

I invite you to browse our ">"> article archive,> transcript archive and ">"> photo gallery if you want to get an idea of type of ongoing consultation taking place.

For an overview of the command, take a look at General Ward's presentation in February at the Royal United Services Institute, as well as his Posture Statement and transcript of tesimony March 13 before the House Armed Services Committee.

Vince Crawley
U.S. Africa Command

Posted by: Vince | May 10 2008 21:09 utc | 46

one more interesting analysis of china in africa, from africa this time

China in Africa: Is the continent being re-colonised?

In Africa we speak of China 'colonising' the continent. There are at present 800 sizeable Chinese firms on the continent, whereas in Singapore (which is a fraction of the size of Gauteng), there are approximately 2500 Chinese companies. The Singaporeans are begging for more Chinese investment, while in Africa we are terrified of a perceived invasion! 800 companies in 54 countries on the second largest continent on earth is hardly the colonial venture that some claim it to be!

In addition, China's foreign direct investment (FDI) into Africa in 2007 represented less than 3% of its global FDI outflows and annual trade with the entire continent amounted to half the value of China's total trade with South Korea. The hype which has surrounded China's foray into Africa has created the impression that it has, in the space of a decade, become the dominant foreign player on the continent.

While Sino-African trade prospects are indeed very good, it will be decades before Western nations, and many of Africa's former colonial powers, will be replaced as the continent's largest trading partners. The Western media has latched onto the China-Africa story and promoted it to the front pages of its various publications - the effect of which is to create disproportionate attention around the Asian giant's foray into Africa, which is happening at the same time as other emerging powerhouses India, Russia and Brazil expand rapidly into the continent.

same for the emphasis on china grabbing africa's oil. john ghazvinian, in his excellent book, untapped: the scramble for africa's oil, makes the case that

those who fear China's rapidly strengthening position in Africa might do well to maintain a sense of perspective. After all, the reality is that China has a long way to go before it catches up to the Western presence on the African oil scene. When it comes to exploration licenses, Chinese companies still make do with what one analyst calls "the absolute dregs" and, overall, China's overseas-drilling portfolio is very much in its infancy. Ninety-five percent of the proven reserves of CNPC and CNOOC are still inside China. Compare that with the British supermajor BP, for whom the UK accounts for only 7 percent of its reserves, or the three biggest American companies, where the corresponding figures average around 30 percent. For the moment, at least, China's oil industry is heavily is most heavily focused on its domestic-drilling program.


..much of the hysteria in Washington over China's expanding presence in African oil politics has failed to notice that it is part of a wider Asian search for energy security that simply happens to be playing out on the African continent. The Malaysian state company Petronas, for example, is active in fourteen African countries, including a project with the Chinese in Sudan. In Chad, as part of the ExxonMobil consortium, Petronas has been learning a lot about how to manage a big project, and in coming years will surely become a major player in Africa.

South Korea, meanwhile, has an economy every bit as bouyant and as oil-dependent as China's, with the country now ranking as the world's fourth-largest oil importer. In 2006 the state-owned KNOC picked up valuable new offshore acreage in Nigeria as well as an interest in a block of the Nigeria-Sao Tome JDZ. In March 2006 Korean President Roh Moo-hyun, recognizing the importance of Chinese-style petro-diplomacy, visited some of the continent's major oil-producing states, and announced that Korea would be investing $6 billion in Nigerian infrastructure projects, including a pair of power plants that will supply 20 percent of Nigeria's electricity by 2010.

ghazvinian also brings up competition b/w china and india for african oil which i'll toss in here since it may be a factor in india's alignment w/ the u.s. imperialists.

But China's most important Asian rival for African oil is India, which is no less desperate to fuel its exploding economy. ... Delhi has also made energy security a top priority, spending $1 billion a year in exploration efforts around the world, most of them channeled through the state-owned ONGC.

However, India's approach to securing African oil concessions has been noticeably more timid than China's.
Over the course of 2005, the Indians realized their approach to African oil exploration, which some analysts have described as "gentlemanly" and others as dithering or naive, would have to change. At the World Petroleum Congress in Johannesburg in September, India's petroleum secretary, S.C. Tripathi, expressed his country's bitterness at the way in which African countries were tying the award of exploration concessions to guarantees of cash and development projects. "Both Nigeria and Angola have conveyed that preference will be given to those offering economic packages," he complained undiplomatically. "How much share you get in a block, they say, depends on the economic-development package you give." A few weeks later, India announced it would be making up to $1 billion available for oil-for-infrastructure deals in African countries. The countries covered by the so-called Team 9 initiative included Chad, Equatorial Guinea, and Ivory Coast, but the ministry has since said it would also target Sao Tome and Congo Brazzaville. Much like China, India built up strong friendships in Africa during the heyday of the Non-Aligned Movement. But when it comes to oil, it's all about money, and it is virtually always the case that China has deeper pockets.

getting back to the initial article, it brings up something that doesn't get mentioned enough in the general coverage on sino-african relations. despite ghazvinian's argument that chinese african oil operations are still tiny in comparison w/ those of the west, one very real issue that registers w/ the western majors is the impact on their well-established (post-/neo-)colonial dealings w/ the oil-producers etc...

China's push into Africa also provides several of the continent's states with a new and hugely influential trading partner to drive up price and increase the bargaining power of African government's when courting foreign investment. The Nigerian government has been particularly savvy in exploiting this opportunity by pitting traditional investors in the oil sector from the U.K, France and North America against state-owned Chinese firm's Sinopec and CNOOC. Add in ONGC from India and a host of new players in the market from Russia, Brazil and Malaysia and Nigeria is, for the first time since independence, presented with the opportunity to charge a premium for its valuable resources.

Traditional Western players have enjoyed preferential and often monopolistic control over Africa's resources since 1960. China's voracious appetite for these same resources, and its surplus of capital to pay for them, has increased Africa strategic importance - and therefore its value in the global context. The commodity's boom which has led to five straight years of growth in excess of 5% in Africa has been led by demand from China and India. This boom is likely to continue for at least another 15 years - meaning that traditional players in the commodities sector in Africa will be forced to pay more, improve service delivery and engage in a healthy dose of competition. Aware of their value, African states are able to dictate the rules of the game to an extent that was previously impossible.

but not all of this is strictly due to the influx of players, which has led to the increasing demand for africa's extractables. the rise in overall market prices has an effect too. last year, for example, the nigerian govt announced that it was going to start renegotiating its contracts & MoU's w/ foreign oil companies, some of them dating back to at least the early 1990's, in order to keep up w/ the changes in the price of a barrel of oil over the last five years compared to where it was more than a decade ago.

and finally, the analyst states the obvious, which apparently needs to be reiterated again & again until the reality of it sinks in.

..the allegation that China lacks an ethical code when doing business with Africa is hypocritical and selective. All of Africa's corrupt leaders have enjoyed thriving trade with the West throughout their reigns. In the words of Zaire's former dictator Mobuto Sese-Seko, "it takes two to be corrupt - the corruptor and the corrupted". It was virtually impossible to do business in states such as Nigeria, Cameroon and Kenya during the 1970s and 1980s without engaging in improper practice - which in no way deterred the myriad of Western multinationals still plying their trade with great success in these and other equally contentious markets.

Another common but erroneous allegation is that China is becoming Africa's new colonial power by controlling resources while not stimulating local African economies. This misguided and dangerous allegation implies a weakness on the African side which flies in the face of recent developments.

It is up to Africa, and not the outside world, to decide whether it will be subjected to another colonial-type relationship with foreign powers. What is more, China and Africa have been trading for centuries - long before colonial powers carved up the continent. There are remnants of Chinese trade with Africa stretching back to 1200. Apart from contentious pseudo colonies in Taiwan, China is not and has never been interested in colonising foreign countries. Had it been interested in such activities, it would have dominated and controlled the majority of the world before the United States of America was formed, and certainly before Portugal and Britain 'discovered' Africa. China's push into Africa is a commercial one. Success for Africa will depend on the ability of its leaders to create strong legal and regulatory frameworks to guide foreign investment from China.

Posted by: b real | May 11 2008 5:39 utc | 47

from a sunday editorial in puntland's garowe online

Much talk of pirates, little mention of environmental destruction

So much diplomatic and media frenzy was initiated by the hijackings of European-owned vessels that were traveling along Somalia's dangerous coast. The reaction from Paris best explained the existing frame of mind in European capitals; that, despite all its problems, the only time Somalia matters is when foreigners are killed or kidnapped. The invasion of Somalia by Ethiopian troops backing the Transitional Federal Government in 2006 did not even warrant any resolutions at the UN! But pirates…those bad guys must be dealt with militarily under UN-sanctioned resolutions.

The anti-piracy resolution does not change anything on the ground or sea in Somalia. When U.S. Air Force jets bombard Somali towns or French Special Forces land on Somali soil and arrest locals, international law has already been broken beyond repair. The resolution, if approved by the Security Council, will just add another sad chapter to the history of Somalia, a country brutalized by its own sons and abused by foreigners.

Diplomats at the UN should consider the genuine concerns of the Somali people regarding the continued illegal practices of foreign vessels, many of whom have been accused of dumping toxic waste and over-fishing along Somalia's ungoverned coast. More than a decade of environmental destruction has taken its toll on locals, especially fragile communities along the country's shores with countless reports of mysterious barrels appearing on beaches.

The problem of piracy is interrelated to the greater Somali tragedy. Without resolving the enduring political conflict on land, the international community will be wasting valuable resources combating piracy on its own. Just like there is no military solution to the conflict in Mogadishu, as proven by the Ethiopian army's failure to control the capital, there can be no military solution to Somali piracy.

But the international community's rush to a military solution is reflective of a much larger issue: no country or world organization is genuinely willing to help bring an end to the 18-year Somali crisis.

earlier links on illegal toxic dumping off somalia's coast here

Posted by: b real | May 12 2008 15:24 utc | 48


the professional @ #46 writes: "In November 2007, Ward's first trip as commander of Africa Command was to visit the European Union"

many africans would agree w/ that conflation

however, what he presumedly meant to say was that ward proceded immediately to the AU

a visit of which we noted at the time gen. ward's command of african history as related in an afp wire story

i see that the transcript has since been altered to omit the erroneous adjective

so, do public affairs officials arrange that too?

Posted by: b real | May 12 2008 19:34 utc | 49

Thanks for correcting -- I did mean to say "African Union."

Thanks also for pointing out the discrepency in the AFP story. I do stand behind our version of the quote:

"And I also came to listen so that I gain a better understanding of the proud traditions of this institution, and what is also means to the peoples of Africa, its nations and its island nations. ..."

Our transcript is accurate, based on a recording. I take the accuracy of our transcripts seriously, because they can easily be checked by someone else who made a recording. My recollection is that this came off of a DVD of the press conference, cross-checked with a cassette recording. I put a lot of effort into that particular transcript. It was our first. I didn't go to Addis Ababa and so relied on two recordings made by others who were present. Neither had audible questions from the journalists, so I sent the draft transcript to the U.S. Mission to the African Union, whose recording included audible questions. I may still have a copy of our recording in my office. I'll check.

The most logical explanation for the AFP story is that the reporter took hand notes and filed in a hurry on deadline. My experience working with print journalists in Africa is that the great majority of them rely on handwritten notes. If you read through some of General Ward's transcripts, he is not the easiest person to quote verbitim because he speaks in very long sentences. In Washington, D.C., most news conferences and hearings are transcribed, but it's still rare elsewhere in the world.

Vince Crawley

Posted by: Vince | May 12 2008 21:20 utc | 50

Say Vince, how is Dr. Courville doing these days? Enjoying Addis? She didn't look too happy at the Tripartite meeting a while back.

Posted by: curious | May 13 2008 0:19 utc | 51

European & USA officials who travel to Africa are always received by fawning & ass-kissing African government & business types, always eager to cut the deal that gives him/her and the visitor as large a payoff as can be extracted at the expense of the African peoples. And what more could any one wish for, than to have what from all appearances is an entire continent of helpless/hopeless/hapless suckers always willing to serve any and every purpose presented before them.

always glad to share yesterdays memo.

Posted by: jony_b_cool | May 13 2008 1:24 utc | 52

..I don't follow the reasoning of your initial premise above, that the two postings ... constitute evidence that U.S. Africa Command has not and does not consult with African and international leaders.

well, maybe you weren't listening then. what i said, as you even quoted, was this: "one thing that its spokespersons, planners and transition team have typically not done is to listen to Africans or anyone bringing up things they don't want to hear."

that should be self-evident. i never stated that africans were not being consulted. in fact, i pointed out the reliance on "african representatives already on board" who will tell u.s. personnel what they want to hear & how to best go about selling AFRICOM to their peers, the influential actors, and their fellow citizens. a glance at the roster for any of these conferences, committees, etc will substantiate that. even dr. wafula okumu's otherwise biting testimony before the u.s. house last august concluded w/ suggestions on how to overcome the "hostility" from the african people.

that the u.s. has not genuinely listened to the overriding message is self-evident b/c there still exists the push for AFRICOM. yates can say it's just that they're "misunderstanding" AFRICOM, but she's only fooling herself.

the briefings included in one of those links are from the period last june 21-22 after the second trip across the continent, months after AFRICOM was publicly announced to the world before consulting africans, in order to get feedback from a number of state govts on how they would receive the command. (algeria, morocco, libya, egypt, djibouti & the AU.)

that this reception was largely negative, as was the initial round of consultations, is not in dispute. aside from a few close allies, of which i'll expound on at a later time, there was firm rejection of u.s. plans, w/ several african leaders coming out throughout 2007 announcing that they turned down u.s. requests to host DoD installations in their territories.

just one example of "not listening" to those who tell them things they do not want to hear - in the briefing on 22nd of june, one reporter from the south african broadcasting ctr asked ryan henry a (admittedly rambling) question that conveyed skepticism of the u.s.' ability to listen:

..I just happened to come from home, and I attended a meeting of African intellectuals, and they spoken (sic) about this very same issue of the Africa Command. And out of that meeting I realized that there are three concerns. First of all, the general feeling that the U.S. image is so bad in Africa that the very same fact that to put a command there might even attract terrorism and endanger the lives of the people of Africa. That's the general feeling that was there, that you need to make up our image first before you bring this command. What do you say about that? Have you looked at those kind of issues? Or you are just go in there and set the command anyway, as you did, went to Iraq anyway?

henry's reply was notable for reinforcing that very skepticism:

I understand that people see the world differently and see the United States differently than we do. But we, again, have worked with countries. We're working with governments and we're working with multinational organizations. And we have not heard the comments expressed as you expressed them. We continue to do outreach and we feel confident with our partners on the continent that the way we're proceeding is the correct way to proceed.

and sometimes where they really do hear comments expressed in a way they don't like, again from the key nation of south africa, they assume that a bit of bullying or threats will help them proceed as they feel entitled:

US Ambassador to South Africa, Eric Bost, claimed that the South African Minister of Defence had refused to meet with the US delegation on Africom, and a US-sponsored African military exercise was postponed earlier this month. Answering questions about her government’s response to the outright rejection of Africom by the Southern African Development Community (SADC), Whelan said that would be fine, but that the US would simply cut off military relations with SADC as an organisation while continuing to engage with amenable countries in Southern Africa on an individual basis. [source]

and the other link to the stars and stripe article, from that same period, truly read like something conjured up by the onion

Improving the United States' image in Africa was a prime topic as 80 people gathered Monday to discuss plans for the new U.S. Africa Command. ... Since the command promises to be a tough sell in many parts of the continent, image reconstruction promised to be a main issue at the two-day conference and beyond.

"The world is watching," warned one attendee.

The command believes it is about to do good things: train soldiers to be effective and law-respecting, organize medical missions to help people be healthier, and dovetail efforts with other do-gooders to create win-win situations.
"We're doing something right, but we don't know what it is," said C.D. Smith, from the Defense Department's African Center for Strategic Studies. "We have not been able to capture that, and we need to be able to do that."

"How will Africans themselves look at this?" asked another.

It was noted that of the 80 attendees, only one was born and raised in Africa. So there was a tone to avoid force-feeding U.S. goals and viewpoints to Africa.
"We have to improve the quality of our messages," Bob Leavitt of the U.S. Agency for International Development, with whom AFRICOM plans to work. "That substance has to get to the field level."

running out of time tonite, so i'll end w/ two appropriate quotes - first one from noam chomsky

When you conquer somebody and suppress them, you have to have a reason. You can't just say, "I'm a son of a bitch and I want to rob them." You have to say it's for their good, they deserve it, or they actually benefit from it. We're helping them.

and the second from nelson mandela back in march of 1958

The American brand of imperialism is imperialism all the same in spite of the modern clothing in which it is dressed and in spite of the sweet language spoken by its advocates and agents. The USA is mounting an unprecedented diplomatic offensive to win the support of the governments of the self-governing territories in the continent. It has established a network of military bases all over the continent for armed intervention in the domestic affairs of independent states should the people in those states elect to replace American satellite regimes with those who are against American imperialism. American capital has been sunk into Africa not for the purpose of raising the material standards of its people but in order to exploit them as well as the natural wealth of their continent. This is imperialism in the true sense of the word.

needn't change much in that paragraph to keep it applicable half-a-century later

Posted by: b real | May 13 2008 4:46 utc | 53

latest analysis on somalia from michael weinstein
The Situation in Somalia: Two Sound Assessments


Posted by: b real | May 13 2008 5:04 utc | 54

vince #46 First, I'll observe that your principle source of information has been the Stars and Stripes newspaper, which is owned and operated by the Department of Defense. If you consider this a reliable source of information about Africa Command, then that implies acknowledging there are elements within the U.S. Department of Defense capable of conveying trustworthy information.

you would be wrong w/your assessment regarding any acknowledgments or implications. the source of information, being from the horse mouth only informs the reader of the official pr. therefore it is only a trustworthy source in terms of understanding what our officials truthfully want us to believe, which is a far cry from the truth.

"We have to improve the quality of our messages,"

exactly. it is the message they want to improve, not the goal or the intent of the mission.

actually, what has to be improved is the overall intent.

We're doing something right, but we don't know what it is," said C.D. Smith, from the Defense Department's African Center for Strategic Studies.

the message is clear. 'we are doing something right'. after all, we are right, we are america.

"We have not been able to capture that, and we need to be able to do that."

it does appear he is more interested in 'capturing' the right way to portray 'rightness', than actually being right.

vince, on our homepage, if you scroll down on the left under the title 'specials' you will see the link

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

if you haven't already checked this out i urge you to do so, for your own understanding of information available to informed audiences. we may be a relatively small website, globally speaking but b real's efforts have been acknowledged and well received. you are fighting an uphill battle w/the image issue. you spent post 50 dickering over the accuracy of general ward's wording. does it ever occur to you that terrorism creates an opening to justify our presence in oil regions? does it ever occur to you if there was no threat of terrorism, our need for oil might inspire unsavory alliances to create such a threat?

its a tall order creating a message that conflicts w/reality. you can fool all the people some of the time, and some of the people all the time, but frankly i think you underestimate the intelligence of the average person in africa although it may very well pass mustard w/an average american.

recommended reading The Strategy of Keeping States Failed

not a pretty picture.

Posted by: annie | May 13 2008 5:53 utc | 55

annnie: nice piece of well-intentioned nudging of the ever respectful Vince toward the broader perspective. it seems semantic dickering is a favorite tool of those comrade 'giap refers to as apologists for empire. MISSION ACCOMPLISHED? that was of course only referring to the specific mission of the specific carrier at the specific time of bush's expertly crafted photo-op.

before i get too carried away, i just wanted to toss out the following: maybe Vince's presence here is an indication that b real's hard work is indeed being well received.

and, on a somewhat unrelated note, i just watched the '69 Buckley/Chomsky "dialogue" and it made me appreciate MoA all over again, because not only do we get to finish our sentences here, we even have to back them up if they don't pass the sniff test.

thank you b

Posted by: Lizard | May 13 2008 6:49 utc | 56

where's vince? i was looking forward to him trying to frame american intervention in africa other than the US military being used primarily as a 'security force' for the 'protection' of our oil interests, not forgetting the US military as a primary customer. all these fans of free trade have no problem w/socialism as long as the profits end up in the bank accounts of cheneyco and not reverting back to the feds, ie the people. how come oil companies get a free pass using our military as its protectors???? talk about best buddies! what would those oil companies do without the 'terrorists'? a free pass to intervene.

we don't know what it is,

just a lot of blind faith from mr smith??? wake up and smell the bloody roses. all you have to do is take off the blinders and it becomes pretty damn obvious why we are there, and it aint a matter of helpin' all those colored folks. shucks, they don't even need to know wtf the mission is, all they need to know is 'We're doing something right'.

has it even occurred to you, maybe we aren't? check this out VINCE

In February 2008, the US government disrupted negotiation talks with all opposition parties - including hardline Islamists - by exerting pressure on the prime minister to exclude certain groups and individuals from a reconciliation process, particularly those included in the US list of designated terror suspects. ... Effectively sabotaging the prime minister's efforts to reach out to radical elements, on 29 February 2008 - shortly before a US air strike near the Somali-Kenyan border - the US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice designated Al-Shabab as a Foreign Terrorist Organisation under Section 219 of the Immigration and Nationality Act and as a Specially Designated Global Terrorist under Section 1(b) of Executive Order 13224. Even though Al-Shabab enjoys little public support in southern Somalia, the untimely announcement of the designation was criticised by Somali opposition groups and the wider public.

as one somali quoted in the rpt put it

"The designation of Al-Shabab as terrorists completely undermined what the Prime Minister is trying to do: it really makes you doubt the US commitment to the reconciliation process."

this is the neocon/zionist model of foreign affairs, don't like dealing w/ them terrorist.

how's that working for you vince?????? did it ever occur to you how america's reputation s getting thrashed on your watch???

Vince Crawley, the officer in charge of public information, said the creation of the command showed America's realisation that the Africa mattered.

"A stable Africa is good for the United States, China, Europe, Africa and the whole world. It is not about US interest in Africa. Our work is to make Africa prosperous," Crawley explained yesterday.

since when do US tax payers, during a time of recession support a military designed to protect our freedoms and constitution, focus on making africa prosperous???? what do you take us for? idiots?

A statement from the US embassy said in the north, Ward would meet with UPDF and US military personnel who are conducting a veterinary civic action project designed to improve animal health in rural areas.

hearts and minds vince? what do you think of this report at the last link?

some context from the cooperative research timeline - Context of 'February 2008: Ex-US Soldier from Bosnia War Emerges as Al-Qaeda Leader in Somalia'

perhaps since you are a military journalist interested in the truth you could do a little digging and write us some interesting stories about how exactly the military functions...

Double agent Ali Mohamed spends much of 1992 training al-Qaeda recruits in Afghanistan. But he also gives specialized training in Sudan, Bosnia, and other conflict zones. Using the alias Abu ‘Abdallah, he is part of a 14-man al-Qaeda team made up of retired US military personnel that enters Bosnia through Croatia to train and arm mujaheddin fighters there.

interested minds want to know your take on this, not the veterinary stuff. boooooring!

Posted by: annie | May 13 2008 22:06 utc | 57

a link to this article from michael klare belongs in this thread -- The New Geopolitics of Energy

the following fits in w/ the imperialists' "thousand ship navy" wet dream concept & related issues that denk & i were casting about upstream

Concern over the safety of vital resource supplies has, therefore, been a central feature of strategic planning for a long time. But the attention now devoted to this issue represents a qualitative shift in US thinking, matched only by the imperial impulses that led to the Spanish-American War a century ago. This time, however, the shift is driven not by an optimistic faith in America's capacity to dominate the world economy but by a largely pessimistic outlook regarding the future availability of vital resources and the intense competition over them waged by China and other rising economic dynamos. Faced with these dual challenges, Pentagon strategists believe that ensuring US primacy in the global resource struggle must be the top priority of American military policy.

In line with this new outlook, fresh emphasis is being placed on the global role of the Navy. Using language that would sound surprisingly familiar to Alfred Mahan and the first President Roosevelt, the Navy, Marines and Coast Guard unveiled A Cooperative Strategy for 21st Century Seapower in October; it emphasizes America's need to dominate the oceans and guard the vital sea lanes that connect this country to its overseas markets and resource supplies:

Over the past four decades, total sea borne trade has more than quadrupled: 90% of world trade and two-thirds of its petroleum are transported by sea. The sea-lanes and supporting shore infrastructure are the lifelines of the modern global economy.... Heightened popular expectations and increased competition for resources, coupled with scarcity, may encourage nations to exert wider claims of sovereignty over greater expanses of ocean, waterways, and natural resources--potentially resulting in conflict.

To address this danger, the Defense Department has undertaken a massive modernization of the combat fleet, entailing the design and procurement of new aircraft carriers, destroyers, cruisers, submarines and a new type of "littoral combat" (coastal warfare) ship--an endeavor that could take decades to complete and consume hundreds of billions of dollars. Elements of this plan were unveiled by President Bush and Defense Secretary Gates in the budget proposal for Fiscal Year 2009, submitted in February. Among the big-ticket items highlighted in the shipbuilding budget are:

  • $4.2 billion for the lead ship of a new generation of nuclear-powered aircraft carriers;

  • $3.2 billion for a third Zumwalt class missile destroyer; these warships with advanced stealth capabilities will also serve as a "testbed" for a new class of missile cruisers, the CG(X);

  • $1.3 billion for the first two littoral combat ships;

  • $3.6 billion for another Virginia class submarine, the world's most advanced undersea combat vessel in production.

    Proposed shipbuilding programs will cost $16.9 billion in FY 2009, on top of $24.6 billion voted in FY 2007 and FY 2008.

  • Posted by: b real | May 14 2008 3:03 utc | 58

    sounds like the cia is still involved in renditioning people in somalia. in early 2007, after the u.s./ethiopian military invasion of somalia, suspects were renditioned w/ the help of the govts in kenya, somaliland and puntland.

    recently there have been more reports of renditions of individuals alleged to be related to the ONLF separatist mvmt in ethiopia. wednesday's news out of puntland included this story:

    garowe online: More civilians arrested in Somalia for alleged links to Ethiopia rebels

    BOSSASO, Somalia May 14 (Garowe Online) - Five Somalis who landed at an airport in the country's northern sub-state of Puntland were arrested Wednesday minutes after they get off an airplane from neighboring Djibouti, a government official told Radio Garowe.

    Yasin Said, the governor of Karkar region in Puntland, told Radio Garowe the group of five Somalis was arrested by Puntland Intelligence Service (PIS) officers at Bossaso airport.

    The detainees were then loaded onto vehicles and transported towards Garowe, the capital of Puntland.

    But an intervention by a senior government official in Puntland halted the detainees' trip to Garowe, according to the governor.

    "The Security Minister [Abdullahi Said Samatar] gave the order to return the detainees [back] to Bossaso," Gov. Said, referring to the region's commercial hub.
    Gov. Said stated that he was "displeased" by the detentions, while indicating to Radio Garowe that such an act only harms the image and security of Puntland.

    Many people in Bossaso, including traditional elders and community leaders, have condemned the arbitrary arrests of the five Somali civilians.

    A Puntland government source said the five detained civilians are accused of receiving military training in Eritrea and of having alleged links with the Ogaden National Liberation Front (ONLF), ), an Ethiopian rebel movement made up of ethnic Somali fighters.

    A community source privately told Garowe Online that local activists contacted Puntland Vice President Hassan Dahir Afqura, pleading with him to stop PIS agents from transferring the detainees over to the Ethiopian government.

    But the Vice President said that he can do nothing in the matter, since a "third hand" was directly involved in the arrests.

    The Puntland leader, Gen. Adde Muse, was then contacted in Addis Ababa, where he has been staying for a number of weeks for reasons undisclosed to the public.

    Last month, PIS agents in Garowe arrested and handed over to Ethiopian intelligence services two politicians with the ONLF.

    Days later, a group of eight civilians were detained by the PIS and later transferred to Ethiopian authorities.

    an earlier garowe online article, dated 11 march, reported that

    Puntland Intelligence Service (PIS) director Osman “Diana” Abdullahi has steadfastly refused to come under the jurisdiction of not only the Puntland Ministry of Security, but even the Somali federal government as a whole, sources said.

    Mr. Diana reportedly told Ministry of Security officials that PIS comes under the direct authority of the American government, with sources linking his comment to CIA funding for the PIS.

    on nov 11, 2007, the indian ocean newsletter reported the following story

    American spies in Bosaso? According to local elders, American intelligence agents are present in Puntland.

    It would appear that agents of American intelligence services, probably from the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), are operating in Bosaso, a port with 300,000 inhabitants in Puntland, the autonomous region in the North East of Somalia presided by Mohamud Musse Hersi aka Adde. According to witness reports obtained locally by The Indian Ocean Newsletter, a number of American agents have been seen on several occasions moving around the town under the protection of policemen or armed Somalian militia via the slightly lowered tinted windows of brand new SUVs.

    A large, well-guarded, yellow-stone building situated in the city centre is locally known for being their headquarters in Bosaso, even though it has no outwardly visible signs of such activity. One or two kilometres going east outside the city on the road to Marero (a departure point for migrants going to Yemen) an impressive villa opening directly onto the beach has been rented to house these American advisors. It is just opposite President Hersi's Presidential Palace.

    The Puntland authorities are staying completely silent on this subject and have refused to answer any questions connected with it. On the other hand, the local elders (who traditionally hold authority) speak much more freely about this American presence. Indeed, they know some Somalians who are paid generously to inform these ultra-discreet American advisors.

    Puntland has been under close surveillance by the Americans since the overthrow of the Islamic regime in Mogadishu and especially since an Islamic commando landed on the coast at Baar-Galal in June 2007. The Puntland troops then engaged combat against them with the support of the American air force. A dozen of these 'alleged terrorists' were arrested and are to stand trial in Bosaso. Another radical Islamist group was arrested in mid-October by the Puntland armed forces. According to the official version they were preparing an operation to free the imprisoned members of the commando. The Puntland authorities consider that Islamist insurgents from Mogadishu are using the port of Bossasso as a supply route for arms.

    recall that former warlord & now somalia's interim president yusuf was also the original president of puntland prior to being designated in oct 2004 as head of the transitional govt of somalia, which had been created largely by foreign powers

    recall, also, that many members of the TFG were part of the cia-created & funded Alliance for the Restoration of Peace and Counter-terrorism (ARPCT)

    source watch entry
    wikipedia entry

    Posted by: b real | May 15 2008 5:19 utc | 59

    **$4.2 billion for the lead ship of a new generation of nuclear-powered aircraft carriers;**

    b real,

    i see, more pork for the barrel,
    i guess our retired admiral dennis blair above might have claimed some credit for this...

    Posted by: denk | May 15 2008 9:17 utc | 60

    secrecy news blog: DoD Releases Directive on Information Operations

    A 2006 Department of Defense directive on Information Operations, which had previously been withheld as “For Official Use Only,” was released last week in response to a Freedom of Information Act request from the Federation of American Scientists.

    The directive, issued by the Under Secretary of Defense (Intelligence), assigns baseline responsibilities for the conduct of information operations, an umbrella term that includes electronic warfare, computer network operations, psychological operations, military deception, and operations security.

    Among related capabilities, the directive cites “public affairs,” the purpose of which is “to communicate military objectives, counter misinformation and disinformation, deter adversary actions, and maintain the trust and confidence of the U.S. population, as well as our friends and allies. Effective military operations shall be based on credibility and shall not focus on directing or manipulating U.S. public actions or opinion.”

    The New York Times reported on April 20 that the Pentagon had mobilized numerous former military officials, some with unacknowledged financial interests in Department programs, to help generate favorable news coverage of the Bush Administration’s war policies. It is not clear (to me, at least) how this practice comports with the declared Pentagon policy on public affairs, i.e. whether it violates the policy, or implements it.

    See “Information Operations,” (pdf) Department of Defense Directive O-3600.1, August 14, 2006.

    It is DoD policy that:

    4.1 IO shall be employed to support full spectrum dominance by taking advantage of information technology, maintaining U.S. strategic dominance in network technologies, and capitalizing upon near real-time global dissemination of information, to affect adversary decision cycles with the goal of achieving information superiority* for the United States.


    4.1.2. IO contributes to information superiority by both defending military decision-making from adversary attacks and by influencing and degrading an adversary's decision-making capability, thereby producing an information advantage. IO contributes directly to the national security strategy, which uses all elements of national power in a synchronized and coordinated manner to influence adversary perceptions and behavior.

    under the section "Related capabilities" Public Affairs (PA)*, as a function of command, shall support the continuing public information and communicating requirements of the Department. PA activities contribute to the broader U.S. Government (USG) communications effort by providing truthful, accurate and timely information to the public, the domestic and international media, military members, and their families. PA shall provide operational capabilities to communicate military objectives, counter misinformation and disinformation, deter adversary actions, and maintain the trust and confidence of the U.S. population, as well as our friends and allies. Effective military operations shall be based on credibility and shall not focus on directing or manipulating U.S. public actions or opinion.

    *from the glossary

    information superiority: The operational advantage derived from the ability to collect, process, and disseminate an uninterrupted flow of information while exploiting or denying an adversary's ability to do the same.

    public affairs (PA): Those public information, command information, and community activities directed toward both the external and internal audiences with interest in the Department of Defense. Effective PA is based on credibility and shall not focus on directing or manipulating public actions or opinion.

    no definitions were included for the terms "truthful," "credibility," or "full spectrum dominance"

    Posted by: b real | May 15 2008 16:27 utc | 61

    from a CSM article - Pentagon scales back AFRICOM ambitions

    Washington - When Pentagon strategists sought to create a new military command to oversee Africa, they believed they could build one that deemphasized military might and would serve as an exemplar of what so-called US soft power could do around the world.

    But in recent months, the Pentagon has had to scale back its ambitious vision to adapt Africa's political terrain, military officials acknowledge, adding they remain committed to the original idea of a military command to promote peace [sic] in the region.

    For now, officials have ruled out basing the headquarters anywhere in Africa and may in fact locate it on the East Coast, a senior defense official says. They have also backed away from selling the new command as a full "interagency" organization that spans military and nonmilitary entities.

    "We sort of admitted all along that we were building something that we'd never built before," says one senior defense official, on how the command has changed. "So you gotta start somewhere, you gotta take a stab at it."

    contrast the senior defense official's emphasis on AFRICOM being about "building something that we'd never built before" to the PA's talking point (upstream) that the combatant command is basically "a bureaucratic restructuring of existing U.S. military programs."

    more from the CSM story,

    The headquarters will now either stay at its current home in Stuttgart, Germany, or be moved to the East Coast of the US.
    Officials have had to make other adjustments. Initially billed as a "whole of government" approach to solving the region's problems, the new, hybrid command had sought to marry military and civilian expertise.

    "To make it more effective, we want to incorporate other nonmilitary US players working in Africa so the security piece is optimized," says Col. Pat Mackin, a spokesman for US Africa Command. But, he adds, "There is no government mechanism to create a true interagency headquarters."
    ..the military will likely remain in the driver's seat. "They are significantly walking back from interagency," says Kathleen Hicks, a senior fellow at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington. "What they're now saying is that they will more efficiently and effectively deliver military programs."

    q&a excerpt from the may 14th transcript "Remarks by Secretary of Defense Robert Gates at the American Academy of Diplomacy"

    Q: Several questions have looked at something that you mentioned in your Kansas speech and have also mentioned today, which is how the military was called upon in Iraq and Afghanistan to take on roles that perhaps they weren't trained for and were not best suited for. You said, again, today -- (inaudible) -- that one way to solve that is to increase training and increase personnel and budget for the State Department. Yet with AFRICOM, some of the plans for SOUTHCOM, at least in their original conception, have called for increasing those capabilities inside the military to allow the military to become more involved in development, to allow it to be doing things, particularly in Africa, that it hasn't done in the past and in fact is already doing in some respect in Africa. There's been a lot of pushback on that from diplomats, from the NGO community and some of the Africans themselves. So does that lead you to any rethinking of how those initiatives should operate and what their mission should be?

    SEC. GATES: I think, in some respects, we probably didn't do as good a job as we should have when we rolled out AFRICOM. I wasn't here when the decision was made to build an Africa Command, but I think my view at this point is that deeds are going to count for more than words. And I think we need to take it a step at a time. I don't think we should push African governments to a place that they don't really want to go in terms of these relationships. I think we start with those that are interested in developing relationships.

    And I see it focused more on things like peacekeeping, on professionalizing the military, on improving their own indigenous capabilities, the relationships between the military and civilians in a democracy. There may be some areas of humanitarian assistance, whether it's the equivalent of what we did after the tsunami or after the Pakistani earthquake or what we're trying to do with Burma, there are going to be situations where the military is going to be the first in and have to deal with problems initially and where they then should be replaced by civilians with the expertise in dealing with the humanitarian disasters and so on where we are the ones that really only have the capability.

    So I think we have to be cautious about the way we move in this direction. But I think that when I see -- I was just in Mexico City. I discovered I was the first secretary of Defense to be in Mexico City in 12 years and only the second secretary of Defense ever, and Bill Perry was the first. But when I see the carefully developing relationship there, and it's a government that's been cautious about developing military-to-military relationships with the United States, but as we move step by step and do useful things together, I think we can develop those relationships. So that would be my approach to both AFRICOM and SOUTHCOM.


    africa insight: Keen on business, China is yet to flex its formidable military muscle in Africa


    India is also expanding its military wings and its naval dominance in the strategic maritime shipping lanes around Africa. This has made Chinese security analysts worry about the safety of their supplies.

    India currently imports 11 per cent of its oil from Africa (mostly Nigeria), but is seeking more, especially from Angola, leading in some cases to direct competition with China.

    It is also searching for secure, long-term uranium supplies to feed its nuclear reactors, as well as other strategic minerals, meaning that South Africa is emerging as a key partner.

    India is involved in a tripartite alliance with Brazil and South Africa under the IBSA Dialogue Forum.
    India is also using the forum to enhance its maritime cooperation in order to boost regional security. Notably, both Delhi and Pretoria have long coastlines and maritime interests.
    Around 90 per cent of exports of both the countries are shipped. In addition, South Africa has six well-developed ports and a sound maritime infrastructure, with good facilities for ship repair and potential to get involved in shipbuilding.

    Due to this strategic interest and maritime bond, in March 2006 India signed an agreement with South Africa to improve cooperation in merchant shipping and other related activities. The agreement provides for facilitating Indian companies to establish joint ventures in the field of maritime transportation, and ship building and repairs. Furthermore, the pact will also facilitate the exchange of information for accelerating the flow of commercial goods at sea and at port and encourage the strengthening of cooperation between merchant fleets.

    Along the East African coast India has signed defense agreements with Kenya, Madagascar and Mozambique. It has also initiated joint training programmes with Kenya, Mozambique, Tanzania and South Africa. Delhi has convinced island states such as Madagascar, Mauritius and the Seychelles to cooperate on maritime surveillance and intelligence gathering.

    Moreover, its fleet in the Indian Ocean is turning into one of the most powerful naval forces of the region, including new state-of the-art aircraft carriers and nuclear submarines.

    This build up by the World’s largest democracy is multi-pronged: Economically for market and resources; politically for international influence and support for possible permanent membership in the UN Security Council, and competing with China for influence in Africa.

    However, Delhi appears to be lagging behind Beijing in the trade stakes. Indo-African trade climbed to $30bn (Sh1.8 trillion) in 2007, but Sino-African trade was near $66bn (Sh4 trillion).

    Despite the fact that all major powers have been deploying naval vessels to combat piracy or to keep the maritime supply lines in the waters surrounding Africa open, the Chinese Navy has kept its flag down.

    It has no military bases in Africa like the United States, UK or France. Likewise, Beijing does not train African soldiers to deal with hostility perceived by Beijing as a threat to its national interests.

    In Sudan, Zimbabwe, Cameroon and Gabon, Beijing has dispatched military teams to assist in the maintenance of equipment, rather than providing training for specific warfare activities. In Zambia and Algeria, the collaboration is limited to medical aid. Nevertheless, the People’s Republic is constantly facing the need to protect its citizens and companies abroad.

    The long-term risk is that local tensions and conflicts will entice external powers to interfere and to exploit this volatility to gain clout at the expense of the Chinese. In response to such scenarios, China has opted to work with host governments.
    Chinese bilateral military exchanges with other armed forces expanded significantly with 174 high-level visits in 2001 to over 210 in 2006. However, the increasing trend was not maintained in Africa, where such two-pronged exchanges have remained stable at an annual average of 26.

    Beijing has established a permanent military dialogue only with South Africa. In addition, according to Jonathan Holslag a Researcher on China-Africa Affairs, “the number of Chinese military attachés and their support staff has barely or not expanded at all in the last few years. In fact, only in 15 countries are Chinese military attachés dispatched on a permanent basis.”

    In terms of military aid, there is no evidence that China’s military aid aims at counterbalancing other powers, such as the United States. Apart from Sudan and Zimbabwe, most countries to have received Chinese aid in the last few years are also supplied by Washington. Moreover, in 2007 Beijing temporarily froze the supply of heavy arms to Khartoum after pressure from the Western countries.

    more at link

    Posted by: b real | May 16 2008 5:30 utc | 62

    Well Vince, the glove has been thrown down re #61.

    feeling froggy today?

    Posted by: dan of steele | May 16 2008 5:56 utc | 63

    feeling froggy today?

    i am observing a contradiction in vince's job, re public affairs.

    directed toward both the external and internal audiences ....

    not focus on directing or manipulating U.S. public actions or opinion.

    Posted by: annie | May 16 2008 15:39 utc | 64

    followup to #23

    afp: Nigeria against foreign mediation in Niger Delta crisis: president

    ABUJA (AFP) — Nigeria will not invite any foreign mediators to help it deal with the crisis bedevilling the oil-rich Niger Delta, President Umaru Yar'Adua said Friday.

    "We are trying to avoid a situation in which the issue will be internationalised... We cannot do that because it is a Nigerian problem," Yar'Adua told AFP in an interview.

    Yar'Adua was commenting on the claim by one of the militant groups that it received confirmation of former US president Jimmy Carter's willingness to mediate in the crisis "on condition that the Nigerian government and any other relevant stakeholders invite him".

    Yar'Adua said: "The Niger delta problem is a Nigerian problem. It is not a problem just for the people of Niger delta. It is the national effort that will solve the problem."

    "When you internationalise it and you bring, for instance, Jimmy Carter to mediate, then you are bringing a different perspective all together. Now you are saying it is the people of the Niger Delta versus other Nigerians."

    Posted by: b real | May 17 2008 3:43 utc | 65

    Yar'Adua does have the realities on his side on this issue. It should be noted that the Nigerian govt. and federal legislatures have shown a decent measure of good faith and purposefulness in their efforts to end or at least significantly relieve the ND situation, and the militants are as aware of this as anyone else. The govt has issued (to no avail) several deadlines "ordering" the oil-majors (Shell, Chevron, Mobil, ...) to cease flaring gas at their oil-wells. In addition, very large amounts of money (much larger than sent to other states on a per-capita basis) are budgeted to the ND states (as a matter of statute). But these efforts have been significantly hindered by ineptitude, mismanagement, lack of imagination and perhaps a level of compromisation within the federal & state bureaucracies.

    and having made the decision to reject mediation by Jimmy Carter, the Nigerian govt, will now "accordingly", make some level of concession to demands by the militants.

    Posted by: jony_b_cool | May 17 2008 8:41 utc | 66

    **In all these four areas I have mentioned, India and the United States should not be alone. As I said at the outset, these are military activities that contribute to the common good. We should welcome countries like Japan and China, who also have much to contribute**
    [admiral dennis blair, c in c, us pacific fleet]

    did blair mastermind the escape of the boy lama in 2000?

    rumour had it that he was in kathmandu just before the 2001 palace tragedy where the whole royal family, including the designated succesor to the crown, was killed.

    c in c, us pacific fleet = point man of us imperialism in asia.
    where he goes, mayhem, bloodshed follows.
    china should watch the current cic pacific fleet 24x7.

    Posted by: denk | May 18 2008 3:26 utc | 67

    did blair mastermind the escape of the boy lama in 2000?

    wow, that is some link. the cia facilitated in the karmapa's escape?

    violence in Sikkim, involving Tibetan refugees, would attract international calls for a Western-led humanitarian intervention similar to the ones in Kosovo and East Timor.

    great, this is really what we need. where did you run into this link denk?

    Posted by: | May 18 2008 7:11 utc | 68

    sorry, that was me on #68

    Posted by: annie | May 18 2008 7:37 utc | 69

    I come to this thread late but I thought I might give an example of exactly how pernicious the propaganda about the need to interfere in Africa is. A while ago when thinking about Iran's parlous life on the edge situation I googled Iranian briefcase and found this site of an old acquaintance who became an 'africa hand'. A genuinely nice bloke who sometimes appears on late night BBC stories being interviewed as an Africa specialist, Mr Chan says something halfway through his rambling tale of homecoming that says everything about the confusion around China in Africa that many even old lefties turned 'humanitarian academic' can feel when he says:

    "We are south of Bandung, Indonesia. Something great happened there in 1955. Chou En Lai told the Afro-Asian world China would always help but never intervene. 2007 I walk the streets of Beijing, chortling as I elude my limousine. I tell the Chinese the historical moment had come when they must intervene. The apologists perform a perfect perplexity. I say, "make me proud to be Chinese. I want to be proud to be Chinese. Send helicopters to the peacekeepers in Darfur." They suffer me. Some think I am the good-hearted idealist. But I have seen every perfidity on earth.

    So even an intelligent engaged bloke like Chan feels that the excellent Chinese policy of assisting without intervening, can be up for grabs sometimes. This in a time when politicians of the statesmanlike quality of Chou-En-Lai as as thin on the ground in China as they are anywhere else.
    As much as I loathe the notion of anybody, much less thousands of people from Darfur who have become the pawns of global power politics, starving, surely anyone can see that if the cost of preventing that starvation is to have China become an interfering sticky-beak in other regions troubles, then that price is too high.

    Thus far China has shown no interest in expanding it's empire beyond the borders is reached at the height of the old empire. Even though a good case can be made for that being too far (Tibet is the example most often used but the subjugation of Taiwan and near genocide of it's indigenous people centuries ago is more pernicious though that is never discussed anywhere since the Taiwan various amerikan administrations want 'liberated' is a Taiwan run by ethnic Chinese, for amerika a Taiwan free of a pro amerikan ethnic chinese administration is useless as a bludgeon to use against the PRC.) - digression sorry but most thinking individuals would regard China in Taiwan and Tibet as being infinitely better than China humiliated, with it's citizens demanding a nationalist expansion past it's 'old borders' so at this stage in China's evolution Tibet and Taiwan must be left to China.
    However we feel about that we should celebrate the fact that China does not want to intervene in Africa. Hopefully that will continue even though USuk is trying very hard to force the Chinese to take the 'other team' in a number of the proxy wars for resources.
    I hope the Chinese continue to hold out as long as possible though I doubt they will hold out for ever. China is a capitalist country and the primary tenet of capitalism is untrammelled expansion, which means that eventually after industry in China has expanded to the limit of it's borders there will be immense pressure to go beyond them.

    In the meantime as hard as it is to witness the worst of Africa's misery we need to remember in the history of this planet there has never been a 'nice imperialist', a 'kindly coloniser'; so attempts to force China into that role will fail either because China will continue down the path of non-intervention or because intervention will corrupt the good intentions that may have been there initially.

    Posted by: Debs is dead | May 18 2008 8:45 utc | 70

    annie [68]

    i ran into that link while doing research several yrs back and i kept it in my archive.

    i remember reading the original version somewhere, where the author lamented that her story was rejected by practically all the major western media, the likes of awsj, iht, nyt, i guess.
    i wonder why ??
    why werent they interested in such a scoop ??

    Posted by: denk | May 18 2008 13:36 utc | 71

    tim shorrock on democracynow monday
    Spies for Hire: Carlyle Group to Become Owner of “One of America’s Largest Private Intelligence Armies

    AMY GOODMAN: It’s good to have you with us. Well, start off by talking about the significance of Carlyle buying, if it’s approved, Booz Allen’s government unit.

    TIM SHORROCK: Well, as you said before, as you said earlier, Carlyle has kind of scaled down its defense investments in recent years, but this is a major plunge back into it. Booz Allen Hamilton is one of the largest intelligence contractors in America and also plays a very strategic role, I would say, in US intelligence as an adviser to agencies such as the National Security Agency. And it also advises all the key combat commands of the United States military and other key agencies such as the Central Intelligence Agency and the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency. And they don’t just provide technology. They provide, you know, all kinds of expertise and all kinds of management, consulting to these agencies, you know, help them decide how to spend their money down the road. And they have many, many people on staff who have played very senior roles in intelligence.

    Posted by: b real | May 19 2008 16:20 utc | 72

    reuters: Japan plans to double Africa aid, win support

    TOKYO (Reuters) - Japan plans to double annual foreign aid to Africa by 2012, the government said on Tuesday, to strengthen ties with the resource-rich continent and win support for its bid for a permanent seat on the United Nations Security Council.

    Japan, which is preparing to host the fourth round of the Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD) on May 28-30, faces rising competition from China and India for Africa's natural resources such as rare metals.

    Tokyo aims to raise its annual aid to African nations to 200 billion yen by 2012, double the amount for 2007, Chief Cabinet Secretary Nobutaka Machimura told a news conference. That includes yen loans and grant aids but not debt relief, an official at the foreign ministry said.

    Machimura said the aid was needed to help Africa address problems such as poverty and disease.

    "In addition, Japan has been saying that it wants to win a permanent seat in the Security Council and would like to build a closer relationship with Africa in that sense," he said, adding that import-dependent Japan also hoped to work closely with African countries in the area of scarce resources.

    Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda will announce details of the aid at the Tokyo conference to be attended by leaders and representatives from 52 African nations, members of international organisations, and activist Irish rock star Bono.

    from klare's rising powers, shrinking planet

    No less concerned by the efforts undertaken by China and India to secure new sources of energy, government officials in Japan have copied the Americans in mounting counterefforts of their own. China and Japan have already squared off over the development of undersea gas reserves in the disputed waters of the East China Sea, and both are competing furiously for future Russian oil and gas exports from eastern Siberia and Sakhalin Island. The Japanese have also redoubled their efforts to acquire new drilling rights in North Africa and the Middle East. In 2004, China overtook Japan as the world's second biggest consumer of petroleum, raising the level of anxiety in Japan and prompting an intensified search for foreign sources of energy - a search that will only become more frantic with time.

    Posted by: b real | May 21 2008 4:09 utc | 73

    US - Chief culprit in Africa's problems

    Posted by: denk | May 21 2008 15:28 utc | 74

    here's gen. ward's capital interview at CFR - Africom Seeks Military-to-Military Relationships.

    the guy could certainly use more PA coaching, touchups & such...

    Can you discuss the air strikes that have happened in Somalia? Do you see that as something that might continue under Africom?

    As they have occurred at this point, it's been Centcom's area of responsibilities. We have been aware of those activities. As missions and operations are conducted, they are under the advisement of the local U.S. political leaders there. On many occasions the civilian leadership of the nation involved, as well as the geographic command, as well as any additional forces that might be put in place to do whatever that mission might be. Our mission says that we will in fact conduct operations as directed by the president. We will have that same capability to do that.

    I can't say how it will change or what will change. Those are in many respects activities that occur as situations arise. This command would be prepared to respond to those situations as they arise. Again, it would not be solely what we would do or not do. It's how we would coordinate or work with other concerned parties in that process and I mentioned a smattering of who those groups are.

    got that?

    Do you see Africom's focus being on maintaining current Defense Department programs or spearheading new ones? There are 182 missions ongoing. That's a lot to take on. Where do you allocate your resources?

    Part of what I think will make this command such a unique command is how we brought in our interagency members to help us better understand what's going on, so that if we're doing something maybe we ought to stop doing that. We'll be given this level of greater clarity because of our hopeful ability to have greater understanding of what goes on across the range of activities, not just defense but those other developmental activities that are being done by other elements of our government, other members of the international community, nongovernmental organizations—not that we want to take over and do that work but such that the work we do is complementary and supportive of the totality of the effort as it can be. That is going to be our focus—to make it better, to add value to what's going on now.

    "so that if we're doing something maybe we ought to stop doing that"


    and here's more support for what i was talking about on how AFRICOM thinks listening to africans means listening only to friendly african militaries & officials

    Can you just give me a brief summary of some of the most salient feedback that you've received from listening tours you've been doing around the continent? Has that feedback caused any changes in trajectory or thinking on Africom?

    Sure, one of the things, as I've gone around and visited many of the African nations, is the fact that they value our military-to-military relationships. They value the assistance that we can provide as they ask in helping them to professionalize their militaries and helping them to establish systems of efficiency within their structures. I don’t know if that's one hundred percent, but it's sure in the high nineties in the way of reaction to the value of our participation.

    Posted by: b real | May 22 2008 22:09 utc | 75

    abc news: U.S. Slashes Africa Peacekeeping Funds

    The Bush administration will request no more funding for United Nations peacekeeping efforts, leaving in place proposed cuts expected to be as deep as 25 percent, according to officials and budget documents. Among the programs facing sharpest cuts are efforts to quell violence in Africa.

    When ABC News first reported the proposed cuts in February, the administration contended that it might seek additional funding later in the year. But officials confirmed last week that they requested no additional funding in their supplemental budget recently submitted to Congress.

    "Unless you are expecting the emergence of peace worldwide," the cuts are hard to understand, Rep. Nita Lowey, D-N.Y., told a State Department official at a hearing last month on the topic. Lowey chairs the House appropriations panel which oversees peacekeeping funds.
    "It's a very tight budget year," conceded Kristen Silverberg, assistant secretary of state for international organization affairs, acknowledging that neither she nor Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice thought the funding request made for "an ideal situation."

    The administration released its proposed peacekeeping cuts days before President Bush was scheduled to make what one paper termed his "victory lap" through the African continent. White House officials talked up the trip and Bush's commitment to the continent, telling reporters how the president "really cares about Africa."

    In her testimony, Silverberg said U.S. funding for U.S. peacekeeping operations this year could reach $2.1 billion, but the administration had requested less than $1.5 billion to cover its share of the costs of U.N. peacekeeping efforts for 2009.
    When contacted last week, the State Department would make no comments for the record on the proposed cuts other than to confirm them.

    maybe they saw the following study

    Human Security Brief 2007

    Challenging the expert consensus that the threat of global terrorism is increasing, the Human Security Brief 2007 reveals a sharp net decline in the incidence of terrorist violence around the world.

    Fatalities from terrorism have declined by some 40 percent, while the loose-knit terror network associated with Osama bin Laden's al-Qaeda has suffered a dramatic collapse in popular support throughout the Muslim world.

    The Brief also describes and analyses the extraordinary, but largely unnoticed, positive change in sub-Saharan Africa's security landscape. The number of conflicts being waged in the region more than halved between 1999 and 2006; the combat toll dropped by 98 percent.

    Finally, the Brief updates the findings of the 2005 Human Security Report, and demonstrates that the decline in the total number of armed conflicts and combat deaths around the world has continued. The number of military coups has also continued decline, as have the number of campaigns of deadly violence waged against civilians.

    Posted by: b real | May 23 2008 4:42 utc | 76

    business day (south africa): US military set for a long campaign in Africa

    STRIDENT hostility towards a US military command centre for Africa (Africom) has prompted the US defence establishment to lobby civil society and key stakeholders in Africa, in a bid to garner support for the centre’s planned relocation on African soil.
    Resistance in Africa is forcing the US to look at different options. For instance, the office of the secretary for defence for policy aimed to support Africom by establishing a civil-military forum (CMF), managed by the Africa Centre for Strategic Studies (ACSS). Run by the defence department and based at the National Defence University in Washington, ACSS’s objectives include building an understanding and support for the war on terror, establishing networks and maintaining relationships with African civilian and military professionals, together with conveying US policy perspectives to African leaders.

    It was envisaged that the CMF would become “a place of mutual respect, facilitating dialogue and fostering relationships” between Africom and other members of the civil-military community, particularly international organisations focused on Africa .

    Former US ambassador to Kenya Mark Bellamy was tasked with developing the CMF concept as well as providing overall management of the CMF effort at ACSS.

    In another strategy aimed at preparing for Africom’s presence in Africa, consultants were contracted to look at “potential fluctuations in the investment, business and political climates in Africa” due to a possible US military presence.

    The focus of the exercise was to “identify key stakeholders that would benefit or suffer losses economically, financially, socially, politically or in terms of influence” from a decision to base the Africom headquarters or other US military presence in their region of influence in Africa.

    Apparently, the “stakeholder survey” entails naming individuals and organisations in the five African regions that would support a US military facility or those that would be disadvantaged, potentially opening the possibility of influencing them directly.

    But a spokesman for New York-based Ergo Advisors says its brief is merely to show the pros and cons of Africom’s presence in whatever country is chosen as host.

    The head of the ISS, Mike Hough, says the US’s push to tap into Africa’s oil resources, together with a desire to counter the growing Chinese influence, make it unlikely it will abandon its planned Africa command centre. When it eventually comes, Africom is less likely to be in southern Africa than in east or north Africa.

    Posted by: b real | Jun 5 2008 15:03 utc | 77

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