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Africom: President Obama's Bush inheritance, challenge

By Jehron Muhammad | Last updated: Oct 26, 2009 - 5:32:56 PM

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( - Among the many things the Obama administration has inherited from Bush II is an unwieldy colonialist-lite intervention mechanism, masquerading protectionist-likeand called Africom. The fact that the Noble Peace Prize winner known for his candor and willingness to discuss complex issues has rarely, if ever, mentioned this behemoth is telling.

According to the four part series “Africom or Africon?: A Reorganization Of The U.S. Command Structure & Another Military Imposition” by the Real News Network, this unwieldy, without State Department input, contingency plan “… is (now) the frontline for dealing with any threat to the USA,” says it all.Diplomacy, at least in Africa, has been benched, and the forces alive and well in Michael Moore's new movie, “Capitalism: A Love Story,” have taken their show on the road.

Africom is overseenby General William “Kip” Ward, the Army's highest-ranking Black American, and is the sixth U.S. geographic combatant command. Prior to Africom, the Pentagon's presence in Africa involved three geographic commands.

Created in February of 2007, launched in October of 2008 and headquartered in Stuttgart, Germany because it couldn't find a home base in Africa to protect U.S. interest abroad, this entity has been “charged with supporting U.S. military partners in Africa.”

Sounds more like the premier of the sequel to Ollie North and the boys Central American Insurgency. According to Colin Powell's former chief of staff during the Bush administration, Larry Wilkinson, it might not be far from the truth. “You have an enormous constituency for war, you have an enormous constituency for the instruments for war,” he told “Africom or Africon?” host/narrator Ragel Omar. Without skipping a beat, Mr. Wilkinson asked, “What constituency does the State Department have?”

“To find a voice that equals or exceeds the voice of the Pentagon is virtually impossible. How do you put up $30 billion,” which Mr. Wilkinson suggests is State Department's budget and “chump change,” against “nearly a quarter of a trillion dollars”—the estimated annual Pentagon budget.

Mr. Wilkinson went on to say, “That kind of money interests every congressman, every senator, every military contractor, from Haliburton to Lockheed.

According to the four-part series, when President Bush came into office, he had a series of meetings with oil executives. Mr. Wilkinson's “educated surmise” suggests they discussed “ensuring American's way of life,” and getting “our hands” on a “substantial” amount of oil to guarantee the continuance of the above.

Then 9/11 happened, “and added a new urgency to this debate.”With U.S security fears at an all-time high, suddenly Africa, a continent “slipping off the radar,” becomes center stage.

Vice President Cheney, the Pentagon, and his neo-conservative “cheerleaders” frame the war against terrorism as a war against Islam and a danger to America's Middle East oil supply.They enlist the assistance ofthe conservative Heritage Foundation,with the focus on substantially increasing America's access to African oil reserves in October of 2003.The think tank produced a document entitled, “U.S. Military Assistance For Africa: A Better Solution.”

The document specifies among other things a need to “coordinate security measures with African countries” at risk from terrorism,and suggests the best way to bring this about is by creating “a dedicated military command for Africa.”In addition, they were very clear as to “why Africa,” according to the report, “has vast natural and mineral resources.” The document also says, “America should not be afraid to employ its forces decisively when vital national interests are threatened.”

“U.S. foreign policy led by warriors (don't forget this is a Pentagon operation) essentially is a disastrous scenario,” warns Emina Woods of the Washington, D.C.-based Institute for Foreign Policy Studies.“It's clear you can't have warriors who are also diplomats, warriors who are also humanitarian. Those lines cannot be combined.”

In the series, Mr. Omar of the Real News Network travels to Rwanda with General Ward.While in the East African country, he interviews Rwanda's information minister, Louise Mushlklwabo, who says her country is under “no illusion” concerning U.S. presence in Rwanda.Rwanda receives training assistance for its military from Africom,the U.S. gets to be strategically located next to two unstable countries (Democratic Republic of Congo and Uganda), both countries rich in mineral resources.

President Obama said in his maiden July 2009 sub-Saharan African speech, “History is on the side of those brave Africans, not with those who use coups or change constitutions to stay in power.”

Africa, according to President Obama, “doesn't need strong, men, it needs strong institutions.”

Maybe Africom didn't get the memo.Or maybe Obama is talking loud and saying nothing.With U.S. policy in Uganda backing the private army of President Yoweri Museveni, it stands to reason that in the U.S. strategic and economic interests always trump political discourse.

According to Dr. James Barya of Uganda's Makerere University, the Ugandan Peoples Defense Force is an arm of the National Resistance Movement, which is Mr. Museveni's political party. “It's a partisan army… It is run only to protect the (current) regime.”

This reminds me of something Nation of Islam leader, Minister Louis Farrakhan once said. It had something to do with becoming president and the revealing of ingloriouspast and present secrets of U.S. foreign and domestic policy initiatives, and the fact that this is the president's inheritance. What would you do if faced with such a behemoth as Africom?

Related news:

Web Video - Africa: America's New Frontline (Al Jazeera, 09-25-2009)

Obama then Hillary: U.S. scrambles for Africa (FCN, 08-31-2009)

Re-packaged AFRICOM still not good for Motherland (FCN, 07-01-2009)

Is Africa throwing off the yoke of dependency? (FCN, 06-30-2009)

Is Africom a U.S. military maneuver or real help? (FCN, 02-05-2009)

The global exploitation of Africa’s land and people (FCN, 08-21-2008)

Africa rebukes Bush on African Command (FCN, 07-11-2007)