Africom The US Scramble for Africa
|By Colin BenjaminAs Western war mongering in Libya continues, there’s another dimension to the conflict to consider: what role does the existence of the United States Africa Command (USAFRICOM) have to do with America’s participation in this invasion?
Ever since the West launched military intervention in Libya, some scholars have said the powers were engaging in imperial interference to secure resources on the African continent. Professor Horace Campbell and Professor Molefi Asante are two who’ve said this isn’t just about Libyan oil but is about African oil interests and resources throughout the continent.
Professor Asante, who teaches in the African-American Studies Department at Temple University, has called the war on Libya an attempt, by the West, at “re-inventing Cold War policies to enlarge and protect their economic interests on the continent.” He also warned, “The great danger of the attacks on Libya is
Professor Horace Campbell, who teaches in the African-American Studies Department at Syracuse University, declared: “The Western bombardment of Gaddafi’s forces in Libya has become an opportunistic public relations ploy for the United States Africa Command and a new inroad for US military stronghold on the continent.”
The United States Africa Command was created in 2007, although the concept was conceived much earlier, when President George W. Bush gave authorization for it, after being sold on the idea by then Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld.
Rumsfeld, apparently, pushed the ball forward, probably, at the behest of big business interests and forces in the intelligence community. The primary reason advanced for AFRICOM is “fighting terrorism,” but, the business of oil was a key factor in its creation.
Reportedly, a 2002 report, from the African Oil Policy Initiative Group (AOIPG,) was an important impetus in starting AFRICOM. The report highlighted the National Intelligence Council’s analysis that America would be buying up to 25 percent of its oil from Africa by 2015. There also seems to be concern about the
China’s growing energy needs put them in direct competition with America for African resources, including oil. However, since AFRICOM’s creation no African nation, except for Liberia, has openly expressed a willingness to allow the Pentagon to set up a headquarters, for AFRICOM, on African soil. AFRICOM is currently headquartered at Kelley Barracks, in Stuttgart, Germany, from where an American general was coordinating the U.S.’s initial role in the invasion of Libya.
The exploitation of Africa, by Europeans, is nothing new. Since the “Scramble for Africa,” Europe has enriched itself, while impoverishing Africa by pillaging and plundering the continent’s natural resources. Are we about to see an American scramble for Africa’s oil and mineral wealth? Professor Asante and Professor Campbell’s assertion that the imperial intervention is a trial-run for AFRICOM, perhaps, explains why America seems to be contemplating arming the “rebels” in Benghazi. Both the New York Times and The Wall Street Journal reported this week that Benghazi, through Qatar, is about to export 100 million barrels of Libya’s oil, which was in storage.
In my last column, I spoke of the 2007 Sinjar Records Report, done at West Point Military Academy by Colonel Joseph Felter and Brian Fishman. The report states that Benghazi and Darnah have the highest concentration of jihad fighters and suicide bombers, many of whom traveled to Iraq to fight against American soldiers. So why would the American government think of arming these “rebels”?
Unfortunately, the insane profiteering of oil companies has left us in a situation where politicians are willing to wage war to enrich these modern-day oil barons even if it means helping terrorists in Libya. Have we forgotten the chaos caused by Bush’s oil war in Iraq? Will this greed for oil lead to other upheavals in oil-rich African countries like: Angola, Chad, Congo, Ivory Coast, Equatorial Guinea, Sudan and São Tomé?
We’ve seen how violent some are when protecting big oil. In Nigeria, American oil companies Exxon-Mobil and Chevron have underwritten the brutality of the Nigerian government against the people of the Niger-Delta. In November 1995, author, artist and activist Ken Saro-Wiwa was hanged by then Nigerian President General Sani Abacha.
Saro-Wiwa, who was from the Ogoni region in the Niger-Delta, was targeted because he led a campaign against the exploitation and environmental degradation caused by these oil behemoths. Because of the oil riches of the Niger-Delta, the area has been militarized to disastrous consequences.
The Nigerian people’s fierce resistance to the oil companies portends what may happen in other African countries with untapped oil. Is this, perhaps, part of the calculation here by those in the American business community, who pushed for AFRICOM’s creation? Will AFRICOM be the instrument to crush all opposition against the oil giants?
The reasons the Obama White House has given for their involvement in Libya makes no sense. The American government doesn’t invade countries to “liberate” people out of the goodness of their hearts. Anytime America “helps” people there’s always a quid pro quo involved.
It seems as if Washington’s involvement here is to gain a foothold for AFRICOM in Africa, so, they can pursue the agenda of big oil. Africans must resist this scramble for African oil by foreign interlopers, for it will only lead to more exploitation and misery for Africans.