U.S. in Search for Kony

By Glen Ford

The tempo of U.S. military occupation of Africa quickens by the day. Seizing every real and manufactured crisis as an opportunity, Washington has created a continental infrastructure that has already reduced most African armies to appendages of U.S. foreign policy, dependencies of the Pentagon. American armed forces operate across the length and breadth of Africa and exercise effective control over the armies of nearly all of the continent’s constituent states.

According to a study by Nick Turse, AFRICOM, the U.S. military command, last year carried out “activities” in every country on the continent except Western Sahara, Guinea Bissau, Eritrea, Sudan, Zimbabwe, Madagascar and Somalia. Somalia doesn’t show up in AFRICOM’s 2013 mission schedule because the country is nominally under the auspices of African Union “peacekeeping” forces. However, the U.S. and Europe pay for every African soldier and weapon engaged in the occupation of Somalia, while the overall operation is run by the CIA. (Egypt is considered part of the Middle East, for U.S. military purposes.)

Especially in recent years, the U.S. often acts in concert with France, whose national ideology is white supremacy—no matter whether socialists or conservatives control the government—and which has never accepted decolonization in principle or practice. The Tuareg and, later, jihadist rebellion in Mali, and the destabilization of the Central African Republic—both French semi-colonies—brought France and AFRICOM into intimate operational contact, with the U.S. acting as airlift for French forces in Africa.

Born in the last year of George W. Bush’s presidency but thoroughly a creature of the Obama administration, AFRICOM has molded its public persona around the bogus doctrine of humanitarian military intervention, or Responsibility to Protect (R2P). AFRICOM has usurped much of the U.S. State Department’s food aid distribution duties on the continent, and provides medical care to hundreds-of-thousands of African military families, thus cementing a bond between the Pentagon and virtually all the continent’s armies—none of which can move effectively through Africa’s undeveloped terrain without U.S. logistical support. The African Union seeks legitimacy through “peacekeeping” missions that it is wholly incapable of executing without financing, equipment, training and every other conceivable support from AFRICOM or the U.S. clandestine services.

President Obama orchestrated the Joseph Kony hysteria of 2011 as an excuse to send at least 100 U.S. Special Forces troops to the Democratic Republic of Congo, Uganda, the Central African Republic and the new state of South Sudan. Kony had been in hiding for years, maybe dead, his Lord’s Resistance Army decimated and no danger to Uganda, which has felt safe enough to send many thousands of its troops on (well-paid) “peacekeeping” missions around the continent, at U.S. request. The Green Berets have not yet found the elusive Kony-monster—although they have been busy dealing with South Sudan’s civil war between U.S.-allied generals.

Late last month, Obama used the failure to find Kony as the rationale for sending a unit of Osprey troop-carrying aircraft to Uganda, including 150 Air Force Special Operations troops to service and guard them. No matter what the Pentagon calls it, the deployment constitutes a Special Operations base, and no doubt a precursor to other bases throughout the region. (U.S. military doctrine requires such air mobility between bases.) Uganda says the Osprey deployment is temporary. However, it appears that Joseph Kony has a few more good years left as Africa’s bin Laden, the search for whom requires the movement of mountains of men, machines, money and weapons—all, of course, to save little children from capture by the boogeyman of central Africa. A humanitarian military intervention.

The Ospreys and Special Forces troops are a small part of AFRICOM’s continental theater of war. The largest U.S. unit on permanent duty in Africa, the 2nd Brigade Combat Team of the 1st Infantry Division, “carried out 128 separate ‘activities’ in 28 African countries” during 2013, according to Nick Turse. Those nations include Niger, Uganda, Ghana, Malawi, Burundi, Mauritania, Niger, South Africa, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Kenya, Chad, Togo, São Tomé and Príncipe, Sierra Leone, Guinea, Lesotho, Ethiopia, Tanzania, South Sudan, and Cameroon. In previous military exercises, up to 36 African nations have participated—all of them outfitted with U.S. command-and-control communications equipment, requiring American trainers and maintenance.

To the extent that AFRICOM ensnares the militaries of the continent in dependence on the Pentagon, African sovereignty becomes a very bad joke. Many millions are at risk from the very presence of a military command who’s reason-for-being is instability and war—and which must create such conditions to ensure its continued existence on the continent. Six million have already died in the Democratic Republic of Congo, the eastern regions of which were militarily seized by AFRICOM’s most reliable partners, Rwanda and Uganda. More than a million have died in Somalia, and who knows how many in the Somali-populated Ogaden region of Ethiopia, since the U.S.-backed 2006 Ethiopian invasion, the aftermath of which has made the Horn of Africa a bastion of AFRICOM and its proxies. AFRICOM brass are most proud of their role in the 2011 bombing and regime change in Libya, a disaster that has destabilized not only Libya but the entire tier of the continent to the south—justifying renewed French intervention and the ensuing Franco-American alliance as “humanitarian” co-protectors of Africa.

As BAR editors Ajamu Baraka1 and Margaret Kimberley2 both point out in this issue of Black Agenda Report, imperialism in fatal decline manufactures a quickening cascade of global confrontation and wars in an attempt to impose a military brake on the system’s unraveling. AFRICOM’s mission is to lock the continent in a cage of steel, to imprison it in the imperial orbit, and to patrol the continental prison with dependent African armies. The scenario is well-advanced, and obvious to anyone whose vision is not deformed by a white supremacist worldview—a deformity that is not limited to people of European descent.

Black Agenda Report, April 2, 2014

1 “Left-right White Solidarity? A comment on the New Face of 21st Century Neo-Fascism—Part 1,” by Ajamu Baraka

2 “Obama’s Imperialism,” by Margaret Kimberley