A New Quagmire? US Deploys Special Forces, Military 'Advisers' to Central Africa
October 22, 2011
Abayomi Azikiwe / Pan-African News Wire & Ivan Eland / Anti-War.com
Another US military intervention is underway, this time in Central Africa. The Obama administration announced that the Pentagon is deploying 100 military advisers and Special Forces troops to Uganda, South Sudan, the Central African Republic and the Democratic Republic of Congo. Disregarding US public sentiment -- weary of years of war in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Libya -- President Barack Obama is now involving the US in another potential quagmire -- this time in Central Africa.
US Deploys Special Forces, Military 'Advisers' to Central Africa
Abayomi Azikiwe / Pan-African News Wire
(October 19, 2011) -- Another US military intervention is underway, this time in Central Africa. The Obama administration announced on Oct. 14 that the Pentagon is deploying 100 military advisers and Special Forces troops to four countries: Uganda, South Sudan, the Central African Republic and the Democratic Republic of Congo.
The White House claims this mission's purpose is to capture or kill Joseph Kony, the leader of the rebel Lord's Resistance Army, which has been carrying out a war against the Ugandan government for more than two decades. Members of the LRA have also set up camps in the eastern region of the DRC and possibly South Sudan, which recently gained independence from the central government of Sudan based in Khartoum.
This announcement follows the Pentagon intervention in the North African state of Libya earlier this year. In February, the US and other imperialist states supported a rebellion and eventual civil war against the government of Moammar Gadhafi.
After the initial failure of the National Transitional Council opposition "rebels" to take control of Libya, the US and other NATO powers began a naval blockade and aerial bombing campaign against this oil-producing state. More than 20,000 sorties and approximately 9,500 air strikes have been carried out against Libya's 6 million people.
NTC forces entered Tripoli in late August and proclaimed victory, although resistance remains fierce against the NATO-led rebels in several areas of the western, central and southern areas of the country, including the capital. This time the US is using the atrocities committed by the LRA as a pretext for military intervention.
What's at Stake in Central Africa
Corporate media reports have failed to reveal the US ruling class' extensive strategic interests in Central Africa. In Uganda, where these military units will be based, the government of President Yoweri Museveni has been a longtime ally of successive US administrations.
Oil has recently been discovered in Uganda, and there are already internal investigations into allegations of corruption involving government officials and transnational corporations seeking to exploit the vast petroleum resources. Uganda has been the recipient of military assistance and political support from the US for many years.
In providing political cover for this intervention, the corporate media have claimed that there are no strategic interests in Uganda that would provide an economic incentive for intervention. An article published in the Oct. 17 National Post reports: "Whenever critics of American foreign policy denounce the Iraq war or even the Afghan campaign, there typically is a casual insinuation that these are colonial or quasi-colonial undertakings aimed at stripping the local nation of its resources."
This same article falsely claims that "most [US] interventions, including those in Haiti and Kosovo, involve parts of the world that have little strategic or mercantile value. Uganda is a perfect example."
On the contrary, far from being a "mission to fight human suffering," as the National Post claims, there is already word of a potential $10 billion US investment through the Tullow Oil Corp. An ad-hoc parliamentary committee and the Anti-corruption Court in Uganda are investigating three cabinet members for allegedly taking bribes from Tullow. Business Week reports, "Tullow Oil allegedly paid bribes to the tune of US$100 million to officials to influence decisions." (Oct. 17)
And then there are strategic interests. The Ugandan government has worked on behalf of US military interests in East and Central Africa for many years. In 1998, the Clinton administration waged a proxy war against the Laurent Kabila government in the Democratic Republic of Congo by financing and coordinating the military invasion of the country, along with Rwanda.
This invasion, which compelled the Southern African Development Community states of Zimbabwe, Angola and Namibia to intervene in defense of the DRC, resulted in the deaths of a great number of people throughout the region until a ceasefire was reached in 2003.
Since 2003, the situation in eastern DRC has been tense and unstable. While greater cooperation exists today among the various countries in Central, East and Southern Africa, the vast reservoir of strategic minerals in the eastern DRC remains a source of conflict between rebel groups and the central government based in Kinshasa. Meanwhile, the imperialist powers in Europe and North America are looking for ways to play one side against the other to get the lion's share of the resources.
The DRC is the world's largest producer of cobalt. It is also a major producer of copper and industrial diamonds and contains 70 percent of the world's supply of coltan -- used in the manufacture of cell phones, DVD systems and computers -- and 30 percent of international diamond reserves.
South Sudan became an independent state in July after a two-decade civil war with the government in Khartoum. Sudan is one of the emerging oil-rich states producing 500,000 barrels per day. The oil concessions in Sudan were largely in partnership with the People's Republic of China and other Asian and Middle Eastern states.
Since the secession of South Sudan, where 80 percent of the country's untapped oil deposits exist, the region is open to greater penetration by Western-based oil firms in the United States and Europe. The US was a major proponent of splitting off South Sudan from the central government, as well as supporting the secessionist rebel movements in the western region of Darfur.
Abayomi Azikiwe is the Editor, Pan-African News Wire
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Another Potential Quagmire on the Horizon
Ivan Eland / Anti-War.com
(October 21, 2011) -- Disregarding American public sentiment -- weariness of years of war in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Libya and robust drone strikes in Pakistan, Yemen, and Somalia -- President Barack Obama is now involving the United States in another potential quagmire, this time in Central Africa.
At the urging of humanitarian groups, he is dispatching about 100 US Special Forces troops to four Central African nations -- Uganda, Congo, South Sudan, and the Central African Republic -- to help combat the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA), a guerrilla group that regularly kidnaps or attacks civilians in those countries.
Allegedly, the Special Forces, who will be armed, are not to take direct military action against the LRA (except in self-defense) but are only to train, assist, and advise the Central African armies. In reality, if US forces are patrolling with these armies when they are attacked, Americans could certainly be ensnared in many shooting battles. For the United States, the Vietnam quagmire started with American advisers fighting with South Vietnamese forces in the field.
Getting mired in an African bog is not in America's vital interest. In the past, the only continent, aside from Antarctica, that the US government did not regard as strategic was Africa, which had a meager GDP. With the creation of the Pentagon's African Command, that view has changed at the behest of defense bureaucrats, who are in a perpetual quest for added military missions in a post–Cold War world to justify themselves and their programs as defense funding comes under threat.
True, Joseph Kony and the LRA are ruthless guerrillas, but their puny force of 250 fighters, which already has been fighting for two decades, hardly presents a sudden dire threat to US security, and the United States can no longer afford to the save the world. Even President Obama has argued previously that overseas wars sap resources that are now desperately needed at home.
And all this even assumes that US intervention would be helpful to the innocent civilians being "saved" from the LRA. When George W. Bush sent in US advisers to battle the same group in 2008, however, disaster ensued. Back then, the LRA escaped a US-assisted Ugandan offensive and was sufficiently enraged by the failed military intervention to perpetrate a series of bloody massacres that killed hundreds of civilians.
The trigger for the present intervention, according to the president, was Congress's passing, in May 2010, of a vaguely worded law that championed "increased, comprehensive US efforts to help mitigate and eliminate the threat posed by the LRA to civilians and regional stability."
Given the fact that the Vietnam War was escalated by President Lyndon Johnson running wild with the amorphous Gulf of Tonkin Resolution of 1964, Congress should have been more careful and specific with its wording; nonetheless, the resolution nowhere specifically authorizes US military intervention in Central Africa.
The case demonstrates how militaristic US foreign policy has become, since the administration, seeing a nail because it has a big hammer, came up with the military option to satisfy the ambiguously worded law.
And following yet another precedent from the Vietnam era -- the War Powers Resolution (which was passed by Congress in 1973 to prevent a recurrence of escalation without representation) -- President Obama notified Congress of the military action. The only problem is that he didn't really comply with the resolution -- and that's probably the worst thing about the entire episode.
The War Powers Resolution is commonly thought by the executive branch and Congress alike to allow the president to commit US forces to potentially hostile situations without prior congressional authorization as long as he notifies Congress within 48 hours of the troop deployment.
It is then thought that unless Congress votes to leave the troops there, they must come home after a few months. But this scenario occurs only if the military deployment occurs when the United States is under attack. Otherwise, for all other US military interventions, the law requires, in keeping with the framers' original intent as expressed in the debates at the constitutional convention, a specific prior authorization from Congress.
In this case, that was not obtained, and Obama, as he did in Libya, has violated the Constitution and the War Powers Resolution in this unneeded, financially reckless, preposterous military adventure.
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