Africa: NATO, AFRICOM And The New White Man's Burden
by Harold Green
> Global Research, November 11, 2011
"Western countries are once again using feigned concern as pretext for
invasion and resource theft."
As we watched with bewilderment, NATO's military assault on Libya using
"humanitarian intervention" as it's pretext, we are reminded of an earlier
period of Western European "civilizing" missions into Africa.
Shortly after the Berlin West African Conference of 1884-1885; armed with
bibles and bullets, a host of countries: Britain; France; Germany; Belgium;
and Portugal, "scrambled" out of Western Europe in a quest to "save Africans
With their claim of intellectual and moral superiority echoed by Rudyard
Kipling's infamously imperialistic poem, these European powers took full
control of the land and lives of their new African subjects. Africa, having
not fully recovered from the ravages of both the Trans-Atlantic and the
Trans-Saharan Slave Trades, was ill prepared for what was to follow.
With the exception of Liberia and Ethiopia, every scare inch of Africa was
to come under the control of European imperialist powers. The result: nearly
a hundred years of a brutal occupation; further dehumanization; theft of
natural resources while subjecting Africans to internal slavery.
The resulting loss of life was so high that no serious effort has ever been
made to quantify it. But if Belgian, which controlled only 7% of Africa,
could murder 10-15 million Congolese during this period, one could get a
close estimate through extrapolation, the number of African lives destroyed
by Britain, France, Germany, Portugal and later Italy. Given this history,
coupled with the horrific results of NATO's incursion into Libya, what then
are we to make of NATO's new identity as ''human rights interventionist.''
"Europe was in desperate need of an answer to rescue it."
At the end of the 19th century, Western Europe was in the middle of an
industrial revolution that it could not sustain with the limited resources
and markets within it's own borders. Competition for new resources and
markets amongst these European powers was high. With the economic challenges
resulting from the "Long Depression of 1873-1896''; overpopulation; a high
rate of poverty and unemployment, Europe was in desperate need of an answer
to rescue it from this malaise. Africa would prove to be the answer a
thousand times over.
Today we find Europe, along with the United States, facing serious economic
challenges not unlike those faced by Europe in the late 1800s.
Like then, Europe and the United States are desperately looking for economic
solutions that cannot be found within their national boundaries. With
virtually all of the resources required to sustain their economies existing
in other parts of the world but particularly in Africa, these Western
countries are once again using feigned concern as pretext for invasion and
resource theft. With competition now coming from Russia, India and China for
these same resources, new and desperate strategies will have to be created
in an attempt to justify these invasions. But how new are they?
NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organization), a military/security alliance
between Western European powers and the United States, was formed shortly
after the Second World War in 1949. It came out of the same Atlantic Charter
that gave birth to the United Nations. Its stated purpose was to counter
what member countries perceived as an expansionist threat coming from the
Soviet Union. During it's existence there has never been any direct military
engagement with the Soviet Union. Instead, proxy wars, mostly fought in
Africa and Latin America, would become the order of the day. While the
Soviet Union sought to (at times meekly) aid the various Liberation
Movements in Africa and the Americas, the NATO countries on the other hand,
were interested in maintaining their sphere of economic influence in these
"New and desperate strategies will have to be created in an attempt to
justify these invasions."
With the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991, NATO virtually overnight
had become an irrelevant military bureaucracy. Many military and foreign
policy experts began to speculate that NATO would soon be relegated to the
dustbin of history. To avoid what seemed to be an imminent demise, NATO
began looking for new roles to play in world affairs. What has happened as a
result, as one foreign policy observer describes, has been "mission creep on
a grand scale."
No longer concerned about guarding against the Red Army rushing across its
borders, NATO countries have now armed themselves with a host of new
missions (pretexts), from: fighting terrorism; saving the environment;
crisis management; to "humanitarian intervention (sic)." With a new
futuristic $1.38 billion building on a 100 acre site in Brussels, and having
expanded from it's original 16 members to 28 (most of the new member states
ironically coming from the former Soviet Union), and with the combined
military budgets of member states comprising 70 percent of what the world
spends on defense, this "new" NATO is riding high with a renewed sense of
purpose, anxious to show the world it still has relevance. Africa (and the
world) should be worried.
While significantly controlled by the US, which provides 75 percent of it's
budget, NATO is headed by the arrogant and opportunistic Anders Fogh
Rasmussen, the former prime minister of Denmark. With a very aggressive
agenda for this made over NATO including offering NATO's services to the
United Nations as a "global peacekeeping" force, he has in recent years
already overseen NATO's involvement in several conflicts outside of Europe.
Most notably, its involvement with the US in Afghanistan where it continues
to kill innocent people, and is continuously asked to leave by many
distraught and outraged Afghans.
"With the combined military budgets of member states comprising 70 percent
of what the world spends on defense, this "new" NATO is riding high with a
renewed sense of purpose."
It has also become involved in patrolling the waters off the coast of
Somalia to protect foreign vessels from being seajacked by so-called Somali
pirates. This campaign has resulted in an avalanche of deaths of Somalis,
passengers and crew members of seajacked ships. Keeping in mind, when
Somalis started boarding these ships which had illegally begun fishing in
their waters seventeen years ago, not one hostage taken by them had ever
been killed. All that changed with the Obama administration coming to power
in 2009 (the year NATO, with mostly US Naval ships, started patrolling the
In April of that year, President Obama gave the first orders for snipers to
kill Somalis who had boarded the American flagged ship, The Maersk Alabama
demanding ransom. France would soon follow with the killing of eight Somalis
in another seajacking incident. Now with the U.S. and France with NATO
support, seemingly engaged in a full scale war against the Somali
nationalist group Al-Shabat, we can only expect the number of dead Somalis
to increase even more. This U.S. war in Somalia is also being augmented by
troops from Kenya, Uganda and Burundi, with Uganda and Burundi involvement
ironically, coming under the auspices of an African Union peace keeping
mission. A new U.S. Drone base for this war has just been established in
Ethiopia as well. The imperialist powers are obviously up to their old
tricks of using treacherous Africans to help in doing their ''dirty work.''
Immediately following the murder of Muammar Gaddafi, Chris Coons, chairman
of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee's subcommittee on African affairs
was reported as saying "Muammar Gadhafi's death and the promise of a new
Libyan regime are arguments for the measured U.S. military response in
central Africa...''. Encouraged by the results in Libya, the U.S. has
recently sent roughly 100 troops to Uganda to track down members of the
Lords Resistance Army (LRA). U.S. troops are also being sent to the Congo,
the Central African Republic and South Sudan'.
"This U.S. war in Somalia is also being augmented by troops from Kenya,
Uganda and Burundi."
It is obvious Senator Coons made this remark with AFRICOM in mind. This
newly created U.S.military command for Africa, conceived by the Heritage
Foundation during the Bush administration, could not have come at a more
opportunistic time for the imperialistic thinking NATO countries. Working in
conjunction with AFRICOM during the Libya campaign, and gloating over it's
alleged success, NATO now sees itself as indispensable in this new war to
''save humanity.'' The cooperation between these 2 military packs represent
a perilous development for Africa. With the Obama administration
acknowledging the Libya campaign as AFRICOM's ''first'' undertaking,
Africans no longer have to guess what the rest of AFRICOM's endeavors on the
Continent will look like.
Like their 19th century predecessors in their mission to take on the
''burden'' of spreading the benefits of European ''enlightenment',' this new
generation of marauders from the ''North'' are poised to, once again, impose
on Africa the coldness of death, destruction and displacement which so
characterized their earlier campaigns of human upliftment on the Continent.
Having failed to effectively respond to NATO's and AFRICOM's assault on
Libya, Africa must at some point show that it has learned the lessons of the
past, and resolve itself to remove this ''white man's burden," once and for
Harold Green can be contacted at paclwp_at_msn.com.
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Received on Fri Nov 11 2011 - 18:33:30 EST