Newly publicized U.S. plans to send troops into 35 African nations should result in red flags being raised from the U.S. public, the Congress, and active-duty members of the U.S. military. Though these plans call for small, short-term deployments to serve in an advisory and training capacity, Veterans For Peace is concerned that the creation of AFRICOM in general, and these deployments in particular, represent the proverbial nose of the camel under the tent.
The creation of the United States Africa Command (AFRICOM) in 2007 completed the set of U.S. military unified combatant commands, joining EUCOM, NORTHCOM, SOUTHCOM, CENTCOM and PACOM to ensure total global military domination. The U.S. has over 700 military bases across the world in more than 150 countries. In 2007, Chalmers Johnson likened the U.S. military presence to the British Empire in 1898 and the Roman Empire in 117 AD.
The U.S. Congress has not formally declared war on any country in Africa, nor has the United Nations authorized any U.S. military actions. U.S. military actions thus far have worked against peace and against the well-being of Africans. Mali has been destabilized in part by NATO's actions in Libya, and yet the threat of Mali to further destabilize its region is being used as a justification to repeat the West's mistakes there. The threat of terrorist groups already strengthened across Western Asia and parts of Africa by counterproductive U.S. war making, including drone strikes, is being used to justify sending troops into Kenya and Somalia, with disastrous results tragically predictable.
There is not a country on the planet that would give any African country a reference letter in support of U.S. military intervention. Africans have not requested it. What Africa needs is freedom from debt, reparations for the damage of past interference, and freely given aid in developing sustainable economies and eradicating diseases.
What appears to be driving the agenda of AFRICOM is Washington's desire to control regions rich in oil and other natural resources, including cheap labor. Were U.S. intentions honorable and humanitarian, it would cease its support for brutality in Bahrain, Gaza, Yemen, Afghanistan, Somalia, and elsewhere. It would halt the practice of attacking nations with drones and other missile strikes, a form of warfare that has now proven itself to increase, rather then decrease, hostility and violence. It would end sales of weaponry abroad, end the use of private mercenaries, and abandon the training of foreign militaries.
The United States is spending $170 billion per year already to station troops abroad. That price tag will only increase with the establishment of a major U.S. presence in the majority of the nations of Africa. The level of funding expended in recent years on wars that have not benefitted the people of Iraq, Afghanistan, and Libya could have been used far more humanely and beneficially to provide every person in those nations and the rest of the world with life-sustaining resources. U.N. Millennium Development Goals could be met for the world at a cost of about 10% of U.S. military spending.* That such an opportunity has been consciously passed by becomes painfully clear when we consider that U.S. military spending has doubled in the past 12 years.
The United States could do much for the world by example rather than coercion. Our nation is the most violent among the so-called developed nations, and yet the most eager to impose itself on others for their supposed benefit. Our nation is the most unequal and suffers the greatest poverty among the wealthy nations of the world, and yet our government intends to help the poor of the world by sending in soldiers and guns. Our nation has the most expensive and one of the least effective of healthcare industries, but claims the moral authority to impose armed control on sections of the world in desperate need of healthcare.
Veterans For Peace demands a reprioritization of our public resources. Veterans For Peace demands that all U.S. troops stay out of Africa, that all U.S. military bases on foreign soil be closed, and that the U.S. cease creating new military bases outside of its own borders. AFRICOM, as well as the other five geographical unified combatant commands should be dismantled, not enlarged.
*International Peace Bureau:Launch of 'Opportunity Costs: Military Spending and the UN Development Agenda'
Contact: Leah Bolger, VFP President, firstname.lastname@example.org