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West’s Afghan Debacle: Commander Dismissed As War Deaths Reach Record Level

Stop NATO
June 25, 2010

West’s Afghan Debacle: Commander Dismissed As War Deaths Reach Record Level
Rick Rozoff

On June 23 President Barack Obama announced the dismissal of General Stanley McChrystal, commander of all foreign troops in Afghanistan, and within hours Associated Press reported that the Western military death toll in the country had reached at least 80 so far this month, making June NATO’s deadliest month in a war that will enter its tenth year on October 7.

McChrystal, appointed on June 15 of last year as top commander of all U.S. and all NATO-led International Security Assistance Force troops in the South Asian war zone – currently 142,000 with thousands more on the way – was to have led the largest assault of the war this month in the province and capital city of Kandahar.

The campaign, which was to have consisted of 25,000 U.S., NATO and Afghan government troops, appears to have been postponed indefinitely and may in fact never occur.

The Kandahar offensive was planned as the culmination of McChrystal’s much-vaunted counterinsurgency strategy that was inaugurated in earnest on February 13 of this year with Operation Moshtarak in the Marjah district of Kandahar’s neighboring province, Helmand.

In that operation at least 15,000 U.S., British, French, Canadian and Afghan National Army troops poured into a district that has been described as a loose aggregation of small agricultural hamlets and other communities with a combined population as low as 50,000. A CBS News report of February 9 stated 30,000 troops were to be involved in the U.S. Marine-led offensive. [1] One major Western news agency estimated that the amount of insurgents confronting the 15,000-30,000 NATO and Afghan government forces was as low as 200.

Far from overwhelming and quickly subjugating the area, however, the Western troops and their Afghan subordinates, the latter reluctantly dragooned into service for the attack, encountered fierce and intractable resistance.

Almost a month into the fighting – an operation by U.S.-led forces with as much as a 75- to 150-1 advantage in numbers – the Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission estimated that 28 civilians, including 13 children, had been killed and 70 more civilians had been wounded, 30 of those children. The report issued by the Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission attributed most of the casualties to U.S. and NATO rocket and artillery fire.

Having taken the rural district by storm and, to employ the Pentagon parlance faithfully passed on by the mainstream media, eliminated the last pockets of resistance, the U.S. and NATO victory soon evaporated with the West’s inability to pacify Marjah for transfer to the control of the Hamid Karzai regime in Kabul.

The prototype for not only the largest but what was planned as the decisive military offensive of the long-drawn-out war preparatory to the White House’s pledged withdrawal of troops starting next year – the assault on the insurgent stronghold of Kandahar – evidently fared poorly enough for the latter offensive to be delayed if not scrapped.

Even without an operation in Kandahar, though, the West has already lost 80 soldiers in Afghanistan this month, the most since July of 2009 when 79 U.S. and NATO personnel were killed, with almost half of this month’s fatalities being non-American.

To employ one of the expressions from the cliché book of Western journalism, several grim milestones have been reached this month. U.S. military deaths in Afghanistan have officially surpassed the 1,000 mark. The Pentagon has now been conducting the longest sustained combat operations in the history of the United States, exceeding in duration those in Vietnam from 1964-1973.

The British death toll has reached at least 303, more than in any other conflict since the 1950s. Australia lost three soldiers on June 21, the most deaths in one day the nation has suffered after its role in supporting the U.S. in Vietnam.

Romania, a new NATO member which will soon have over 1,600 troops in Afghanistan, lost two soldiers on June 23. “Romania began to send troops to Afghanistan in July 2002. The action was the country’s first military mission abroad after the Second World War.” [2]

On June 6 a rocket attack on the Polish forward operating base in Ghazni province wounded four soldiers and on June 12 a similar attack on the same base killed one soldier and wounded eight more. Poland, with 2,600 soldiers serving under NATO in Afghanistan and another 400 held in reserve for deployment there, has lost 17 soldiers in one of the country’s first two overseas military operations – Iraq being the other – in its history and its first combat role since the Second World War.

As for NATO as a whole, the Afghan mission has achieved three major precedents: The first armed conflict outside of Europe, the first ground war and the first combat deaths (several hundred such) in the military bloc’s 61-year history.

It is against this backdrop that General McChrystal was abruptly and summarily relieved of his dual command over U.S. Forces Afghanistan (USFOR-A) and NATO’s International Security Assistance Force (ISAF).

After a 30-minute tête-à-tête with McChrystal, then a war council with Vice President Joseph Biden, Defense Secretary Robert Gates, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Michael Mullen, National Security Advisor James Jones and White House Chief of Staff and in many respects grey eminence Rahm Emanuel, President Obama stood behind a podium in the White House Rose Garden and announced McChrystal was not to return to Afghanistan as commander of U.S. and NATO forces.

His career had ended the way his predecessor’s, Army General David McKiernan, had a year before: He was unceremoniously deposed.

Flanked on both sides by Mullen, Biden, Gates and McChrystal’s hastily appointed successor General David Petraeus, Obama characterized the sacking of the Afghan war’s military chief as a resignation, the public relations equivalent of leaving a loaded revolver on the desk of a discredited subordinate.

The uptake of the American commander-in-chief’s address was contained in two sentences: “The conduct represented in the recently published article does not meet the standard that should be set by a commanding general. It undermines the civilian control of the military that is at the core of our democratic system.” In fact the piece in question would not be published for another two days.

He was referring to leaked excerpts from a Rolling Stone magazine feature on McChrystal and several of his aides, in particular off-the-cuff comments by aides as well as McChrystal, including ones uttered during a bibulous bus ride from Paris to Berlin in April. Wine keeps neither secrets nor promises as the aphorism has it.

Members of the establishment press corps (consumed with envy at not scooping the scandalous quotes themselves) scrambled for a thesaurus to characterize McChrystal and company’s less than flattering word portraits of Biden, U.S. ambassador to Afghanistan Karl Eikenberry and White House Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan Richard Holbrooke as intemperate, indiscreet, impolitic and so on down the list. Recall that their indignation was provoked by assorted obiter dicta issued on the wing and on the run over a month-long period. Being unenthusiastic about opening emails from Richard Holbrooke is not a crime of lese majesté, is not high treason.

Along the lines of Obama’s reference to maintaining civilian control of the military, mainstream political analysts and commentators made strained allusions to Abraham Lincoln’s firing of General George McClellan during the Civil War and Harry Truman’s cashiering General Douglas MacArthur during the Korean War.

The freelance reporter whose story was the occasion for McChrystal’s departure, Michael Hastings, said after McChrystal’s dismissal that “he believed the story would last for 72 hours and then McChrystal and his staff would get back to business as usual.” [3]

Not so much a matter of changing commanders in midstream as it is throwing overboard the captain of a ship threatened with being capsized by a tempest.

That the commander of all foreign military forces in the world’s most extensive military conflict, one that involves over 50 nations [4] on six continents and will shortly reach its ninth year, would be dismissed within two days of a leaked report from an entertainment magazine (two days before its publication) is to all outward appearances a drastically disproportionate response, one that itself could be branded intemperate.

There were and are other, more substantial, dynamics at play.

Another American general who left his last post under a cloud, former U.S. European Command chief and NATO Supreme Allied Commander Wesley Clark – never one to be shy of the limelight or a television camera – appeared on CNN the evening of McChrystal being dumped and dutifully echoed the official post-purge position: “I think that there are lines you can’t cross and I think there’s responsibilities that you have to uphold as a senior commander.”

In reference to Central Command head David Petraeus taking charge of 150,000 U.S. and NATO (and in truth what there is of an Afghan National Army) troops, Clark added a revealing item which may prove to be the main intention behind and result of McChrystal’s dismissal: “I don’t know what the timetable means. Whether it means you’ve got to pull a brigade out or four brigades out or half the troops out or, you know, an outpost out, I’m not quite clear.”[5]

With mid-term congressional elections in early November and Obama’s presumed reelection bid two years later, Petraeus’ appointment may have a distinctly political dimension. Either simply an effort to put a new face on a disastrous affair or to signal a shift in war tactics. But if meant to boost the election prospects of Democratic candidates this year and Obama in 2012, the White House may get more than it bargained for.

A graduate of the West Point Military Academy like McChrystal, Petraeus has been the subject of rumours – for at least three years – that he intends to run for the U.S. presidency, and in fact has been deftly positioning himself for just that eventuality.

Presented as the hero of the war in Iraq who as commander of Multi-National Force – Iraq (MNF-I) from January of 2007 to September of 2008 presided over the so-called surge during that interim – and ballyhooed as the father of a Petraeus Doctrine at the time – his reprising that role in Afghanistan could enhance his appeal as a war hero cum man on horseback in 2012, much as the aforementioned Wesley Clark attempted (with scant success but having tested the waters) in 2004.

Commentators have alluded to the 1962 novel (and its cinematic adaptation two years later) Seven Days in May [6] lately in reference to outgoing Afghan war commander Stanley McChrystal. The parallel may more properly suit Petraeus.

When he assumed command of the Multi-National Force – Iraq in the very month that President George W. Bush launched the Iraq surge with the announcement of 20,000 more troops to be deployed there, Petraeus took control of all foreign occupation forces in the country, not only from the U.S. and Britain but also from dozens of other nations, primarily at the time 20 new NATO and NATO candidate and other partner states from Eastern Europe, the South Caucasus and Central Asia: Albania, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Bosnia, Bulgaria, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Georgia, Hungary, Kazakhstan, Latvia, Lithuania, Macedonia, Moldova, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia and Ukraine.

All of the above except for Kazakhstan and Moldova (for the time being), with new nation Montenegro added, have troops assigned to NATO in Afghanistan.

The war in and occupation of Iraq provided Petraeus and the Pentagon an unprecedented opportunity to integrate the armed forces of dozens of nations – others included Australia, New Zealand, South Korea, Mongolia and Singapore, which now have troops in Afghanistan as well – for purposes of weapons and combat interoperability and for NATO membership and assorted partnerships under wartime conditions.

Preceding his appointment as commander of the Multi-National Force – Iraq in 2007, Petraeus was named both head of the Multi-National Security Transition Command — Iraq and the first commander of the NATO Training Mission-Iraq in 2004.

Before that, while a brigadier general, he served in Bosnia in the early years of this decade as part of NATO’s Operation Joint Forge and as Assistant Chief of Staff for Operations for the NATO-led Stabilization Force and Deputy Commander of the U.S. Joint Interagency Counter-Terrorism Task Force.

In recognition of his role in Iraq, in April of 2008 Secretary of Defense Gates announced that President Bush was nominating Petraeus to head up U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM), which post he took up on October 31, 2008.

The U.S. is the only nation in history to divide the world into military commands. CENTCOM’s area of responsibility includes, in addition to Afghanistan and Iraq, other nations beset by armed conflicts like Pakistan and Yemen, and all of the Middle East (except for Israel), the Persian Gulf (including Iran) and Central Asia. Egypt is the only African nation left to CENTCOM, with Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Seychelles, Somalia and Sudan ceded to the new U.S. Africa Command, though Lebanon and Syria were transferred from European Command to Central Command in 2004.

In the past twenty months Petraeus has not only overseen ongoing military operations in Afghanistan, Iraq and Yemen and supported those in Pakistan, but has also worked assiduously at building a far-reaching nexus of military overflights, land routes and transit bases from the Persian Gulf and the South Caucasus to Central Asia for the Afghan war.

He will now step down as head of CENTCOM to command 150,000 U.S. and NATO troops in Afghanistan.

The lionization of Petraeus began before the fact regarding the dual Afghan commands and within hours of his announced appointments, with the predictable claque clapping like trained seals.

NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen guaranteed that Washington’s 27 partners in the military alliance would sheepishly keep their own counsel: “After all, they are only supplying 25 percent of the alliance’s 130,000 troops in Afghanistan. They will accept Mr Obama’s step, be it with some disappointment because they generally agreed that McChrystal was doing a good job.” [7] Hardly a passionate endorsement of the organization he heads and which is touted as a “military alliance of democratic states in Europe and North America.”

The Washington Post’s David Ignatius regaled his readers with a glowing panegyric entitled “Gen. David Petraeus: The right commander for Afghanistan,” which is replete with these specimens of fawning puffery:

- Gen. David Petraeus didn’t sign on as the new Afghanistan commander because he expects to lose.

- Obama has doubled down on his bet, much as George W. Bush did with his risky surge of troops in Iraq under Petraeus’s command.

- [A]s I’ve heard him say: “The thing about winners is that they know how to win.”

- Petraeus is, among other things, the most deft political figure I’ve seen in uniform. In just two years he has gone from being Bush’s go-to general to Obama’s. [8]

The piece goes on in that vein for an unconscionably, an insufferably, long time.

It is emblematic of the peculiarly American art of concocting an overnight hero mythos. The identical technique was exhibited a year ago when Stanley McChrystal was promoted to four-star general to take command of the Afghan war.

Petraeus, like the fox in the fable of Aesop, may want to think twice about entering a lion’s den in which he sees footprints enter but not come out. Unless political ambition blinds him to the evidence.

1) http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2010/02/09/eveningnews/main6191709.shtml
2) Xinhua News Agency, June 24, 2010
3) New York Daily News, June 24, 2010
4) Afghan War: NATO Builds History’s
First Global Army
Stop NATO, August 9, 2009

http://rickrozoff.wordpress.com/2009/09/01/afghan-war-nato-builds-historys-first-global-army

5) CNN, June 23, 2010
6) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Seven_Days_in_May
7) Radio Netherlands, June 24, 2010
8) Washington Post, June 24, 2010 http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/06/23/AR2010062304005.html?hpid=opinionsbox1

Global Energy War: Washington’s New Kissinger’s African Plans

August 26, 2009 2 comments

Stop NATO
January 22, 2009

Global Energy War: Washington’s New Kissinger’s African Plans
Rick Rozoff

Lost amid the national and international fanfare accompanying the inauguration of the 44th president of the United States is attention to the person who is slated to be the next major foreign policy architect and executor, retired U.S. Marine General James Jones.

In nearly identical phraseology that cannot be construed as either fortuitous or without foundation, the Washington Post of November 22, 2008 referred to the then pending selection of Jones as National Security Adviser in these terms:

“Sources familiar with the discussions said Obama is considering expanding the scope of the job to give the adviser the kind of authority once wielded by powerful figures such as Henry A. Kissinger.”

And the following day’s Israeli Ha’aretz wrote:

“Jones is expected to play a key role in the Obama administration. According to U.S. press reports, he will be as strong as Henry Kissinger, the all-powerful national security adviser to President Richard Nixon.”

The analogy is with the role of Henry Kissinger as National Security Adviser to the first and second Nixon administrations (1969-1977, continuing into the Ford White House) and as both National Security Adviser and Secretary of State during the second term; that is, as a then unprecedentedly influential player in determining U.S. foreign policy.

A similar comparison can be made with the Carter administration’s National Security Adviser, Zbigniew Brzezinski, the true power behind the foreign policy throne from 1977-1981, with Secretaries of State Cyrus Vance and, briefly, Edmund Muskie, largely figureheads in relation to him.

James Jones is now the first career military officer to hold the post as head of the National Security Council since retired general Colin Powell did so in the second Reagan Administration and is the first former NATO Supreme Allied Commander to hold the post.

Jones was appointed to the NATO post of Supreme Allied Commander Europe (SACEUR) and the overlapping, essentially coterminous one of Commander, United States European Command (COMUSEUCOM) in the first Bush term and is part of the two-thirds of the Obama administration’s foreign policy triumvirate – National Security Adviser, Secretary of State, Secretary of Defense – inherited from the preceding administration. The other is Defense Secretary Robert Gates, who like Jones is a graduate of Georgetown University, with a doctorate degree in Sovietology and Russian studies.

As commander of the Pentagon’s European Command (EUCOM) Jones was in charge of the largest military area of responsibility in world history, one that encompassed anywhere from 13-21 million square miles and included 92 of the world’s 192 nations. And as NATO’s Supreme Allied Commander he was the chief military commander of an expanding military bloc of twenty six full members, two new candidates and twenty three Partnership for Peace, six Mediterranean Dialogue, six Gulf Cooperation Council and assorted other military partners in South and Far East Asia and the South Pacific, altogether on five continents.

While wearing both the above braided hats, Jones was the major architect of what last October 1st was officially launched as the first new U.S. military command in the last quarter century, Africa Command (AFRICOM), whose chartered area of operations includes fifty-two nations. (All of Africa except for Egypt.)

AFRICOM’s historical precedents were commented upon by a Ghanaian news source almost three years ago:

“Marine General James L. Jones, Head of the US European Command…said the Pentagon was seeking to acquire access…bases in Senegal, Ghana, Mali and Kenya and other African countries.

“The new US strategy [is] based on the conclusions of a May 2001 report of the President’s National Energy Policy Development group chaired by Vice President Richard Cheney and known as the Cheney report.” [1]

And by a Nigerian commentator the following year:

“[In January of 2002 the African Oil Policy Initiative Group] recommended that African oil be treated as a priority for the national security of the US after 9/11, that the US government declares the Gulf of Guinea an ‘area of vital interest’ and that it set up a sub-command structure for US forces in the region. In September 2002, the then U.S. Defence Secretary, Donald Rumsfeld, put forward a proposal to establish a NATO Rapid Response Force (NRF) which was approved by the defence ministers of NATO in Brussels in June 2003 and was inaugurated in October 2003.” [2]

In keeping with the above, after his formal selection as nominee for National Security Adviser late last year, Jones revealed that “[A]s commander of NATO, I worried early in the mornings about how to protect energy facilities and supply chain routes as far away as Africa, the Persian Gulf and Caspian Sea.” [3]

Or as a U.S. daily newspaper put it later:

“During his 2003-2006 stint as NATO’s supreme commander, Jones stressed his view that energy policy was a top national security matter for the United States and a leading international security priority. For the past year, Jones has been president and CEO of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s Institute for 21st Century Energy. Until his Dec. 1 selection by Obama, he also served as a board member of the Chevron Corp.” [4]

The above reflected designs voiced earlier, as evidenced by:

“NATO’s top commander of operations, U.S. General James Jones, has said he sees a potential role for the alliance in protecting key shipping lanes such as those around the Black Sea and oil supply routes from Africa to Europe.” [5]

And shortly before stepping down as both European Command and NATO commander, Jones, addressing U.S. business leaders, said:

“Officials at U.S. European Command spend between 65 to 70 percent of their time on African issues, Jones said….Establishing such a group [military task force in West Africa] could also send a message to U.S. companies ‘that investing in many parts of Africa is a good idea,’ the general said.” [6]

And, just as candidly, he and his NATO civilian cohort declared:

“NATOs’ [commanders] are ready to use warships to ensure the security of offshore oil and gas transportation routes from Western Africa,  Jaap de Hoop Scheffer, NATO’s Secretary General,  reportedly said speaking at the session of the foreign committee of PACE [Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe].

“On April 30 General James Jones, commander-in-chief of NATO in Europe, reportedly said NATO was going to draw up the plan for ensuring security of oil and gas industry facilities.

“In this respect the block is willing to ensure security in unstable regions where oil and gas are produced and transported.” [7]

Note that while speaking to those he assumes to be interested and complicit parties, Jones is quite explicit in moving his finger across the map of the world and indicating precisely where the Pentagon’s – not the State Department’s, say, or the U.S. Department of Energy’s – priorities lie.

And they are, as mentioned above, immediately in three of the five areas of the world where hitherto unexploited or underexploited massive oil and natural gas deposits lie: Africa’s Gulf of Guinea, the Black and Caspian Seas and the Persian Gulf.

The other two contested zones and already current battlegrounds between the West and Russia and other emerging nations in this regard are the Arctic Circle and the northern part of South America and the Caribbean. Southeast Asia may be soon be another candidate for the role.

The drive into Africa, from the Mediterranean in the north to the South African way station to Antarctica and its offshore environs (the sixth key global energy chess piece) and from the war-torn northeast to the oil-rich Atlantic west, is thus integrally linked to the concomitant U.S. and NATO military expansion into the Black and Caspian Seas and Persian Gulf regions.

Mind, this is not a direct, reductionist ‘war for oil’; it is rather an international strategic bid by a consortium of declining Western powers united under the NATO aegis to seize and dominate world energy resources and transportation lines in order to in turn maintain and expand global economic and political hegemony. (Indeed, the two nations most central to Western plans for trans-Eurasian oil transit plans, Azerbaijan and Georgia, have recorded the largest per capita and percentile increases in military spending in the world over the past five years – a case of oil for war rather than the reverse.)

Jones’ resume as top military commander of both the Pentagon’s European Command and of NATO gave him, and still gives him, a pivotal role in what the State Department of Condoleezza Rice (herself with a doctorate degree in Sovietology and Russian studies) has referred to for years as the “push east and south.”

As the U.S. armed forces newspaper Stars and Stripes reported a year and a half ago:

“Five years ago, then-Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld sent marching orders to Marine Gen. James L. Jones, telling him that the U.S. European Command needed an overhaul to meet the unique challenges of the 21st century. Jones’ plan, started in 2002, called for the moving of thousands of troops from Europe back to the United States, moving troops into Eastern Europe and setting up forward operating sites in Africa.”

What has occurred in the interim regarding the first trajectory, the push to the east, is that the Pentagon and NATO have selected seven military bases in Bulgaria and Romania, after the latter two’s NATO accession in 2004, for land, naval and air ‘lily pads’ on the Black Sea for operations in the Caucasus, Ukraine, Central and South Asia, the Eastern Mediterranean and the Persian Gulf.

The U.S. and its Alliance cohorts have similarly turned another Black Sea, and Caucasus, nation – Georgia – into a military and strategic energy corridor heading both east and south.

In fact Georgia is the central link in what Western officials for years have touted as the “project of the century”: The Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan (BTC) pipeline transporting oil from the Caspian to the Mediterranean Sea.

Along with its sister projects, the Baku-Tbilisi-Erzurum gas pipeline and the Kars-Tbilisi-Baku (“China to London”) railway, the West envisions plans to export oil and natural gas from as far east as Kazakhstan on the Chinese border over, around and under the Caspian Sea to the South Caucasus and from there north to Ukraine and Poland to the Baltic Sea and onto Western Europe, and south along the Mediterranean to Israel to be shipped on tankers through the Suez Canal and the Red Sea and across the Arabian Sea to countries like India and Japan. That is, back to East Asia where much of it originated.

If any more grand (or grandiose) and far-reaching geopolitical design has ever been contemplated, history fails to record it.

Chinese military analyst Lin Zhiyuan summed up the general strategy over two years ago:

“[N]ew military bases, airports and training bases will be built in Hungary, Romania, Poland, Bulgaria and other nations to ensure ‘gangways’ to some areas in the Middle East, African and Asia in possible military actions in the years ahead.

“More important, the United States will successfully move eastward the gravity and frontline of its Europe defense, go on beefing up its military presence in the Baltic states and the central Asia region, and also raise its capability to contain Russia by stepping into the backyard of the former Soviet Union.

“James L. Jones, commander of the European command of the US army [EUCOM, as well as NATO], acknowledged that the EETAF [Eastern European Task Force] would ‘greatly upgrade’ the capacity of coordinating the forces of the U.S. and its allies, and the capacity of training and operation in Eurasia and the Caucasian region, so that they are able to make faster responses in some conflict areas….” [8]

The author was perhaps referring to an earlier statement by James Jones, one reported on the US State Department’s website on March 10, 2006:

“[Jones] discussed ongoing shifts in troop levels, the creation of rotational force hubs in Bulgaria and Romania, and initiatives in Africa….Those forces remaining in Europe will focus on being able swiftly to deploy to temporary locations in southeast Europe, Eurasia and Africa. Along the Black Sea, recent basing agreements will allow U.S. forces to start establishing an Eastern European Task Force [which will] ‘significantly increases’ the ability of U.S. and partner forces to coordinate and conduct training and missions in Eurasia and the Caucasus….

“Africa’s vast potential makes African stability a near-term global strategic imperative.”

Jones also described the Caspian Guard, a program to improve the capabilities of Azerbaijan and Kazakhstan in a strategic region that borders northern Iran. “Africa’s vast potential makes African stability a near-term global strategic imperative.”

In the past week the Pentagon’s Central Command chief General David Petraeus visited Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Turkmenistan, the first and third on the Caspian Sea and the two largest producers of oil and natural gas in Central Asia.

This is the further implementation of Jones’ plan which he bluntly articulated well over three years ago:

“NATO’s top military commander is seeking an important new security role for private industry and business leaders as part of a new security strategy that will focus on the economic vulnerabilities of the 26-country alliance. “Two immediate and priority projects for NATO officials to develop with private industry are to secure the pipelines bringing Russian oil and gas to Europe…to secure ports and merchant shipping, the alliance Supreme Commander, Gen. James Jones of the U.S. Marine Corps said Wednesday.

“A further area of NATO interest to secure energy supplies could be the Gulf of Guinea off the West African coast, Jones noted…’a serious security problem.’ Oil companies were already spending more than a billion dollars a year on security in the region, he noted, pointing to the need for NATO and business to confer on the common security concern.” [9]

On the far western end of what British geographer and proto-geostrategist Halford Mackinder called the World Island (Africa, Asia, Europe, the Middle East) lies the Atlantic Coast of Africa and the Gulf of Guinea.

It is here that then EUCOM and NATO top military commander Jones arranged the foundation of the future AFRICOM.

Though not without attending to the rest of the continent as well during his dual tenure from 2003-2006.

In April of 2006 he already advocated the following:

“Jones…raised the prospect of NATO taking a role to counter piracy off the coast of the Horn of Africa and the Gulf of Guinea, especially when it threatens energy supply routes to Western nations.” [10]

Two and a half years before NATO initiated the Atalanta interdiction operation in the Horn of Africa and the Gulf of Aden last autumn (NATO warships even docked at the Kenyan port city of Mombasa), Jones was laying the groundwork for the NATO cum European Union mission of today.

As the Horn of Africa region was the only part of continental Africa not formerly in EUCOM’s area of responsibility (it was in Central Command’s), Jones was clearly speaking of an AFRICOM that wouldn’t appear for another 30 months.

Also, in addition to American bilateral military agreements with Northern African states, Jones was NATO Supreme Commander in 2004 when at the Istanbul summit NATO upgraded the Alliance’s seven Mediterranean Dialogue members – the bulk of which are in North Africa (Algeria, Egypt, Mauritania, Morocco and Tunisia) – to an enhanced partnership status.

He also created the military wing of the U.S. State Department’s Pan Sahel Initiative. The Pentagon’s website described it in early 2006 as follows:

“The 2002 Pan Sahel Initiative involved training and equipping a least one rapid-reaction company in each of the four Sahel states: Mali, Mauritania, Niger and Chad. The current initiative involves those four states and Algeria, Morocco, Senegal, Tunisia and Nigeria.”

Jones is quoted in the same article as saying that, “U.S. Naval Forces Europe, (the command’s) lead component in this initiative, has developed a robust maritime security strategy and regional 10-year campaign plan for the Gulf of Guinea region.

“Africa’s vast potential makes African stability a near-term global strategic imperative.” [11]

In the following year an Algerian article called “U.S. embassies turned into command posts in North Africa” added this:

“[T]he countries involved in the U.S. embassies command posts are Algeria, Morocco, Tunisia, Mauritania, Niger, Mali, Chad and Senegal. A major focus of AFRICOM will be the Gulf of Guinea, with its enormous oil reserves in Nigeria, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, Angola and the Congo Republic….The U.S. is already pouring $500 million into its Trans-Sahel Counterterrorism Initiative that embraces Morocco, Tunisia, and Algeria in North Africa, and nations boarding the Sahara including Mauritania, Niger, Mali, Mauritania, Chad and Senegal.” [12]

And in May of 2005 NATO began its first official operation on the African continent, transporting troops to the Darfur region of Sudan, thereby beginning Western military intrusion into the Central African Republic-Chad-Sudan triangle.

Yet the Gulf of Guinea remained the main focus of attention.

No later than 2003 Western news sources reported on a suspected unprecedented oil bonanza in the former Portuguese possessions of Sao Tome and Principe in the Gulf.

Shortly afterward there was talk of the Pentagon establishing a naval base on Sao Tome.

The State Department estimated at the time that the U.S. was then currently importing 15% of its oil from the Gulf of Guinea and that the figure would rise to 25% in a few years.

Western Africa oil offers two key advantages to the U.S. It’s comparatively high-grade crude and can be transported on tankers directly across the Atlantic Ocean, thereby circumventing straits, canals and other potential choke points and attendant customs duties and taxes by littoral nations.

Throughout his time as EUCOM and NATO top military commander Jones touted what he described as ongoing and permanent U.S. and NATO naval presence in the Gulf.

In June of 2006 NATO held its first large-scale military exercises in Africa, in fact initiating the NATO Rapid Response Force, north of the Gulf in Cape Verde.

Below are accounts of the drills:

“Hundreds of elite North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (Nato) troops backed by fighter planes and warships will storm a tiny volcanic island off Africa’s Atlantic coast this week in what the Western alliance hopes will prove a potent demonstration of its ability to project power around the world.”  [13]

“Seven thousand NATO troops conducted war games on the Atlantic Ocean island of Cape Verde on Thursday in the latest sign of the alliance’s growing interest in playing a role in Africa.

“The land, air and sea exercises were NATO’s first major deployment in Africa and designed to show the former Cold War giant can launch far-flung military operations at short notice.

“‘You are seeing the new NATO, the one that has the ability to project stability,’ said NATO Secretary-General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer told a news conference after NATO troops stormed a beach on one of the islands on the archipelago in a mock assault on a fictitious terrorist camp.

“NATO Supreme Allied Commander Europe James Jones, the alliance soldier in charge of NATO operations, said he hoped the two-week Cape Verde exercises would help break down negative images about NATO in Africa and elsewhere.” [14]

Jones may have inveigled Reuters with concerns about NATO’s public image, but its rival agency was more forthcoming:

“NATO is developing a special plan to safeguard oil and gas fields in the region, says its Supreme Allied Commander on Europe, Gen. James Jones.

“He said a training session will be held in the Atlantic oceanic area and the Cabo Verde island in June to outline activities to protect the routes transporting oil to Western Europe….Jones said the alliance is ready to ensure the security of oil-producing and transporting regions.” [15]

That same month Jones was in the northern tip of the Gulf, in Monrovia, the capital of the one nation on the continent that seemed at first willing to host the future AFRICOM’s headquarters after Washington assisted in the toppling of the Charles Taylor government and the installation of former US-based Ellen Johnson Sirleaf to head its successor.

A local paper reported:

“A United States military delegation today met with President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf at her Executive Mansion office in Monrovia. The delegation was headed by General James Jones of the US Marine Corps who is also the head of the US government European Command.

“Also with General Jones today were seven members of his delegation, who were in full US military uniform. General Jones reaffirmed his government’s support in assisting the Liberian government in the formation of the new Liberian army. He said some members of his command, were due in Liberia soon, to begin the training of the new Liberian army, which is expected to begin in July. [16]

Two months before the US State Department reported on another of Jones’ African plans, the Gulf of Guinea Maritime Security Initiative, and thereby tied together a few threads in Washington’s African tapestry:

“‘Left unattended, political instability in Africa could require reactive and repeated interventions at enormous costs, as in the case of Liberia,’ Jones said.” [17]

And in the intervening month Jones reminded readers that he still wore two commanders’ caps and that his energy and broader geopolitical strategy encompassed, still, both south and east:

“Our strategic goal is to expand…to Eastern Europe and Africa….The United States is not unchallenged in its quest to gain influence in and access to Africa.” [18]

And so it remains.

The West, the U.S. in the first instance, is waging an unparalleled drive to retain and expand what military, political and economic domination and monopolies it has wrested from the rest of the world over the past five centuries, and control of the globe’s energy resources and their transportation is a vital component of that reckless campaign.

Africa is rapidly shaping up to be a major battleground in that international struggle.

With James Jones as new U.S. National Security chief, complemented by the ‘soft power’ efforts of former State Department Africa hand Dr. Susan Rice as probable ambassador to the United Nations, the continent’s and the world’s guard must not be relaxed.

1) Ghana Web, February 23, 2006
2) Leadership, November 22, 2007
3) Agence France-Presse, November 30, 2008
4) Houston Chronicle, December 25, 2008
5) Reuters, November 27, 2006
6) U.S. Department of Defense, August 18, 2006
7) Trend News Agency, May 3, 2006
8) People’s Daily, December 5, 2006
9) United Press International, October 13, 2005
10) Associated Press, April 24, 2006
11) Defense Link, March 8, 2006
12) Ech Chorouk, October 17, 2007
13) Associated Press, June 21, 2006
14) Reuters, June 22, 2006
15) Associated Press, May 2, 2006
16) African News Dimension, June 2, 2006
17) Washington File, April 7, 2006
18) Stars And Stripes, March 9, 2006

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