Posts Tagged ‘africa’

U.S. Marshals Military Might To Challenge Asian Century

August 21, 2010 4 comments

August 21, 2010

U.S. Marshals Military Might To Challenge Asian Century
Rick Rozoff

The first decade of what more than a generation ago was predicted to be the Asian Century is drawing to a close, marking ten years since the end of the American Century.

China overtook Japan as the world’s second-largest economy during the second financial quarter of this year and three-quarters of the BRIC (Brazil, Russia, India, China) nations, the world’s largest emerging economies, are entirely or primarily in Asia. During its first heads of state summit in Russia last year, BRIC “urged the creation of a new global financial security system.” [1] At the time its members accounted for 15 percent of the global economy and 42 percent of international currency reserves [2] even after the advent of the U.S.-triggered world financial crisis in 2008.

60 percent of humanity lives in Asia and the continent is home to several of the fastest growing economies in the world.

Demographics and economics alike assure a preeminent role for Asia in any natural – which is to say peaceful – course of development.

Asia is in fact part of a broader land mass, Eurasia, which in turn is inextricably connected to the rest of what over a century ago British geographer Halford Mackinder called the World Island: Asia, Europe, the Middle East and Africa. The last has recently recorded a population exceeding a billion, making it the second most populous continent.

The Asia-Europe-Africa grouping contains the overwhelming majority of the human race, perhaps as many as 5.6 billion of the world’s 6.8 billion inhabitants. The entire Western Hemisphere, by contrast, has a population under one billion and Oceania’s numbers are negligible.

But for 500 years a small number of nations in the global West and North, a limited contingent of countries that collectively calls itself the North Atlantic community, has dominated most of the world.

With the demise in 1991 of an eastern power that for decades had presented them with the greatest challenge in their history, the Soviet Union, the major Western states, a coalition of all the main past colonial empires and the new American global superpower united in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization military alliance, viewed the entire world as being ripe for penetration and dominance, starting with the former Eastern European socialist bloc and the territories of the former Soviet Union.

Military formations were used to spread American and Western European influence throughout Europe, Africa and the Middle East – NATO and its numerous partnership programs, U.S. Africa Command, ad hoc “coalitions of the willing” – and into the Caucasus, the Caspian Sea basin, Central Asia and South Asia, in which last location the Pentagon and NATO are waging a nine-year-old war with 150,000 troops.

In the past eleven years the U.S. has obtained military, including missile shield, bases and facilities in parts of the world where the Pentagon had never ensconced itself before: Kosovo, Bulgaria, Romania, Poland, Hungary, Israel, Iraq, Kuwait, Jordan, Djibouti, Ethiopia, Kenya, Mali, Afghanistan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan and Colombia.

Just since last year the Pentagon has conducted bilateral and multinational military exercises in and off the coasts of nations like India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Mongolia, Cambodia, Vietnam, Malaysia, East Timor, Finland, Sweden, the Baltic states, Poland, Hungary, Bulgaria, Romania, Ukraine, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Angola, Burkino Faso, Gabon, Ghana, Mali, Mozambique, Senegal and Uganda in addition to traditional Cold War allies and partners, including holding the first large-scale joint war games in Israel.

This month troops from the U.S. and other NATO nations have participated in military exercises in Mongolia and Kazakhstan, which both border Russia and China.

If Asia is superior with regard to economic growth and potential, resources natural and human, and other factors, the U.S. supersedes it in one key category: An overwhelming advantage in military firepower. The world’s largest expeditionary warfighting machine, U.S. Pacific Command, and its biggest naval “permanent forward projection force,” the U.S. Seventh Fleet, both are concentrated on East Asia.

The Pentagon withdrew troops and even closed bases in Asia after the end of the Cold War, but now it is returning.

In addition to three joint naval exercises in as many months – in the Sea of Japan in late July, the South China Sea this month and the Yellow Sea in September – the U.S. is massively expanding military facilities in Guam, has deployed 60 percent of its nuclear submarine fleet to the Pacific region and is considering increasing its naval fleet from 282 to 346 ships to “beef up U.S. maritime power in Asia.” [3]

In recent days Robert Scher, U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for South and Southeast Asia, was in the capital of Vietnam to meet with Lieutenant General Nguyen Chi Vinh, Deputy Minister of Defense, for the two countries’ “first high-level defense dialogue.”

On August 17, a week after a U.S. warship docked in Vietnam for the two nations’ first joint military exercise, the Pentagon official stated the event was “the next significant historic step in our increasingly robust defense relationship,” and confirmed that the discussions included sharing “impressions of Chinese military modernization.” [4]

The next day the chief of U.S. Pacific Command, Admiral Robert Willard, was in the Philippines to meet with defense officials from the host nation including the head of the military, Lieutenant-General Ricardo David, and insisted that “the United States will maintain a presence in the South China Sea for many years,” with what he identified as increasingly “assertive” Chinese actions as the rationale for doing so. [5]

In respect to conflicting Philippine and Chinese claims on the Spratly islands, Willard said that the Pentagon “very much looks forward to working continually” with Manila’s military to ensure it is “shaped just right to meet the needs of this very complex archipelago that’s located in a very strategic area of the world.” [6]

This week the Japanese press announced that the nation’s military will conduct war games in December “simulating the recapture of an isolated island from enemy forces,” the first such exercises by the Self-Defense Forces which are “seen as a response to China’s recent naval expansion.”

The Yomiuri Shimbun revealed that “The island-reclaiming drills will be part of joint exercises with the U.S. military and the U.S. Navy’s 7th Fleet will provide support.” [7]

The drills will be held under a recently elaborated defense program for the Nansei Islands near territory southwest of Okinawa.

On August 19 the Japanese Foreign Ministry said that the Senkaku Islands, contested by Japan and China, are “subject to the Japan-US security treaty” and that Washington and Tokyo would “respond together” to any attack there. The ministry’s press secretary said, “It is natural that Japan and the United States respond together.” [8]

A senior Japanese Defense Ministry official stated “We’ll show China that Japan has the will and the capability to defend the Nansei Islands.” The war games will include “Air Self-Defense Force F-2 fighters, which have advanced air-to-ground and antiship attack capabilities, and Maritime Self-Defense Force P-3C antisubmarine patrol aircraft” as well as C-130 Hercules transport planes, airborne brigade units and F-15 Eagle fighters.

“The planned exercises are a groundbreaking move….It will also be a good opportunity to reinforce cooperation between U.S. forces and the SDF.”

An article in the August 20 edition of a major Japanese daily stated: “It must be demonstrated to China, which has been strengthening its military capability and plans to expand its sphere of influence, that the SDF and the U.S. military form a watertight defense array.” [9]

This week Japan’s Defense Ministry said it would “keep paying attention to China’s military trend” and “Taiwan renewed its call…on the U.S. to sell it advanced weaponry as it joined Japan in vowing to keep a close eye on China’s rising military power.”

“Taipei and Tokyo were reacting to the release of a U.S. Defense Department report which warned that China’s expanding capabilities are changing the strategic balance in East Asia.” [10]

On the same day that the preceding account appeared, the Indian press disclosed that New Delhi will order a “large” amount of U.S. Javelin third generation anti-tank guided missiles used in last year’s Yudh Abhyas 2009 bilateral combat exercises with 1,000 U.S. and Indian troops, which featured “17 Stryker vehicles – the largest deployment of the vehicles outside of Iraq and Afghanistan,” and which showcased “the Javelin Anti-Tank Missile system, employed to defeat current and future threat armored combat vehicles.” [11]

Regarding the proposed Javelin acquisition, one of India’s main newspapers wrote: “Much to the dismay of Russians and Europeans, India is increasingly taking the FMS [foreign military sales] route to ink big arms deals with the US. The biggest on the verge of finalisation…is for 10 C-17 Globemaster-III giant strategic airlift for upwards of $3 billion.” [12] President Barack Obama is scheduled to visit India in November to secure further arms deals which by some reports will establish the U.S. as the nation’s main weapons supplier, replacing Russia in that role.

On August 19 one of Australia’s main newspapers carried an opinion piece by Greg Sheridan, recently appointed by the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington, D.C. its Australian Scholar, in which he wrote:

“The US has five full military treaty allies in Asia: Japan, South Korea, Thailand, The Philippines and Australia, and one de facto ally, Singapore, and an increasingly critical strategic relationship with India.

“It is also developing a strong strategic relationship with Vietnam….It is also working hard on Indonesia and Malaysia….”

He quoted U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates at June’s Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore affirming that “My government’s overriding obligation to allies, partners and the region is to reaffirm America’s security commitments in the region….The strength of US commitment and deterrent power will be expressed through the continued forward presence of substantial US forces in the region.” Sheridan added, “You can’t get much more explicit than that” concerning the “complex security equation in the Asia-Pacific.”

The Australian analyst summed up his argument by calling for “a greater US naval and air force presence” in Darwin on the Timor Sea. [13]

The rise of a dynamic, integrated and dominant Asia in this century is inevitable and inexorable. Any attempt to retard or thwart it by military force from outside the continent will produce catastrophic consequences.

1) Voice of Russia, June 17, 2009
2) Russian Information Agency Novosti, June 17, 2009
3) U.S. Expands Asian NATO To Contain And Confront China
Stop NATO, August 7, 2010
4) Agence France-Presse, August 17, 2010
5) Chosun Ilbo, August 20, 2010
6) Bloomberg News, August 18, 2010
7) Yomiuri Shimbun, August 20, 2010
8) Agence France-Presse, August 19, 2010
9) Yomiuri Shimbun, August 20, 2010
10) Agence France-Presse, August 17, 2010
11) Embassy of the United States, India, October 19, 2009
12) Times of India, August 17, 2010
13) The Australian, August 19, 2010

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

August 26, 2009 2 comments

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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