Skip to main content

Obama’s legacy in Africa: terrorism, civil war & military expansion

Independent geopolitical analyst Eric Draitser examines the effect of the Obama administration on Africa. What he finds is less hope and change, and more chaos and death.

by Eric Draitser of stopimperialism.org

The corporate media is predictably churning out nauseating retrospectives of Obama’s presidency, gently soothing Americans to sleep with fairy tales about the progressive accomplishments of President Hope and Change.

But amid the selective memory and doublethink which passes for sophisticated punditry within the controlled media matrix, let us not forget that in Africa the name Barack Obama is now synonymous with destabilization, death, and destruction.

The collective gasps of liberals grow to a deafening roar at the mere suggestion that Obama is more sinner than saint, but perhaps it would be useful to review the facts and the record rather than the carefully constructed mythos being shoehorned into history books under the broad heading of “Legacy.”

Africa’s future is up to Africans’

In the summer of 2009, little more than six months after being inaugurated, President Obama stood before the Ghanaian Parliament to deliver a speech intended to set the tone for his administration’s Africa policy. In addressing a crowd of hundreds in the Ghanaian capital, he was, in fact, speaking directly to millions of Africans all over the continent and throughout the diaspora. For if Obama represented Hope and Change for the people of the United States, that was doubly true for African people.

In that mostly forgettable speech, Obama declared:

We must start from the simple premise that Africa’s future is up to Africans … the West is not responsible for the destruction of the Zimbabwean economy over the last decade, or wars in which children are enlisted as combatants.

Building prosperity, shedding corruption and tyranny, and taking on poverty and disease, he said “can only be done if you take responsibility for your future. And it won’t be easy. It will take time and effort. There will be suffering and setbacks. But I can promise you this: America will be with you every step of the way, as a partner, as a friend.

Despite being the First Black President, Obama’s words and deeds with respect to Africa perfectly embody “the White Man’s Burden” — that desire to help those poor, lowly wretches whose poverty, corruption, disease, and violence must be the product of some natural deficiency. Surely, five centuries of colonialism, combined with Obama-style imperial arrogance, had nothing to do with it.

But let us take Obama’s words at face value and evaluate whether Obama was able to live up to those high-minded and idealistic goals throughout his two terms in office.

Obama repeatedly stressed African agency, arguing that the United States and the West cannot solve Africa’s problems for her. Instead, he argued that the United States will be a “partner” and a “friend.” And yet, within two years of the pledge to let Africans resolve their own problems, U.S.-NATO jets were dropping bombs on Libya in support of al-Qaida-linked terrorists who would topple and brutally assassinate Moammar Gadhafi, perhaps the single strongest voice for African independence and self-sufficiency.

Considering the tens of thousands of deaths and the utter destruction and dissolution of Libya into warring tribal militias and multiple fragmented governments barely able to be called legitimate, it is particularly galling that Obama stood before the United Nations and declared the U.S.-NATO war on Libya to be a success. Exactly one month before Gadhafi’s heinous torture and assassination, Obama arrogantly stated on Sept. 20, 2011:

This is how the international community should work in the 21st century — more nations bearing the responsibility and the costs of meeting global challenges. In fact, this is the very purpose of this United Nations. So every nation represented here today can take pride in the innocent lives we saved and in helping Libyans reclaim their country. It was the right thing to do.

Yes, the very same president who two years earlier proclaimed that “Africa’s future is up to Africans” was a champion of French, British, Italian, and U.S. military forces imposing their will on a prosperous and independent African nation, transforming it into a chaotic and bloody failed state. So much for Hope and Change.

But of course the tragic story of Libya does not stop with just the destruction of the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya and the assassination of Gadhafi. Rather, the war on Libya opened the floodgates for weapons smuggling, terrorism and destabilization all over the African continent. According to a 2013 report by the U.N. Security Council’s Group of Experts:

Cases, both proven and under investigation, of illicit transfers from Libya in violation of the embargo cover more than 12 countries and include heavy and light weapons, including man-portable air defense systems, small arms and related ammunition and explosives and mines.

The report continued, warning that “illicit flows from the country are fueling [sic] existing conflicts in Africa and the Levant and enriching the arsenals of a range of non-State actors, including terrorist groups.

The proliferation of weapons from Libya continues at an alarming rate.

Indeed, those weapons flowing from Libya have directly fueled the civil war in Mali, facilitated the rise of Boko Haram in Nigeria, empowered the terror group al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb, and led to the rise of terrorist gangs and death squads in Burkina Faso, Central African Republic, and elsewhere on the continent. In effect, Obama’s war on Libya was the opening salvo of a continent-wide destabilization the effects of which are still being felt today and likely will continue to be felt for years, if not decades, to come.

With these troubling facts in mind, we return to Obama’s speech in Ghana, where he haughtily pronounced that the West is not responsible for Africa’s problems. Naturally, any student of colonialism and African history would immediately object to such selective memory. One wonders whether decades from now, when the legacy of the wars and terrorism that grew out of Obama’s policies is still being felt, another president will stand before Africa and again chastise her for not solving her own problems.

Obama: The smiling face of neo-colonialism

Were Obama’s crimes against peace in Africa limited only to the war on Libya and its effects, one could simply call it a blunder of historical proportions. But Obama had much more blood to spill in Africa while expanding the U.S. military footprint there.

Primary among these initiatives to grow the U.S. military presence in Africa was the expansion of the U.S. Africa Command, or AFRICOM. In June of 2013, Ebrahim Shabbir Deen of the Johannesburg-based Afro-Middle East Centre noted:

[AFRICOM] has surreptitiously managed to infuse itself into various African militaries. This has been accomplished mainly through military-to-military partnerships which the command has with fifty-one of Africa’s fifty-five states. In many instances, these partnerships involve African militaries ceding operational command to AFRICOM.

In fact, while President George W. Bush was responsible for the establishment of AFRICOM, it was Obama who expanded it into a continental military force into which national military forces have been subsumed. In effect, Obama was able to make African nations, and especially their militaries, into wholly-owned subsidiaries of the Pentagon and U.S. military-industrial complex. But it’s ok, Obama did it with a smile and with the credibility of the “native son” of the continent.

Similarly, Obama is directly responsible for the ongoing bloodshed in South Sudan, where he championed the separatism which led to the creation of that country and the predictable civil war which has followed. Obama declared in 2011 upon the formal independence of South Sudan that: “Today is a reminder that after the darkness of war, the light of a new dawn is possible. A proud flag flies over Juba and the map of the world has been redrawn.” But Obama may have spoken too soon, as the darkness of war drags on in the devastated country where a “new dawn” seems about as likely as Obama admitting his failure.

And while Obama, as usual, waxed poetic about independence and freedom, the reality is that his backing of South Sudan was more about gaining a geopolitical advantage against China than about high-minded ideals.

Similarly, Obama used the expanded capabilities of U.S. military and CIA in Africa to greatly increase the Pentagon and Langley’s presence in Somalia. As Jeremy Scahill reported in The Nation in December of 2014:

The CIA runs a counterterrorism training program for Somali intelligence agents and operatives aimed at building an indigenous strike force capable of snatch operations and targeted ‘combat’ operations against members of Al Shabab, an Islamic militant group with close ties to Al Qaeda. As part of its expanding counterterrorism program in Somalia, the CIA also uses a secret prison buried in the basement of Somalia’s National Security Agency (NSA) headquarters … Some of the prisoners have been snatched off the streets of Kenya and rendered by plane to Mogadishu.

It should be noted that the policies — the crimes against peace — highlighted here represent only a fraction of the eight years of Obama policies on the continent; a complete accounting of Obama’s crimes against Africa would likely require a book-length analysis. The intent here is to illustrate that the man who stood before Africa professing to be a friend was as much friend to Africa as the hangman is to the condemned.

Were it someone other than the first black president, perhaps there might have been an outcry at the rape and plunder of the continent, the militarization and destabilization of Africa. And yet, throughout the past eight years, there has been a deafening silence from liberals whose ideals and values apparently extend only as far as party loyalty allows.

In a beautifully precise term coined by Glen Ford, executive editor of Black Agenda Report, Obama represented not the lesser, but “the more effective,” evil. And when it came to Africa, that was doubly true. Who but Obama could have destroyed nations, fomented terrorism, plundered the wealth, and militarized and destabilized the entire continent all while flashing a hypnotic grin?

For the African people, however, Obama’s perfect teeth and intoxicating smile hide a forked tongue. And as for Obama’s Africa “legacy,” it can be found in the graveyards of Libya, Nigeria, and beyond.

Source:


Related:



Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Donald Trump: the last symptom of a system that is about to collapse

globinfo freexchange
In another interesting interview with Chris Hedges, Richard Wolff explains why the Trump presidency is the last resort of a system that is about to collapse:
Finally, if everybody tries to save themselves (protection), we have a historical example: after the Great Depression that happened in Europe. And most people believe that it was a large part of what led to WWII after WWI, rather than a much saner collective effort. But capitalism doesn't go for collective efforts, it tends to destroy itself by its own mechanisms.
There has to be a movement from below. Otherwise, there is no counter force that can take us in another direction.
So, absent that counter force we are going to see this system spinning out of control and destroying itself in the very way its critics have for so long foreseen it well might.
When Trump announced his big tariffs on China, we saw the stock market dropped 700 points in a day. That's a sign of the anxiety, the danger, even in the min…

Austria has just returned to the Middle Ages

The Austrian government confirmed that the far-right is an emergency reserve of neoliberalism
globinfo freexchange
Haven't you yet convinced that the nationalists and the far-right are the most faithful dogs of the big capital? Then, look at what just happened in Austria. In the end, despite the mass protests in Vienna, Austrian employers will be able to introduce 12-hour working day without increasing wages. The relevant law adopted by the Parliament of the country, reports on Friday, July 6.



What's the first thing that Emmanuel Macron did after his election in France? He rushed to complete what Francois Hollande - the other puppet of the neoliberal establishment - had started: destroy trade unions, completely deregulate the labor market.
Yet, the media in France were promoting him as a 'progressive' (what a joke) who will stop the far-right threat.
In reality, big capital’s reserve, Marine Le Pen, is waiting in the 'bench', ready to take action any moment, now tha…

The idiotic circus of terror leads us to the final collapse

There is a familiar checklist for extinction and we are ticking off every item of it. The idiots know only one word: more. They are unencumbered by common sense. They hoard wealth and resources until workers cannot make a living and the infrastructure collapses. They live in privileged compounds where they eat chocolate cake and order missile strikes. They see the state as a projection of their own vanity.

failed evolution
The idiots seen in the decay the chance of personal advancement in profit, takeover in the final days of crumbling civilizations.

Idiot generals wage endless unwinnable wars that bankrupt the nation.
Idiot economists call for reducing taxes for the rich and cutting social service programs for the poor. And project economic growth on the basis of myth.
Idiot industrialists poison the water, the soil and the air. Slash jobs and depress wages.
Idiot bankers gamble on self-created financial bubbles and impose crippling debt peonage on the citizens.
Idiot journalists and …

The vicious circle of modern slavery

globinfo freexchange
It sounds unbelievable, but in one of supposedly the most advanced European nations, the government plans to allow the working day to be extended to 12 hours!
We are talking about Austria, where tens of thousands of people in Vienna packed the streets on Saturday to voice their opposition to loosening labor laws to allow for a 12-hour workday and subsequent 60-hour workweek. Police in Vienna said some 80,000 people took part, while the trade unions that organized the protest said some 100,000 people attended.
What can someone say about this unimaginably absurd decision?
In an age of all this advanced technology, with AI and hyper-automation, people should work less hours, enjoying all the benefits and extra free time for their families and themselves. Yet, in the homeland of Austrian economics that led us to brutal neoliberalism, it seems that the elites push things to the opposite direction. Why? Is it just because human labor can't compete the machines?
Think ab…

Bernie's revolution starts to wipe out the establishment with a huge political earthquake!

globinfo freexchange
It happened! A 28-year-old super-progressive beat the personification of the establishment in the Democratic primary! Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez won the Democratic primary in New York's 14th congressional district, defeating the establishment baron, Joe Crowley. This has been described by many, rightfully, as the biggest upset victory in the 2018 midterm election season.
What are the origins of this amazing, unprecedented result in the US political process?
We can find them in the 2016 Democratic primaries. Back then, Bernie Sanders put the foundations of a truly progressive movement that could beat the neoliberal establishment. We wrote then that Bernie speaks straightly about things buried by the establishment, as if they were absent. Wall Street corruption, growing inequality, corporate funding of politicians by lobbies. He says that he will break the big banks. He will provide free health and education for all the American people. Because of Sanders, Hillary w…

Corporate media pundits depict establishment's evident panic in front of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez's huge victory

globinfo freexchange
Shortly after recent political earthquake with Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez's huge victory, the establishment apparatus started to react as expected.
TYT immediately responded by identifying the common narratives used by the corporate media pundits in the following video:

In this video you can track at least two kinds of typical 'arguments' provided by the neoliberal ideological framework. We wrote several times in this blog about such arguments that their carriers present them as being perfectly rational using 'logical leaps', while in reality, they are deeply irrational.
In the first argument, Steve Schmidt labels progressivism as 'dishonest', simply because it fights for free education, free healthcare, etc. The basic 'argument' is the usual: ordinary people can't have such things because of the enormous debt. Of course, the logical leap here is the fact that the neoliberal pundits always avoid to refer to the billions in bailout…

Key parts of the Matrix: the faithful little soldiers of the mainstream media

globinfo freexchange
Ludivine Bénard describes almost perfectly a key part of the Matrix of our times:
Journalistic titles hire journalists whose social background – socially, culturally, educationally and morally – fits perfectly with what the current capitalist order asks for.
People working in media are mostly middle-class types with the same interests, favouring consumerism, hedonism, libertarian individualism and unconditional Europeanism from Brussels. And they're all subject to this form of political illiteracy – they reduce reporting on politics to reporting on political personalities. The journalists and pollsters in the press turn political life into a theatrical stage, where personalities just endlessly talk and debate.
All that talk drowns out any serious criticism of the system.
The French people have been indoctrinated that way for decades – we've had more than 30 years of a certain consensus between the centrist powers of the conservative right of Les Républicains…

The 'anti-establishment' Trump admits he is more elite than the elite!

globinfo freexchange
He said it!
From the first moment in this blog, even before Trump's election, we repeatedly said that Donnie is only a reserve of the establishment.
Finally, he essentially admitted that he is more elite than the elite! Or, more establishment than the establishment if you like. During a campaign rally in Duluth, Minnesota, Trump said "Why are they elite? I have a much better apartment than they do. I'm smarter than they are. I’m richer than they are. I became president and they didn't."
Kyle Kulinski is right. Donald Trump wants to be fully integrated in the Establishment Inc. He wants to be loved by the elites, join them. He sends signals to them, saying 'I did what you want, why don't you play with me?'.
The message to the American citizens is this: do not trust the orange clown. In case that will grab your vote for a second term, he will do whatever the establishment wants, and more. Meaning, more tax-cuts for the rich, more for-pro…

The real E CORPs seek complete control of global food supply

Who controls the food supply controls the people; who controls the energy can control whole continents; who controls money can control the world
globinfo freexchange
In the famous TV series, Mr. Robot, E Corp (which the central character, Elliot Alderson, perceives as Evil Corp), is an extremely powerful company that controls societies through consumer debt.
Yet, in the real world, a couple of mega multinationals could be proved even more ruthless. In another interesting report, James Corbett exposes the ultimate goal behind the merge of two of the biggest corporations in the food, medicine and agricultural sector. These are the real ECORPs:
What does a pharmaceutical giant have to gain from buying out and merging with an agrichemical giant, especially one that carries as much baggage as Monsanto?
If the connection between these corporate behemoths seems tenuous, then perhaps the key to understanding it is presented in that 1995 quote from former Monsanto CEO Robert Shapiro: “We’re talking…

Three years from the coup against Greece by the European Financial Dictatorship

globinfo freexchange
Three years passed (July 5, 2015) since the European Financial Dictatorship through the European Central Bank (ECB) and its head Mario Draghi, was forced to proceed in an open financial coup against Greece.
The start of current decade revealed the most ruthless face of a global neo-colonialism. From Syria and Libya to Europe and Latin America, the old colonial powers of the West tried to rebound against an oncoming rival bloc led by Russia and China, which starts to threaten their global domination.
Inside a multi-polar, complex terrain of geopolitical games, the big players start to abandon the old-fashioned, inefficient direct wars. They use today other, various methods like brutal proxy wars, economic wars, financial and constitutional coups, provocative operations, 'color revolutions', etc.
In this highly complex and unstable situation, when even traditional allies turn against each other as the global balances change rapidly, the forces unleashed are abs…