It is easy to pin the blame on US President Donald Trump, his agenda and statements, but the truth is the current US military expansion in Africa is just one more step in the wrong direction. It is part of a strategy that had been implemented a decade ago, during the administration of George W. Bush, and actively pursued by Barack Obama.
In 2007, under the pretext of the “war on terror”, the US consolidated its various military operations in Africa to establish the United States Africa Command (AFRICOM). With a starting budget of half a billion dollars, AFRICOM was supposedly launched to engage with African countries in terms of diplomacy and aid. But, over the course of the last 10 years, it has been transformed into a central command for military incursions and interventions.
However, that violent role has rapidly worsened recently. Indeed, there are hidden US operations in Africa being carried out in the name of “counter-terrorism”.
According to a VICE News investigation, US troops are conducting 3,500 exercises and military engagements throughout Africa per year — an average of 10 per day. The US mainstream media rarely discusses this, giving the military ample space to destabilize any of the continent’s 54 countries as it pleases.
“Today’s figure of 3,500 marks an astounding 1,900 percent increase since the command was activated less than a decade ago, and suggests a major expansion of US military activities on the African continent,” VICE reported.
Following the deaths of four US Special Forces soldiers in Niger on October 4, US Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis made an ominous declaration to a Senate committee: These numbers are likely to increase as the US is expanding its military activities in Africa.
Mattis, like other defense officials in the previous two administrations, justifies the US military transgressions as part of ongoing counter-terrorism efforts. But such a coded reference has served as a pretense for the US to intervene in, and exploit, a massive region with great economic potential.
The old colonial “Scramble for Africa” is being reinvented by global powers that fully fathom the extent of the untapped economic largesse of the continent. While China, India and Russia are each developing a unique approach to wooing Africa, the US is invested mostly in the military option.
While China and Russia take part in the new ‘Scramble for Africa’ with unique approaches centered on significant investment and trade, US involvement on the continent is led by harmful armed operations.
The 2012 coup in Mali, carried out by a US-trained army captain, Amadou Haya Sanogo, is one example.
In a 2013 speech, then-US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton cautioned against a “new colonialism in Africa (in which it is) easy to come in, take out natural resources, pay off leaders and leave.” While Clinton is correct, she was disingenuously referring to China, not her own country.