Mercury Rising 鳯女

Politics, life, and other things that matter

Archive for the ‘Africa’ Category

Another war prevented accidentally by electing a Democrat

Posted by Charles II on October 1, 2014

As much as I criticize Barack Obama for his overuse of military force, I am pretty sure it would be a lot worse if John McCain or Mitt Romney were in charge. Here’s a bit of history that should scare us all:

Washington, DC, October 1, 2014 — Secretary of State Henry Kissinger ordered a series of secret contingency plans that included airstrikes and mining of Cuban harbors in the aftermath of Fidel Castro’s decision to send Cuban forces into Angola in late 1975, according to declassified documents made public today for the first time. “If we decide to use military power it must succeed. There should be no halfway measures,” Kissinger instructed General George Brown of the Joint Chiefs of Staff during a high-level meeting of national security officials on March 24, 1976, that included then Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld. “I think we are going to have to smash Castro,” Kissinger told President Ford. “We probably can’t do it before the [1976 presidential] elections.” “I agree,” the president responded.

The story of Kissinger’s Cuban contingency planning was published today in a new book, “Back Channel to Cuba: The Hidden History of Negotiations Between Washington and Havana,” co-authored by American University professor William M. LeoGrande and Peter Kornbluh, who directs the National Security Archive’s Cuba Documentation Project.

The Cubans, you may recall, were in Angola to resist the brutal South African invasion of that country, an invasion intended to squelch any resistance to apartheid.

Our leaders are insane. Especially, most especially, the Republicans. Ironic that both Kissinger and Obama received the Nobel Peace Prize. Maybe next year we can award it to Vladimir Putin.

Posted in abuse of power, Africa, Cuba, Richard Nixon | 6 Comments »

Department of “I Told You So”

Posted by Charles II on February 23, 2013

David Taintor, TPM:

President Obama said in a letter to House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) Friday that 100 U.S. troops have been deployed to Niger to assist the French operation in Mali.

“The total number of U.S. military personnel deployed to Niger is approximately 100. The recently deployed forces have deployed with weapons for the purpose of providing their own force protection and security,” Obama said in the letter.

Obama added that the troops were deployed “in furtherance of U.S. national security interests.”

I took a lot of crap at DK for saying that the US would get involved in the region:

Whether this turns into another American war is yet to be seen… but the stakes are significant enough that it would be surprising if we don’t get involved.

For now it’s just French soldiers resisting their advance. But the stakes are serious enough that it’s inconceivable to me that the US will not be involved within days if not weeks.

The Yellowcake War may be just in its opening innings. See here and here. Or just read Tom Englehardt:

Here, in fact, is a rule of thumb for you: keep your eye on the latest drone bases the CIA and the US military are setting up abroad – in Niger, near its border with Mali, for example – and you have a reasonable set of markers for tracing the further destabilisation of the planet. Each eerily familiar tactical course change (always treated as a brilliant strategic coup) each next application of force, and more things “metastasise”.

All the Islamists have to do is make nice with the Tuaregs and get a rebellion going in Niger to make this a very serious situation. True, the US, France, and Africa could get this right, but I see no signs they are doing so.

Posted in Africa, terrorism | 1 Comment »

US claims authorization to intervene in Mali

Posted by Charles II on January 28, 2013

Robert Naiman, Just Foreign Policy:

1) The Obama Administration has apparently made a legal determination that the conflict in Mali is covered under the 2001 Authorization for the Use of Military Force. Most of the reservations about whether President Obama has the legal authority to engage in military operations in Mali were resolved, the New York Times reports, after it was determined that the main targets were linked to Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb. This means that the Administration is using the same legal authority to intervene that it is using to conduct drone strikes in Pakistan, Yemen, and Somalia, which means that the Administration could conduct drone strikes in Mali under this interpretation of the 2001 AUMF.

But the degree to which President Obama wants to get involved in Mali is still an open question, the Times says….Gen. Carter Ham, the head of the Pentagon’s Africa Command, has said, “Realistically, probably the best you can get is containment and disruption so that Al Qaeda is no longer able to control territory.”

I haven’t found the NYT article and it’s behind a paywall. But if we have the right to intervene and the French are unable to actually end the conflict, what is likely to happen?

Posted in Africa, terrorism | 8 Comments »

Asked again: Will the US intervene in Mali?

Posted by Charles II on January 18, 2013

Since I quickly put together a post titled The Yellowcake War on whether the US would intervene in Mali, the following have emerged:

* The US is not permitted to directly aid the Malian government, such as it is, because it was formed through a coup.
* The US is permitted to do whatever it wants because the Islamists have chosen to include Al Qaeda in their name (no, I am not kidding)
* The US is absolutely committed to making sure that the Islamists don’t establish a base of operations in Mali
* Ryan Crocker, who frequently expresses DoD thinking, has all but said the US needs to intervene.
* there are lots of good reasons not to get involved

At present, the rationale being presented to the public is that it wouldn’t do to give Al Qaeda free rein. And this is true. Given uninterrupted access to Mali’s uranium properties, Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb would figure out how to make yellowcake and produce the material for a dirty bomb. And, of course, it would be a base to strike into Niger, where a number of other Tuaregs live and which is home to a well-developed nuclear industry essential to Europe’s energy security. But no one has mentioned the role of uranium in this story. After all, minus the uranium, the Maghreb is pretty much like Tattoine.

I see it as likely that the US will intervene because it’s unlikely that France can deal with the Salafis, much less the Tuaregs; because US troops are coming free thanks to winding down Iraq and Afghanistan; because Niger’s uranium is both crucial to Europe’s energy security; and because keeping the Salafis away from uranium over the longer period is critical.

Posted in Africa, terrorism | Comments Off on Asked again: Will the US intervene in Mali?

The Yellowcake War: Our Splendid New Adventure?

Posted by Charles II on January 15, 2013

(Crossposted with notable improvements at Daily Kos)

Whether this turns into another American war is yet to be seen… but the stakes are significant enough that it would be surprising if we don’t get involved. DemocracyNow has an excellent wrap explaining the basic situation: Mali is composed of the Tuareg north and the Bambara south, with the Tuaregs in rebellion. Northern Mali and neighboring northern Niger are rich in uranium. Niger’s uranium supplies France’s nuclear industry. And there’s oil and gold. Northern Niger is also a Tuareg region, and rebellions in one state tend to spread across the border.

Add to the mix these three facts: (a) that a large part of Qaddafi’s army was Tuareg, and these soldiers are repatriating to Mali and (b) that there has been a major in-gathering of Al Qaeda elements who saw the Tuarag rebellion as an excellent starting point for their own actions and who had the collaboration of the former president of Mali Amadou Toumani, and (c) the US-trained Malian army is not necessarily loyal to anyone or anything.

Oh, yeah. And the Al Qaida guys have tons of money from hostage taking of westerners and drug running.

Adam Nossiter, Eric Schmitt, and Mark Mazzetti, NYT:

But as insurgents swept through the desert last year, commanders of this nation’s elite army units, the fruit of years of careful American training, defected when they were needed most — taking troops, guns, trucks and their newfound skills to the enemy in the heat of battle, according to senior Malian military officials.

“It was a disaster,” said one of several senior Malian officers to confirm the defections.

Then an American-trained officer overthrew Mali’s elected government, setting the stage for more than half of the country to fall into the hands of Islamic extremists. American spy planes and surveillance drones have tried to make sense of the mess, but American officials and their allies are still scrambling even to get a detailed picture of who they are up against.

Now, in the face of longstanding American warnings that a Western assault on the Islamist stronghold could rally jihadists around the world and prompt terrorist attacks as far away as Europe, the French have entered the war themselves

The only ray of hope in all this, if that is what one can call it, is that Al Qaida may be doing its usual public relations stuff, cutting off hands, and so on. Many are foreigners, Algerians and Mauritanians (al Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb) whose presence will probably not improve with time, but there is also Ansar al Din and MUJAO with more local roots.

For now it’s just French soldiers resisting their advance. But the stakes are serious enough that it’s inconceivable to me that the US will not be involved within days if not weeks.

Posted in Africa, terrorism | 3 Comments »

The way we do business: genocidal African leader is a CIA/DIA asset

Posted by Charles II on January 22, 2012

Bryan Bender, Boston Globe:

When Charles G. Taylor tied bed sheets together to escape from a second-floor window at the Plymouth House of Correction on Sept. 15, 1985, he was more than a fugitive trying to avoid extradition. He was a sought-after source for American intelligence.

After a quarter-century of silence, the US government has confirmed what has long been rumored: Taylor, who would become president of Liberia and the first African leader tried for war crimes, worked with US spy agencies during his rise as one of the world’s most notorious dictators.

Former intelligence officials, who agreed to discuss the covert ties only on the condition of anonymity, and specialists including Farah believe Taylor probably was considered useful for gathering intelligence about the activities of Moammar Khadafy.

Bryan Bender, Boston Globe:

Breaking two and a half decades of silence, former Liberian president and accused war criminal Charles G. Taylor said today that his infamous prison break from the Plymouth County Correctional Facility in 1985 was aided by the US government…

In the second day of his testimony in his war crimes trial that could settle the long-standing mystery, Taylor said that on the night of Sept. 15, 1985, his maximum-security prison cell was unlocked by a guard and he was escorted to the minimum-security part of the facility.

According to news reports from The Hague, he said he then escaped by tying sheets together and climbing out a window and over a prison fence where he said a car with two men he assumed were agents of the US government drove him to New York, where his wife was waiting with money to get him out of the country.

Robtel Neajai Pailey, AllAfrica:

The bombshell news that he was indeed a CIA informant in the early years of his rise to notoriety calls into question America’s complicity in Taylor’s destruction of Liberia.

America’s facilitation of Taylor’s escape from a maximum security prison in Boston in 1985 – while he was facing extradition to Liberia for allegedly stealing US$1 million from the General Services Agency, which he headed during President Samuel Kanyon Doe’s regime – was always rumored but never corroborated. …

The Taylor-CIA connection has re-inscribed for Liberians an age-old dilemma, what to do with our so-called historical relationship with the United States, which has been fraught with betrayal after betrayal. Liberians who have been commenting on various notice boards are justifiably angry, upset and disappointed, but not surprised.

It’s no wonder that the U.S. didn’t intervene in the Liberian civil war, though Liberians begged and pleaded for its “father/mother” to stop us from killing each other. One U.S. diplomat at the time even said that “Liberia is of no strategic interest to the United States.” …

This should send a strong signal to Liberians and Liberia once and for all that America cannot be trusted. From Noriega, to Osama, to Saddam, to Samuel Doe, authoritarian leaders who end up in the U.S.’s good graces are never there for long.

Taylor presided over genocide and looting that garnered him hundreds of millions or billions of dollars while costing the lives of 250,000 human beings, including many child soldiers.

1985 would be Reagan. But the “intelligence community” that facilitated Taylor’s release is eternal and non-partisan. The same unelected government which released a man who had robbed the American people of a million dollars so that he could prey on descendants of Americans who chose to return to the country of their ethnic origin very likely participated in the kidnapping of the lawfully elected president of Honduras–indeed, probably presided over a host of criminal actions performed in the name of national security, but ending in innocent blood, public dishonor and the world’s distrust of us.

Apparently it’s just the way we do business.

Posted in Africa, international, Osama bin Laden, Ronald Reagan, totalitarianism | Tagged: , , , , , | 6 Comments »

US has secret prisons. It just doesn’t own or operate them.

Posted by Charles II on July 13, 2011

Jeremy Scahill of The Nation has an excellent article and interview on why we should be skeptical about the Administration’s claims to have ended torture. I should note that Scahill nowhere alleges torture–just ill-treatment and extreme isolation. But where there is no judicial oversight, abuses are sure to follow.

From the article:

Nestled in a back corner of Mogadishu’s Aden Adde International Airport is a sprawling walled compound run by the Central Intelligence Agency. … The site… is guarded by Somali soldiers, but the Americans control access. At the facility, 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, where prisoners suspected of being Shabab members or of having links to the group are held. Some of the prisoners have been snatched off the streets of Kenya and rendered by plane to Mogadishu. While the underground prison is officially run by the Somali NSA, US intelligence personnel pay the salaries of intelligence agents and also directly interrogate prisoners.

This is not what I voted for in November, 2008. It doesn’t matter whether this is part of the US government or whether the operations have been outsourced to Somali contractors for deniability. It’s wrong.

Posted in Africa, CIA, torture | 1 Comment »

Gold, standard

Posted by Charles II on November 22, 2010

From Doctors Without Borders. Click to enlarge.

Making money off of gold?

You’re making money off of blood.

Posted in Africa, environment, evil | 1 Comment »

Unexpected Consequences?

Posted by Phoenix Woman on November 20, 2010

I am often mindful of the fact that the Magna Carta was intended to, at most, be a sop on the part of a harried Angevin king to a small group of powerful barons interested solely in their own grievances. It wasn’t intended to lead to greater overall freedom for all English subjects.

With that in mind, I think that the effect of Pope Benedict XVI’s recent decision that condom usage isn’t all bad all the time, especially for gay male prostitutes, may be not what he intends it to be — or maybe it is.

On the one hand, if he seriously thinks he’s going to score points with the medical community, particularly those involved in fighting HIV, for this apparent humanitarian gesture, he’s sadly mistaken. Worse yet, he’s going to inflame the hardcore reactionaries, as they will see this as the first step towards accepting condom use in general.

On the other hand, consider Africa. It’s the last semi-open frontier, as far as the major organized religions are concerned — the last one where a non-trivial number of the indigenous people aren’t already subscribed to one of the big faiths. (It’s one reason why the Mormons, whose faith was built to a large degree on anti-black racism, have opened the door to blacks in the priesthood.) There’s a big problem, though: The spread of HIV, particularly via heterosexual contacts with hookers, threatens to eliminate these potential converts before they can be converted.

What to do? How about preparing the ground for a tacit, if not official, acceptance of condom use among heterosexual couples by allowing it for homosexual contacts? That’s exactly what I’m guessing will result from this announcement of Pope Benedict’s.

Posted in Africa, mistitled Benedict, Pope Ratzinger, religion, The Vaticant, theocrats | Tagged: , | 1 Comment »

“More complicated than rocket science”: global warming and famine

Posted by Charles II on October 3, 2009

Stephen Leahy, IPS (via t/o):

Rocketing food prices and hundreds of millions more starving people will be part of humanity’s grim future without concerted action on climate change and new investments in agriculture, experts reported this week.

The current devastating drought in East Africa, where millions of people are on the brink of starvation, is a window on our future, suggests a new study looking at the impacts of climate change.

“Twenty-five million more children will be malnourished in 2050 due to effects of climate change,” such as decreased crop yields, crop failures and higher food prices, concluded the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) study.

We need to develop means to desalinate water in non-destructive, energy efficient ways. Fast.

Posted in Africa, farming, global food crisis, global warming | 1 Comment »

%d bloggers like this: