United States Army in Africa, against Ebola or for militarism?


This 12 September 2014 video is called Cuba answers WHO’s call for more Ebola help.

By Niles Williamson in the USA:

US exploiting West Africa Ebola outbreak to establish military foothold

4 October 2014

Under the guise of a humanitarian mission aimed at containing the spread of the Ebola virus, the Obama administration is exploiting the outbreak to establish a solid military footing on the African continent. West Africa continues to be ravaged by the worst outbreak of Ebola since the first case was identified in northern Democratic Republic of Congo in 1976.

According to a report by the World Health Organization, as of October 1 there were 7,437 suspected, probable and confirmed cases of Ebola in Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone and 3,338 deaths. A separate outbreak of a different strain of the virus in the Democratic Republic of Congo has to date killed 43 people including eight health care workers.

Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone have been the hardest hit by the epidemic, accounting for 99.6 percent of cases and 99.8 percent of deaths. UNICEF reported last week that at least 3,700 children have been orphaned by the epidemic. The already limited health systems of Liberia and Sierra Leone have essentially collapsed under the impact of the outbreak.

The US plan for containing the epidemic, codenamed Operation United Assistance, is being overseen by the US Armed Forces Africa Command (AFRICOM) and is expected to cost $1 billion over the next six months. So far the US government has contributed $111 million to the effort, a paltry sum compared with the $1 billion the US has already spent in two months of airstrikes against ISIS in Iraq, recently extended to Syria.

AFRICOM plans to oversee the deployment of 3,200 troops, most from the 101st Airborne Division, to assist in the construction of emergency Ebola treatment units.

Last week US airmen from the Air Force’s 633rd Medical Group, working with employees from the US Public Health Service, set up a 25-bed Expeditionary Medical Support System (EMEDS) hospital for health care workers who contract the deadly virus.

A 300-bed Ebola treatment unit is currently under construction in Monrovia, the capital of Liberia, on the grounds of an abandoned Ministry of Defense building built prior to the civil wars that devastated the country in the 1990s. The treatment facility and others like it are not expected to be ready to receive patients for a number of weeks.

AFRICOM has no plans to staff these Ebola treatment centers with its own doctors or nurses; instead it will be left to the US Agency for International Development and the Liberian government to properly staff them. USAID and the US State Department have pledged $10 million towards the training and deployment of 100 volunteer health care workers from African Union member states.

Because they come into regular contact with patients’ bodily fluids, the doctors and nurses who tend to those stricken by Ebola are at great risk of contracting the disease themselves. The WHO reports that as of September 28, at least 216 health care workers have been killed by the virus. Two American health care workers successfully recovered after they were flown to US hospitals where they were quarantined and treated.

The main purpose of this military operation is not to halt the spread of Ebola or restore health to those that have been infected. Rather the United States is seeking to exploit the crisis to establish a firm footing on the African continent for AFRICOM, which was established in 2008 in order to oversee US imperialist operations in the region. AFRICOM currently operates from Kelley Barracks in Stuttgart, Germany, thousands of miles from the nearest African country.

Liberia is the only country in Africa which has previously expressed interest in hosting AFRICOM headquarters. The Ebola epidemic provides a convenient excuse for the deployment of thousands of US troops and establishing a permanent presence.

US President Barack Obama announced on September 16 that a Joint Force Command Headquarters (JFCH) would be established in Liberia to coordinate and oversee Operation United Assistance. The JFCH would be the first significant base operated by AFRICOM on the continent.

Liberia is the latest in a long line of African countries where the United States has sent American military personnel and equipment in the last decade. American troops have been deployed to Kenya, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Central African Republic, Chad, Burkina Faso, Djibouti, Ethiopia, Mali, Niger, Nigeria, Somalia, Uganda, and South Sudan. AFRICOM’s first significant operation on the African continent was the US-NATO bombing of Libya in 2011, which resulted in the overthrow and murder of Muammar Gaddafi.

The longer the epidemic goes on, the greater the chance that the disease will spread to countries beyond West Africa. This is illustrated quite clearly by the spread of the virus to the United States, which demonstrates that even the health system in an advanced country is vulnerable—to say nothing of the gaps created by long-term cutbacks in health services, particularly in public health systems.

The first confirmed case of Ebola in the US was in a man who exhibited symptoms after traveling to Dallas, Texas from Liberia, where he had helped transport another person suffering from the virus to the hospital. Thomas Eric Duncan was sent home after his initial examination, the result of an apparent computer error, further exposing his friends and family to the virus. The apartment complex where he lived has been quarantined and those he came into contact with are being monitored for symptoms.

Hospitals in the US have been proceeding with extreme caution, quarantining anyone exhibiting Ebola symptoms, including two people in Kentucky and a child in Utah who were eventually cleared. It was reported on Friday that two individuals in Washington, D.C. were being treated under quarantine for Ebola-like symptoms.

In the week since Duncan was diagnosed, the American media has focused largely on sensationalized reporting around his case, hyping the dangers to the public as a means of justifying tighter security measures against immigrants and visitors from Africa. Meanwhile, relatively little attention is being given to the affected region in Africa, where dozens are dying every day.

EBOLA UPDATES: CUBA UNLIKELY BEFELLOW IN FIGHT AGAINST DEADLY VIRUS Cuba has stepped up in the fight against Ebola. Drugmakers are struggling to bring their experimental drugs to scale in the fight against such a widespread outbreak. This is what happens to a baby when her mother dies of Ebola. The Texas Sheriff’s deputy who was feared to have contracted the virus has been cleared. And don’t joke you have Ebola on a plane, or else you’ll be escorted off by workers in hazmat suits.

United States wars in South Sudan, elsewhere in Africa


This video is called Africom: The New American Empire in Africa.

By Peter Van Buren in the USA:

Any More U.S. “Stabilization” and Africa Will Collapse

Monday December 23, 2013 10:39 am

History is just one of those hard things to ignore, especially in South Sudan.

In 2011, the U.S. midwifed the creation of a new nation, South Sudan. Though at the time Obama invoked the words of Dr. Martin Luther King speaking about Ghana (“I knew about all of the struggles, and all of the pain, and all of the agony that these people had gone through for this moment”) in officially recognizing the country, many were more focused on the underlying U.S. motives, isolating the rest of Sudan as part of the war on terror, and securing the oil reserves in the south for the U.S. The State Department rushed to open an embassy in South Sudan, and U.S. money poured in to pay for the new government.

Like his counterparts from Iraq and Afghanistan when the U.S. was still in charge of those places, the new South Sudan president was brought to the White House for photos, all blithely pushed out to the world via the Voice of America. The two leaders were said to have discussed “the importance of maintaining transparency and the rule of law.”

In 2012 then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton visited the nation as part of an extended effort at creating B-roll footage for her 2016 campaign, and Obama publicly applauded a deal brokered between Sudan and South Sudan on oil pipeline fees that the White House claimed would “help stem the ongoing violence in the region.”

However, like in Iraq, Afghanistan and so many other places that fell apart while being democratized and stabilized by the U.S. (one also thinks of Libya, itself part of the African continent), the rush to mediagenic proclamations without addressing the underlying fundamentals led only to catastrophe. A scant few years later, South Sudan is at the brink of civil war and societal collapse, the U.S. is evacuating another embassy and indeed one variety or another of “rebels” are shooting at U.S. military aircraft arriving in their country in violation of their national sovereignty. Those who believe that the U.S. efforts in South Sudan do not involve special forces on the ground and drones overhead no doubt will have a nice Christmas waiting up to catch a glimpse of Santa.

Obama, apparently unwilling to remember how he stood aside while an elected government recently fell apart in Egypt, went on to double-down on hypocrisy by stating in regards to South Sudan, “Any effort to seize power through the use of military force will result in the end of long-standing support from the United States and the international community.”

The Militarization of Africa

If the U.S. efforts in South Sudan were isolated, that would be tragedy enough. However, the U.S. militarization of Africa paints such a sad, similar picture that it bears a recapping here. The always on-track Nick Turse reported:

– In recent years, the US has trained and outfitted soldiers from Uganda, Burundi and Kenya, among other nations. They have also served as a proxy force for the US in Somalia, part of the African Union Mission (Amisom) protecting the U.S.-supported government in that country’s capital, Mogadishu.

– Since 2007, the State Department has given about $650-million in logistics support, equipment and training for Amisom troops. The Pentagon has given an extra $100 million since 2011.

– The U.S. also continues to fund African armies through the Trans-Sahara Counterterrorism Partnership and its Pentagon analogue, now known as Operation Juniper Shield, with increased support flowing to Mauritania and Niger in the wake of Mali’s collapse. In 2012, the State Department and the US Agency for International Development poured approximately $52 million into the programs and the Pentagon chipped in another $46 million.

– In the Obama years, U.S. Africa Command has also built a sophisticated logistics system, officially known as the Africom Surface Distribution Network, but colloquially referred to as “the new spice route”. Its central nodes are in Manda Bay, Garissa and Mombasa in Kenya; Kampala and Entebbe in Uganda; Bangui and Djema in the Central African Republic; Nzara in South Sudan; Dire Dawa in Ethiopia; and the Pentagon’s showpiece African base, Camp Lemonnier.

– In addition, the Pentagon has run a regional air campaign using drones and manned aircraft out of airports and bases around the continent including Camp Lemonnier, Arba Minch airport in Ethiopia, Niamey in Niger and the Seychelles Islands in the Indian Ocean, while private contractor-operated surveillance aircraft have flown missions out of Entebbe. Recently, Foreign Policy reported on the existence of a possible drone base in Lamu, Kenya.

– Another critical location is Ouagadougou, the capital of Burkina Faso, home to a Joint Special Operations Air Detachment and the Trans-Sahara Short Take-Off and Landing Airlift Support Initiative that, according to military documents, supports “high-risk activities” carried out by elite forces from Joint Special Operations Task Force — Trans-Sahara.

The Failure of the Militarization of Africa

Libya is in flames, Benghazi the only point of attention for Americans while chaos consumes a once-stable country. Egypt, again on the continent though perhaps not of it, saw its brief bit of democracy stamped out by a military coup. The governments of Mauritania and Niger fell to their militaries. Chad experienced a coup, albeit unsuccessful. Fighting continues in Mali and the Central African Republic. In October 2011 the U.S. invaded, albeit in a small way, the Central African Republic In December 2012, the U.S. evacuated its diplomats and civilians. 2011 also saw a U.S.-backed Kenyan invasion of Somalia. U.S. troops are hunting humans in Uganda and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Like ghosts from the 18th century, pirates haunt the waters off East Africa. The U.S. admits to having 5,000 troops in ten African countries when once there were none.

And So, Why?

The basic rule for any investment is what do you gain in return for risk? It applies to buying stocks as well as investing a nation’s blood, resources and prestige.

In the case of Africa, the U.S. investment has been a disaster. Chaos has replaced stability in many places, and terrorists have found homes in countries they may have once never imagined. The U.S., in sad echo of 19th century colonialism, has militarized another region of the world.

Every rebel and terrorist the U.S. kills creates more, radicalizes more, gives the bad guys another propaganda lede. The more we kill, the more there seem to be to kill. America needs fewer people saying they are victims of America. The Chinese are building cultural ties and signing deals all over Africa, and we’re just throwing up barbed wire. Why?

—————————————-

Peter Van Buren blew the whistle on State Department waste and mismanagement during Iraqi reconstruction in his first book, We Meant Well, and writes about current events at his blog. Van Buren’s next book, Ghosts of Tom Joad: A Story of the #99Percentwill be available April 2014 from Luminis Books.

What is portrayed as a conflict within the world’s newest state is part of the imperialist balkanisation of Sudan to control its oil and mineral wealth: here.

The Communist Party of South Sudan offers a comprehensive political analysis of the background to the present confrontation: here.

In what is likely the worst single mass fatality incident since the outbreak of fighting in South Sudan last month, as many as 300 people drowned when an overloaded ferry that they had boarded to flee renewed clashes sank Tuesday in the White Nile. Many of the victims were women and children: here.

South Sudan government troops try to force their way into United Nations compound: here.

Enhanced by Zemanta