Slouching Towards Regional War
I came across a succinct, must-read analysis of Libya and Its Contexts written by Greg Shupack for Jacobin. The piece discusses a book by Maximilian Forte, titled Slouching Towards Sirte: NATO’s War on Libya and Africa.
The context of the Libya war is important because the template is being replayed in Syria, though the reasons are different. In Libya, one of the incentives to destroy the Gaddafi regime was its support of the African Union and its opposition to AFRICOM. From the Jocobin piece:
As Forte’s book clarifies, NATO’s war in Libya was at least in part a war for power and control in Africa, one which has hastened the militarization of the continent. At the centre of what Forte calls a “new scramble for Africa” is the United States’ Africa Command (AFRICOM), an organization based in Germany, and in charge of US military relations with 53 African states. The Qadhafi regime’s opposition to AFRICOM is a context in which NATO’s decision to intervene on the side of anti-Qadhafi forces must be understood. Citing cables from the US embassy in Tripoli, Forte documents American frustration with African governments, “mostly notably…Libya,” who prevented the U.S from establishing a base for AFRICOM operations in Africa and who viewed AFRICOM as a vehicle for “latter-day colonialism.” While the organization claims that its command is “indirect” and that it will collaborate with civilian agencies, Forte quotes AFRICOM commander General Ham as saying that this “does not mean we simply wait for others to ask for our support. I expect our Command to actively seek and propose innovative and imaginative approaches through which we may apply the considerable military capability of the United States to its best advantage.”
The rise and fall of the Community of Sahel-Saharan States (CEN-SAD) is another key context. CEN-SAD is a Tripoli-Based regional body, formed in 1998 to promote trade, free movement, telecommunications, and security among its member countries. The organization, which included approximately half of the population and territory of Africa, was a building block of and a source of competition with the AU. Under Qadhafi, Libya was a major player in CEN-SAD as shown by the country’s launching and funding of the Sahel-Saharan Bank for Investment and Commerce (BSIC) and its establishing the Fund for Assistance and Support to Women, Children and Youths. In 2007, CEN-SAD issued a statement “categorically rejecting” AFRICOM and any foreign military presence in any member state. Because of this, US officials were irritated by CEN-SAD, and misrepresented it as a solely Libyan organization. What CEN-SAD represented was an organization of African states that collectively had the potential to curtail US influence and to chart an independent path for much of the continent.
In view of this, it will come as no surprise that in the month of Qadhafi’s murder, the U.S announced it was sending troops to the Central African Republic, Uganda, South Sudan, and the Democratic Republic of Congo. With Qadhafi’s regime gone, AFRICOM announced before Libya could have an election that a new military relationship had been established between AFRICOM and a post-Qadhafi Libyan government that was appointed by the NTC. Furthermore, the U.S established an Office of Security Cooperation at the U.S Embassy in Tripoli to “help coordinate security assistance, international military education and training and other security cooperation.” CEN-SAD, meanwhile, is all but defunct.
Going back further, this clip from Democracy Now (2007) features Wesley Clark talking about the list of nations targeted by Bush after 9/11. We, as an out-of-control empire, are still working on the list:
We will see how the debate evolves in DC when Congress returns. There is already criticism that the authorization Obama is seeking is too broad:
U.S. lawmakers began work on Monday on their version of an authorization of the use of military force in Syria, worrying that President Barack Obama’s draft could open the door to possible use of ground troops or eventual attacks on other countries.
I wonder where Obama keeps his Nobel peace prize.