The following text is taken from an interview conducted on August 19, 2015 with CounterPunch Radio host Eric Draitser on WBAI 99.5FM New York City.
WBAI: In the past decade, America has quietly expanded its military presence throughout Africa. Take us there as a starting point and educate us.
Eric Draitser: The last decade is a good timeframe to discuss this because there have been such significant changes both in terms of what’s happened on the continent of Africa, and in terms of how the United States and its military establishment have responded to that. People may remember, or they may not in fact, that back in 2007 towards the end of the Bush administration we had the establishment of the US military’s so-called Africa Command (AFRICOM). And from its humble beginnings, so to speak, in terms of “cooperative security arrangements” and “counter-terrorism,” AFRICOM has quietly expanded to become a continent-wide military footprint that the United States uses for all sorts of goals. In fact, the US military establishment has insinuated itself in almost every single country on the continent with the exception of two (Zimbabwe and Eritrea).
And so, although it doesn’t receive much media attention, though it doesn’t get much fanfare, the United States has deeply penetrated Africa militarily, and is directly engaged in every important conflict on the continent. Whether you want to discuss the US-NATO war on Libya in 2011, the United States was a principal part of that conflict. The US is deeply engaged in West Africa, both in terms of the so-called counter-terrorism operations against Boko Haram, as well as being a principal participant in the conflicts around the Lake Chad basin. It has deep penetration in the Sahel region both with counter-terrorism and surveillance. And we could go on and on. The point here is that anywhere you look in Africa the US military is involved.
And so, in understanding the changing nature of US engagement we need to understand both western corporate interests (resource extraction, investment, etc.), as well as its military engagement and all the pretexts with which it justifies that. In looking at the issue in this way, one begins to get a comprehensive understanding of just how deeply involved the US and the former colonial powers really are in Africa.