The Ominous U.S Presence In Northwest Africa

Ominously but unsurprisingly, the U.S. military’s Africa Command
wants to increase its footprint in northwest Africa. What began as
low-profile assistance to France’s campaign to wrest control of
northern Mali (a former colony) from unwelcome jihadists could end
up becoming something more.The Washington Post reports that Africom “is preparing
to establish a drone base in northwest Africa [probably Niger] so
that it can increase surveillance missions on the local affiliate
of Al Qaeda and other Islamist extremist groups that American and
other Western officials say pose a growing menace to the region.”
But before that word “surveillance” can bring a sigh of relief, the
Post adds, “For now, officials say they envision flying only
unarmed surveillance drones from the base, though they have not
ruled out conducting missile strikes at some point if the threat
Bloomberg, citing American military officials, says Niger and
the U.S. government have “reached an agreement allowing American
military personnel to be stationed in the West African country and
enabling them to take on Islamist militants in neighboring Mali,
according to U.S. officials.… No decision has been made to station
the drones.”The irony is that surveillance drones could become the reason
the “threat worsens,” and could provide the pretext to use drones
armed with Hellfire missiles—the same kind used
over 400 times in Pakistan, Yemen, and Somalia, killing
hundreds of noncombatants. Moving from surveillance to lethal
strikes would be a boost for jihadist recruiters.Exactly whom do the jihadists threaten in northern Mali? They
threaten anyone who wishes to live free of extreme Sharia law, such
as the nomadic Tuaregs in the north and the 90 percent of Malians
in the south. Before the jihadists were routed by welcome French
and Mali troops, they inflicted
horrific violence in northern towns like Timbuktu.But are the jihadists a threat to Americans at home? It’s hard
to see the case. Since we know that the original al-Qaeda
grievances against the United States were about brutal U.S.
intervention in the Muslim world, we already know how to minimize,
if not eliminate, a domestic threat from al-Qaeda in the Islamic
Maghreb: withdrawal from the region. If American forces and drones
come home, any real danger will subside. The jihadists will be too
preoccupied with local and regional matters to bother with
Americans minding their business thousands of miles away.But should the U.S. government stop intervening there? From
President Obama down, most people foolishly think the interests of
the American people depend on what happens almost anywhere, and
therefore virtually any crisis requires the application of U.S.
power in some form. Outgoing defense secretary
Leon Panetta says the U.S. support role in Mali “is the kind of
model that you’re going to see in the future.”Africa is of particular interest to the policy elite because of
its oil, gas, and other important resources. So American officials
are eager to make sure those resources are controlled by friends.
In the past that objective has led the U.S. government to support
brutal rulers, which in turn has engendered hostility toward the
United States. Demonstrations on behalf of democracy are often
suppressed with weapons stamped “Made in the USA.” This does not go
unnoticed by the repressed population.The point is that intervention is ultimately self-defeating,
because it creates the enemies the government says it seeks to
defeat. The way to obtain resources is through peaceful market
purchases.On the other hand, “humanitarian intervention,” however
alluring, must be rejected. Saving Malians from violent jihadists
in itself is a worthwhile cause, but the U.S. government can’t do
it without using force against innocent people, including American
taxpayers.And remember the law of unintended consequences. U.S.-led NATO
intervention against Libyan strongman Muammar Qaddafi aided
jihadists (as it does in Syria) and provided the arms cache that
powered the trouble in northern Mali. That’s how things work. After
helping France and the Malian central government defeat the
jihadists, will Obama then help suppress the Tuaregs’ hopes for
autonomy, which could be next on the central government’s
agenda?This is the treacherous web that empire weaves. The U.S.
military is too blunt an instrument for such complex situations.
American security lies in nonintervention. This article
originally appeared at The Future of Freedom

Taken from – 

The Ominous U.S Presence In Northwest Africa

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