The distant reaches of the empire are in a permanent state of war, except we don't have war any more, we have "operations", preferably with the word Freedom® in their names. Hence Operation Enduring Freedom® has a world-wide scope, presently including:
1. Afghanistan (OEF-A)
2. Philippines (OEF-P) (formerly Operation Freedom® Eagle)
3. Horn of Africa (OEF-HOA)
4. Trans Sahara (OEF-TS)
5. Caribbean and Central America (OEF-CCA)
6. Pipeline-istan (formerly known as Central Asia)
In true Smedley Butler fashion, war goes on in these outposts year after year, sometimes directly involving American forces, other times proxies are hired, or sometimes it is simply a matter of propping up a local dictator, who in turn oppresses or even massacres the local population, while the U.S. tries very hard to look the other way. In this post, I examine two of these areas, Horn of Africa and Central Asia.
Yemeni President Saleh meets
the Great and Powerful Oz
OEF-Horn of Africa is a vast project involving intervention at will over a huge area of the globe. The OEF-HOW "Area of Responsibility" includes Kenya, Somalia, Ethiopia, Sudan, Eritrea, Djibouti, and Seychelles. An even broader zone, the "Area of Interest" includes Yemen, Tanzania, Mauritius, Madagascar, Mozambique, Burundi, Rwanda, Comoros, Chad, D.R. Congo, and Uganda.
OEF-HOA forces operate from a base in "independent" Djibouti. While the ground forces are rather small, they are backed up by naval and land-based aircraft, as well as ship-borne Marines. While the ostensible mission is to "stabilize" the area, the true purpose of course is to maintain imperial power over the region's critical shipping lanes. Ironically the fuel that powers the wealthiest nations of the world has to be shipped past the coastlines of some of the poorest.
In Somalia, U.S. raids occasionally kill Al-Qaeda's Number Two Man and knock off a pirate or two, but the major fighting is all done by proxy. Thus in 2006 we saw the U.S. sponsored invasion of Somalia by Ethiopia. Ethiopia, a thug-run state, and bitterly poor itself, was of course still considered a prime ally by the Cheney Administration to deal with the Islamic Courts Union an allegedly Al-Qaeda linked organization that seemed to be gaining power in southern Somalia.
In Yemen, a civil war has been going on for some time, at varying levels of intensity, with the government forces under the command of our local caporegime Ali Abdulla Saleh. Saleh, who like his fellow ex or soon-to-be ex mafiosi Qaddafi and Mubarak, keeps getting mysteriously getting elected (or in most cases) selected for a span of over 30 years, was quick to play the Islamic fundamentalist card. Currently Saleh, now safely ensconced in Saudi Arabia (allegedly for medical treatment as a result of a war injury), leads his forces from afar. Meanwhile the United States does not call for his resignation, and continues to support him, including an on-going campaign of killing repeatedly killing off Al-Qaeda's Number 2 Man with Predator drone strikes.
upon you for a service.
War in Central Asian differs from the Horn of Africa insofar as the U.S. is not free to directly wage war within these territories; rather, the strategy here is to back, particularly with arms, training, or bribes the correct dictator who then generally be relied upon to suppress local opposition. Most of the governments are "republics" ruled by Papa Doc ex-Communist figures of varying murderousness and venality.
In the landlocked mountain country of Kyrgzstan, the United States maintains an airbase (now officially called a "transit center" for political reasons) at the country's capital. From 2005 to until his (apparently) Russian-engineered overthrow in 2010, the local president for life Kurmanbek Bakiyev was backed financially by the U.S. by large "rents" for the airbase, which were of course only thinly disguised subsidies to Bakiyev. The statesmanship of Bakiyev can be judged by this sample from December 2009 (NYT):
A prominent opposition journalist in Kyrgyzstan, whose autocratic president has been courted by the United States as an ally for the war in Afghanistan, died on Tuesday after being thrown last week from a sixth-story window, his arms and legs bound with duct tape.
President Rahmon(ov) meets new friends.
Rahmon is spectacularly corrupt, even by Central Asian standards, as most recently exposed by Wikileaks (although it seems unlikely that anyone who studied the country could have concluded otherwise.)
Russian influence in Tajikstan remains strong, but neither this, nor the local corruption and tyranny has prevented U.S. military ties with the Tajik regime, ostensibly for
military education and training, global peacekeeping initiatives, counternarcotics assistance, and civil-military cooperation programs.
What is thy bidding, my master?
BBC reported a level of brutality that even BushCheneyCo couldn't ignore:
One woman later told the BBC: "We don't know what happened to us. All of a sudden these heavy armoured vehicles came, we don't know how it all happened, we are simple citizens, ordinary people. I don't know if it was an armoured vehicle or a tank. A helicopter was flying above, and after this helicopter turned up above our heads, the shooting started. Can you imagine, they were shooting us from above, with our children. We lay on the ground, and panic broke out."
But the dead children had been largely forgotten by March 2008 when U.S. began using a military base in Uzbekistan, and a policy of quietly forgetting Karimov's numerous crimes against humanity continued by the Obama administration.
Throughout eastern African and Central Asia, our nation has placed itself in a state of war at enormous cost while at home our population struggles to educate its youth and care for its sick. These domestic results are not misfortunes of the war, for the wealth of the nation, if taxed, is so great that even these wars could be paid for. However, with the refusal to pay for the wars by taxation, domestic privation becomes the only apparent the purpose of the wars:
The war, therefore, if we judge it by the standards of previous wars, is
merely an imposture. ... But though it is unreal it is not meaningless. It eats up the surplus of consumable goods, and it helps to preserve the special mental atmosphere that a hierarchical society needs. War, it will be seen, is now a purely internal affair. ... [T]he object of the war is not to make or prevent conquests of territory, but to keep the structure of society intact. The very word 'war', therefore, has become misleading. It would probably be accurate to say that by becoming continuous war has ceased to exist. The peculiar pressure that it exerted on human beings between the Neolithic Age and the early twentieth century has disappeared and been replaced by something quite different. ... A peace that was truly permanent would be the same as a permanent war. This--although the vast majority of Party members understand it only in a shallower sense--is the inner meaning of the Party slogan: WAR IS PEACE.