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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
War in east Africa
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.

        Some day your Don may call
             upon you for a service.
War in Pipeline-istan.
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.
in Tajikstan, the local president for life is Emomali Rahmon, a former Communist who prospered under the Soviet regime, but whodropped the "ov" from the end of his name when he discovered he was not a Russian.  In a possibly related event, the only synagogue in Tajikistan unfortunately had to be torn down when it just happened to be in the way of a new presidential palace

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.

Karimov and Rumsfeld
            What is thy bidding, my master?
And in Uzbekistan a president who keeps mysteriously winning election after election by huge majorities (Islam Karimov).  Karimovis a former Communist who now affects to be devoutly Islamic.  Under Karimov, Uzbekistan has been given over to rampant corruption and abuse of human rights, strong Russian influence, and, naturally, from 2001 to 2005, a major U.S. military installation, Karshi-Khanabad airforce base.  Karimov forced the U.S. out of Uzbekistan in 2005, after the Bush administration somewhat uncharacteristically and rather mildly protested his shooting of somewhere between several hundred and 5,000 unarmed protesters.  Bodies, particularly those of women and children, were promptly whisked away, and journalists were threatened with prosecution for "aiding terrorism" if they wrote anything about the massacre.

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.

When will the wars in east Africa and central Asia end?

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| 27 votes | Vote | Results

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (9+ / 0-)

    You have exactly 10 seconds to change that look of disgusting pity into one of enormous respect!

    by Cartoon Peril on Sat Sep 03, 2011 at 07:04:15 AM PDT

  •  We Held 2 Wars in East Asia Back When the Rich (2+ / 0-)

    were taxed at 90% top marginal rate, much steeper on estates and capital gains than today.

    While protective progressive personal taxation to prevent the rich from acquiring almost all of society is a necessary condition to create civilization, it's not sufficient. Other policies are needed to deal with that war and empire thingy.

    We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

    by Gooserock on Sat Sep 03, 2011 at 07:16:39 AM PDT

    •  In those days, I think the wars had a broader (0+ / 0-)

      basis of support, at least initially.  Taxation did become a significant cause of the fall off in support.  My suspicion here is that the support for the wars among the public is weak, and so long as no immediately traceable costs arise from the wars in the form of taxes, they will be permitted to continue indefinitely.

      You have exactly 10 seconds to change that look of disgusting pity into one of enormous respect!

      by Cartoon Peril on Sat Sep 03, 2011 at 07:23:08 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Excellent diary. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Cartoon Peril, Youffraita

    Most U.S. citizens have no clue whatsoever about the American military empire.

    It is a do things about injustice.... It helps to have a goal. I've always tried to have one.--Ted Kennedy, True Compass

    by Timaeus on Sat Sep 03, 2011 at 07:41:04 AM PDT

    •  Thank you, there is much, much more (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      I didn't get into the Caucasus or Sahara areas, for example, both new areas of interest for the empire, or the Caribbean, where intervention goes back well over 100 years, but is now newly justified by the War on Terror®, with the War on Drugs® having run out of credibility.

      You have exactly 10 seconds to change that look of disgusting pity into one of enormous respect!

      by Cartoon Peril on Sat Sep 03, 2011 at 07:46:45 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  And now we're there. War is peace, like in (2+ / 0-)

    Libya.  20,000 plus sorties, 8000 plus bombs dropped on a country the population of Missouri.  Imagine what that would have done to Missouri.  

    S.A.W. 2011 STOP ALL WARS "The Global War on Terror is a fabrication to justify imperialism."

    by BigAlinWashSt on Sat Sep 03, 2011 at 08:04:34 AM PDT

    •  Pretty much everybody knows my opinion on Libya (2+ / 0-)

      if they've read my posts.  I see Libya as consistent with the world-wide exercise of imperial power, which occurs if at all possible concealed in humanitarian guises and cloaked in words like "freedom" and "democracy."

      You have exactly 10 seconds to change that look of disgusting pity into one of enormous respect!

      by Cartoon Peril on Sat Sep 03, 2011 at 08:10:04 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  So do I, absolutely. It's all part of the (2+ / 0-)

        agenda of world supremacy put formally into place by PNAC and the Bush admin.  Obama and his admin haven't veered from that.  The next question is how quickly they will take Syria.

        S.A.W. 2011 STOP ALL WARS "The Global War on Terror is a fabrication to justify imperialism."

        by BigAlinWashSt on Sat Sep 03, 2011 at 08:19:32 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  I honestly looked for signs that O had deviated (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          from BushCheneyCo on the imperial issue, and I see nothing different at all.

          On Syria, of course the local president for life is a murdering son of a bitch, but I don't see anything happening soon.  For one thing, I think the Russians would oppose it in the UN, so there's not going to be any cover story about rescuing civilians available.

          You have exactly 10 seconds to change that look of disgusting pity into one of enormous respect!

          by Cartoon Peril on Sat Sep 03, 2011 at 08:24:45 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  re: AQ #2 (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Cartoon Peril

    isn't his name Kenny?

  •  History of US Military Interventions (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    BigAlinWashSt, Cartoon Peril

    Some common themes can be seen in many of these U.S. military interventions.

    First, they were explained to the U.S. public as defending the lives and rights of civilian populations.

    Second, although nearly all the post-World War II interventions were carried out in the name of "freedom" and "democracy," nearly all of them in fact defended dictatorships controlled by pro-U.S. elites.

    Third, the U.S. always attacked violence by its opponents as "terrorism," "atrocities against civilians," or "ethnic cleansing," but minimized or defended the same actions by the U.S. or its allies.

    Fourth, the U.S. often portrays itself as a neutral peacekeeper, with nothing but the purest humanitarian motives.

    Fifth, U.S. military intervention is often counterproductive even if one accepts U.S. goals and rationales.

    Sixth, U.S. demonization of an enemy leader, or military action against him, tends to strengthen rather than weaken his hold on power.

    I wonder what the blow-back will be from the Libyan invasion/intervention? I intend to stick the following on my fridge and check things out in the coming months as events unfold.

    Welcome to Libya's 'democracy'
    By Pepe Escobar
    Aug 24, 2011
    Libya is as much a pawn in a serious ideological, geopolitical, geo-economic and geostrategic chessboard as a pedestrian morality play sold as a TV reality show; idealistic "rebels" win against Public Enemy Number One.
    So the big winners in the end are London, Washington, the House of Saud and the Qataris (they sent jets and "advisers", they are already handling the oil sales). With a special mention for the compound Pentagon/NATO - considering that Africom will finally set up its first African base in the Mediterranean, and NATO is one step closer to declaring the Mediterranean "a NATO lake".

    Islamism? Tribalism? These may be Libya's lesser ills compared to a new fantasyland open to neo-liberalism. There are few doubts the new Western masters won't try to revive a friendlier version of Iraq's nefarious, rapacious Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA), turning Libya into a hardcore neo-liberal dream of 100% ownership of Libyan assets, total repatriation of profits, Western corporations with the same legal standing of local firms, foreign banks buying local banks and very low income and corporate taxes.

    Meanwhile, the deep fracture between the center (Tripoli) and the periphery for the control of energy resources will fester. BP, Total, Exxon, all Western oil giants will be gratefully rewarded by the transitional council - to the detriment of Chinese, Russian and Indian companies. NATO troops on the ground will certainly help to keep the council on message.

    •  Agree 100% on common factors of intervention (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Claudius Bombarnac

      One could take the Russian rhetoric used in the Prague Spring, Afghanistan, etc., flip it around and you have the American press releases.

      I don't know what the future holds for Libya.  Obviously what NATO did went way beyond "protecting civilians" (and it seems dubious if that was even something that was a serious threat, since I don't believe all the propaganda) but where has it left the country?  Libya, state sponsor of terrorism or no, was always willing to sell oil, and I don't see that changing.

      You have exactly 10 seconds to change that look of disgusting pity into one of enormous respect!

      by Cartoon Peril on Sat Sep 03, 2011 at 11:36:15 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  It is important to the west as to (0+ / 0-)

        who Libya sells oil to as well as what they will pay for it. Some American and European oil companies balked at paying more for the oil and were refusing to sign new oil leases. Gaddafi replaced them with Russian, Chinese and BRIC companies.

        Cables show NATO’s intervention in Libya is all about oil
        And while the  battle for the ultimate ‘prize’ continues in and around Brega and Tripoli, US diplomatic cables released by WikiLeaks throw light on the real reasons behind NATO’s campaign against Libya.

        Far from initiating a “humanitarian” intervention to protect civilians against Muammar Qaddafi’s government, Washington backed the NATO intervention for one reason only —  the installation of a regime that better serves the strategic interests of the US, as well as its oil majors — often described as the new tool of imperial hegemony, the cables indicate.
        A February 2009 cables report that Libya presented the oil companies with an ultimatum: Contribute to the fund or “suffer serious consequences.” The US ambassador warned that “putting pressure on US companies ‘crossed a red line’.”

        The second unwelcome consequence of the lifting of sanctions was that it enabled Libya to develop closer relations with US rivals, notably in Europe, China and Russia. A June 2008 cable describes a “recent surge of interest in Libya on the part of non-Western IOCs (particularly from Japan, Russia and China), who have won the bulk of concessions in the NOC’s recent acreage bid rounds.”
        Several cables point to closer Libyan relations with Russia. In April 2008, Russian President Vladimir Putin reportedly flew into Libya, accompanied by 400 assistants, journalists and executives, to secure an “agreement to swap Libya’s $4.5 billion Soviet-era debt to Russia” for “a large railroad contract and several future contracts in housing construction and electricity development.” Several memorandums of understanding were signed with Russian energy giant Gazprom.

        Most significantly from a US strategic perspective, Qaddafi apparently “voiced his satisfaction that Russia’s increased strength can serve as a necessary counterbalance to US power, echoing the Libyan leader’s frequent support for a more multi-polar international system.”

        In this context, the US cultivated relations with certain figures in Qaddafi’s regime, and secretly discussed the benefits of Qaddafi’s removal from the scene. A July 2008 cable relates how Ibrahim El-Meyet, a “close friend” of Ghanem (and a source to “strictly protect”) told the US Embassy that he and Ghanem “concluded that there will be no real economic or political reform in Libya until Qaddafi passes from the political scene,” and this “will not occur while Qaddafi is alive.”

        Interestingly when the then Libyan Foreign Minister Musa Kusa met Gen. William Ward in May 2009, he reminded the general that he “shared his views frequently and openly with his US contacts in the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and the Department of State.” Kusa fled Libya to England by private jet on March 30 this year.

  •  recommended reading (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Cartoon Peril

    Last winter, I read Robert Kaplan's Imperial Grunts: The American Military on the Ground, published in 2005.

    I found it interesting in his recognization that the age of massive mechanical warfare is, if not over, than not applicable in most of the outposts where the TV talking hairdos never go.

    I thought of this book when I read joesgi's (I think that's right) diary about the service at Norfolk for the Navy SEALS killed in that helicopter ambush. He mentioned in passing meeting people in from various far corners of the world, and remembered Kaplan's interviews with what sounded like hard-working, dedicated people, doing a difficult job for no public acknowledgement.

    I hate the US policy, such as it is, in Iraq and Afghanistan as much as anyone, but on the whole I have to applaud the people who do the hard work of it, even though I may or may not want to meet them in person.

    The excerpted material is from Kaplan's Wikipedia entry, which (from the way it's written -- lots of SEO words) sounds as if written by someone close to him, or a publicist, but no matter -- most of them are:

    US Special Forces on the ground across the globe in Colombia, Mongolia, the Philippines, Afghanistan and Iraq. Kaplan predicts that the age of mass infantry warfare is probably over and has said that the conflict in Iraq caught the U.S. Army in between being a "dinosaur" and a "light and lethal force of the future."

    Kaplan sees large parts of the world where the US military is operating in "injun country" which must be civilized by the same methods used to subdue the American Frontier in the 1800s. He also praises the revival of Confederate military virtue in the US armed forces. [ Unfortunate characterizations. Not sure I can agree with that part. ]

    Kaplan was embedded with U.S. troops in Iraq and wrote an often-cited report for the Atlantic Monthly entitled "Five Days in Fallujah" about the spring 2004 campaign. In June 2005 he wrote the cover story for the Atlantic Monthly titled "How We Would Fight China", which suggests the inevitability of a Cold War-type situation between the US and China.

    In October 2006 he wrote "When North Korea Falls" for the same magazine in which he examines the prospect of North Korea's collapse and the effect on the balance of power in Asia in favor of China.

    Yesterday's weirdness is tomorrow's reason why. -- Hunter S. Thompson

    by Mnemosyne on Sat Sep 03, 2011 at 11:07:15 AM PDT

    •  Airpower, typically furnished by carriers (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      along with satellite surveillance and communications, allows a small number of ground troops to call upon enormous destructive power.

      The U.S. does have a military mission in Mongolia, I had forgotten that.  I have become interested in all the little places in the world where American military power has penetrated, and it appears that there are few places indeed where it has not.

      You have exactly 10 seconds to change that look of disgusting pity into one of enormous respect!

      by Cartoon Peril on Sat Sep 03, 2011 at 11:29:06 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  yes, this was (2+ / 0-)

        rather eye-opening in that regard about the little places of the world. Even though some of the references are a tad dated, the foundation of the book still seems pretty accurate.

        Some I knew about previously. Others, like Mongolia, I hadn't considered. And notice that Veep Joe just did a grip-and-grin tour there last week or so.

        I gathered that these troops don't rely heavily on things like aircraft carriers, but rather on wits and smarts and getting to know the local culture.

        And we all rely on satellites -- hello, internet and cell phones.

        Yesterday's weirdness is tomorrow's reason why. -- Hunter S. Thompson

        by Mnemosyne on Sat Sep 03, 2011 at 11:40:01 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  There was a good piece in Harpers (?) I think (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Claudius Bombarnac, Mnemosyne

          on the Mongolian military mission maybe a few years ago.  The author talked about the inculturation (if that's not a word it is one now) method that was being used by the US colonel in charge, who appears to have been a highly intelligent and well-rounded individual.  Still, I cannot imagine what interests the U.S. has in that country, but who knows?

          You have exactly 10 seconds to change that look of disgusting pity into one of enormous respect!

          by Cartoon Peril on Sat Sep 03, 2011 at 11:57:30 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  The US desperately needs to gain control (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Cartoon Peril, Mnemosyne

            of sources of rare earth elements. China currently has a lock on the market.

            First Mongolian Rare Earth Sold to South Korea

            Rare Earth elements are vital to the manufacture of electronics, superconductors, and clean energy products

            Domestic use and environmental concerns have led to fewer mining permits in China, resulting in fewer exports and higher prices in the International market.

            According to a Y 2009 estimation by the US Geological Survey, Mongolia has 31M tons of Rare Earth reserves, or 16.77% of the total Global reserves, making it the 2nd biggest holder in the world after China.

            Energy Dept: U.S. Will Take 15 Years to Break Dependence on Chinese Metals
            China manufactures 93% of all rare earth metals, a collection of 17 chemical elements buried in the Earth's crust. They are used in many of the technologies that could lead us to a sustainable future--electric car motors, wind turbines, solar panels (they're in the glass), lithium-ion batteries, lasers, and optical-fiber communication systems. And unless the U.S. wants to remain beholden to China for decades to come, it had better start mining rare earth metals domestically. That's the conclusion of a report on critical materials strategy released this week by the Department of Energy.

            Unfortunately, the US tends to take (steal) other nation's resources using it's massive military rather than producing it's own. It feels it has a God-given right to the world's resources under the rubric of "National Security".

  •  Where are the pipelines in Central Asia? (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Cartoon Peril
  •  Be nice to America. Or we'll bring democracy (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Cartoon Peril

    to you

  •  reminds me of a quote attributed to Hawkwood (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Cartoon Peril

    The great English born Italian condottiere captain was met on the road by two monks, who perfunctorily greeted him with "God give you peace!" to which Hawkwood responded "God take away your alms," explaining that since they wished to take away his livelihood, he wished the same for them.  

    The wars will never end, though they may shift location.  Somebody has to run the empire and soimebody must fight it, all of human civilization is organized along that dynamic.

    He was killed in Merv by a miller who did not know he was the King of Kings. - a random line from history

    by Marcion on Sat Sep 03, 2011 at 10:09:14 PM PDT

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