Here’s a question for you: Can a military tiptoe onto a continent? It seems the unlikeliest of images, and yet it’s a reasonable enough description of what the U.S. military has been doing ever since the Pentagon created an Africa Command (AFRICOM) in 2007. It’s been slipping, sneaking, creeping into Africa, deploying ever more forces in ever more ways doing ever more things at ever more facilities in ever more countries — and in a fashion so quiet, so covert, that just about no American has any idea this is going on. One day, when an already destabilizing Africa explodes into various forms of violence, the U.S. military will be in the middle of it and Americans will suddenly wonder how in the world this could have happened.
In the Cold War years, while proxy battles took place between U.S.- and Soviet-backed forces in Angola and other African lands, the U.S. military, which by then had garrisoned much of the planet, was noticeably absent from the continent. No longer. And no one who might report on it seems to be paying attention as a downsizing media evidently sees no future in anticipating America’s future wars. In fact, with the exception of Craig Whitlock of the Washington Post, it’s hard to think of any journalist who has dug into the fast-expanding American role in Africa.
Enter TomDispatch’s Nick Turse. When it comes to American military plans for that continent, he has been doing the work of the rest of the American foreign press corps on his own. For the last two years, while his bestselling book on the Vietnam War, Kill Anything That Moves, was being published, he has been carefully tracking and mapping the growing American military presence in Africa, exploring the way those moves may actually be helping to destabilize the continent, and doing his best to make sure that U.S. planning for future wars there doesn’t go unnoticed and unreported.
Today, he puts his work — and his efforts to mine resistant AFRICOM spokespeople for information — into a single panorama of everything a fine reporter and outsider can possibly know now about Washington’s ongoing militarization of Africa. It’s a grim tale of the way, via a hush-hush version of mission creep, the Pentagon and AFRICOM are turning Africa into a battlefield of the future. Don’t say you weren’t warned — at TomDispatch.