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Nick Turse: The U.S. Military Pivots to Africa and That Continent Goes Down the Drain
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Someday, someone will write a history of the U.S. national security state in the twenty-first century and, if the first decade and a half are any yardstick, it will be called something like State of Failure. After all, almost 15 years after the U.S. invaded the Taliban’s Afghanistan, launching the second American Afghan War of the past half-century, U.S. troops are still there, their “withdrawal” halted, their rules of engagement once again widened to allow American troops and air power to accompany allied Afghan forces into battle, and the Taliban on the rise, having taken more territory (and briefly one northern provincial capital) than at any time since that movement was crushed in the invasion of 2001.

Thirteen years after George W. Bush and his top officials, dreaming of controlling the oil heartlands, launched the invasion of Saddam Hussein’s Iraq (the second Iraq War of our era), Washington is now in the third iteration of the same, with 6,000 troops (and thousands of private contractors) back in that country and a vast air campaign underway to destroy the Islamic State. With modest numbers of special operations troops on the ground and another major air campaign, Washington is also now enmeshed in a complex and so far disastrous war in Syria. And if you haven’t been counting, that’s three wars gone wrong.

Then, of course, there was the American (and NATO) intervention in Libya in 2011, which cracked that autocratic country open and made way for the rise of Islamic extremist movements there, as well as the most powerful Islamic State franchise outside Syria and Iraq. Today, plans are evidently being drawn up for yet more air strikes, special operations raids, and the like there. Toss in as well Washington’s never-ending drone war in Pakistan’s tribal borderlands, its disastrous attempt to corral al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula in Yemen (leading to a grim and horrifying Saudi-led, American-supported internecine conflict in that country), and the unending attempt to destroy al-Shabaab in Somalia, and you have at least seven wars and conflicts in the Greater Middle East, all about to be handed on by President Obama to the next president with no end in sight, no real successes, nothing. In these same years Islamic terror movements have only spread and grown stronger under the pressure of the American war machine.

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It’s not as if Washington doesn’t know this. It’s quite obvious and, as TomDispatch Managing Editor Nick Turse, author of the highly praised Next Time They’ll Come to Count the Dead, points out today in his latest report on the U.S. military’s pivot to Africa, the pattern is only intensifying, something clearly recognized by key American commanders. What’s strange, however, is that none of this seems to have caused anyone in the national security state or the military to reconsider the last 15 years of military-first policies, of bombs dropped, troops dispatched, drones sent in, and what the results were across the Greater Middle East and now Africa. There is no serious recalibration, no real rethinking. The response to 15 years of striking failure in a vast region remains more of the same. State of failure indeed!

(Republished from TomDispatch by permission of author or representative)
 
• Category: Foreign Policy • Tags: Africa, American Military 
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  1. “The U.S. Military Pivots to Africa and That Continent Goes Down the Drain”

    Post hoc ergo propter hoc? I don’t think so.

    These regions were going down the drain anyway. That we went about “saving” them in a stupid and destructive way is acknowledged by pretty much the whole world, but that is not the same as causing the trouble. We could no more “save” those places than Donald Trump can “Make America Great Again”.

    “There is a tide in the affairs of men…”

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  2. “The response to 15 years of striking failure in a vast region remains more of the same.”

    Striking failure by whose standards? From their perspective things are going swimmingly: The “defense” budget grows every year and is bigger than ever, oversight is a thing of the past, and dissent, if there is any, is ineffective.

    Mission accomplished.

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  3. Afghanistan is not a failure at all. The opium harvest has been increasing at a greater rate and more of the products derived from the plant are flooding into the markets. Unless the Army was there to protect consultants, they would not have been able to advise growers how to get higher yields. Besides the routes for export are now guaranteed.

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  4. […] wars. They now look to change Africa with the same plan they used to change The Middle east. [Link] Africa […]

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  5. […] As the old adge says, there is no shame in making a mistake.  The shame is in making the same mistake twice.  American foreign policy is way beyond twice at this point. […]

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