martes, marzo 15, 2005



Militarization of U.S. Africa Policy, 2000 to 2005

A Fact Sheet Prepared by William D. Hartung and Frida Berrigan March 2005

Contact information: 212-229-5808, ext. 112
"This isn't target practice! This is about killing people!" -- U.S. military trainer in Niger, quoted in "America’s African Rifles," Atlantic Monthly, April 2005

Introduction: Guns, Oil and Terror In the wake of September 11th, and in keeping with its interest in securing access to oil and other key natural resources, the Bush administration has been rapidly expanding U.S. military involvement in Africa.

While most recent increases in U.S. arms sales, aid, and military training in Africa have been justified as part of what the administration refers to as the "Global War on Terrorism" (GWOT), oil has been a major factor in the administration’s strategic calculations from the outset. In his first few months in office, President Bush’s first Secretary of State, Colin Powell, stressed the need to improve relations with oil producing nations like Nigeria and Angola. Similarly, the report of Vice-President Cheney’s Energy Task Force stressed the importance of gaining and maintaining access to African oil resources, which U.S. intelligence assessments expect to increase to as much as 25% of U.S. oil imports by the year 2020 (see Salih Booker and Ann-Louise Cogan, "Africa Policy Outlook 2004," at

A look at last year’s Congressional Budget Justification for FY05 Foreign Operations (State Department, Feb. 2004) underscores the strong pull of oil interests in Bush administration decision making. The entry on Equatorial Guinea notes that "Over the course of the past five years, U.S. companies have invested approximately $5 billion" in the country’s oil sector. The entry for Sao Tome and Principe is more forward-looking, noting that "In the coming decade, U.S. companies are expected to participate in the development of petroleum resources in Sao Tome’s territorial waters." Nigeria is cited for its "large oil and gas reserves," while the entry on Angola stresses the need to "help ensure U.S. private-sector oil access to a source of seven percent of U.S. petroleum imports, a figure likely to rise in the coming years."

Beyond oil, U.S. military officials have cited "a growing terrorist threat" in northern and sub-Saharan Africa to justify a program of stepped up military engagement in the region. General James Jones, head of the U.S. European command, has suggested the need to create a "family of bases" across Africa that would range from forward operating locations that would include an airfield and facilities to house 3,000 to 5,000 U.S. military personnel to "bare-bones" bases that U.S. Special Forces or Marines could "land at and build up as the mission required." (See Eric Schmitt, "Threats and Response; Expanding U.S. Presence: Pentagon Seeks New Access Pacts for African Bases," New York Times, July 5, 2003). These new facilities would not be considered "formal" bases like the growing U.S. base in the Horn of Africa in Djibouti, which has a regular deployment of 1,800 to 2,000 troops stationed there. While new basing arrangements are being worked out, a major increase in U.S. military exercises and training missions throughout Africa will be used to sustain a regular U.S. presence.


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