Via Workers World News Service
Africa's new landlord? Green Berets in Uganda
By Monica Moorehead, in Workers World, 31 July 1997
One hundred twenty U.S. Green Berets arrived in Uganda on July 20. Their mission there is described as training African troops to launch a "peace-keeping" force for the continent.
When U.S. troops went into Somalia in 1992, they so antagonized the population that they sparked an uprising and had to beat an ignominious retreat.
At that time the U.S. government claimed it was only there to help feed the people. But the Somalis thought otherwise. Since then, many stories of atrocities by Western troops have come to light in Europe, Canada and the United States.
The latest Pentagon move is a further sign that U.S. imperialism is deepening its roots throughout Africa. Sending these troops to Uganda, and eventually to Senegal, is part of a plan hatched by Washington called the African Crisis Response Initiative.
According to the U.S. State Department, this initiative was developed last year, supposedly because the civil war inside Rwanda in 1994 resulted in massacres of Tutsis by the then-Hutu-dominated government. However, there is evidence that Washington played a hidden role in promoting that civil war.
It is widely acknowledged that the grouping that took over is extremely friendly to Washington. Called the Rwandan Patriotic Front, it originally came from Uganda and was recently involved in helping overthrow the crumbling Mobutu regime, which had long been out of favor with Washington, in the Congo.
The State Department's plans also involve sending U.S. troops to Tunisia, Ethiopia, Mali, Malawi and Ghana.
According to news reports, State Department spokesperson Nicholas Burns said the idea behind the initiative is to "create highly effective, rapidly deployable peace-keeping units that can operate jointly in the event of a humanitarian crisis in Africa, or if there is a need for a traditional peace-keeping operation."
In an amazing feat of mental gymnastics, he added that U.S. troops are being sent to Africa because "we think it's very important ... that African problems need to be handled by Africans themselves."
Burns also indicated at a news conference that Washington would supply highly sophisticated communications equipment to those countries earmarked for the military training.
Who are the Green Berets? Are they rank-and-file soldiers chosen by the Pentagon for their "peace-keeping" talents? Hardly.
WHO THE GREEN BERETS ARE
The Green Berets are hand-picked elite members of the 3rd Special Forces Group at Fort Bragg, N.C. They won't just train the Ugandan troops. In essence, they will serve as military "advisers"--similar to the relationship the Green Berets had with the Salvadoran armed forces during the 1980s, or to the South Vietnamese military during the 1960s and 1970s.
In both cases, the Green Berets acted as well-paid mercenaries who directed covert, terrorist attacks against national-liberation movements. That has been their historical role.
Now they will be instructing African government troops on how to respond if mass uprisings or developments challenge the existing class relations.
It is ironic that the U.S. government has announced this move just as France is cutting its troops in Africa. France used to be the biggest colonial power on the African continent. It has lost a great deal of influence in Rwanda and the Congo, while the United States has gained.
At the recent Denver summit of the leading imperialist countries, Clinton announced that the United States is emphasizing economic development in Africa. This grand scheme, which is coordinated with the International Monetary Fund and World Bank, calls for investment, not aid--and demands that African countries privatize virtually all their state-owned resources.
Africa is the richest continent in terms of minerals and natural resources. But it is by far the poorest in terms of economic development, due to centuries-old European colonial plunder. Now the U.S. ruling class wants to become this continent's new landlord.
It is engaged in a many-sided campaign to beat out its imperialist rivals, from Western Europe to Japan, and to dominate the expanding capitalist market of 600-million-plus African people.
Establishing military hegemony is one piece of the overall puzzle in Washington's plan to bring the entire African continent into its neocolonial orbit in the post-Cold-War era. Inevitably, the struggle for national liberation will have to become a struggle to get the United States out of Africa.
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