A Preview of AFRICOM?

On Friday it was reported that Mohamed Dheere was appointed as the new mayor of Mogadishu by the US-backed Somali government. What’s interesting about this is that just last year, when the US decided to start funding warlords to pick fights with the Islamic Courts, Mr. Dheere was one of the warlords that was on the CIA’s payroll.

This is just the latest US link in a Somali government that is rapidly becoming an international embarrassment. I’m not going to rehash the backstory of the conflict: Scott’s recent Antiwar Radio interview with Chris Floyd does a far better job of that than I could in a single blog posting.

On the other hand, I was recently reading the transcript of the press conference in which Defense Department officials announced the creation of AFRICOM. The officials promise that America’s goals in Africa will be exclusively altruistic in nature, and I wonder if what’s occurred in Somalia, from American airstrikes on villages, to mass rendition of refugees to a nation with the dreadful human rights record of Ethiopia, and culminating with the installation of a CIA-funded warlord as the mayor of the capital city is an example of the sort of actions we can expect of AFRICOM in the coming years.

In 1983, the US founded CENTCOM to be the operational command for the Middle East and Central Asia. Since then, the US has fought three major wars and innumerable small skirmishes in that theater of operations. Can we expect more of the same from AFRICOM, and does its founding portend a massive increase in US military interventionism in Africa?

Only time will tell, but the Council on Foreign Relations recommended in a recent report that the US ramp up its involvement in Africa to secure its oil resources. Is it even possible that this agenda won’t lead to the same fiasco of a foreign policy that it has in the Middle East?