The US waged unprovoked war against Libya and has militarily occupied Africa, but is still singing its old song that Russia is the aggressor on the continent.
Despite its diminishing global heft, the US remains a superpower of hypocrisy. These days when it comes to Russia one can get a case study on US imperialism simply by inversing the accusations Washington levels against that country.
The real Russiagate was perpetrated by Bill Clinton in1996 when the US financed the reelection of Russian President Boris Yeltsin. US government and corporate media rail against the relatively young Russian media outlets RT.com and Radio Sputnik, while Voice of America has been broadcasting shameless US propaganda without a pause for 78 years. Now the US State Department and the US Africa Command are up in arms (pun intended) claiming that Russia is sending weapons to Libya, including anti-aircraft missiles. And that the Wagner Group, a private Russian paramilitary organization, has mercenaries there. ForeignPolicy.com (FP) says the Wagner Group’s “ shadowy mercenary outfit waging secret wars on the Kremlin’s behalf from Ukraine to Syria to the Central African Republic, seems like something from a Tom Clancy novel.”
One would think FP and AFRICOM commanders have never heard of the White House hit squad Academi (formerly known as Blackwater) and its Africa counterpart Frontier Services Group. Blackwater is just the most well known on a list that includes Defion Internacional, Aegis Defense, Services, Triple Canopy, and G4S Secure Solutions — all of which have eared shadowy backgrounds of their own.
Only three months ago the US government used the Florida-based security company Silvercorp USA in a botched attempt to overthrow the Bolivarian Government of Venezuela in a 21st-century version of the failed US invasion of Cuba at the Bay of Pigs. Last March, US mercenaries were arrested in Haiti as part of a half-baked scheme to move $80 million for embattled comprador Haitian President Jovenel Moïse.
Maybe the US doesn’t use mercenaries in Libya but it is only because of the bloody US-NATO decimation of the Socialist People’s Libyan Arab Jamahiriya in 2011 that international sharks now circle the war torn nation. There, imperialist militarism is waged by proxy with neocolonial powers vying for unfettered access to the country’s oil and others, like Syria, trying to find some level of regional security against rivals entangled in the conflict.
AFRICOM lessens the need for the US to use mercenaries in Africa. And with some quarters of the US government wanting to reduce its footprint on the continent while US Defense Secretary Mark Esper denies that there will be withdraw from Africa, it should be remembered that AFRICOM is an orchestrator of African military operations. It can then theoretically achieve both seemingly conflicting claims and still maintain its white supremacists, neocolonial hegemony over the Black motherland.
Libya is divided in a civil war between a Turkish-backed Government of National Accord in Tripoli and an Egyptian-backed Libyan National Army (LNA) in Benghazi. Above all, US interest there is to protect the oil operations of Hess Corp. and ConocoPhillips Co. Oil access has been a major US interest in Libya since its cozy relationship with King Idris whose rule was overthrown in 1969 by a group of Libyan Army officers under the leadership of Muammar Gaddafi.
This was a telling era with the US-Soviet Union cold war playing out on the African continent. Russia, then a republic of the Soviet Union, gave military support to the newly independent revolutionary governments of Angola and Mozambique and to the ANC fighting Apartheid South Africa. Aside from military aid the Soviet Union offered educational scholarships to young people, mainly in the former English and Portuguese territories. Soviets gave little in the way of economic aid or trade during that time but suffice it to say there was no great Soviet strategy for taking over Africa.
The US on the other hand was busy trying to undermine decolonization and African independence every chance it got. It overthrew and assassinated leaders through coup d’etats to install puppet governments beholden to Western imperialism. The US wasn’t in a position to get in on the direct colonization of Africa during the 1884 Berlin Conference but with its master influence over global trade and financial institutions (WTO, World Bank, IMF) it became a major neo-colonizer of Africa.
US tensions with the resistant and Pan-Africanist Libya led to the April 14, 1986 US air strikes against Libya that killed and maimed untold numbers, including Hana Gaddafi, the 9 month old adopted daughter of Muammar Gaddafi. The US used its age-old accusation that Libya was sponsoring terrorism to justify their atrocity.
Now the US is trying to rein in one of its own former surrogates used against Gaddafi, Khalifa Haftar, who seems to have Russian support. Once a colonel in Gaddafi’s military, Haftar had a falling out with Gaddafi in the 1990s, was then given US citizenship and brought to live in Langley, Virginia where he began working with the CIA to overthrow the Libyan government.
Haftar supported several attempts to oust Gaddafi, including the 1996 uprising in the Jabal Akhdar Mountains of eastern Libya by what the Washington Post described as “a contra-style group based in the United States.” Haftar, now leader of the Libyan National Armay, held a senior position in the forces supported by the US regime change Operation Odyssey Dawn in 2011.
Today the State Department and AFRICOM are blaming Russia for militarizing the energy sector, dividing Libya’s economic institutions and “subjugate critical infrastructure to foreign interests.”
The US ruler’s accusations at Russia in Libya should fall on deaf ears if the US history in Libya means anything.
Clearly the US is an oligarchy with a foreign policy beholden to the interests of the rich. As the neoliberal order falters the only recourse for the ruling class is militarism and war, which is in itself big business.
So-called pro-peace liberal legislators think the world has time to wait for their ranks to grow so they can leverage more votes for cutting the bloated US military budget. As if all that is needed to end US warmongering is a Pentagon with 10% less money.
Death and destruction reigns on the Black Motherland and the culprit AFRICOM propagandizes hypocrisy against Russia. Yet not one liberal politician will unequivocally declare that the US has no moral business in Africa and AFRICOM has no legitimate or altruistic purpose. It ain’t just about money and budgets.
The US and global white supremacist, capitalist patriarchy is waging militarized repression against African (Black) people domestically and internationally. Our only recourse is building mass radical Pan-Africanist and internationalist movements for survival.
Netfa Freeman is an organizer in Pan-African Community Action (PACA) and on the Coordinating Committee of the Black Alliance for Peace. And is also co-host/producer of the WPFW radio show and podcast Voices With Vision.