While the world's attention is focused on the Middle East/Central Asia Region. The battle for Africa's oil, between the US and China, has been raging mostly unnoticed by almost everyone. This has not exactly been hidden from the public as much as it has simply been ignored by it, and by the mainstream media's unbelievable inability to piece together what Africa means to the future of the United States' global strategy.
October 1, 2007 marked the first day of active operation for the U.S. African Command (AFRICOM), and it is expected to reach full capability by September of 2008. The establishment of this new unified command of Department of Defense signals an escalation by the United States in its campaign to keep China out of the continent.
"African oil is of national strategic interest to us, and it will increase and become more important as we go forward."-U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Walter Kansteiner III
Theresa Whelan, Deputy Assistant Secretary Of Defense For African Affairs, however stresses AFRICOMs less-imperialistic cover story for being in Africa:
"What we're seeing is more and more drugs being moved through Africa via maritime routes, arms being moved; there's trafficking in persons through maritime routes," she said. "And then of course there's piracy, which is influencing or impacting negatively on international shipping," Whelan added. She also noted the environmental security is "very important for the continent (Africa) economically."
Ok, suddenly the United States, the country which has stonewalled every single international attempt to discuss environmental issues and was just recently found censoring the Climate Change report, suddenly it cares about Africa's environment. And we are supposed to believe that this concern is so great as to need the development of an entirely new branch in the Department of Defense.
Here's an alternative interpretation: The United States is acting upon the 2002 recommendations of the African Oil Policy Initiative Group, AOPIG, here is their full report (in pdf): African Oil Policy
And here is an excerpt:
As a consequence of the impending interplay of U.S. energy security interests and African economic developmental goals, the United States is on the verge of an historic, strategic alignment with West Africa. With projections of over 2.5 million barrels a day in African oil to the American market by 2015, the ambitious goals of the Bush administration’s national energy policy for major diversification of oil supply are within reach. The shift in global energy patterns characterized by massive new production levels in Russia, the Caspian Basin, South America, and West Africa, is contributing to America’s reevaluation of its global alliance system. Within this context, AOPIG believes that West Africa is being projected onto center stage in global affairs.
The implications are simple, where there is a US Regional Command, there will be conflict, and that command is usually never the solution.