A contingent of “combat-equipped” American troops landed in Uganda last week intervening in that country’s longstanding proxy war with Somalia-based Lord’s Resistance Army [LRA]. Uganda says it didn’t seek US intervention, but would welcome it anyway, now that it happened.
President Barack Obama wrote a fascinating letter to the US Congress justifying the military intervention in Central Africa. The letter repeated twice that the intervention “furthers US national security interests and foreign policy.” He didn’t elaborate. Curiously, US troops will be backing a dictatorial regime in Uganda. No tall claims of the US promoting an “Africa Spring”, et al. It is an old-fashioned US military intervention.
Indeed, Africa is becoming another theatre of the “great game” now that the US’s newly-created Africa Command is operational. The intervention in Libya was the opening sally. China’s expanding influence in Africa poses threat to the West’s dominance over the resource-rich continent. The African elites are increasingly able to exercise the “China option” and are learning to drive hard bargains with the western powers.
The Pentagon said the US troops would remain in the region and in surrounding countries (South Sudan, Central African Republic and Democratic Republic of Congo) once these countries approve of the unilateralist US intervention. Obama’s letter admitted that the US troops might take combat roles in self-defence, although their deployment was justified in terms of “providing information, advice and assistance to partner nation forces.”
Obama said more US deployments could be expected, “including a second combat-equipped team and associated headquarters, communications, and logistics personnel.” An unnamed Pentagon official told ABC News vaguely that the US troops would stick around “for a few months.” Time will tell. The big question is whether the NATO, which is in Libya, is lurching toward Central Africa. Obama’s letter is here.
– October 18, 2011