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Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Akufo Addo And The USAfriCom Saga: Answer To Alex Amoako Atta

Comment: Re: Akufo Addo Must Come Out Clear On USAfricom:
"Look at the other side of the argument like job creation that American military base in Ghana will bring to the teeming unemployed youth. If the youth have jobs, the raging arm robbery may be reduced to the barest minimum. Why have you preoccupied yourself with this issue? Will it be alright if the Russians or the Chinese establish a military base here in Ghana? Has it ever occured to you that a great number of GThanaians will be too happy to have jobs that cannot be taken away from them whenever there is a change of Government? It is a shame that you and Kwesi Prat still live in the past. CPP is dead just as Nkrumaism."


Date: 2010-03-02 08:19:15, Comment to: Akufo Addo Must Come Out Clear On USAfricom, Feature Article of Tuesday, 2 March 2010,

I know how close you are to Nana Akufo Addo that is why I am singling out your comment for a special treatment. This is just in case it is the strategy you people are adopting to throw dust, once again into the eyes of the public, to quickly nip it in the bud.

You asked two main questions:

1. "Look at the other side of the argument like job creation that American military base in Ghana will bring to the teeming unemployed youth. If the youth have jobs, the raging arm robbery may be reduced to the barest minimum. Why have you preoccupied yourself with this issue?"

2. "Will it be alright if the Russians or the Chinese establish a military base here in Ghana? Has it ever occured to you that a great number of GThanaians will be too happy to have jobs that cannot be taken away from them whenever there is a change of Government?"

Answer To The First Question:

1. "Look at the other side of the argument like job creation that American military base in Ghana will bring to the teeming unemployed youth. If the youth have jobs, the raging arm robbery may be reduced to the barest minimum. Why have you preoccupied yourself with this issue?"

I wonder why you are asking me to look at a side of an argument that does not stand on its feet! "Look at the other side of the argument like job creation that American military base in Ghana will bring to the teeming unemployed youth." You should not have bothered to preach to Ghanaians the virtues and pleasures of employment such as "If the youth have jobs, the raging arm robbery may be reduced to the barest minimum." We all know this. The central question is does the mere establishment of military bases create "jobs that cannot be taken away from them whenever there is a change of Government"? Yes or No?

There is no doubt in my mind that this whole vague idea that somehow the establishment of military bases would have any economic benefits must really be based simply on the silly suspicions of a few ill-informed individuals. All we need to do is to look around us and find out what is really going on.

Describing the scale of their operations, Amy Goodman of Democracy Now! says: "It sounds like a fast-food franchise—hundreds of locations spanning some 130 countries across the globe—but in fact, it’s perhaps the ultimate face of US hegemony: military bases. There are more than 700 US military bases worldwide, used for launching wars, holding prisoners, testing weapons.
One could be closing down in Ecuador, where lawmakers recently approved a ban on foreign bases. The Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa has famously quipped that he’ll let the US military remain if the US agrees to an Ecuadorian military base in Miami." Thus the United States has over 700 hundred military bases across the globe, so this should not be hard to check and report.

What I notice, when I "look at the other side of the argument" as directed by Alex Amoako-Atta, is that, in the first place, the deployment of US forces across the globe is not done in a homogeneous manner. So it does not even make any sense to talk about the economic benefits when you do not know what type of base it is going to be. There are remarkable differences and practices of the US military around the world. It has been noted for example that marine bases are relatively less likely to create more criminal behaviour than Air Force bases, whilst naval bases are notorious for the regular visitations by rude, arrogant, and sexually aroused young men and women often in their thousands, looking for sex and alcohol. With this business profile the only sections of the economy that stand to benefit from this would be the drinking bars and the prostitution and beer industries.

Military bases are “installations routinely used by military forces.” If they are soldiers from one's own country, the chances are that in a democracy the citizens can control their excesses through their governments. However, the confluence of labor (soldiers, paramilitary workers, and civilians), land, and capital in the form of static facilities, supplies, and equipment belonging to a foreign army is a different matter. "Bases are just the most visible part of the larger picture of U.S. military presence overseas. This picture of military access includes U.S. military training of foreign forces, often in conjunction with the provision of U.S. weaponry, joint exercises meant to enhance U.S. soldiers' exposure to a variety of operating environments from jungle to desert to urban terrain and interoperability across national militaries, and legal arrangements made to gain overflight rights and other forms of ad hoc use of others' territory as well as to preposition military equipment there."

Before we come to that, here are a few interesting cases that show the impact of the US bases on the local populations:

Case Number One: the removal of the U.S. Navy from Vieques, Puerto Rico in 2003

Since these troubling events, the number of countries into which the U.S. slowly but surely seeking to establish bases in are expanding rapidly. We see them particularly in Africa, Central Asia, and Latin America. In spite of the overwhelming sympathy that greeted the US after the attacks of the 9/11,sustained campaigns of direct action and political lobbying resulted in the removal of the U.S. Navy from Vieques, Puerto Rico in 2003. "The success of this anti-base campaign, where others had failed, was due in part to the use of arguments about the deleterious environmental and health effects of military activities on the island. This argument also remains the centerpiece of resistance to military activities on and around domestic U.S. bases." (Catherine Lutz, Bases, Empire, and Global Response. www.forusa.org)

Case Number Two: Voices from Chamoru
In the summer of 2007, Two Chamoru representatives from Guam visited Australia for a month-long international awareness campaign and accused the United States of glaring human rights violations of the indigenous Chamoru people. It is an interesting case because if there are any economic impact to be expected per ratio of local population, in Guam the ratio was one is to one. The island's entire indigenous Chomoru population stands at 55,000. The Americans are seeking to base 55.000 troops there. Asking the people of Guam the benefits of a military base is like asking a rape victim the benefits of being raped!

'“The new wave of U.S. militarization of Guam means to be decisive,” said Chamoru writer Julian Aguon in Sydney today. “It is not simply more of the same. Part of the U.S. military realignment in the Asia-Pacific region includes the controversial relocation of 8,000 U.S. Marines from Okinawa, Japan to Guam. The move will have devastating consequences for the indigenous Chamoru people, who have been struggling for decolonization of their island home.

“The situation of Guam serves as one of the greatest indictments of U.S. democratic legitimacy, as Guam remains one of only 16 non-self-governing territories in the modern world. The military build-up now underway in Guam, which will include an influx of a military personnel population comparable in size to the entire indigenous population (55,000), is being done entirely without the input or consultation of the indigenous people and over their deepening dissent.”

Dr. Lisa Natividad, a professor at the University of Guam, stated that the new wave of military buildup will only worsen the well being of the Chamoru people, who already suffer from the classic symptoms of a colonial condition such as dramatic health disparities. “For example, rates of nasopharyngeal cancer among my people are 2,000% higher than in the United States, and the rate of diabetes is five times the national U.S. average,” Dr Natividad said.

“Although Guam is only 30 miles long, it contains 19 sites designated by the US Environmental Protection Agency as the most highly contaminated and toxic sites in the entire United States.” Dr. Natividad said. These toxins include radioactive and carcinogenic materials, dioxins, etc.

“We come to Australia in the hope of raising awareness about the human rights deprivations of the Chamoru people by the U.S, to build solidarity among the peace and justice groups here and throughout the Asia-Pacific region, who are all endangered by current U.S. militarization of the region,” she said.' (Source: US ACCUSED OF HUMAN RIGHTS VIOLATIONS, http://www.anti-bases.org/)

Case Number Three: The Italians have had enough

In methods of social research, I don't know what to make of it, but if I see tens of thousands of people marching as they did in the north-eastern Italian city of Vicenza against a planned extension of the US army base there, I know from this that the much vaunted economic impact has not tipped the scale. This demonstration was organised because the majority of local people are opposed to US plans for expansion. They said the then Prime Minister Romano Prodi had ignored strong local objections. Mr Prodi was going ahead with a plan agreed by his pro-US predecessor, Silvio Berlusconi.

Case Number Four: The Okinawans flex their muscle and win

The United States was forced to back down over its plan to build a large offshore military base on the southern Japanese island of Okinawa after local protests stalled construction. Reports said "Washington and Tokyo had wanted to build a heliport and 1.5-mile runway over pristine coral reef more than a mile offshore, near Heneko village. But the plan enraged many locals on the small island, which already hosts around half of the 37,000 American troops stationed in Japan."

Environmentalists joined the opposition to the planned base, saying it would destroy the reef, which is home to the dugong, an endangered species of sea mammal. (Source: http://www.independent.co.uk/news, US military retreats over Japanese base after protests by islanders, by David McNeill in Tokyo, Thursday, 27 October 2005)

It is clear in all these cases that the local people are not happy with the establishment of bases in their territories. You can say the same of South Korea to Saudi Arabia, in Germany and and even within the US there are local communities complaining about the installation of US military bases with a long list of grievances. Prominent among them are the environmental impacts which include "effects on air quality, fire potential, noise pollution, waste disposal and spills and erosion from amphibian craft landings and weapon target zones, collisions with marine mammals, and contamination from toxic chemicals including red and white phosphorus and perchlorate."

As they work around the clock to establish their bases, obviously ignoring whatever our sentiments might be on the matter, they would still find some appropriate words to explain why those of us complaining against this mind-boggling swindling of a whole country, the bad guys. Those who are looking for local impact must find out from the Okinawans, they must know after all these decades, yet even there we see that most polls show 70 to 80% of the island's people want the bases to removed. Most of them value the economic benefits of the land on which the bases are based than the bases themselves.

Another complain that they find unbearable is the constant risk of aviation crashes as well as higher rates of prostitution, drug trafficking, and sexual assault and other crimes by U.S. soldiers. "For years," writes Catherine Lutz, "Okinawans have staged large protests, linking hands and encircling large bases in their entirety, and sitting-in for months at the site of proposed new military construction. One family built a large peace museum right up against the edge of the fence to Futenma Air Base there, with a stairway to the roof which allows busloads of schoolchildren and other visitors to view the sprawling base after looking at art depicting the horrors of war."

As I said earlier, there are over seven hundred bases, and we do not have enough space and time to list all the cases that these represent. This is just to provide an idea of what I have come across in my research on the subject and the direction it points: "my side of the argument" is the correct one. The whole idea of military bases creating jobs is a hoax. I am challenging Alex Amoako-Atta to provide a single case where a US military base has led to any significant job creation which brought employment to any "teeming unemployed youth" anywhere is the world.

Please watch this video:

April 18, 2008

No Bases for Empire: International Activists Organize Against US Foreign Bases in Their Backyards

Foreign Bases in Their Backyards

The United States maintains over 700 military bases in dozens of countries across the globe. We speak with two international activists who are in the US for a speaking tour as part of a campaign called “No Bases for Empire.” Jan Tamas, from the Czech Republic, is the founder of the No Bases Initiative, a coalition against the proposed US missile system in Eastern Europe. Olivier Bancoult is with the Chagos Refugee Group. He was expelled from his native Diego Garcia when he was four years old. The US has operated a military base there since British forces expelled native islanders in the early 1970s. [includes rush transcript] - Demoracy Now!

I would like to rest my case with the following comment on the same article by Xcroc:

"Comment: Re: Akufo Addo Must Come Out Clear On USAfricom
You make some very good points. Partnership is a vague and misleading explanation for the Africa Command. It is like hope and change, anyone can read anything they want into a word like partnership.

The US is not in Africa to do good unto others. Presently the US does not do good to or even take care of its own people. It has failed for decades to invest adequately in its own education, infrastructure, and health. The results are now beginning to show, but that has not caused the US to turn around and take care of its own people. The health care crisis in the US is but one example. The likelihood that the US is in anyone elses country to help them is remote. It is there to help itself.

The reasons for the Africa Command given within the United States are repeatedly stated as OIL, TERRORISM, and CHINA:

"...protecting “the free flow of natural resources from Africa to the global market” was one of Africom’s “guiding principles” and specifically cited “oil disruption,” “terrorism,” and the “growing influence” of China as major “challenges” to U.S. interests in Africa." (from a presentation by AFRICOM deputy commander, Vice Admiral Robert Moeller in an Africom conference held at Fort McNair on February 18, 2008)

This month AFRICOM has been feteing Ghanaian journalists in Stuttgart. And earlier this month Ambassador Yates met with Ghanaian journalists in Takoradi. They asked about help and equipment for fighting illegal fishing and drug smuggling. The answers they got were vague and noncommittal. What was not mentioned is that the money for such equipment help was cut from the US budget several years ago, and has not been restored since. That would be the:

AFRICAN COASTAL AND BORDER SECURITY PROGRAM (ACBS) – provides specialized equipment (such as patrol vessels and vehicles, communications equipment, night vision devices, and electronic monitors and sensors) to African countries to improve their ability to patrol and defend their own coastal waters and borders from terrorist operations, smuggling, and other illicit activities.

The ACBS is supposed to be part of the Africa Command budget, but is not currently funded by the US."

- Xcroc, Date: 2010-03-01 10:00:41, Comment to: Akufo Addo Must Come Out Clear On USAfricom

Answer To Question Number Two:

2. "Will it be alright if the Russians or the Chinese establish a military base here in Ghana? Has it ever occured to you that a great number of Ghanaians will be too happy to have jobs that cannot be taken away from them whenever there is a change of Government?"

Alex, you sound as if you don't know your "axioms of Kwame Nkrumah"!

Now read the following wise words of the founder of our Nation and try to understand where we are coming from:

"Africa is a paradox which illustrates and highlights neo-colonialism. Her earth is rich, yet the products that come from above and below the soil continue to enrich, not Africans predominantly, but groups and individuals who operate to Africa's impoverishment. We prefer self-government with danger to servitude in tranquility. A State in the grip of neo-colonialism is not master of its own destiny. It is this factor which makes neo-colonialism such a serious threat to world peace.
The best way of learning to be an independent sovereign state is to be an independent sovereign state. It is far easier for the proverbial camel to pass through the needle's eye, hump and all, than for an erstwhile colonial administration to give sound and honest counsel of a political nature to its liberated territory. Revolutions are brought about by men, by men who think as men of action and act as men of thought.
We face neither East nor West: we face forward."

- Kwame Nkrumah

Is it too much for you to believe that there are Ghanaians and for that matter millions of Africans who do not want any foreign troops on the African continent? Opposition to foreign troops is an opposition to foreign troops. Do not try to justify the AfriCom project by asking extraneous questions! Who is asking for Chinese or Russian bases here? Don't you have any respect for your country enough for you to see the obvious? Has it not yet sank into your mind that we may be poor, but we remain a proud and independent sovereign country?

"… one of the [Africa] Command’s fundamental roles is indeed counterterror intelligence and disruption operations."

Disruption operations and debt manipulation are what the US used to bring down Nkrumah. As Nkrumah himself wrote:
"Foremost among the neo-colonialists is the United States … with methodical thoroughness and touching attention to detail, the Pentagon set about consolidating its ascendancy, evidence of which can be seen all around the world …

The general objective … to achieve colonialism in fact while preaching independence."

I have watched US policy for several decades, and watched US relationships with other countries. The same people who were running policy for Bush are mostly still there and running it for Obama, particularly in the Pentagon.

There are a number of good points in the comments here. The present government should likewise be transparent. It is my opinion as a US watcher that the US preferred the Kufuor NPP government. That is one of the reasons Jendayi Frazier, Bush's asst sec. of State for Africa, was in Ghana right before the Tain runoff trying to set up power sharing instead of allowing change of leadership. The US may have been used to dealing with the NPP and didn't want change. My own sense is that the US saw the NPP as more compliant, more easily manipulated, or perhaps more easily bribed. There are pieces of circumstantial evidence here and there.

The US is moving away from a land based base concept and moving into sea basing. The occupation of Haiti following the earthquake was a gigantic exercise in sea basing. And the African Partnership Station, different ships but the same program, has been a leader in developing the sea basing concept in practice. The US embassy is huge partly because of the US military footprint.

Other countries do not have bases in the US. Look at how the US still behaves to Cuba due to its ties to Russia. And the legacy of US bases in other countries, unless, like Germany, they are big and powerful enough to enforce their laws on the US, is dreadful pollution. In the Philippines the after effects of the US bases is still devastating the health and economy of Philippines.

I wrote something about AFRICOM, seabasing, and wooing Ghanaian journalist, with photos, at crossedcrocodiles.wordpress.com/2010/02/28/ I'm doing a bit more research on seabasing."

- Xcroc Date: 2010-03-02 13:31:13, Comment to: Akufo Addo Must Come Out Clear On USAfricom

Just today, as I write, Kike Arnal, Venezuelan photographer and documentary filmmaker, just published a book. His book is ‘In the Shadow of Power’. Find out what it tells about poverty in Washington:

March 02, 2010

Photographer Kike Arnal & Ralph Nader on “In the Shadow of Power: Poverty in Washington, DC”

Washington, DC is the most powerful capital city in the world. But it’s also a city that is deeply divided between a wealthy and extremely influential minority and an impoverished and largely disenfranchised African American majority. The seat of global power is also home to a population that remains largely invisible to the politicians, journalists, lawyers, lobbyists and contractors around Capitol Hill. This other Washington, DC maintains the dubious distinction of having the highest rate of child poverty, the highest mortality rate from HIV/AIDS, and the lowest life expectancy in the country. Kike Arnal discusses his new book of photography, In the Shadow of Power.[includes rush transcript] See Democracy Now!

Washington, DC is home to about almost 600,000 people. About 54 percent of the people in Washington are African Americans. Northwest Washington is quite prosperous. It’s where the government buildings are, where the well-to-do live. And the rest of Washington—southeast, northeast, southwest—largely quite poor.

And that’s almost an understatement in some of the areas. They look like they’re bombed out. They’re desolate. Homelessness, hunger, the highest AIDS prevalence in the United States, high infant mortality. The schools are now in the process of being repaired, but they were in terrible shape for many years. The neighborhood libraries are still in bad shape. Public facilities are degraded.

"...And at the same time that the people of Washington, DC do not have the vote to elect members of Congress. They’re the only Western capital in the entire world that has been disenfranchised. And President Obama, when he was a candidate, and the Democratic Party, said, “Well, when we take control of Washington, we’ll fix that right away and give the District of Columbia one—at least one voting representative in the House.” That has not even been taken off the table.

So this new book by Kike Arnal, In the Shadow of Power—and the website to obtain it is intheshadowofpower.com—this new book is really a haunting black-and-white collection of photographs that Kike put together after walking the streets of Washington, DC, day after day, all over the city. He jokes that if he doesn’t remain a photographer, he could be licensed as a cabdriver. And we’re releasing it this week, so that not just people in Washington, but people around the country and around the world, can see that the capital of the Western world has been allowed to continue a deterioration process that is a scar on the conscience of our country." -Ralph Nader, longtime consumer advocate. He wrote the introduction to ‘In the Shadow of Power’

Bonus Answer: Why have you preoccupied yourself with this issue?

“We in Africa who are pressing now for unity are deeply conscious of the validity of our purpose. We need the strength of our combined numbers and resources to protect ourselves from the very positive dangers of returning to colonialism in disguised forms. We need it to combat the entrenched forces dividing our continent and still holding back millions of our brothers. We need it to secure total African liberation. We need it to carry forward our construction of a socio-economic system that will support the great mass of our steadily rising population at levels of life which will compare with those in the most advanced countries”

- Kwame Nkrumah, Africa Must Unite

Victoria Lakshmi Hamah also writes:
"The basic goal of US military programmes is to provide for the security of the local political elite and economic hit men and to insulate them from the social consequences of their economic decisions. Its orientation of African military officers will also ensure that there will be no possible rise of nationalist governments that will aim at the nationalization of oil and mineral production. A political elite isolated and insulated from the prevailing social conditions will have no incentive to protect even the existing semblance of democratic culture."

As a historian, filmmaker, and freelance writer,  Paul Lee puts it in "Documents Expose U.S. Role in Nkrumah Overthrow":

'Komer, now acting special assistant for national security affairs, wrote a congratulatory assessment to the President on March 12, 1966 (Document 260). His assessment of Nkrumah and his successors was telling:

"The coup in Ghana," he crowed, "is another example of a fortuitous windfall. Nkrumah was doing more to undermine our interests than any other black African. In reaction to his strongly pro-Communist leanings, the new military regime is almost pathetically pro-Western.'

In this, Komer and Nkrumah were in agreement. "Where the more subtle methods of economic pressure and political subversion have failed to achieve the desired result," Nkrumah wrote from exile in Guinea three years later, "there has been resort to violence in order to promote a change of regime and prepare the way for the establishment of a puppet government."

Advice To Alex:

Please this is not a small headache Akuffo Addo is facing. I suspect strongly he knows more than he is willing to admit. It is not for nothing that he made the doubling of the police force a priority. He knows he must have to fight his way to impose this on Ghanaians. If there is anything he would hate to admit, he would probably want to distance himself from the Danquah Institute. I doubt if he has the guts even to admit the counsel of his own "think-tank"! Allow him some time to figure it out himself how he is going to deal with it. You are making his case worse by trying to defend with silly comments of this nature.

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