The War in Africa the U.S. Military Won’t Admit It’s Fighting

By: Bryan Maygers  huffingtonpost.com

“What the military will say to a reporter and what is said behind closed doors are two very different things — especially when it comes to the U.S. military in Africa.” So writes investigative reporter Nick Turse in his latest book, Tomorrow’s Battlefield: U.S. Proxy Wars and Secret Ops in Africa….

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When asked for a simple tally of U.S. installations, military spokespersons repeatedly emphasized to Turse that the command maintains only one permanent “base,” Camp Lemonnier in Djibouti, contradicting documentary evidence of activity and infrastructure on a much larger and rapidly growing scale.

Turse’s investigations eventually showed that the U.S. military has been involved in one way or another — “construction, military exercises, advisory assignments, security cooperation, or training missions” — with more than 90 percent of Africa’s 54 nations….

A few years back I asked a few of their public affairs people to answer a few simple questions about what the U.S. military was up to on the continent, the basics of the scale and scope of their involvement. I had started seeing indications of increased U.S. operations.

Specifically, I saw the building of a sophisticated logistics network and I know that you don’t build a land and sea logistics network to carry supplies all throughout the continent unless you’re planning on sending personnel all over the continent….

I think a good example of this in Africa is the U.S. intervention in Libya where we joined a coalition to overthrow Gaddafi. Now I don’t think there are a lot of Gaddafi defenders out there, we know that he was in many ways a disaster for his people, but what’s resulted in Libya has been catastrophic and it wasn’t just Libya that was affected….

The Libyan intervention has now destabilized the whole Northwest corner of Africa. This is the type of thing that we see again and again with U.S. military missions in Africa….

There’s just not a deep knowledge of who the players are often and what their aims are. And of course the U.S. military, they have one tool in their toolkit which is the hammer. So this is what they bring to bear wherever they see a problem and often it just has the effect of creating even more chaos in the name of fighting terror or creating stability….

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The Obama administration has basically been in a reaction mode for almost the entirety of the administration, they seem to be buffeted by one crisis after another and try to react to it, often in tragic and misguided ways….

Instead of getting the military they wanted for South Sudan, they got one that in December 2013 broke down and split across ethnic lines. The force that’s still loyal to the government carried out mass atrocities and also began increased recruitment of child soldiers. So everything that the U.S. tried for there was a complete and abject failure….

There are Chinese construction projects everywhere and you can see a real contrast. The U.S. has really pumped its aid money into these various anti-terror efforts and tried to play Whac-A-Mole all across the continent, chasing down terror groups while China has gone the economic route and made inroads all over the continent.

Now I wouldn’t say that the Chinese approach has been uniformly good for African countries, they have these no-strings-attached policies where labor rights and environmental rights are cast by the wayside and it’s strictly dollars and cents, but what they do is provide roads and airports and stadiums, tangible examples of things that African people can see right in front of them.

They’re pursuing a radically different route than we have, though you know recently it looks like China might be looking to follow our example. They’re looking at building a military base in Djibouti where the major U.S. base is, and they found a way under UN auspices to get Chinese troops into South Sudan to protect oil installations, so it’s possible that China will run into the same problems, given enough time, but right now the U.S. seems to be sowing more problems for itself as it goes while China reaps economic rewards.

I don’t see any indication that they’re going to be slowing down any time soon.

 

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Don’t Label Me Gay or African-American

By: Huffington Post

At 28 years old, Raven-Symoné has a very clear sense of who she is. The former “Cosby Show” actress and star of “That’s So Raven” recently sat down with Oprah and opened up about her strong sense of self, including her sexuality.

Raven has been relatively quiet about her personal life, but last year, when the Supreme Court ruled the ban on same-sex marriage unconstitutional, Raven tweeted a status that many saw as her way of coming out…

Twitter post by Raven Symone

Twitter post by Raven Symone

“That was my way of saying I’m proud of the country,” she says. “But, I will say that I’m in an amazing, happy relationship with my partner. A woman.”

Raven’s reluctance to open up about her private life is something she has practiced since her early days as a young star, under her parents’ guidance. “People in my family, they’ve taught me to keep my personal life to myself as much as possible. So, I try my best to hold the fence where I can,” Raven says. “But I am proud to be who I am and what I am.”…

“I don’t want to be labeled ‘gay,'” Raven says. “I want to be labeled ‘a human who loves humans.'”

Raven Symone with AzMarie Livingston; Rick Diamond via Getty Images

Raven Symone with AzMarie Livingston; Rick Diamond via Getty Images

In fact, Raven tells Oprah that she rejects the notion of labels completely in all areas of her life. “I’m tired of being labeled,” she says. “I’m an American. I’m not an African-American; I’m an American.”…

“I mean, I don’t know where my roots go to,” Raven explains. “I don’t know how far back they go… I don’t know what country in Africa I’m from, but I do know that my roots are in Louisiana. I’m an American. And that’s a colorless person.”

“You’re going to get a lot of flak for saying you’re not African-American. You know that, right?” Oprah asks.

Raven puts her hands up. “I don’t label myself,” she reiterates. “I have darker skin. I have a nice, interesting grade of hair. I connect with Caucasian, I connect with Asian, I connect with Black, I connect with Indian, I connect with each culture.”

 

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