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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Colin Kaepernick’s Jersey Hangs in the Same Museum as ‘Starry Night’

by Priscilla Frank, HuffPost Black Voices

One of the most recent additions to the halls of New York’s Museum of Modern Art is a red San Francisco 49ers jersey. The same jersey worn by Colin Kaepernick between 2011 and 2016.

Kaepernick’s sports jersey hangs with four others featured in the ongoing MoMA exhibition “Items: Is Fashion Modern?”, which explores the impact of 111 carefully curated items of clothing and accessories on the 20th and 21st centuries.

The jersey is a unique item of clothing in that its uniform design conjures an almost immediate sense of power, promise and camaraderie. As MoMA curator Paola Antonelli and her curatorial team expressed in an email to HuffPost, “Children around the world look up to sports heroes as role models; for them, the jersey embodies a dream or aspiration.”

Kaepernick’s jersey, the San Francisco 49ers’ number seven, became the best-selling jersey in the NFL’s official shop website in 2016 and remains one of the top selling items to this day. The stats are especially noteworthy seeing as Kaepernick no longer plays for the 49ers, or any other NFL team at present. The popularity of the uniform, then, illuminates the quarterback’s status not only as a star athlete but a contemporary icon of civil rights.

Kaepernick first sat down during the national anthem ahead a preseason game in August 2016, lowering himself in silent protest of the racial injustice plaguing the nation. “I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color,” he told NFL Media of his decision. “To me, this is bigger than football and it would be selfish on my part to look the other way. There are bodies in the street and people getting paid leave and getting away with murder.”

In September 2016, Kaepernick took a knee instead of a seat, and has continued to do so ever since. The protest has been an unremitting source of inspiration, controversy and debate since its inception. Just last month, President Donald Trump criticized the gesture, while public figures including fellow NFL players, Stevie Wonder and former CIA director John Brennan expressed their unwavering support for Kaepernick and his demonstration.

After the 2016 season came to a close, Kaepernick opted out of his 49ers contract and has been a free agent ever since. Nonetheless, his red jersey continues to sell in massive quantities, a testament to the influence Kaepernick holds off the field as well as on it. His jersey embodies so much of the ongoing political conversation in this country today ― what America stands for, and what it kneels for.

“We hope that visitors to ’Items will see in these sports jerseys not only the blood, sweat and tears of their original wearers but also the complex synthesis of aesthetics, personal choice, collective style, politics, business, race, gender, marketing, labor and technologythat are embodied by their reproductions,” Antonelli and her team wrote.

The other jerseys in the exhibition are Pelé’s 1958 FIFA World Cup Brazilian national soccer team jersey, Michael Jordan’s Chicago Bulls basketball jersey and the Black Ferns women’s rugby national team jersey. Athletic gear aside, the MoMA show will also feature garments including a little black dress, a keffiyeh, a pearl necklace and Levi’s 501 jeans.

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For more information about the growth in recognition of black history in museums, read here.

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