The Bipartisan War Consensus

English: President Barack Obama convenes a National Security Council meeting in the Situation Room of the White House to discuss the situation in Ukraine, March 3, 2014.

President Barack Obama convenes a National Security Council meeting in the Situation Room of the White House to discuss the situation in Ukraine, March 3, 2014.

By Scott Beauchamp

Hawks such as Sen. John McCain and commentators such as former New York Times columnist Bill Keller and Wall Street Journal editor Bret Stephens fret about America’s growing isolationism and the potential for a de-Americanized world, in which the absence of our stabilizing presence leads to chaos.

If you share their fears, rest assured: The U.S. military isn’t retreating to our shores. It’s already deeply entrenched in a global archipelago of virtually countless bases in at least 38 countries (PDF) around the world. And that’s just troops and bases, to say nothing of the tertiary influence of arms sales.

One of the more interesting recent encroachments of our military, which has received only intermittent attention, is the growth of our troop presence in Africa. Nominally, the United States has just one active military base in Africa. Camp Lemonnier in Djibouti serves as the headquarters of Combined Joint Task Force – Horn of Africa and acts as the launch pad for drone strikes in the region.

Read more at Al Jazeera America

Note: The PDF file cited in the article was from 2009. Here is the 2013 DoD Baseline Report and a few excerpts, though most are in the Middle East in the official report:

The Base Structure Report (BSR) – FY 2013 Baseline is a snapshot of real property data collected as of September 30, 2012, and serves as the baseline for the start of the next fiscal year. This report has become a very popular item for many diverse users and we have tried to adjust the data displays to reflect the most common information regularly requested from DoD. The data presented here is a consolidated summary of the Military Departments’ native real property inventory (RPI) data submitted annually in accordance with DoD Instruction 4165.14, “Real Property Inventory and Forecasting”, to support the requirements of title 10, U.S. Code, section2721, “Real Property Records.” This consolidated database, known as the Real Property Assets Database (RPAD), is the source used for many DoD RPI reporting requirements throughout the year.

As one of the Federal government’s larger holders of real estate, the DoD manages a global real property portfolio that consists of more than 557,000 facilities (buildings, structures, and linear structures), located on over 5,000 sites worldwide and covering over 27.7 million acres. While the BSR is not intended to answer every single question about DoD’s real portfolio, it should provide most readers with accurate background information about the vast majority of issues regarding DoD’s real property infrastructure.

The US Army Command in Africa

National Guard State Partnership Program

The State Partnership Program is a key U.S. security cooperation tool that facilitates cooperation across all aspects of international civil-military affairs and encourages people-to-people ties at the state level.

It directly supports DOD objectives and theater campaign plans by building relationships that enhance global security, understanding and cooperation.

There are currently ten State Partnerships between the United States and Africa: California is partnered with Nigeria; New York and South Africa; North Carolina and Botswana; the North Dakota Guard is partnered with three countries, Ghana, Togo and Benin; Michigan and Liberia; Utah and Morocco; Vermont and Senegal; Wyoming and Tunisia.

GAO Maritime Security

Piracy incidents off the Horn of Africa’s east coast near Somalia have declined sharply since 2010, but U.S. agencies have not assessed their counterpiracy efforts as GAO recommended in 2010. Since 2010, the International Maritime Bureau (IMB) reports piracy incidents declined from 219 to 15 in 2013. Similarly, from 2010 to 2013 hostages taken by pirates declined from 1,016 to 34. Also, a World Bank report stated that total ransoms declined by 2012. Officials participating in counterpiracy activities from the Departments of Defense and State, among others, as well as shipping industry officials and international partners, attribute the decline to a combination of prevention, disruption, and prosecution activities. However, officials cautioned that this progress is tenuous, and discontinuing these efforts could allow piracy to resurge. Despite changing conditions, U.S. agencies have not systematically assessed the costs and benefits of their counterpiracy efforts. Agency officials stated that their decisions and actions are guided by discussions rather than formal assessments. GAO has previously noted that assessments of risk and effectiveness in an interagency environment can strengthen strategies and resource usage. As such, GAO’s prior recommendations remain valid and could help U.S. agencies identify the most cost effective mix of efforts and prioritize activities as they respond to changing conditions and fiscal pressures while avoiding a resurgence in piracy.

This is an older report but an added interest when read due to the mostly unsaid developing interest of China and the US more or less….. colliding.

Sub-Saharan Africa: Trends in U.S. and Chinese Economic Engagement – GAO

What GAO Found

The United States and China have emphasized different policies and approaches for their engagement with sub-Saharan Africa. U.S. goals have included strengthening democratic institutions, supporting human rights, using development assistance to improve health and education, and helping sub-Saharan African countries build global trade. The Chinese government, in contrast, has stated the goal of establishing closer ties with African countries by seeking mutual benefit for China and African nations and by following a policy of noninterference in countries’ domestic affairs.

Both the United States and China have seen sharp growth in trade with sub-Saharan Africa over the past decade, with China’s total trade in goods increasing faster and surpassing U.S. trade in 2009. Petroleum imports constitute the majority of U.S. and Chinese imports from sub-Saharan Africa, with China also importing a large amount of other natural resources. China’s exports of goods to the region have grown and far exceed U.S. exports of goods. Information on other key aspects of China’s engagement in sub-Saharan Africa is limited in some cases, since China does not publish comprehensive data on its foreign assistance or government-sponsored loans to the region. Data-collection efforts focused on specific countries, as GAO’s case-study analysis shows, can provide further insights but do not fully eliminate these information gaps.

Why GAO Did This Study

Since 2001, China has rapidly increased its economic engagement with sub-Saharan African countries. The United States has increased aid to sub-Saharan Africa and in 2010 provided more than a quarter of all U.S. international economic assistance to the region. According to some observers, China’s foreign assistance and investments in Africa have been driven in part by the desire for natural resources and stronger diplomatic relations. Some U.S. officials and other stakeholders also have questioned whether China’s activities affect U.S. interests in the region.

GAO was asked to review the nature of the United States’ and China’s engagement in sub-Saharan Africa. This report examines (1) goals and policies in sub-Saharan Africa; (2) trade, grants and loans, and investment activities in the region; and (3) engagement in three case-study countries–Angola, Ghana, and Kenya. GAO obtained information from, among others, 11 U.S. agencies, U.S. firms, and host-government officials. GAO was not able to meet with Chinese officials. GAO did not include U.S. and Chinese security engagement in the scope of this study.

All said and done the opinion doesn’t have a lot of traction and possibly the DoD’s investment in Africa isn’t as clear nor Defense contractors role in support in Africa. They have millions in contracts from both the DoD and the State department.

Categories: Africa, Foreign Policy, History, Military history, Opinion/Editorial, Political commentary, Politics


10 replies

  1. I’m still looking for the dollar amount that the contractors get for being in Africa…:(

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Good seed, Ecantados. All the while that I am reading Beauchamp’s invective against the military-industrial complex, I can’t help but thinking, “Does this guy have any idea of what’s going on in Africa?”

    He has nothing to say about Somali pirates, Boko Haram, or Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb. Maybe he thinks these things don’t matter.

    Liked by 1 person

    • K, thank you…. and that is where it is in research, ”He’s not a big picture kind of guy”. We Always have to keep in mind the whole enchilada…..:)

      But like you, I think he does show promise. He just needs to get better and updated information, look at a Map and put post it notes on it for each area ……:)

      And I’m Still looking for the specific work and dollars that the Defense contractors are getting in Africa. The best I have found so far is the listing for Foreign Contractors. Dynacorp International LLC with $354 million which I’m not Sure they do all their work in Africa but there have been tidbits of their presence…..otherwise the total list of Prime and miscellaneous foreign contractors ( the last, which I take work outside the US) is here:

      Liked by 2 people

      • I just reread the article, and it is extraordinarily well written. And Beauchamp is right about foreign policy having a consensus guided by an elitist group of people, many of whom have connections to the defense industry. His protest, though, is that people with too much experience in military and foreign policy are guiding military and foreign policy decisions in Washington, D.C.

        I agree with you that

        All said and done the opinion doesn’t have a lot of traction…

        We are certainly much more involved in Africa than we were, say, ten years ago. The reasons for this are obvious to anyone aware of the basic facts of recent world history and current world news events. For one, we now have a president who seems to think that “Black Lives Matter.” How many years into the slaughter in Darfur did the Bush administration finally admit that genocide was occurring? In the last months of year eight of the Bush presidency?

        I don’t see massive amounts of new expenditures in Africa either. Let me know if you find them. And President Obama is certainly no hawk. That statement is ridiculous on its face. But his administration was the first to offer assistance–in the modest form of a hundred odd military advisers–to help track down Joseph Kony and his Lord’s Resistance Army.

        Offering help to African nations who are being terrorized as never before by emerging radical Islamist movements hardly qualifies as some kind of sinister “mission creep.”

        Liked by 1 person

        • Thanks again :)….Refuting an article in comments is what I usually do, but I carried it over to WNF for this one because 1) it is Al Jazeera, 2) I’ve checked Africa off and on for years and the interests there. 3) the author went to the edge of the cliff with the impression, there is US ”mission creep” as if it was a twin of European colonialism or occupation.

          China is the one making ‘massive’ investments. They have been for awhile. What people miss is that they have ‘entrepreneur’ immigration to countries: what country doesn’t have a Chinese restaurant? I never did find out who financed the business’s or if they had to pay Chinese taxes also.

          Liked by 1 person

          • All gov’ts have to keep their populace happy or they go the way of the dodo. 🙂 ..All countries have an appetite for resources, especially those with the biggest populations or sometimes like in the US an inventive one. ie there was little use for oil until the Model T.

            I’m seeing on the web an uncertainty about governments and governing, in general, growing. One thing that has struck me is that capitalism with an elected government isn’t working too well for the majority either. Definitely, a religious one isn’t working out well either.

            Our and other governments are supporting capitalism with unprecedented financing both in financing elections and financing business. A growing problem because who is going to finance the government to pay for their excesses? They can’t tax wages etc much more when the majority of people are only making a wage that pays for necessities which is much like dictatorial type governments (there are a range of those too) doing the same thing, keeping the wages for labor stagnant and yet taxing heavily, on the local to government side.

            I don’t see a big difference between and a government that supports the government with that in mind. They both support the ones that are governing. Other scholars, both economic and historical are starting to come to the same conclusion. 😦 …Both are prone to convulsive reaction by a majority of people in the long term. What or how that scenario plays out is going to be a historical chapter.

            It doesn’t look like, after the long history of ‘civilization’, that people have found that more perfect union of people.


  3. I must say I enjoyed all the facts and figures in the article. Though your conversation was very engaging as well.

    I used to comment a lot more but then another WordPress blogger who I had become friends with told me I comment too much and how annoying he found my comments. I started to wonder if other people agreed so I have been less chatty recently. It has done me good to listen more and speak less, so I can’t say his words were completely unwelcome. Though I still thought he was a total jerk about it.


    • Alan,
      One person? tell them to get some sleep, you sound tired and cranky..heh comment all you want. The web is Open content, not closed. If they don’t like your comments, tell them !st Amendment

      I’m out on the Web, and I’ve been told my comment was idiotic by one when I’ve gotten 10 likes. Some comments I’ve gotten a lot of thumbs down with no comment as to why, so I wrote, oh this is for those who have No clue how to discuss the topic so ya do a drive-by thumbs down on My comment?

      Another one picked out One word out of a three paragraph dialogue comment I was discussing with Another person… One single word and said he stopped reading that I needed to do better in messaging. I wrote back …”for all that I wrote ….That was all you got out of it? ROFLOL” He wrote something more about messaging, so I clarified for him ”to choose One word and stop reading or to understand the whole dialogue…. is like eating one little piece of an apple out of a Whole apple pie and stop eating.” He didn’t do anymore commenting. He’s not been too great on come backs anyway because he either has a reading comprehension handicap or he just likes to be annoying. I go with the latter.

      People do get annoying in cyber just like they do in real time. Shrug it off. Not worth being annoyed unless they make you get all slitty eyed, than they better watch it. heh

      Really, I kind of don’t like the Like with no reply. It leaves me wondering Why someone liked what I wrote. I appreciate that they liked it, but….

      Liked by 1 person

      • Yeah some people are just misanthropes. Life is too short to pay them much mind. When it is a friend though it stings a bit.


        • Real or cyber friends don’t do that to someone. We go through life with supposed friends, until the one day we find out they are what I call, ”friend collector’s”. Usually, based on what that person can do for them, how much attention they get or how much they can get from them. I suppose they don’t know the definition or meaning of being a friend.

          I’ve tried to be a good friend to the people that I did make friends, either in real time or cyber, in the time I spent with them. A few made it difficult in real time to the point I walked away. The rest have passed on. It seems I’m bereft of real time friends at the moment. Old age does has more than a few ….bad aspects. 😦

          Liked by 1 person

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