MCViewPoint

Opinion from a Libertarian ViewPoint

To Ramp Up Fear of Russia in Africa, NYT Downplays Massive US Military Presence on Continent | FAIR

Posted by M. C. on April 6, 2019

In the Times, Official Enemy threats are unquestionably bad, and unquestionably sinister in nature. The only answer? Let the Pentagon gravy train run its course, year in and year out, because invariably there will always be, with the help of the New York Times, the specter of an enemy threat “advancing on a new front.”

https://fair.org/home/to-ramp-up-fear-of-russia-in-africa-nyt-downplays-massive-us-military-presence-on-continent/

The New York Times (3/31/19) added to its series of reports depicting Official Enemies surpassing the US in the race for global dominance. It seems that having taken control of the Arctic (FAIR.org, 9/15/15), the nuclear domain (FAIR.org, 3/7/18) and a whole host of other spaces the US is “behind” in, Russia is now gobbling up Africa—a threat the US, presumably, must counter with an even greater military build-up.

The report, “Russia’s Military Mission Creep Advances to a New Front: Africa,” by Eric Schmitt, asserting an uptick in Russian weapons contracts and military training exercises in Africa, is thin on context and hard numbers, but is artificially fortified with a series of anecdotes and frightening quotes. Since the obvious rejoinder to any discussion of increased Russian presence in Africa is, “OK, but what is the US’s current reach?” the Times hangs a lampshade on the inconvenience with this throwaway line:

The United States military has a relatively light footprint across Africa.

About 6,000 United States troops and 1,000 Defense Department civilians or contractors work on a variety of missions throughout Africa, mainly training and conducting exercises with local armies.

According to documents obtained by the Intercept’s Nick Turse (12/1/18), the US currently has 34 military bases in Africa; Russia has zero. The Times doesn’t tell us how many “contractors’ and “troops” Russia has in Africa, so it’s not clear what the so-called “light footprint” is “relative” to. Is it 10? 100? 10,000? If it’s a lot less than 6,000, then the story is a bit of a dud. Alas, we’re simply left guessing at the “relative” size of Russia’s Africa presence.

Also worth noting: “Light footprint” is the same Orwellian phrase the Pentagon has been using for years to obscure the growth of AFRICOM, as in this AFRICOM press release (6/13/12) :

AFRICOM Will Maintain Light Footprint in Africa — The United States has no plans to seek permanent bases in Africa, and, in the spirit of the new defense strategic guidance, will continue to maintain a “light footprint” on the continent, the top US Africa Command officer said.

It’s always reassuring when the paper of record adopts the US government’s preferred press release language. (See also New York Times, 1/25/12 , 3/1/19.)

Aside from quotes from US military brass, Schmitt’s report was primarily propped up with testimony from weapons contractor-funded think tanks, namely the Institute for the Study of War and the Center for International and Strategic Studies, which both provided urgent, stakes-raising narratives:…

Be seeing you

mbird

 

 

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