October 1, 2012

Meanwhile, in strategically located Mali ...

The big news in the Washington Post tonight:
Al-Qaeda threat in N. Africa focus of secret talks 
Greg Miller and Craig Whitlock 
The White House deliberations include whether to prepare for unilateral strikes and reflect concern that the franchise has become more dangerous since gaining control of large pockets of territory in Mali and acquiring weapons from Libya.

The 2011 U.S. war on Libya destabilized strategically located Mali, leading the whitish Tuaregs of the north to rebel last spring against the black rulers of the more populous south and declare themselves the independent State of Azawad.

There was always an anti-black aspect to the successful rebellion in Libya because Gaddafi long positioned himself as the leader of the African continent and invited in many black immigrants and mercenaries, so it's hardly surprising that in the wake of Qaffafee's downfall, Koran-loving whitish desert dwellers in other countries sought to liberate themselves from black rule. But, judging from Michael Lewis's awe-struck account of how Obama decided to start the Libyan War, the President's depth of strategic knowledge may not go much further than having rented Hotel Rwanda from the Hyde Park Blockbuster.

Unsurprisingly, official Washington is now getting around to getting excited about bombing rebel territory in Mali for the usual reasons: spending taxpayers money, the logic of empire, the thrill of the kill, boob-bait for voters, and so forth. I also suspect that Washington would disapprove of whites rebelling against blacks, but it's unclear how many people in Washington actually grasp that aspect of what happened in Mali since everybody is ignorant of physical anthropology today. (You might think that ignorance of anthropology and imperial influence don't go well together, and you'd be right, but who cares about imperial competence when nobody will admit we're running [ineptly] an empire.)

And, it's just Mali for heaven's sake.

Whatever happens
We have got
Remote controlled drones
And they do not.

52 comments:

Anonymous said...

Can we please not let them call it a war or a kinetic action or any of that shit? Empire maintenance

TGGP said...

I'm reminded of Razib Khan's comparison of the Sunni rebels in Syria to the Reconstruction-era Ku Klux Klan. Most pundits aren't Razib and don't get that angle, otherwise they might have a different reaction. On the other hand, we've just de-listed from the State Department terrorist group list a commie Iranian cult (the "People's Mujahidin", to let you know how incompatible with America they are) which murdered Americans in the past and was allied with Saddam when we warred with him... all because they've been engaged in terrorism on our behalf against the current Iranian regime (which they inadvertently helped put in place during the revolution against a U.S-backed regime). Jundullah must be next, maybe then the Pakistanis will like us again!

Anonymous said...

"whitish desert dwellers"

lol

Anonymous said...

I don't think the Tuaregs are "white". Like the Sudanese "Arabs", they are mixed Arab/black population.

eah said...

Let me know when Vegas starts making book on the outcome.

It's pretty hot there, so if Hillary went to intermediate perhaps she could lose some weight.

DaveinHackensack said...

You almost get the sense that if we declared victory after killing OBL, started pulling out of A-stan, didn't bomb Libya, and started throttling back on the drone strikes, Al Qaeda might have fizzled out. It seemed like they were fizzling out already when OBL was killed. Now it's like they've gotten a second wind.

Anonymous said...

Steve: Your variable Quadafi spelling meme always cracks me up the most. More Khaddafi posts please!

Anonymous said...

"Now it's like they've gotten a second wind." - The middle east was going to explode regardless due to demographics. nothing we can do about that but play whack-a-mole, or engage in what would be considered crimes against humanity.

DaveinHackensack said...

If this is supposed to be an empire, I think we're doing it wrong. Historically, didn't empires generally profit in some way from their possessions -- directly, via tribute, or indirectly through mercantilism or some other arrangement?

dearieme said...

"strategically located Mali": but isn't everywhere discovered to be "strategically located" just before you bomb it?

dearieme said...

"Historically, didn't empires generally profit in some way from their possessions": that tends to be an assumption rather than a demonstrated truth.

Anonymous said...

In the debates, Romney will probably accuse Obama of not deploying troops to Timbuktu fast enough.

Anonymous said...

strategically located Mali

Okay, I found Mali on the map - now looking over to the right just a liitle, could anyone explain to me the difference between Niger and Nigeria?

Is that like Scandinav and Scandinavia?

Mesopotam and Mesopotamia?

Nova Scot and Nova Scotia?

Thanks.

Black Death said...

Here's more from Hillaire Belloc:

''The Politician's corpse was laid away.
While all of his acquaintance sneered and slanged,
I wept: for I had longed to see him hanged.''

The Anti-Gnostic said...

The middle east was going to explode regardless due to demographics. nothing we can do about that but play whack-a-mole, or engage in what would be considered crimes against humanity.

Yep. It's hopeless. Can't do anything but drone strikes and executive bills of attainder. And lots and lots of foreign aid. And spreading a lot of green around to groups whose motives we don't understand, and overseas deployments, and inviting the protagonists from all sides of foreign conflicts over here.

Just nothing we can do.

carol said...

Mali - wasn't that the site of The Coup? or was that Chad?

Anonymous said...

Anonymous:"I don't think the Tuaregs are "white". Like the Sudanese "Arabs", they are mixed Arab/black population."

That's why Steve called them "whitish."

The more purely Caucasoid/West Eurasian Berbers are in the more northerly sections of North Africa.

Syon

a very knowing American said...

Henry Kissinger once joked that Chile was "a dagger pointed at the heart of Antarctica" (riffing on the more serious observation that Korea was a dagger pointed at the heart of Japan).

A quick look at the map shows that Mali is a battle ax pointed at the heart of Niger. Or maybe a mattock of some kind pointed at the heart of Burkina Faso.

Chicago said...

It's educational to have to consult the map and look up the latest existential danger to us.We learn all about these obscure countries of the world that way.
The borders of most countries on the African continent were drawn up by outsiders. They are all artificial countries. At one point or another it's inevitable that they start the process of breaking up and forming other entities.
It's always Al-Qaeda this and Al-Qaeda that. Except when they're allied with us in places like the Balkans, Chechnya, Libya and now Syria; then we know nothing about it. The anti-terror express is probably the biggest gravy-train in history for all the right people and smaller players to cash in on.

Mr. Anon said...

For the State Department and Pentagon, "strategic" means that a place is located on a map.

NOTA said...

TGGP:

I think they were also delisted thanks to a really generous program of buying off influential people in Washington to lobby for them. Though I'm sure it all fit together--helping us and Israel by carrying out a terrorist campaign in Iran was probably a critical step in getting us to stop calling them a terrorist group.

Dave:

I think empires typically turned a profit for some well-connected people, but most often were a loss for the colonial power involved. That probably wasn't true when you were extracting a lot of gold, diamonds, oil, slaves, etc. from your colony, but most colonies weren't all that valuable. Our empire looks to be continuing this trend: the Haliburtons and Xes and Lockheed Martins of the world make a lot of money on it, even though the US as a whole loses money and safety.

Mr. Anon said...

"DaveinHackensack said...

If this is supposed to be an empire, I think we're doing it wrong. Historically, didn't empires generally profit in some way from their possessions -- directly, via tribute, or indirectly through mercantilism or some other arrangement?"

There is a vast array of companies that profit from our far-flung military empire. From traditional defence contractors like Lockheed-Martin (which is now as much an espionage company as anything else) all the way down to little "minority-owned" companies that you've never heard of. Many of them are engaged in something they call "logistics", which now seems to consist of more than just delivering supplies, as the companies in question manage only spreadsheets - not trucks, aiplanes, or ships. They all proudly claim that they "stand behind the warfighter". Yes. Far behind.

A vast amount of money is handed out by the Pentagon to maintain a whole sub-economy of businesses that pretend to contribute to the national defence. All of them, of course, contribute heavily to congressional and presidential campaigns.

Joseph Moroco said...

"If this is supposed to be an empire, I think we're doing it wrong. Historically, didn't empires generally profit in some way from their possessions -- directly, via tribute, or indirectly through mercantilism or some other arrangement?"

Sort of, Dave. While Rome was gaining the empire, it was profitable. After Augustus, it was on the defensive and a long slow slide. It may have not looked it during the four emperors era, but it was. It may not have seemed so during the era of the five good emperors, but other than Dacia, nothing was added and that was not held long.

Sooner or later, it's a loser. At least the Brits were smart enough to get on the boats and left. No Dienbienphu.

Your first comment was astute.

Paul Mendez said...

Historically, didn't empires generally profit in some way from their possessions -- directly, via tribute, or indirectly through mercantilism or some other arrangement?

The American Empire's goal is not to garner material wealth, but spiritual wealth. For when America finally fulfills its manifest destiny and brings democracy to the World, stamps out racism and religious intolerance, frees women from patriarchal oppression, and ensures that all the Earth's peoples can enjoy unfettered sexual bliss, then -- and only then -- can we truly feel good about ourselves.

Mark 8:36 "For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?"

jgress said...

The analysis seems to miss the fact that the Tuareg rebels and the local al-Qaeda franchise are separate entities. The rebellion certainly started out as an ethnic separatist movement, but as soon as the Tuaregs expelled the Malian army, the Islamists took over the government of "Azawad". Their agenda is not ethnic as far as I can tell: they have links with ethnic black Islamists in Nigeria, for example, the so-called Boko Haram.

Fishbu said...

"Now it's like they've gotten a second wind." - The middle east was going to explode regardless due to demographics. nothing we can do about that but play whack-a-mole, or engage in what would be considered crimes against humanity.

Or we could close up shop and leave them to their own devices.

Anonymous said...

We're still a republic not an empire despite what people may say. However, I see all the signs that we are entering the 'empire' phase of our history with all that entails.

Anonymous said...

Obama is blackish.

Anonymous said...

"Yep. It's hopeless. Can't do anything but drone strikes and executive bills of attainder. And lots and lots of foreign aid. And spreading a lot of green around to groups whose motives we don't understand, and overseas deployments, and inviting the protagonists from all sides of foreign conflicts over here." - Yes, thats option whack-a-mole.

Anonymous said...

"Or we could close up shop and leave them to their own devices." - Theres one problem with that, oil. We'll pull out of there the second we/our allies/interests don't need the stuff from them.

Anonymous said...

"The middle east was going to explode regardless due to demographics. [N]othing we can do about that but play whack-a-mole, or engage in what would be considered crimes against humanity."

Or how about we just stay clear of the whole area altogether? Get our troops the hell out of there and keep them from immigrating here? Call it a Japan strategy.

Anonymous said...

I think this must be the first time in human history that Mali was strategic.

.
"Niger and Nigeria?"

Niger has French pronunciation and existentialist spelling. That's the only difference. Neither are strategic. Not today anyway.

.
"Historically, didn't empires generally profit in some way from their possessions"

They start that way.

Also sand, you never know when there might be a sand shortage.

.
"Al Qaeda might have fizzled out"

That's why you have to keep bombing new countries. Otherwise they might fizzle out.

NOTA said...

Hey, I have a really crazy idea. What if we interacted with godawful misgoverned hell-holes that produced oil by, say, producing material wealth in the form of machines and computers and medicines and stuff, and offering to trade those things, which we can produce in great abundance, for the oil under their ground? We wouldn't have to invade or (god forbid) govern these awful, armed-religious-fanatic-infested places. We would no longer need to care whether the Islamists were torturing the secularists or the secularists were torturing the Islamists, except in the sort of empty sense that we all understand that a lot of countries have really ugly stuff going on, and we're all vaguely sorry that's so and really, intensely glad we don't live there. We wouldn't need to try to prop up nauseating dictators, or smile and pretend to like evil regimes like that of Saudi Arabia. We could respond to the democracy or apartheid decision of the Israelis with the proper level of detachment due to hard decisions made by friendly foreign countries half a world away: Gee, I sure hope you guys work that out somehow, best of luck!

I know, this is crazy talk. Serious people know we must keep bombing foreigners in third-world countries until China stops lending us the money to keep doing it.

Anonymous said...

Niger has French pronunciation and existentialist spelling.

You telling me I'm supposed to pronounce it, "Nee-Zhay"?!?

Truth said...

"There is a vast array of companies that profit from our far-flung military empire."

Mr. Anon, you are DEAD ON RIGHT once again. All except the silly minority owned companies thing, they are a drop in the bucket in the "war effort", however, I realize that with Svigor calling you a N(Obama) lover, you have to re-establish your bonafides.

Funny thing, even with your bouts of weirdness, you are the poster I probably agree with most, here.

Whiskey said...

Mali is not important. Egypt, Saudi, and Libya are. The Gulf most of all (Saudi, Iran, Iraq, etc.) Somalia lesser so because it sits aside shipping lanes but still is important. Not Mali.

This is likely Obama propping up some crony's business venture in Mali, oil/gas/minerals, with a payoff to be named later. Just like Rwanda and the Lord's Resistance Army. You don't think Obama actually CARES about Black people in Africa do you?

NOTA yes its ludicrous because Iran and Russia want to restrict oil production by oh I dunno, MILITARILY DOMINATING THEIR NEIGHBORS. Much / Most of the commentary here is stupid on the fifth grade level, assigning the US blame for everything and natives and other nations (like Russia and China) none at all.

The has zero, zilch, nada interest in Mali and is using the US military to prop up Obama crony interests. The US has MASSIVE interests in and around Saudi Arabia, and the corrupt, decadent, debauched, and totally awful House of Saud (unless you compare it to a Saudi run by Iran and/or the Muslim Brothers).

The US under Obama tried to do everything CHEAP. Drone attacks not in the media via worshipful press, minimal boots on the ground; everything CHEAP CHEAP CHEAP. Not an empire (Empires don't have their embassies over-run and ambassadors killed without severe consequences) but a collection of cheap minimal responses to the strategic challenge of Iran/Russia to dominate the Gulf and push oil prices to ~$200 a barrel, making them rich and us poor.

It is the delusion and childish nature of the modern American nerd to think that fights, conflicts, and war can be avoided by goodwill, moralism, and technology. A post-Christian heresy, basically, spread culturally to the nerdiest. A world where White guy nerds actually believe Star Trek Next Generation is a blueprint for society.

Truth said...

" We wouldn't have to invade or (god forbid) govern these awful, armed-religious-fanatic-infested places."

The issue is, if we don't invade and govern, we can't control how much oil OTHER countries get.

Unanimous said...

"Whatever happens
We have got
Remote controlled drones
And they do not."

Maybe not for long.

Eric said...

Theres one problem with that, oil. We'll pull out of there the second we/our allies/interests don't need the stuff from them.

I don't buy it. We can do like every other country in the world - buy the oil from whoever manages to be on top this week. If we had let Saddam keep Kuwait do you think he wouldn't have sold us the oil?

No, this is more about the futility of remaking third world shitholes in our image than it is about oil.

Rabbi Moshe Rudner said...

Dunno, if you all know this but in my travels through the hinterlands of our vast nation I've come across foreign soldiers and technicians here to be trained in the Ways of the Drone.

The diversity of nations that the USG is training in drone technology is rather surprising. I'd've thought that we'd prefer to have as much of a monopoly on this particular technology as possible but apparently Ike was wise even beyond his years and experience would suggest.

The MIC requires endless military sales. We must arm Eastasia for their allied battles against the accursed Eurasia and, with any luck, Eastasia (read: Bin Laden, Hussein, Libyan militias, etc) will get to use that technology against us at which point we'll need even cooler weapons with which to take them on - to say nothing of arming our new Eurasian allies.

The people video-game-playing OUR drones (and yes I know some of them personally) are no longer discoverers of the tech or random soldiers pulled from other duty but particularly Aspergey-types who can 'shoot em dead' in 9-5 shifts and then go home with no concerns greater than those weighing down their accountant brethren. The guys learning to run drones for foreigners however are still of the interesting sorts (again, we're talking about some countries well weirder and less stable than France or Japan) and it's truly amazing that our government has the right to train such countries with such powerful and easily misusable technology as drones without its citizens' knowledge or permission.

Eric said...

I'd've thought that we'd prefer to have as much of a monopoly on this particular technology as possible but apparently Ike was wise even beyond his years and experience would suggest.

The US has never had a monopoly on drones. In fact, we've been playing catch up for a decade. The most effective drones we have now are based on Israeli technology. Israel, China, Russia, and France (and probably more that I don't know about off the top of my head) have their own drones either in testing or in service.

Anonymous said...

Yea that's a good point. I'm pretty sure sage Lenin, he of the supreme wisdom of who/whom, would have preferred to have drones than not. That quote is always taken out of context. It is a captain trying to buck up his men before battle not some lord at his club after dining. If anything Belloc is arguing that "Blood" was too soft. I don't think that's the AmCon/taki line these days.

Anonymous said...

Thanks to Steve the 21st century is going to have Lenin as the darling of the right and Carl Schmitt as the left's darling. Wilderness of mirrors squatting Jews screw Eliot for always being right.

Anonymous said...

"I don't buy it. We can do like every other country in the world - buy the oil from whoever manages to be on top this week. If we had let Saddam keep Kuwait do you think he wouldn't have sold us the oil?

No, this is more about the futility of remaking third world shitholes in our image than it is about oil." - Oil is the reason for our overall presence. I'd agree that taking down Saddam and mubarak was more the product of a fever dream of democracy(and by implication the end of dysfunction) in the middle east, than any tangible gain. Gadaffi is a slightly different case: Europe wanted two things, control of the oil, and the end of african immigration through Libya.

Lastly, every other country is free to buy oil, as long as they do so in the reserve currency for oil.

Anonymous said...

It proves that the Muslims aren't all that bright that they haven't figured out that you can build a drone out of a car engine, a carved wooden propeller made with fixtures easily built in a garage, bicycle tubing, plywood, and linen sheets covered with guncotton dissolved in acetone. Just how WWI aircraft were built.

Automotive computers and sensors can be made to work very well as flight control computers if you can figure out how to hack into their firmware, and are available for a few dollars from junkyards. Power antenna motors make pretty good control servos.

Funcrusher said...

"Or how about we just stay clear of the whole area altogether? Get our troops the hell out of there and keep them from immigrating here? Call it a Japan strategy."

Agreed. After all "Death to Japan" isn't a common slogan these days. Except in China.

Mr. Anon said...

"a very knowing American said...

Henry Kissinger once joked that Chile was "a dagger pointed at the heart of Antarctica" (riffing on the more serious observation that Korea was a dagger pointed at the heart of Japan).

A quick look at the map shows that Mali is a battle ax pointed at the heart of Niger. Or maybe a mattock of some kind pointed at the heart of Burkina Faso."

Your comment was funny. As was Kissingers'. He may by an amoral creep, but at least he has a sense of humor.

Mali - a toothpick pointed at the olive of Guinea.

Anonymous said...

"Gadaffi is a slightly different case: Europe wanted two things, control of the oil, and the end of african immigration through Libya."

Quackdaffy controlled immigration by patrolling offshore and generally giving African immigrants a hard time. He had an agreement with Berlusconi to stop the boats to Italian islands. The moment the 'revolution' began, as in Tunisia a lot of people started taking ship for Panatella or whatever it's called.

Anonymous said...

"Quackdaffy controlled immigration by patrolling offshore and generally giving African immigrants a hard time. He had an agreement with Berlusconi to stop the boats to Italian islands. The moment the 'revolution' began, as in Tunisia a lot of people started taking ship for Panatella or whatever it's called."

Qadaffi was threatening them with loosening that however. And during the revolution a hell of a lot of people got the hell out of libya, I lost count at 500k. That is ultimately the goal, shutting down the immigration network itself, rather than worrying about the individuals who use it on any given day.

Anonymous said...

The USA actually gets very, very little of its oil from the middle east or the Arab/persian world. it is a canard, though widely believed that the usa is dependent upon mideast oil for ist energy needs. Most foreign oil to the USA comes from Canada, Mexico, Venezuala, Nigeria and Angola.

Truth said...

Not true. Saudi Arabia is second after Canada...

http://www.eia.gov/pub/oil_gas/petroleum/data_publications/company_level_imports/current/import.html

Unanimous said...

Oil is a fungible commodity. Saudi is the swing producer, they set the market price. It doesn't matter where you get your oil, Saudi sets the price. That's why Saudi will never admit they have hit their production peak. At Saudi peak oil they lose their leverage and become just another bunch of high-paid camel jockeys.