Sunday, June 7, 2015

Bryan Maygers - The War in Africa the U.S. Military Won't Admit It's Fighting

"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.

Adapted from a series of articles written for from 2012 to late 2014,Tomorrow's Battlefield methodically follows Turse's exploration of the U.S. military's Africa Command, or AFRICOM, a reporting mission that Turse says was continually re-inspired by his subjects' lack of cooperation. "Basically, it was AFRICOM that made me do it. They were really responsible for this book," he told HuffPost in a recent interview.

From the outset of his reporting, Turse faced continual resistance and was refused even the most basic information or access in response to his questions. 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. He writes, "While AFRICOM... maintains that the United States has only a 'small footprint' on the continent, following those small footprints across the continent can be a breathtaking task."

Beyond raising the alarm over the growing scale of operations, Turse's book explains how American actions have almost unfailingly resulted in disastrous unforeseen consequences, a pattern that has done little to deter the U.S. military's expansionist zeal. In this conversation, Turse outlines some of those consequences, how the military's efforts to block and undermine his reporting shaped Tomorrow's Battlefield and whether the lessons of recent history or competition with China have any chance of altering the United States' military-first approach to Africa...

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