Africa Command was only set up because more and more global corporations are engaged in large-scale resource extraction in Africa, and their interests need to be protected. This includes the Exxon/World Bank Chad-Cameroon oil pipeline, Areva’s investments in uranium mining in Niger and Mali, Chevron & Shell’s oil projects in Nigeria, and various mineral extraction efforts in the Congo and surrounding regions run by various fly-by-night outfits.
Ever see Avatar? Recall the real purpose that the corporate-military conglomerate hired the science team for? Learn all about the locals, and ensure that they don’t interfere with resource extraction - but if they do interfere, the anthropologists act as spies, identify “ringleaders’ and ‘troublemakers’ and then the military can neutralize them.
There are some historical records of such activities being run in Africa in the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s, particularly in South Africa and Rhodesia/Zimbabwe. They also involved the use of anthropologists and academics (often funded by the Rockefeller and Ford Foundations) as de facto spies whose job was to infiltrate and report back on the anti-apartheid and national liberation movements in South Africa:
For example (1970) “As for the scope of the five-year study, it would include: ‘an analysis of their operational attributes - their techniques of recruitment, training; mobilization, and tactics, their leadership and internal politics, and their ideology and international relations. In its initial phase the study will concentrate on the more important movements, those directed against [sic] South Africa, South West Africa, Rhodesia, Angola, Mozambique and Malawi…. Data will be collected by structured interview, survey, participant observation, and analysis of printed ephemera, the press, and other records.’
“It is clear, I suggest, that this proposed research was as comprehensive and detailed as anything military intelligence could desire.”
In Afghanistan and Iraq, the U.S. military has embraced social science as a tool of counterinsurgency, embedding anthropologists and sociologists within brigades as part of an effort to understand local cultural and tribal dynamics. It’s a controversial approach, but in theory, it’s supposed to make military operations less lethal by helping commanders identify who their friends are.
In Africa, the military wants to try the same experiment, with a twist: The idea is to help top military planners better understand Africa and its peoples, and perhaps provide some “early warning” to prevent conflicts before they start.
As part of this plan, U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM) is planning to send researchers into the field to conduct academic-style research in remote areas of the continent, according to a copy of an unclassified information paper for the command’s Social Science Research Center, based at its headquarters in Stuttgart, Germany,
The teams, called Socio-Cultural Research and Advisory Teams, or SCRATs, will be skilled ethnographic or social science researchers with language skills and field experience. Before a bilateral military exercise, for instance, the paper states, “a SCRAT may conduct a socio-cultural assessment to better focus U.S. efforts and develop beneficial objectives. They may then accompany U.S. forces during the exercise in a cultural advisory capacity and conduct a post-exercise assessment of the impact on the local population.”
It’s part of a quiet, but steady, increase of U.S. military attention to the continent. Back in 2008, the Pentagon united military activity on the continent under a new geographic headquarters, AFRICOM. This week, the Army is hosting nearly 100 senior military leaders from around the continent at its African Land Forces Summit. In parallel, the U.S. military has been taking part in regular exercises like Flintlock, a multi-national exercise that is supposed to help Trans-Saharan states develop professional militaries.
Ideally, SCRATs will work with with local researchers, and keep a light footprint: According to the information paper, “While the support and approval of U.S. Embassy Country Teams is critical, SCRAT logistical requirements from Country Teams will be minimal. Team members will most often speak the local language and have extensive experience conducting academic research independently in remote locations.”
Still, anthropologists have raised ethical and professional concerns about this kind of collaboration with the military. They worry that research conducted by the military’s social scientists may violate principles of informed consent — and may potentially be used in lethal targeting.
The information paper on the Africa socio-cultural teams is careful to stress professional responsibility. “Research will be carried out in full compliance with the local norms, customs, and laws as well as the ethical guidelines laid out in the SSRC Code of Ethics,” the paper says. “Researchers will make their research objectives clear and will remain aware of the concerns and welfare of the individuals or communities studied.”
What’s more, the research teams “do not engage in concealed, clandestine, or covert activities and we will not be involved in activities that will harm our credibility as social scientists or compromise our relationship with local communities. Freely given, informed consent will be obtained from all participants. Researchers should use courtesy and discretion in their initial approach to potential participants, understanding that the individuals might not agree with the U.S. Military, nor wish to be publicly identified with it.”
As you might know there will always be the locals scrambling for grant money--and they will do anything that the Master says.
As with HIV/AIDS research--there are many African ministries of health that thrive on the money that flows in to "fight AIDS". Much of the research is just trivial repetitive junk research, the rest goes into private bank accounts.
Posts: 5145 | Registered: Nov 2004
| IP: Logged |
Sadly the people in charge seem to think that NOT developing their countries by putting money into the people and building Jobs and infrastructer is the wrong way to Go.
Until Africans do a Thailand, they will always be struggling to feed their countriess.
Wakeup Sleeping Giant, you can be a force of good for your people by having leaders who really fight to train and teach the mass. Until this happens we will continue to see Whites on TV begging for money to "Feed" the poor people of Africa. Shameful when Africa has all that mineral wealth.