HELLO FROM AMERICA!

Not that you'd notice from watching the news, but the U.S. has lent a helping hand to French colonialism (It hasn't even advanced to the point of neo-colonialism yet in Niger, the uranium under which is to the French nuclear power industry what Saudi oil is to the American auto industry) in West Africa. Yes, yes, we can throw around tales of Islamist rebels and terrorists-in-training throughout the region, of which there are most certainly plenty. However, given the general instability and weakness of the governments in that part of the world and the vast stretches of territory across the Sahel that is "governed" in name only, the logic behind Western intervention is not entirely clear.

Moreover, the U.S. has just reached an agreement to start flying its global ambassadors for democracy – Flying Death Robots – out of Niger due to what is characterized as a complete lack of ground-level intelligence in the region. We are masters of the soft sell, so we'll send in the unarmed surveillance drones first. Any bets on when the Reapers and Predators make an appearance? I have July 2013 in the pool.

The truly stunning part of the linked Guardian article is this:

The move would be the latest in a gradual expansion of American surveillance drones in Africa, which have so far been operated from Burkina Faso, Ethiopia and Djibouti

I tend to pay attention to these things, and I had absolutely no idea that we were already flying these things not only out of the Horn of Africa (USAFRICOM operates out of a US Naval Base, Camp Lemmonier, in Djibouti, so that makes sense) but also out of Burkina Faso in West Africa. You'd think that would be newsworthy.

Is the strategy to cover the entire planet with these things incrementally until…everyone on Earth realizes how wonderful America is, or something? However real the need for intelligence might be, the idea of attempting to cover the globe with the robotic, all-seeing eye of the Department of Defense seems like folly, a post-Cold War version of the idea that we could build enough bomb shelters to make nuclear war a mild inconvenience at worst.

Burkina Faso is still Upper Volta to me, by the way.

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34 Responses to “HELLO FROM AMERICA!”

  1. Middle Seaman Says:

    It's all proof of Obama's progressive policies. Drone coverage progressed, the banks progressed towards ruling the country and we progressed nicely towards poverty.

    Upper Volta? I am so old that I forgot my childhood geography. What about Belgian Kongo? (The place where king Leopold killed almost 10 million people. Remember, Europe, and the blipping Guardian, dictate morality in our world.)

  2. Both Sides Do It Says:

    We can't deal with the information the drones are getting from Afghanistan

    It's way too much data to sift by hand and the algorerhythms aren't sophisticated enough yet to discriminate important from not important at a rate that's usable

    So the information from these Heart of Darkness drones will either be

    – directly shared with French intelligence who will sift it themselves

    or

    – take up time from US computers which are now not crunching Afghan surveillance

    or

    – take up time from US analysts which are now not analyzing Afghan surveillance

    Whatever combination of doors ends up being picked the US is directly paying for French colonialism, and will probably take resources away from Afghanistan.

    Somehow Establishment hypocrisy is worse than incompetence at completing their stated, horrific, goals. Don't know why that is. Not sure I want to.

  3. Major Kong Says:

    I mean really, what could possibly go wrong?

  4. Arslan Says:

    Interesting how France was happy to help some of the very same Islamic fundamentalists in Libya.

  5. RosiesDad Says:

    Skynet will be operative by the end of the decade.

  6. Xynzee Says:

    Oh cool!! We're helping the CheESMos maintain another one of their "colonies". Didn't we learn anything from the last time we did this and they left us holding the bag for the next 7+ years? Hmmm now if we can get Jules or Rabbot to sell this to the US as some how preventing the spread of terrorism to Aus, we'll have the whole history repeats scenario.

  7. jon Says:

    Drones and naval vessels could be used wisely to do things like stop piracy and illegal fishing and keep trade legit. But noooooo, monopolies can only justify our military if the Dread Turbanned Folk get an earful of high explosives on a regular basis. We could protect elephant herds from extinction, but two guys might be talking in the vicinity of a camel somewhere. Kill! Kill! Kill!

  8. jon Says:

    Fuck you, autocorrecting Kindle! Don't know where "monopolies" came from, even though it's a happy accident.

  9. Tim H. Says:

    And the "conservatives" won't raise much objection to taxpayer dollars for the empire.

  10. c u n d gulag Says:

    I suspect our lead in drone technology will last about as long as our nuclear bomb advantage did.

    Any drone that goes down without exploding, will be haggled over between the Russians and Chinese, and some of the other global actors who don't like us, and who all want to also have advanced aerial drone technology.
    Anyone think the Iranians didn't disassemble the drone that went down there a few years ago?
    Or sell it?
    Or, disassemble it, get what they wanted, and THEN sold it?
    Yeah, me neither.

    We've got to get this notion that we're the worlds police force, out of our heads.
    Killing people with drones doesn't buy us any love – just the opposite, in fact.
    More Marshall Plans, not planes and drones, tanks and soldiers, will buy us more peace.

    We need to stop butting our noses into the business of every country who we think doesn't love us, and our vocarious corporations.

    Coming up soon: International Fresh Water Wars!

    We've already negotiated other nations water rights away from them, as described in this book by John Perkins:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Confessions_of_an_Economic_Hit_Man

    And I'm sure we won't be getting into any military action overseas, clandestine, or overt, when we decide to take "our" water, from those nations.
    NOT!!!
    We'll be making even more new friends, and influencing still more people.
    HUZZAH!!!

  11. HoosierPoli Says:

    I think Obama's attitude towards drones roughly tracks Eisenhower's attitude towards nuclear weapons: they can get the same job done on the cheap. At least, that's what i'm hoping. I'd much rather replace all of our massively overpriced human-piloted aircraft with cheaper drone aircraft; there's no good reason not to that I can see.

  12. Pathman Says:

    I think we will soon find out how easy it is to shoot these things down. Don't worry! we'll make more at the American taxpayer expense. What a sweet deal.

  13. BigHank53 Says:

    The only "advanced aerial drone technology" there is the satellite communications system we use to control the things. The synthetic aperture radar and multi-spectral targeting system sound wildly exotic, but they're just military versions of sensors that anyone with a Visa card can buy. Otherwise, it's all off-the-shelf technology. The Predator uses a Rotax engine that could just as easily be bolted into a Cessna.

    That's why the defense contractors love the things. They're cheap. (Look at the price tag of a single F-35. Then look at the price tag of the required ground crew.) They're so cheap that even when you add a 200% markup the Pentagon thinks they're a bargain. General Atomics couldn't give a stale shit if all the Predators in the world do anything useful or not as long as all their invoices are paid in full.

  14. Brian M Says:

    I like the meme over at kalpanishads that Al Qaeda is a mechanism of American colonialism. Where Al Qaeda is, the drones soon follow.

  15. Brian M Says:

    Also…is it Central African Republic to you, or do you pine for the days of the Emperor Bokassa and the Central African Empire?

  16. Mike Says:

    Upper Volta.

    Stop reading out of date encyclopedias.

  17. glf Says:

    The pentagon's hiring thousands so I'm sure that all the data coming in from the drones will be mined in no time: http://mobile.nytimes.com/2013/01/28/us/pentagon-to-beef-up-cybersecurity-force-to-counter-attacks.xml

  18. mothra Says:

    I love to respond to the paranoid gun nuts who think they need their arsenals to fight off the government-gone-rogue with one word:
    Drones.

  19. Major Kong Says:

    Drones actually have other problems. They crash, a lot.

    Not such a problem with something like a Predator, which is relatively cheap.

    It's a very big deal when something like a Global Hawk (size of a small airliner) crashes. They've lost so many of those that they're cancelling the program and keeping the U-2 that it was supposed to replace.

  20. i.boskone Says:

    @BigHank53 – it seems to me the pork-swilling bigtime defense contractors and their puppets in governemnt would HATE drones, for those very reasons of economy you outline. The 11-dimensional chess paranoiac in me wonders if some of that 'OMG drone warfare! Pushing a button from an air-conditioned Barcalounger somewhere near Yuma AZ – it's immoral!' is being pushed by folks who want to keep jillion dollar white elephants like the F-35 going and the pork a-flowing.

  21. Ed W. Says:

    Hey Mothra, haven't you heard–the gun nuts will be using the finest 13th century castle technologies against the New World Order. Drones won't stand a chance against their turrets and towers! And not just one, but *two*walls.

    http://tpmmuckraker.talkingpointsmemo.com/2013/01/the_citadel_project_iii_arms.php

  22. Edward Says:

    I wonder if the media coverage will be as inaccurate, unverified, and manipulative as it was for Syria.

  23. Scepticus Says:

    No wonder I couldn't find Upper Volta on the map. I thought if I could find 'Lower Volta,' I might have a chance. No dice.

  24. Brian M Says:

    Edward:

    Have you listened to the BBC coverage? The propganda is stunningly blatant.

  25. Death Panel Truck Says:

    @Scepticus: Perhaps this might have helped you:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Republic_of_Upper_Volta

  26. Xynzee Says:

    Jon, FTW!
    "We could protect elephant herds from extinction, but two guys might be talking in the vicinity of a camel somewhere."

  27. Bitter Scribe Says:

    Yeah, well, the guys whom the French chased out of northern Mali were no bowl of Sugar Pops themselves. Mandatory sharia, enforced by encouraging neighbors to snitch on each other.

  28. Edward Says:

    Brian M,

    I haven't listened to that coverage and I usually avoid the mainstream press for this reason. I can't tell if there are many journalists on the ground in Mali. Part of the reason for the ridiculous coverage of Syria is the lack of journalists there. An Al Jazeera journalist has done some reporting from Mali.

  29. Crocodile Chuck Says:

    ..and the USSR is (was) Upper Volta with rockets" The Economist

    http://anatheimp.blogspot.com.au/2010/09/upper-volta-with-rockets.html

  30. Major Kong Says:

    Not to take this too lightly, but it must be causing some major head explosions over in wingnutland.

    I mean, the hated and despised French are beating up on the evil islamocommiefascistjihadists!

  31. anotherbozo Says:

    "I had absolutely no idea that we were already flying these things not only out of the Horn of Africa (USAFRICOM operates out of a US Naval Base, Camp Lemmonier, in Djibouti, so that makes sense) but also out of Burkina Faso in West Africa. You'd think that would be newsworthy."

    I'm beginning to understand why Current TV was immediately dropped by Time/Warner cable NYC when Al-Jazeera bought it. Al-Jazeera considers such developments "newsworthy."

  32. Both Sides Do It Says:

    Re: media coverage of Mali

    http://www.foreignpolicy.com/articles/2013/01/30/mali_is_not_afghanistan_france_africa?page=full

  33. Bernard Says:

    dumbing down Americans has been the successful Republican plan. Keeping Americans dumb is so easy nowadays. Controlling all aspect of the Media, about 6 Corporations, with "Bread and Circuses" and of course Having 24-7 WAR games. Are you a Patriot? Have you ever been a Patriot?

    Republicans saw some easy pickings and made a fortune selling Americans down the river. Leaves Nazi Germany's brand pale by comparison. The German killed the Jews, the Americans killed lots of people who were sitting on their/American "oil."

    have the White and the Blacks fight each other while we Rich Corporations steal, both from the Blacks and the Whites, blind. lol, sad but true. 40 years of theft and corruption. thank St. Ronnie for spreading the "gospel" of the Republican Con.

  34. Monkus Says:

    "…we can throw around tales of Islamist rebels and terrorists-in-training throughout the region, of which there are most certainly plenty. However, given the general instability and weakness of the governments in that part of the world and the vast stretches of territory across the Sahel that is "governed" in name only, the logic behind Western intervention is not entirely clear…"

    Aaaand that's completely dismissive of how things have unfolded in the last year or so. AQIM and their many new affiliates pretty much took over the entirety of northern Mali, risking the stability of much of West Africa, not to mention all those "Westerners" AQ would like to murder. Say what you will about the prospects of an unmanned drone program operated out of Niger, but how about we try to separate out all the different facets of the problem first.