How Do They Get Away With It?

Imagine, if you will, this news story:

Little by little the United States is forming military links in Africa and in the Indian Ocean in order, experts say, to protect American economic interests in the region.

In the past three weeks Washington has committed to supporting Ugandan forces operating in Somalia and to helping the Seychelles fight piracy.

“It is very clear that the American leaders recognize that military force will play a bigger role to safeguard the United States’ overseas interests,” Jonathan Holslag, of the Brussels Institute of American Contemporary Studies told AFP.

“There is a willingness, and even a consensus, in the United States, that this process will take place.”

The Indian Ocean is strategic, Holslag said, noting that 85 percent of American oil imports and 60 percent of its exports are routed via the Gulf of Aden.

Can you imagine what the international reaction would be?

But the story is actually about China, not the United States, and unless you’re a regular consumer of the Kenyan press, you won’t see it anywhere.

  1. Jeff

    How do you catch this stuff? Impressive.

  2. Mark Wilson

    I wonder if it’s because the United States is generally known as a right-leaning country while China is populated by “people of color” who have been victims of Western colonialism (not in fact, just by default) and led by “reasonably enlightened” autocrats.  China’s form of government represents the fantasy fulfillment of America’s progressives.

  3. Misthiocracy

    <tongue planted firmly in cheek mode = on>

    After years of disappointment from European powers who shirk their military responsibilities under NATO, FINALLY there is another country in the world that steps up to the plate to share some of the USA’s burden as the “World’s Policeman”!

    <tongue planted firmly in cheek mode = off>

  4. Wylee Coyote
    I’ve always maintained that the International Community™ is afraid to call the Chinese out on anything because they’re afraid the Chinese will call their bluff and tell them to stuff it.
  5. Claire Berlinski
    C
    Jeff Younger: How do you catch this stuff? Impressive. · Dec 20 at 9:46am

    I read the foreign press a lot–because I know the US press just doesn’t cover this stuff anymore. And yes, it’s amazing what you discover when you do.&nbsp;

  6. Snow Bird

    China’s growing assertiveness has been, and continues to be, heavily covered in publications such as the Naval Institute’s Proceedings, the Air Force Association’s Air Force Magazine, and numerous web resources. You are correct about its virtual nonexistence in the MSM. The moral is simple: broaden informational sources. The MSM has become little more than a propaganda medium. It may not be entirely useless, but it’s an incredibly lousy sole provider.

  7. flownover

    Well, I guess our overt efforts in Africa might include the positioning of Africom Headquarters right smack in the middle of the action.&nbsp;

    Yeah, Stuttgart is the place to watch Africa from !

  8. DocJay

    I really do enjoy your eclectic articles Claire. &nbsp;I have a buddy who works for our government regarding African agriculture and travels there regularly. &nbsp;He has been discussing for years about China’s keen interest in Africa and their techniques/tactics for assuming control of resources. &nbsp;Agricultural land and water resources are highly sought after. &nbsp;The Chinese are moving in and taking control in not so friendly ways, but then again, who has ever been fair to Africa. &nbsp;The contract is usually made with the pretense of using African workers for a large area producing crop or product X. &nbsp;Strict oversight of productivity occurs with the Chinese masters having expectations as if the workers are people’ republic automatons which of course ends up with expectations not being met. &nbsp;Default of the contract brings in Chinese workers if possible so look for the increased immigration patterns to selected African countries with the occasional Mr Kurtz. &nbsp;The situation involves exploitation and I am curious how long this lasts until another Jomo Keynyetta comes along. &nbsp;Private military is critical and merely an&nbsp;extension of politics and nowhere is there more history than Africa. &nbsp;

    Warren Zevon -&nbsp;Roland The Headless Thompson Gunner
  9. Mark Wilson
    flownover: Well, I guess our overt efforts in Africa might include the positioning of Africom Headquarters right smack in the middle of the action.&nbsp;

    Yeah, Stuttgart is the place to watch Africa from ! · Dec 20 at 10:32am

    I’ve seen this point made elsewhere but never understood it.&nbsp; What African country is a close enough ally and secure enough to host a United States military command headquarters?

  10. Dean Murphy

    I’m surprised I haven’t seen anyone mention this point yet: The Chinese “get away with it” because the Left’s M.O. is to ignore international politics in favor of domestic fiddling.

    Mr. Obama is out of character on this point in that he has continued some of Mr. Bush’s policies, and that he took so long to get out of Afghanistan.

  11. Skyler

    I spent three weeks in Ghana with the Marines a few years ago. &nbsp;We were in one of the remotest parts of the world. In the nearby city of Tamale was a soccer stadium. &nbsp;This stadium was nicer than most in the US, and it was in the middle of one of the poorest cities in the world amidst the most appalling squalor. The place was regularly stuffed to capacity.

    I asked my Ghanaian counterpart about it. &nbsp;His reply, “That’s why you’re here.”

    Pressed for a more detailed explanation, he expounded that the stadium, like some six others, was built for free by the Chinese government. &nbsp;The Ghanaians were worried that the Chinese were getting too influential. &nbsp;

    We were in Ghana to escort the finest hospital in equatorial Africa to these remote locations, along with dentists and veterinarians to help the poor people there. &nbsp;In the same place were a handful of Peace Corps volunteers.

    By giving temporary medical care the USMC was giving these people fish and the Peace Corps was teaching them to fish. &nbsp;The Chinese, however, were giving them a marketplace to sell fish, and that was much more powerful.

  12. Skyler
    flownover: Well, I guess our overt efforts in Africa might include the positioning of Africom Headquarters right smack in the middle of the action.&nbsp;

    Yeah, Stuttgart is the place to watch Africa from ! · Dec 20 at 10:32am

    Another purpose for our being in Ghana was to try to convince Ghana to host Africom. We thought that it was a done deal but they backed out at the last minute. &nbsp;It seems that most African nations consider hosting us to be a liability, not a blessing. &nbsp;(This was the summer of 2008.) &nbsp;Shortly after that, the decision was made to base it in Stuttgart.

  13. John Grant
    C

    I thought we were committed in Africa.&nbsp; For instance the Obama administration committed troops to hunting down the Lord’s Resistance Army recently. Then there is the bang-up job England and the US did in Rhodesia/Zimbabwe!!! And I cannot forget our recent successes in installing a regime that legalized polygamy right off the bat in Libya. Our involvement in Somalia is pretty long-term too.

    I wonder how long it will be before the Chinese have 900 bases in 130 countries?

  14. PJS

    Thank you for ruining my day. &nbsp;I will go sit by the pool and pretend it doesn’t exist.

  15. Crow

    ADM Greenert’s announcement about&nbsp;Singapore? No relation whatsoever. Sidenote: Changi is a pretty little naval base.

    On AFRICOM: This was a political football. Germany is less than ideal. But consider, for instance, these questions: Which African country should&nbsp;host a US military installation? What are political ramifications in the region for that host nation and for the US? What sort of facilities are available in that host nation, and what would the infrastructure for a major US military installation cost to install?&nbsp;

    Sometimes all your left with is the least worst option…..

  16. Gaby Charing

    Not in the MSM, but a quick Google search shows it’s on the Ugandan govt web site – which is not for a moment to detract freom the admiration we all feel, Claire, for the way you ferret this stuff out. Not that you’re listening – it’s 8pm in Paris, it’s the first night of Hanukkah, and, having been stuffed with sweets all afternoon by his doting aunt and grandfather, Leo has just been sick&nbsp;:-)

  17. Gaby Charing
    Misthiocracy: <tongue planted firmly in cheek mode = on>

    After years of disappointment from European powers who shirk their military responsibilities under NATO, FINALLY there is another country in the world that steps up to the plate to share some of the USA’s burden as the “World’s Policeman”!

    <tongue planted firmly in cheek mode = off> · Dec 20 at 10:11am

    The Brits are there! Is it permissible to be frivolous on Ricochet? Next time you’re in the mood for YouTube, try this, and remember we are your friends: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SDZcGz4vmJc

  18. flownover
    Mark Wilson

    flownover: Well, I guess our overt efforts in Africa might include the positioning of Africom Headquarters right smack in the middle of the action.&nbsp;

    Yeah, Stuttgart is the place to watch Africa from ! · Dec 20 at 10:32am

    &nbsp;I’ve seen this point made elsewhere but never understood it.&nbsp; What African country is a close enough ally and secure enough to host a United States military command headquarters? · Dec 20 at 10:49am

    Point being that no country in Africa would allow us to base the Africom headquarters in their capital. Djibouti (Camp Lemonnier) was about as close as we got, with a military base next to a French base ( with a French Foreign Legion outpost a couple kliks away). Believe me, the US really tried to find a home in the continent.

  19. Publius
    Mark Wilson

    flownover: Well, I guess our overt efforts in Africa might include the positioning of Africom Headquarters right smack in the middle of the action.&nbsp;

    Yeah, Stuttgart is the place to watch Africa from ! · Dec 20 at 10:32am

    I’ve seen this point made elsewhere but never understood it.&nbsp; What African country is a close enough ally and secure enough to host a United States military command headquarters?

    I’ve had the same thought. You’d want one that is politically stable enough for a long term&nbsp;commitment, but whose people wouldn’t be vexed by having a larger American military command in their country. South Africa is the only one that could potentially work some day down the road, but that’s a country with quite a few problems still so I could see why it would be non-starter currently.

    At least with Germany, you don’t have the timezone issues like you would if you put it in the eastern side of the United States I suppose you could put it in Italy which puts you on the other side of the&nbsp;Mediterranean from North Africa.

    Maybe if Zimbabwe becomes free someday…