By Wayne Madsen
The United States, wracked by a sputtering economy, has decided to construct a modern-age “Maginot Line” from the Indian Ocean to the Pacific. Unlike the Maginot Line, which was a series of underground fortresses and tunnels, built by the French along their border with Germany to be an “impregnable” barrier to prevent an invasion by Adolf Hitler’s Army, America’s “Maginot Line” is composed of a chain of naval and air bases, intelligence-gathering sites, and pre-positioned military supplies.
In 1940, the German Army struck at France by going around the Maginot Line and crossing the French frontier after invading neutral Belgium. Unlike France, which faced a clear threat from a rearming Germany, the chain of bases being established by the United States from the east coast of Africa and the Red Sea through the Indian Ocean and into Southeast Asia and the Pacific is not in answer to any specific threat to the security of the United States, but to provide a bulwark against an amorphous collection of “threats” to America and/or its allies. The threats, cited by neo-conservative and neo-liberal policymakers alike, include “China, Iran, al-Qaeda, and other ‘global Jihadists,’” and alleged various minor asymmetric warfare players.
In fact, there is no real threat to the United States or its allies from any of the oft-referenced “threats.” America’s buildup in the Indian Ocean and the Pacific is to ensure the continued dominance of the budget-consuming military-industrial complex, protect the financial interests of companies that owe little or no allegiance to the United States, and to project the American military power around the globe.
In east Africa, an American military and intelligence base has, for some time, existed at Camp Lemonier in Djibouti. The Obama administration is beefing up the American military and intelligence presence in the region, including the Horn of Africa, by establishing a naval base in Manda Bay, Kenya, a drone base in Arba Minch, Ethiopia, a drone base in Victoria on the island of Mahé in the Seychelles, an air facility and drone “training” in Entebbe, Uganda, a drone “training” base in Burundi, a maritime tracking station at the Pemba naval base in northern Mozambique, a surveillance and naval base on the Kenyan island of Lamu near the Somali coast, and an air facility at Juba Airport in South Sudan. There are also reports that the United States has considered building a naval base on the large Maldives atoll of Marao.
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, on a trip to Africa, tipped her hand on the future American intentions in the region. While watching a US drone, provided to the Ugandan military, Clinton said the United States wants to deploy “improved” drones, which can see through the jungle canopy.
Many Ugandans agree that the drones’ alleged target represent a spent force and the only reason, the United States has for deploying drones with infrared capabilities to peer through heavy jungle growth is to provide support for the US Africa Command (AFRICOM) to wipe out any opposition forces in the bush, who pose threats to the US client dictators in the region. The dictators, supported by the United States, include Yoweri Museveni of Uganda, Paul Kagame of Uganda, and Meles Zenawai of Ethiopia. America’s only interest in the region is to ensure the continued flow of diamonds, gold, oil, natural gas, columbite-tantalite, platinum, and uranium from the resource-rich Democratic Republic of Congo, Uganda, South Sudan, and the Central African Republic.
The United States has never made it a secret that it wants to establish a base on the Yemeni island of Socotra in the Indian Ocean. With Yemen in political transition, the US sees a real opportunity to grab Socotra. The United States and Britain have also reportedly dusted off an old secret plan by the Royal Air Force to establish an airbase on Aldabra in the Seychelles. With conservationists sure to object to any such move, the island of Assumption, with its all-weather airstrip, may serve as an alternative.
The US continues to expand its large air and naval ship and submarine base on Diego Garcia in the British Indian Ocean Territory. Diego Garcia is an important base for the US military and naval units stationed in Oman where an intelligence base exists on the island of Masirah, Kuwait, Qatar, Bahrain, and the United Arab Emirates. The US presence in the Persian Gulf and Diego Garcia is justified by citing the “threat from Iran.”
To the east, the United States is seeking to establish a military aircraft and drone base on the Cocos (Keeling) Islands, an Australian territory in the Indian Ocean. The base would supplement a proposed US naval base as HMAS Stirling in Perth, which would provide support for an entire US aircraft carrier battle group and a US Marine and air base in Darwin in the Northern Territory that would initially host 2500 US personnel. The 600 Cocos Islanders fear they will suffer the same fate as the 2000 Chagossian inhabitants of Diego Garcia and the Outer Chagos islands of Peros Banhos and the Salomon Islands — 200 miles away from Diego Garcia — who were forcibly removed from the island between 1967 and 1973 to make way for the American base. The Chagossians now live in squalid conditions in Mauritius. The Cocos Islanders justifiably fear they will meet a similar fate and be ordered off their islands to be consigned to the same sort of poverty, which has befallen many of Australia’s Aborigines.
And, after a costly war in terms of blood and treasure in Southeast Asia, the United States is making plans to reestablish naval, air, and intelligence bases in Vietnam, Cambodia, and Thailand, to supplement its naval anchorage in Singapore and military base use rights in the Philippines, Palau, and Brunei. The target for the US buildup is China and ultimate control over the oil and natural gas resources of the South China Sea.
America’s security interests from east Africa through the Indian Ocean and into the South China Sea are not based on any security threats, but to preserve America’s leading modern characteristic: Financial greed. And America has, since the end of World War II, used its military to sustain its greed.