Saturday, 14 April 2007

Frontline: a journal carrying a serious critique of US/UK militarism

And so to New Delhi – to interview Indian journalists hoping to join a British Council-sponsored programme we are running at the University of Lincoln next term. The visit gives me the opportunity to catch up on India’s flourishing leftist print media.

For instance, Frontline, edited by N. Ram, has maintained a consistently rigorous critique of US/UK militarism for many years and is always worth a read. In the current issue, John Cherian examines the Bush administration’s recent military adventures in Africa, highlighting the announcement in February of the creation of a US military command for Africa, “Africacom”.

This comes soon after the American-backed Ethiopian invasion of Somalia. As Cherian reports: “There are credible reports of US troops participating in special operations inside Somalia after a gap of more than a decade. The Americans provided the Ethiopian army with satellite pictures of Somali militia positions, and American planes bombed parts of southern Somalia. Seventy civilians were killed and more than a hundred wounded. More than 1,500 American troops have been based in nearby Djibouti since 2002. They played a key role in the planning and execution of the invasion of Somalia.” And significantly last year, Bush announced plans to expand the Camp Lemonier base in Djibouti from 88 acres to over 600 acres.

Also according to Cherian, the US is backing the secessionist movements in southern Sudan. “The subterfuge of ‘humanitarian intervention’ could be resorted to in the ongoing bid for regime change. The American preoccupation with Darfur is a case in point. Darfur, which is the size of France, is known to have vast oil and gas reserves…Neighbouring Chad is already exporting huge quantities of oil to the West. The US is also unhappy that the oil from southern Sudan is flowing to China, India and other emerging nations.”

The future importance of West African oil reserves to the US cannot be under-estimated. As Cherian reports: “Senior American officials have expressed the hope that the Gulf of Guinea on the West African coast would be able to meet a quarter of the US’s oil needs within a decade.”

America already supplies more than $1 billion worth of military equipment to Egypt every year. US troops help train anti-terrorism forces in Algeria, Chad, Kenya, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Nigeria, Tanzania, Uganda while the US has spent over $500 million on the Trans-Sahel Counter-Terrorism Initiative. And as the US expands its ring of permanent military bases on the continent, plans are being developed to set up a naval base on the small West African island state of Sao Tome. Cherian comments: “Sao Tome, along with Nigeria, controls huge off-shore oil reserves. Washington installed a friendly ruler in Sao Tome after a stage-managed coup in 2002.”

Elsewhere in the same edition, Aijad Ahmad examines the mass revolts against imperialism and neo-liberalism in Latin America and argues that “for the first time since its rise as a superpower the US is facing a serious threat to its hegemony”. And Vladimir Radyudin, in Moscow, argues that Russia’s geopolitical resurgence is causing major shifts in the international balance of power. He reports on the formation of the Gas Exporting Countries Forum in Doha, Qatar, on April 9 uniting Russia, Iran and Qatar. “The idea of a gas OPEC has rattled the US and Europe as it would shift the alignment of forces in the energy markets and leave them out in the cold.”

It’s hard to find such well-researched, incisive reporting of American militarism in the UK print market. So why not check out Frontline at

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