US Resource War Against China: Further Militarization of The
By Nile Bowie
May 16, 2012
- As the
Obama administration claims to welcome the peaceful rise of
China on the world stage, recent policy shifts toward an
increased US military presence in Central Africa threaten
deepening Chinese commercial activity in the Democratic Republic
of the Congo, widely considered the world’s most resource rich
Since the time of the British Empire and the manifesto of Cecil
Rhodes, the pursuit of treasures on the hopeless continent has
demonstrated the expendability of human life. Despite decades of
apathy among the primary resource consumers, the increasing
reach of social media propaganda has ignited public interest in
Africa’s long overlooked social issues.
In the wake of celebrity endorsed pro-intervention publicity
stunts, public opinion in the United States is now being
mobilized in favor of a greater military presence on the African
continent. Following the deployment of one hundred US military
personnel to Uganda in 2011, a new bill has been introduced to
the Congress calling for the further expansion of regional
military forces in pursuit of the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA),
an ailing rebel group allegedly responsible for recruiting child
soldiers and conducting crimes against humanity.
As the Obama administration claims to welcome the peaceful rise
of China on the world stage, recent policy shifts toward an
American Pacific Century indicate a desire to maintain the
capacity to project military force toward the emerging
superpower. In addition to maintaining a permanent military
presence in Northern Australia, the construction of an expansive
military base on South Korea’s Jeju Island has indicated growing
antagonism towards Beijing.
The base maintains the capacity to host up to twenty American
and South Korean warships, including submarines, aircraft
carriers and destroyers once completed in 2014 – in addition to
the presence of Aegis anti-ballistic systems. In response,
Chinese leadership has referred to the increasing militarization
in the region as an open provocation.
On the economic front, China has been excluded from the proposed
Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA), a trade agreement
intended to administer US-designed international trading
regulations throughout Asia, to the benefit of American
As further fundamental policy divisions emerge subsequent to
China and Russia’s UNSC veto mandating intervention in Syria,
the Obama administration has begun utilizing alternative
measures to exert new economic pressure towards Beijing. The
United States, along with the EU and Japan have called on the
World Trade Organization to block Chinese-funded mining projects
in the US, in addition to a freeze on World Bank financing for
China’s extensive mining projects.
In a move to counteract Chinese economic ascendancy, Washington
is crusading against China’s export restrictions on minerals
that are crucial components in the production of consumer
electronics such as flat-screen televisions, smart phones,
laptop batteries, and a host of other products. In a 2010 white
paper entitled “Critical Raw Materials for the EU,” the European
Commission cites the immediate need for reserve supplies of
tantalum, cobalt, niobium, and tungsten among others; the US
Department of Energy 2010 white paper “Critical Mineral
Strategy” also acknowledged the strategic importance of these
Coincidently, the US military is now attempting to increase its
presence in what is widely considered the world’s most resource
rich nation, the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
The DRC has suffered immensely during its history of foreign
plunder and colonial occupation; it maintains the second lowest
GDP per capita despite having an estimated $24 trillion in
untapped raw minerals deposits.
During the Congo Wars of the 1996 to 2003, the United States
provided training and arms to Rwandan and Ugandan militias who
later invaded the eastern provinces of the DRC in proxy. In
addition to benefiting various multinational corporations, the
regimes of Paul Kagame in Rwanda and Yoweri Museveni in Uganda
both profited immensely from the plunder of Congolese conflict
minerals such as cassiterite, wolframite, coltan (from which
niobium and tantalum are derived) and gold. The DRC holds more
than 30% of the world’s diamond reserves and 80% of the world’s
coltan, the majority of which is exported to China for
processing into electronic-grade tantalum powder and wiring.
China’s unprecedented economic transformation has relied not
only on consumer markets in the United States, Australia and the
EU – but also on Africa, as a source for a vast array of raw
As Chinese economic and cultural influence in Africa expands
exponentially with the symbolic construction of the new $200
million African Union headquarters funded solely by Beijing, the
ailing United States and its leadership have expressed
dissatisfaction toward its diminishing role in the region.
During a diplomatic tour of Africa in 2011, US Secretary of
State Hilary Clinton herself has irresponsibly insinuated
China’s guilt in perpetuating a creeping “new colonialism.”
At a time when China holds an estimated $1.5 trillion in
American government debt, Clinton’s comments remain dangerously
provocative. As China, backed by the world’s largest foreign
currency reserves, begins to offer loans to its BRICS
counterparts in RMB, the prospect of emerging nations resisting
the New American Century appear to be increasingly assured.
While the success of Anglo-American imperialism relies on its
capacity to militarily drive target nations into submission,
today’s African leaders are not obliged to do business with
China – although doing so may be to their benefit. China
annually invests an estimated $5.5 billion in Africa, with only
29 percent of direct investment in the mining sector in 2009 –
while more than half was directed toward domestic manufacturing,
finance, and construction industries, which largely benefit
Africans themselves – despite reports of worker mistreatment.
China has further committed $10 billion in concessional loans to
Africa between 2009 and 2012 and made significant investments in
manufacturing zones in non-resource-rich economies such as
Zambia and Tanzania. As Africa’s largest trading partner, China
imports 1.5 million barrels of oil from Africa per day,
approximately accounting for 30 percent of its total imports.
Over the past decade, 750,000 Chinese nationals have settled in
Africa, while Chinese state-funded cultural centers in rural
parts of the continent conduct language classes in Mandarin and
Cantonese. As China is predicted to formally emerge as the
world’s largest economy in 2016, the recent materialization of
plans for a BRICS Bank have the potential to restructure the
global financial climate and directly challenge the hegemonic
conduct of the International Monetary Fund in Africa’s strategic
China’s deepening economic engagement in Africa and its crucial
role in developing the mineral sector, telecommunications
industry and much needed infrastructural projects is creating
“deep nervousness” in the West, according to David Shinn, the
former US ambassador to Burkina Faso and Ethiopia. In a 2011
Department of Defense whitepaper entitled “Military and Security
Developments Involving the People’s Republic of China”, the US
acknowledges the maturity of China’s modern hardware and
military technology, and the likelihood of Beijing finding
hostility with further military alliances between the United
States and Taiwan.
The document further indicates that “China’s rise as a major
international actor is likely to stand out as a defining feature
of the strategic landscape of the early 21st century.”
Furthermore, the Department of Defense concedes to the
uncertainty of how China’s growing capabilities will be
administered on the world stage.
Although a US military presence in Africa (under the guise of
fighting terrorism and protecting human rights) specifically to
counter Chinese regional economic authority may not incite
tension in the same way that a US presence in North Korea or
Taiwan would, the potential for brinksmanship exists and will
persist. China maintains the largest standing army in the world
with 2,285,000 personnel and is working to challenge the
regional military hegemony of America’s Pacific Century with its
expanding naval and conventional capabilities, including an
effort to develop the world’s first anti-ship ballistic missile.
Furthermore, China has moved to begin testing advanced
anti-satellite (ASAT) and Anti Ballistic Missile (ABM) weapons
systems in an effort to bring the US-China rivalry into Space
The concept of US intervention into the Democratic Republic of
the Congo, South Sudan, Central African Republic and Uganda
under the pretext of disarming the Lord’s Resistance Army is an
ultimately fraudulent purpose. The LRA has been in operation for
over two decades, and presently remains at an extremely weakened
state, with approximately 400 soldiers.
According the LRA Crisis Tracker, a digital crisis mapping
software launched by the Invisible Children group, not a single
case of LRA activity has been reported in Uganda since 2006. The
vast majority of reported attacks are presently taking place in
the northeastern Bangadi region of the Democratic Republic of
the Congo, located on the foot of a tri-border expanse between
the Central African Republic and South Sudan.
The existence of the Lord’s Resistance Army should rightfully be
disputed, as the cases of LRA activity reported by US State
Department-supported Invisible Children rely on unconfirmed
reports – cases where LRA activity is presumed and suspected.
Given the extreme instability in the northern DRC after decades
of foreign invasion and countless rebel insurgencies, the lack
of adequate investigative infrastructure needed to sufficiently
examine and confirm the LRA’s presence is simply not in place.
The villainous branding of Joseph Kony may well be deserved,
however it cannot be overstated that the LRA threat is wholly
misrepresented in recent pro-intervention US legislation. An
increasing US presence in the region exists only to curtail the
increasing economic presence of China in one of the world’s most
resource and mineral rich regions.
The Lord’s Resistance Army was originally formed in 1987 in
northwestern Uganda by members of the Acholi ethnic group, who
were historically exploited for forced labor by the British
colonialists and later marginalized by the nation’s dominant
Bantu ethic groups following independence. The Lord’s Resistance
Army originally aimed to overthrow the government of current
Ugandan President, Yoweri Museveni – due to a campaign of
genocide waged against the Acholi people.
The northern Ugandan Acholi and Langi ethnic groups have been
historically targeted and ostracized by successive
Anglo-American backed administrations. In 1971, Israeli and
British intelligence agencies engineered a coup against Uganda’s
socialist President Milton Obote, which gave rise to the
disastrous regime of Idi Amin.
Prior to declaring himself head of state after deposing Obote,
Amin was a member of the British colonial regiment, charged with
managing concentration camps in Kenya during the Mau Mau
rebellion beginning in 1952. Amin conducted genocide against the
Acholi people on the suspicion of loyalty toward the former
Obote leadership, who later reclaimed power in 1979 after Amin
attempted to annex the neighboring Kagera province of Tanzania.
Museveni founded the Front for National Salvation, which helped
topple Obote with US support in 1986, despite the fact that his
army exploited the use of child soldiers. Museveni formally took
power and was subsequently accused of genocide for driving the
Acholi people into detainment camps in an attempt to usurp
fertile land in northern Uganda.
The Museveni regime has displaced approximately 1.5 million
Acholi and killed at least three hundred thousand people when
taking power in 1986 according to the Red Cross. In addition to
accusations of using rape as weapon and overseeing the deaths of
thousands in squalid detainment camps, Museveni has been accused
of exerting a campaign of state-sponsored terror onto the Acholi
people in a 1992 Amnesty International report.
During an interview with Joseph Kony in 2006, the LRA commander
denies allegations of mutilation and torture and further accuses
Museveni’s forces of committing such actions as propaganda
against the Lord’s Resistance Army.
In a detailed report of Museveni’s atrocities, Ugandan writer
Herrn Edward Mulindwa offers, “During the 22-year war,
Museveni’s army killed, maimed and mutilated thousands of
civilians, while blaming it on rebels. In northern Uganda,
instead of defending and protecting civilians against rebel
attacks, Museveni’s army would masquerade as rebels and commit
gross atrocities, including maiming and mutilation, only to
return and pretend to be saviors of the affected people.”
Despite such compelling evidence of brutality, Museveni has been
a staunch US ally since the Reagan administration and received
$45 million dollars in military aid from the Obama
administration for Ugandan participation in the fight against
Somalia’s al Shabaab militia. Since the abhorrent failure of the
1993 US intervention in Somalia, the US has relied on the
militaries of Rwanda, Uganda and Ethiopia to carry out US
interests in proxy.
Since colonial times, the West has historically exploited ethnic
differences in Africa for political gain. In Rwanda, the Belgian
colonial administration exacerbated tension between the Hutu,
who were subjugated as a workforce – and the Tutsi, seen as
extenders of Belgian rule.
From the start of the Rwandan civil war in 1990, the US sought
to overthrow the 20-year reign of Hutu President Juvénal
Habyarimana by installing a Tutsi proxy government in Rwanda, a
region historically under the influence of France and Belgium.
At that time prior to the outbreak of the Rwandan civil war, the
Tutsi Rwandan Patriotic Army (RPA) led by current Rwandan
President Paul Kagame, was part of Museveni’s United People’s
Defense Forces (UPDF).
Ugandan forces invaded Rwanda in 1990 under the pretext of Tutsi
liberation, despite the fact that Museveni refused to grant
citizenship to Tutsi-Rwandan refugees living in Uganda at the
time, a move that further offset the 1994 Rwandan genocide.
Kagame himself was trained at the U.S. Army Command and Staff
College (CGSC) in Leavenworth, Kansas prior to returning to the
region to oversee the 1990 invasion of Rwanda as commander of
the RPA, which received supplies from US-funded UPDF military
bases inside Uganda.
The invasion of Rwanda had the full support of the US and
Britain, who provided training by US Special Forces in
collaboration with US mercenary outfit, Military Professional
Resources Incorporated (MPRI).
A report issued in 2000 by Canadian Professor Michel
Chossudovsky and Belgian economist Senator Pierre Galand
concluded that western financial institutions such as the
International Monetary Fund and the World Bank financed both
sides of the Rwandan civil war, through a process of financing
military expenditure from the external debt of both the regimes
of Habyarimana and Museveni.
In Uganda, the World Bank imposed austerity measures solely on
civilian expenditures while overseeing the diversion of State
revenue go toward funding the UPDF, on behalf of Washington.
In Rwanda, the influx of development loans from the World Bank’s
affiliates such as the International Development Association
(IDA), the African Development Fund (AFD), and the European
Development Fund (EDF) were diverted into funding the Hutu
extremist Interhamwe militia, the main protagonists of the
Perhaps most disturbingly, the World Bank oversaw huge arms
purchases that were recorded as bona fide government
expenditures, a stark violation of agreements signed between the
Rwandan government and donor institutions. Under the watch of
the World Bank, the Habyarimana regime imported approximately
one million machetes through various Interhamwe linked
organizations, under the pretext of importing civilian
To ensure their reimbursement, a multilateral trust fund of
$55.2 million dollars was designated toward postwar
reconstruction efforts, although the money was not allocated to
Rwanda – but to the World Bank, to service the debts used to
finance the massacres.
Furthermore, Paul Kagame was pressured by Washington upon coming
to power to recognize the legitimacy of the debt incurred by the
previous genocidal Habyarimana regime. The swap of old loans for
new debts (under the banner of post-war reconstruction) was
conditional upon the acceptance of a new wave of IMF-World Bank
reforms, which similarly diverted outside funds into military
expenditure prior to the Kagame-led invasion of the Congo, then
referred to as Zaire.
As present day Washington legislators attempt to increase US
military presence in the DRC under the pretext of humanitarian
concern, the highly documented conduct of lawless western
intelligence agencies and defense contractors in the Congo since
its independence sheds further light on the exploitative nature
of western intervention.
In 1961, the Congo’s first legally elected Prime Minister,
Patrice Lumumba was assassinated with support from Belgian
intelligence and the CIA, paving the way for the thirty-two year
reign of Mobutu Sese Seko.
As part of an attempt to purge the Congo of all colonial
cultural influence, Mobutu renamed the country Zaire and led an
authoritarian regime closely allied to France, Belgium and the
US. Mobutu was regarded as a staunch US ally during the Cold War
due to his strong stance against communism; the regime received
billions in international aid, most from the United States.
His administration allowed national infrastructure to
deteriorate while the Zairian kleptocracy embezzled
international aid and loans; Mobutu himself reportedly held $4
billion USD in a personal Swiss bank account.
Relations between the US and Zaire thawed at the end of the Cold
War, when Mobutu was no longer needed as an ally; Washington
would later use Rwandan and Ugandan troops to invade the Congo
to topple Mobutu and install a new proxy regime. Following the
conflict in Rwanda, 1.2 million Hutu civilians (many of whom who
took part in the genocide) crossed into the Kivu province of
eastern Zaire fearing prosecution from Paul Kagame’s Tutsi RPA.
US Special Forces trained Rwandan and Ugandan troops at Fort
Bragg in the United States and supported Congolese rebels under
future President, Laurent Kabila.
Under the pretext of safeguarding Rwandan national security
against the threat of displaced Hutu militias, troops from
Rwanda, Uganda and Burundi invaded the Congo and ripped through
Hutu refugee camps, slaughtering thousands of Rwandan and
Congolese Hutu civilians, many of who were women and children.
Reports of brutality and mass killing in the Congo were rarely
addressed in the West, as the International Community was
sympathetic to Kagame and the Rwandan Tutsi victims of genocide.
Both Halliburton and Bechtel (military contractors that profited
immensely from the Iraq war) were involved in military training
and reconnaissance operations in an attempt to overthrow Mobutu
and bring Kabila to power. After deposing Mobutu and seizing
control in Kinshasa, Laurent Kabila was quickly regarded as an
equally despotic leader after eradicating all opposition to his
rule; he turned away from his Rwandan backers and called on
Congolese civilians to violently purge the nation of Rwandans,
prompting Rwandan forces to regroup in Goma, in an attempt to
capture resource rich territory in eastern Congo.
Prior to becoming President in 1997, Kabila sent representatives
to Toronto to discuss mining opportunities with American Mineral
Fields (AMF) and Canada’s Barrick Gold Corporation; AMF had
direct ties to US President Bill Clinton and was given exclusive
exploration rights to zinc, copper, and cobalt mines in the
The Congolese Wars perpetrated by Rwanda and Uganda killed at
least six million people, making it the largest case of genocide
since the Jewish holocaust. The successful perpetration of the
conflict relied on western military and financial support, and
was fought primarily to usurp the extensive mining resources of
eastern and southern Congo; the US defense industry relies on
high quality metallic alloys indigenous to the region, used
primarily in the construction of high-performance jet engines.
In 1980, Pentagon documents acknowledged shortages of cobalt,
titanium, chromium, tantalum, beryllium, and nickel; US
participation in the Congolese conflict was largely an effort to
obtain these needed resources. The sole piece of legislation
authored by President Obama during his time as a Senator was S.B.
2125, the Democratic Republic of the Congo Relief, Security, and
Democracy Promotion Act of 2006.
In the legislation, Obama acknowledges the Congo as a long-term
interest to the United States and further alludes to the threat
of Hutu militias as an apparent pretext for continued
interference in the region; Section 201(6) of the bill
specifically calls for the protection of natural resources in
the eastern DRC.
The Congressional Budget Office’s 1982 report “Cobalt: Policy
Options for a Strategic Mineral” notes that cobalt alloys are
critical to the aerospace and weapons industries and that 64% of
the world’s cobalt reserves lay in the Katanga Copper Belt,
running from southeastern Congo into northern Zambia. For this
reason, the future perpetration of the military industrial
complex largely depends on the control of strategic resources in
the eastern DRC.
In 2001, Laurent Kabila was assassinated by a member of his
security staff, paving the way for his son Joseph Kabila to
dynastically usurp the presidency. The younger Kabila derives
his legitimacy solely from the support of foreign heads of state
and the international business community, due to his ability to
comply with foreign plunder.
During the Congo’s general elections in November 2011, the
international community and the UN remained predictably silent
regarding the mass irregularities observed by the electoral
committee. The United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission
in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO) has faced
frequent allegations of corruption, prompting opposition leader
Étienne Tshisikedi to call for the UN mission to end its
deliberate efforts to maintain the system of international
plundering and to appoint someone “less corrupt and more
credible” to head UN operations.
MONUSCO has been plagued with frequent cases of peacekeeping
troops caught smuggling minerals such as cassiterite and dealing
weapons to militia groups.
Under the younger Joseph Kabila, Chinese commercial activities
in the DRC have significantly increased not only in the mining
sector, but also considerably in the telecommunications field.
In 2000, the Chinese ZTE Corporation finalized a $12.6 million
deal with the Congolese government to establish the first
Sino-Congolese telecommunications company; furthermore, the DRC
exported $1.4 billion worth of cobalt between 2007 and 2008. The
majority of Congolese raw materials like cobalt, copper ore and
a variety of hard woods are exported to China for further
processing and 90% of the processing plants in resource rich
southeastern Katanga province are owned by Chinese nationals.
In 2008, a consortium of Chinese companies were granted the
rights to mining operations in Katanga in exchange for US$6
billion in infrastructure investments, including the
construction of two hospitals, four universities and a
hydroelectric power project.
The framework of the deal allocated an additional $3 million to
develop cobalt and copper mining operations in Katanga. In 2009,
the International Monetary Fund (IMF) demanded renegotiation of
the deal, arguing that the agreement between China and the DRC
violated the foreign debt relief program for so-called HIPC
(Highly Indebted Poor Countries) nations.
The vast majority of the DRC’s $11 billion foreign debt owed to
the Paris Club was embezzled by the previous regime of Mobuto
Sesi Seko. The IMF successfully blocked the deal in May 2009,
calling for a more feasibility study of the DRCs mineral
The United States is currently mobilizing public opinion in
favor of a greater US presence in Africa, under the pretext of
capturing Joseph Kony, quelling Islamist terrorism and putting
an end to long-standing humanitarian issues.
As well-meaning Americans are successively coerced by highly
emotional social media campaigns promoting an American response
to atrocities, few realize the role of the United States and
western financial institutions in fomenting the very tragedies
they are now poised to resolve.
While many genuinely concerned individuals naively support forms
of pro-war brand activism, the mobilization of ground forces in
Central Africa will likely employ the use of predator drones and
targeted missile strikes that have been notoriously responsible
for civilian causalities en masse.
The further consolidation of US presence in the region is part
of a larger program to expand AFRICOM, the United States Africa
Command through a proposed archipelago of military bases in the
In 2007, US State Department advisor Dr. J. Peter Pham offered
the following on AFRICOM and its strategic objectives of
“protecting access to hydrocarbons and other strategic resources
which Africa has in abundance, a task which includes ensuring
against the vulnerability of those natural riches and ensuring
that no other interested third parties, such as China, India,
Japan, or Russia, obtain monopolies or preferential treatment.”
Additionally, during an AFRICOM Conference held at Fort McNair
on February 18, 2008, Vice Admiral Robert T. Moeller openly
declared AFRICOM’s guiding principle of protecting “the free
flow of natural resources from Africa to the global market,”
before citing the increasing presence of China as a major
challenge to US interests in the region.
The increased US presence in Central Africa is not simply a
measure to secure monopolies on Uganda’s recently discovered oil
reserves; Museveni’s legitimacy depends solely on foreign
backers and their extensive military aid contributions – US
ground forces are not required to obtain valuable oil contracts
The push into Africa has more to do with destabilizing the
deeply troubled Democratic Republic of the Congo and capturing
its strategic reserves of cobalt, tantalum, gold and diamonds.
More accurately, the US is poised to employ a scorched-earth
policy by creating dangerous war-like conditions in the Congo,
prompting the mass exodus of Chinese investors. Similarly to the
Libyan conflict, the Chinese returned after the fall of Gaddafi
to find a proxy government only willing to do business with the
western nations who helped it into power.
As the US uses its influence to nurture the emergence of
breakaway states like South Sudan, the activities of Somalia’s
al Shabaab, Nigeria’s Boko Haram and larger factions of AQIM in
North Africa offer a concrete pretext for further US involvement
in regional affairs.
The ostensible role of the first African-American US President
is to export the theatresque War on Terror directly to the
African continent, in a campaign to exploit established tensions
along tribal, ethnic and religious lines.
As US policy theoreticians such as Dr. Henry Kissinger,
willingly proclaim, ”Depopulation should be the highest priority
of US foreign policy towards the Third World,” the vast expanse
of desert and jungles in northern and central Africa will
undoubtedly serve as the venue for the next decade of resource
Nile Bowie is an independent writer and photojournalist based in
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
article was first published at
Strategic Culture Foundation