Now what would the US being doing sending troops to Uganda, of all places? It’s not exactly centered between the right and left coasts of Africa, and not precisely halfway from the most Mediterranean of its coasts to the tippy-tip of its Southern Cape, but Uganda does rest comfortably on the equator, and lurks right on the edge of the vast expanse of that dense, central fastness of forest where Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness beat. Or maybe that’s “didn’t beat,” what with everyone losing their heads trying to get ahead (or two). Some say you can still see King Leopold’s Ghost drifting around in the shadows of the Congo Basin’s once mysterious depths, lustily gathering hands to strip the Congo of its rubber vines, and marking his trail with the grinning skulls left behind in the wake one of history’s greatest genocides.
Maybe the US is sending troops to Uganda to see if it can accomplish something seriously monumental and truly legacy building by ending hunger, disease, and poverty there. What with the average per capita share of GDP in Uganda only $1,300 and some of the most chronic hunger and highest AIDS infection rates in the world, maybe the US is just trying to help everyone stay healthy and eat? After all, the US’ southern neighbor, Mexico, just implemented a constitutional reform declaring that all Mexicans have a right to food. The US currently wastes 40 percent of all the food it produces, in the process discharging 2 percent of all energy produced in the US directly into garbage. That’s quite a leak, and an awful lot of compost. Maybe the US would like to see if Uganda couldn’t use some of the extra, since we’re just throwing it away, anyhow.
But it is hard to see how sending US troops to Uganda, instead of US grocery trucks, is going to get that job done, isn’t it? Maybe the US is looking for a new, more exciting breed of terrorist to send back home so the FBI has better suspects than dreary old members of groups outlawed in Iran to accuse of being involved in an “Iranian plot“ to kill a Saudi ambassador. With yet another FBI terrorist bust turning out to be nothing more than the FBI creating the whole plot and coaxing people to take part in it, perhaps the US military intends to round up more than just the usual suspects for them. That way, the FBI doesn’t have to risk so many dedicated, reliable agents, all the very conscience of virtue, recruited from the ranks of people who would rather not do time for the huge piles of drugs they got caught with.
Ok, that is pretty silly. The FBI doesn’t need any help finding people to investigate. The FBI is already so paranoid they worry about being outside in the daylight lest they have to investigate their own shadows for spying on them. It could be that the US is hunting down the source of all the zombie mortgages stalking about the US. Zombies originally came from Africa, right? Zombie mortgages in the US have been driving scattered in-laws and lost relations all over the country to rediscover what it meant for families to be “nuclear” and “extended,” which sounds dangerously like filthy, un-American socialism. Let people get away with that, and the first thing you know they’ll be wondering why they should be expected to bail out Bank of America if something goes wrong with the $75 trillion in Monopoly money… um, that’s “derivatives”, that they have and appear to be trying to stuff in places where the FDIC – that’s American taxpayer money – will have to pick up the bill when they fail. $75 trillion, that’s just over 5 times the whole US GDP! Now, that’s not an unbelievable sum at all! Especially not for one, recently downgraded and possibly failing US bank to own. Do you think zombies might run off to Uganda with it?
No, a more likely reason for the sudden US interest in Uganda is probably a whole lot less interesting than any of that. In fact, it’s almost certainly so boring, so numbingly mundane, so predictable, that the US public – and everyone else the world over for that matter – is already busy yawning about it and gone back to picking the lint out of their belly buttons. It turns out that Uganda has oil.
Pity poor Uganda! We all know what they do to countries that have oil!
Uganda’s suspected reserves aren’t that big. Estimates are that they will make Uganda a mid-sized producer, not another Iraq or even a Libya. Oh yeah, Libya. In case anyone got confused and couldn’t quite figure out what that was all about, when the US flag was being hoisted in “liberated” Tripoli last month, the US Ambassador, Gene Cretz, was heard to say, “We know that oil is the jewel in the crown of Libyan natural resources.” Uganda is so poor it doesn’t have a crown. Its oily gem is going to have to be glued to a ball cap.
The official excuse for America’s sending pricey “boots on the ground” (while making a fuss about being broke back home) to Uganda is to halt the evil depredations of the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA). There’s no doubt the LRA are bona fide bad guys – even worse than Uganda’s delightfully brutal dictatorship. The LRA has been stomping around the neighborhood since before 1997. They’ve killed at least 2,400, kidnapped over 3,400, and displaced maybe 300,000. They’re vicious, they spew inconsistent demands that don’t always make even twisted sense, they’re chronic conscriptors of child soldiers, and their typical answer to outrageous demands like, “try to act a little civilized,” is just more barbarity. If ever there was a rampaging horde of between 300 and 400 jackals that needed the world’s greatest superpower to chase them down with the fiery Sword of Justice, it’s the LRA.
Only the LRA isn’t in Uganda anymore. They either got run out of there a while back, or threw a hissy fit and left on their own, depending on who you talk to. They’ve been operating out of Congo lately, and certainly haven’t been terrorizing farther up the Nile in the new nation of South Sudan where the US says its recently deployed troops will also be thrashing the bushes looking for meanies.
Before you have to ask, the answer is yes, South Sudan has oil, too. In fact, it has most of the oil that used to belong to Sudan. Sudan is the country South Sudan was formerly a part of, until over 20 years of fighting, massacres, and marauding was just last year serendipitously ended by the international community about the same time they found the oil. They’re still arguing over who gets a couple of areas whose dispositions weren’t completely settled when South Sudan, basking in first world appreciation for the sparkler in its own diadem, voted to secede from Sudan, but since the disputed areas have some of that oil, it’s a good bet they’ll go to America’s new buddy, South Sudan. Using Google Earth to scan the oil producing regions of South Sudan reveals a lot of thatched huts with dirt footpaths connecting them. Doubtless, many of those huts are schools, hospitals, and trendy boutiques. It should be interesting to see what oil wealth has done for those villagers ten years from now.
It’s tempting to recognize an awful lot of untarnished magnanimity in the US for volunteering troops all over the world to protect the security of… everyone else’s oil. America spent all that time and treasure, sacrificed all those lives in Iraq and then European oil companies got all Iraq’s oil contracts. Same for Libya. America bombed parts of Libya back to the Stone Age and France gets promised 35% of the whole “jewel in the crown of Libya” while America gets nothing.
Nothing? Really? Is America really that kind, that selfless, that much of a great global citizen to spend its military resources, march its (mostly) young people into all those meat grinders, and accept the full burden of killing hundreds of thousands of mostly non-combatants just so Europe can have the oil it needs? What kind of sense does that make?
Business sense, that’s what kind. The US has cornered the world’s arms market. The US has the world’s largest “private security” corporations. America pushes the bleeding edge of military robot technology. America’s got the highest-tech surveillance networks, the most advanced police state technology (that it promises it isn’t using on its own citizens, too much), and the most agnostic, profit-centered, bottom-line business community anyone could ask for. Whatever else the US is or isn’t good for, it’s clearly tops when it comes to blowing things up, killing people, and developing 21st century dystopian technology. If anyone, anywhere, wants real military, America is where they go for it, and America isn’t shy about selling it to them, either, whether it’s over the counter, under it, or out the back door.
America’s military-industrial complex is bigger than oil, and with its guns for hire or for sale to whoever’s got the cash, America will be the last place to have a problem with oil.
Maybe America isn’t in Uganda for the oil, after all, at least not for oil for itself. Maybe it’s just another job, a chance to develop & display America’s latest line of killer merchandise, and a training opportunity for elite American soldiers – many of whom hope to graduate with advanced degrees in war they can use to get much better jobs at far greater pay working as professionals for private industry where they don’t have to worry so much about getting held accountable for excessive enthusiasm and macabre tastes by an ever more jaded American public.
Iraq, Libya, Uganda, and South Sudan may have crowns set with black diamonds, but America’s is crusted over with great crimson rubies set in a circlet that reflects real American truth in the glimmer of its gold.
Links directory (Really, visit them. Great stuff! The article text that they link from is in parentheses at the end of each line. And yes, the music is commentary. The lyrics for all the tunes have their own links so you don’t miss any of that not always very subtle messaging.)
- CIA World Factbook - Uganda (Uganda)
- Joseph Conrad (via Project Gutenberg) – Heart of Darkness (Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness)
- Wikipedia – King Leopold’s Ghost (Adam Hochschild) (King Leopold’s Ghost)
- United Nations Human Rights – Mexico: UN expert welcomes constitutional recognition of the right to food (right to food)
- Grist (Jess Zimmerman) – Two percent of US energy goes to wasted food (wastes)
- IPS (Gareth Porter) – FBI account of ‘Terror Plot’ suggests sting operation (Iranian plot)
- Naked Capitalism (Yves Smith) – “Zombie mortgages” mean delay of housing and economic recovery well past 2014 (zombie mortgages)
- RSN / Counterpunch (Mike Whitney) – Is Bank of America headed for the glue factory? (bail out Bank of America)
- Bloomberg – BofA said to split regulators over moving Merrill derivatives to bank unit ($75 trillion in Monopoly money)
- AlterNet (William K Black) – Has the dying Bank of America managed to ensure its next taxpayer bailout (when they fail)
- Google Public Data Explorer – Gross Domestic Product (US GDP)
- Naked Capitalism (Yves Smith) – Bank of America Deathwatch (possibly failing US bank)
- Christian Science Monitor (Anna Mulrine) – What US manhunt for LRA leaders reveals about Obama’s war strategy (sudden US interest in Uganda)
- The Economist – A bonanza beckons (Estimates)
- truthout (John Pilger) – US combat troops descend on Africa (oil is the jewel in the crown)
- The Telegraph (Alex Spillius) – Barack Obama deploys US special forces to central Africa (official excuse)
- Death+Taxes (Kevin Pinner) – Large oil reserves discovered in Uganda, troops sent for humanitarian intervention (halt the evil depredations)
- Information Clearing House (Nicholas Kramer) – Commending torturers in Uganda: another US military adventure (brutal dictatorship)
- Workers World (Dierdre Griswold) – New data on global control confirms Lenin’s ‘Imperialism’ (Business sense)
- Wired (Spencer Ackerman) – Defense industry: Keep paying us or the economy dies (America’s military-industrial complex)
- The Cramps – Bikini Girls With Machine Guns (YouTube – voodoogirl99) (troops) Lyrics
- Snoop Dogg – Pump Pump (YouTube – kenspin) (reliable agents) Lyrics
- Gwen Stefani feat. Akon – Sweet Escape (YouTube – GwenStefaniVEVO) (Iraq) Lyrics
- The White Stripes – Seven Nation Army (YouTube – XLRecordings) (young people) Lyrics
- Ke$ha – We R Who We R (YouTube – keshaVEVO) (a training opportunity) Lyrics
- Nirvana – Smells Like Teen Spirit (YouTube – NirvanaVEVO) (elite American soldiers) Lyrics