Talking Drums

The West African News Magazine

US military penetration of Africa...

The possible consequences...

E.K.M. Yakpo

Increased arms deals with the U.S. is likely to rob Africa of any genuine chances of becoming non-aligned, and turn it into a grotesque caricature, hanging on to the bootstraps of Uncle Sam.
IN RECENT YEARS the United States has stepped up its attempts to gain influence in Africa, with the aim of building military bases which might help to restrict Soviet activities in the middle East and the Indian Ocean. These efforts have paid off and the United States now has the military use of airfields and harbours in Egypt, the Sudan, Somalia and Kenya.

The consequences of this military presence are far-reaching. For the first time, the Super Powers will include African targets on their lists, in case there should be nuclear war. But even more frightening is the US nuclear strategy itself.

A US secret document - "Nuclear Yield Requirements" - leaked to the press in 1980, reveals the grim details of how the US would conduct a nuclear war. There is a list of cities and installations which would be destroyed by the US itself, simply to prevent them from falling into Soviet hands. All these targets are outside Warsaw Pact countries, and NONE in the United States itself!

More than 2,800 targets are included in this list. All the targets are 'soft', that is, none is strategic but merely airfields, bridges, railways, harbours and waterways. Most of the targets are in West Germany, Iran, Yugoslavia, Finland and Austria. The manual also contains 60 sites in Iran, Iraq, Syria and Egypt. All these targets will be destroyed with nuclear weapons.

The preparation of the "Nuclear Yield Requirement" began during Kennedy's presidency when the promise was publicly made that the US would not be the first to use nuclear weapons! But for our present purposes, it is necessary to illustrate what it would cost to be a US ally. The plan lists the following cities to be destroyed - Vienna, Liuz, Klagenfurt, Helsinki, Zegreb, Dubrovnik, Kiel and Lubeck. Some of these cities are among the most beautiful anywhere in the world and none has military value. If the Kennedy Presidency is capable of compiling such a list, it is left to anyone's imagination what targets presidents such as Nixon and Reagan may have added to it. Military association with the US is like dancing with the devil.

Coupled with the search for military bases in Africa is the huge increase in arms sales not only to African countries but also to other Third World countries. The aims are quite clear, a country which is dependent on the US for its arms (therefore for its security), is virtually a client state. A casual glance at Latin America confirms this view. Since Reagan came to power in 1980, the policy of selling arms to anyone who would buy has become a serious one. By the end of 1982 the administration had sold $30 billion worth of weapons to Third World countries. According to Senator Prozimire, the Reagan Administration "will sell arms to anyone, anywhere for any reason. Arms sales have become a substitute for diplomatic efforts."


The US has sold weapons to all sorts of dictators. President Zia of Pakistan got the F16 planes, complete with the secret ALR-69 radar, hitherto sold only to NATO countries. Now India would like to have comparable planes. "Baby Doc" Duvalier's regime bought $336,000 worth of arms. President Marcos of the Philippines spent $45 million while President Mobuto of Zaire spent $11 million. Even little Togo was not spared.

Out of 161 independent countries in the Third World, the US government has sold arms to 96 while private deals have accounted for a further 31. Even then, the Administration argues is not the leading supplier to the Third World but rather, the Soviet Union is. According to the Congressional Research service however, the picture is quite different. Between 1976 and 1980 US arms sales to the Third World totaled $49.7 billion and that of the Soviet Union $42 billion. 61 per cent of the Third World's weapons originate from the US and its allies and only 39 per cent from the Communist countries.

It can only be hoped that African countries see the reality behind any military co-operation with the United States. Firstly, it will increase US meddling in African affairs with the ostensible excuse of protecting American interest.

Secondly, it is likely to turn Africa into a nuclear battle zone where the superpowers would gladly prefer to fight their nuclear war rather than on their own territories.

Thirdly, the increased arms deals with the US is likely to rob Africa of any genuine chances of becoming non aligned, and turn it into a grotesque caricature, hanging on to the bootstraps of Uncle Sam.

talking drums 1983-12-12 Ghana's labour scene - plans for civil rule in Liberia - us military in Africa