U.S. military secures Congolese minerals for drones
Precious minerals needed to build drones grows in significance in the Pentagon’s plan for military expansion in Africa. | wikipedia.org
Cobalt is to the United States military as ivory was to European colonial powers of history past. The Democratic Republic of Congo has over 250 ethnic groups and 700 languages and dialects, but the country of 80 million also has an estimated $24 trillion in raw minerals. The DRC holds 50 percent of the world’s supply of cobalt — a precious mineral the U.S. military happens to use for its drones and fighter jets. Controlling the supply of the DRC’s minerals control its fate. As the Pentagon decides to expand its footprint in Africa with drone bases and special ops, one must question the current imperial expedition and the human costs that comes with it.
A threat to the indigenous population
Among numerous minerals, cobalt is a necessary component used in phone batteries, television sets and other electronic devices that make life possible in the Western world. The mineral also happens to be found in abundance in a country wracked with mineral conflicts on a continent once pillaged for its ivory, rubber and gold. The ugly truth is that modern life as we know it would not be possible if not for the 40,000 children working in mines to extract the mineral.
According to Kambale Musavuli, a spokesperson for Friends of the Congo, the U.S. military needs cobalt to build its drones and fighter jet. The United States does not have a large enough cobalt reserve to manufacture and maintain a fleet of drones growing in strategic significance. As the military continues to expand its presence in Africa, more journalists need to expose this exploitation for the sake of public accountability. The mainstream corporate media will not cover it. The creation of U.S. Africa Command in 2006 and expansion of secret drone bases throughout the continent pose a threat to the indigenous population.
According to an article by The Intercept, Nick Turse declares the reason behind the military expansion into the continent is to “eradicate what the military calls the ‘tyranny of distance.’” Turse states, “These facilities allow U.S. forces to surveil and operate on larger and larger swaths of the continent — and increasingly, to strike targets from drones and manned aircraft.” Journalist Jeremy Scahill published the same article in a book called “The Assassination Complex.” The article includes a diagram of the known drone bases strewn over the continent.
This diagram shows the creation and use of a sophisticated drone and surveillance network in places like Ethiopia, Djibouti, Kenya, Somalia, Niger, Seychelles, Uganda, Burkina Faso, Chad and Cameroon. Discussion on the legal and moral use of the drone program is one thing, but exposing this blatant mineral exploitation reveals an ugly part of U.S. military expansion.
Control over precious minerals was so important that the CIA overthrew the prominent Congolese president Patrice Lumumba and installed and supported the brutal dictatorship of Mobutu Sese Seko in the 1960s. His tyrannical rule would prove beneficial for American military imperialism.
The novelist Joseph Conrad criticized British colonialism in his book, “Heart of Darkness.” Sometimes I wonder what Conrad would think about the Reaper and Predator drones incessantly combing the land once called “the Dark Continent” by colonial Europe.