In the early 1990s, when I was living in northern Ghana, an elderly woman farmer decided that I needed some education. In a rather long lecture, she detailed the devastating effects that the Green Revolution – the first one, which outside experts and donors launched in Africa in the 1960s and 70s – had had on farmers’ crops, soils, trees and lives. She said that the imported seeds, fertilisers, pesticides and tractors, the instructions to plant row after row of imported hybrid maize and cut down precious trees that protected the soils and nourished the people – even the invaluable shea nut trees – had ruined the diverse, productive farming systems that had always sustained her people. When she finished, she cocked an eye at me and asked, with a cagey grin, “Why do you bring your mistakes here?”
I started out trying to quote this article selectively, but it is information-dense and difficult to excerpt; highly recommended reading. Note the deep involvement of the “philanthropist” Gates Foundation. Note the admission (as yet covert, not open) that the Grand Plan for the Transformation of Africa involves dispossessing the peasants — Haiti all over again. Note the “biofuels” connection and the greenwashing campaign already ramping up.
Once again food, land, and food security are central issues in the big geopolitical game plan. Once again the Great Powers are packaging this recipe for immiseration and slavery as “progress”. Once again, their proposed “solution” is a biotic and social disaster. The question is, will we all be fooled again? Already, millions of hectares of African land have been sold, often without the knowledge (let alone consent) of the smallholders. What next? How can this energy-intensive, long-distance imperial Enclosure be maintained as the fossil fuel gets more expensive and less plentiful? Will Africans take this expropriation meekly?
In the next breath I want to offer another puzzle piece… a recent CP article that Stan flagged on facebook: Human Terrain Systems Dissenter Resigns, Tells Inside Story of Training’s Heart of Darkness. Again, the whole thing is worth a thoughtful read. But the bit I want to highlight is this:
John’s last day of HTS training was the first day of MARDEX, a military role playing exercise designated as “Weston Resolve.” For the exercise, the class was presented with a training scenario in which the fictional nation of “Lakeland” was located in an area to the northeast of Kansas City was the focus of operations. John wrote that,
“In the PowerPoint slide presentation laying out the background for the “operations”, the Wargame role-playing is represented by staff as merging into the real world drug, crime, and environmental “contention” within the community. The whole mission is represented as bringing a military state control of the local population which has recently elected a local government that is a “permissive” (supportive) environment for US Army activities after the previous local government had withdrawn from the US as a sovereign society. Now the US military is taking over the area to reestablish public security.”
The class was then told that the mission they were training to support was one in which the military was establishing order in a setting where environmentalist-separatists had taken over. John explained that in this hypothetical training scenario,
“IATAN, a coal-fired power plant on the Missouri side of the river is one of the main military foci due to “contention within the community” over the environmental pollution it is causing. Sierra Club and other, more radical groups have been active in this area: ELF is one such radical group. Even though there is an elected government and rule of law in Lakeland, there are some ‘insurgents’ who are opportunistic.’ That is why the US Army has moved into this area that has broken away from US control.
Staff Assignment to the several Human Terrain Teams that make up the class of the November Cycle were issued as follows: 1. ‘Find out more details on the criminal activity.’ 2. Find out the best conduits to pass ‘information’(PsyOps and InfoOps) to the local population. 3. HTT is assigned to produce a ‘Research Plan’ to understand the situation at the IATAN power plant – people’s concerns, desires, etc., and identify those who were ‘problem-solvers’ and those who were ‘problem-causers,’ and the rest of the population whom would be the target of the information operations to move their Center of Gravity toward that set of viewpoints and values which was the ‘desired end-state’ of the military’s strategy.
As I thought about what was being done in this activity, and the way it adapted COIN strategy for Afghanistan/Iraq to be applied by the US military in situations in the USA where the local population was seen from the military perspective as threatening the established balance of power and influence, and challenging law and order, I began to think back on stories that circulated among the ant-war movement in the 1960s-70s, about concentration camps being developed just for imprisoning such protestors an “problem-causers”. And I wondered who would be working on the Human Terrain Teams to enable the US military’s actions against unruly segments of their own countrymen; perhaps Afghan and Iraqi anthropologists who had specialized in US ethnography?”
Human Terrain Teams practicing training scenarios set in regions actually within the United States bring the very notion of “human terrain” back home to its domestic counterinsurgent roots. As anthropologist Roberto Gonzalez documents in his book, American Counterinsurgency: Human Science and the Human Terrain, the very phrase “human terrain” grew out of domestic counterinsurgency initiatives. Gonzalez describes how in 1968 the US House Un-American Activities Committee released a report entitled “Guerrilla Warfare Advocates in the United States” which warned that the Black Panthers and other militant groups threatened the country’s political stability. HUAC warned that “irregular forces…possess the ability to seize and retain the initiative through a superior control of the human terrain.” The clear implication was that the control of civilians in America’s cities was vital to winning the counterinsurgency struggle at home.
Sorry about the lengthy quote. My point is that the US military is even now, even as we speak, being trained and prepared for COIN operations against environmentally-motivated “breakaway” groups (i.e. polities, regions, villages such as Transition Towns attempting to secede formally or informally from the fossil/consumer economy). “Environmentalists” are being defined as a potential enemy/subversive group to be defeated. Nothing new in this of course; the fossil lobby more or less is the government and hence the armed forces more or less are the Pinkertons of the fossil industries. But this training scenario (which surely violates posse comitatus no?) brings into sharp focus the degree to which relocalisation, sustainability, alternative energy, polyculture/permaculture, local currencies and all the other tools with which we might try to soften the crunch at the end of the cheap fossil energy era … are being regarded by our military/industrial complex as threats to national security, warranting training exercises and COINTEL planning. And public opinion on these issues is being regarded as a legitimate target for black-ops and psyops: US armed forces are seriously and openly considering themselves as an armed and dangerous PR agency for the fossil fuel lobby.
Or so I read the tea leaves. I’d sure like someone to convince me otherwise.