The Fire This Time: COIN Operations, Carquinez Strait, Niger Delta

Imperial violet, the flames licked skyward out of the boiling black smoke engulfing workers and nearby residences, cringing in fear, hearing loud explosions. The giant crude oil refinery and storage tank fire that began on August 6, 2012 was a culmination of a century of social and environmental injustices committed by Chevron against the people of the two working class towns of Richmond and San Pablo in the rich and environmentally vulnerable delta area where the San Joaquin and the Sacramento Rivers merge from north and south, draining the Central Valley of California and the Sierra Nevada and the Cascades Mountain Ranges to flow through the tidewaters of Carquinez Straits into San Francisco Bay. Contamination here flows both directions, both with the tides and with the winds.

The strait is named after the Karkin (“los Carquines” in Spanish), a linguistic division of the Ohlone Native Americans who resided on both sides of the strait. (Wikipedia)  In addition to any Native Americans living there, the banks of the strait are now occupied by Latinos – in which I include all the Spanish, Italian and Portuguese speaking populations of the Americas, African Americans, several Southeast Asian, Filipino, Malaysian and other ethnicities, and assorted other European-Americans, and such.  These are working class ‘minorities’ communities which are dwarfed in influence by the large transnational corporations who have hegemony over the ports and railroads.

The speech behavior of Chevron spokespersons who were broadcast live during the fire relaying orders for people to stay inside their residences, denying the explosions that they had heard, resembled the principles of US military public information officer performing his Psychological Operations upon the citizens; winning their hearts and minds while warning them of dangers of venturing outside, but assuring them there was nothing to fear.

It began to look like the MARDEX training that took place around the town of Weston, Missouri, with the Human Terrain System from Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, home base for the US Army’s Training and Doctrine Command – TRADOC.

But, in Richmond/San Pablo, it didn’t work. Mayor Gayle McLaughlin, a Green Party mayor, spoke out  in 2008 as the voice of the people. She spoke knowledgably about that particular storage and refinery complex and the heavy crude oil being taken from Iraq and from Canadian tar sands. She didn’t simply sit down with Chevron to work out a “win-win” deal for herself and Chevron.  She spoke again for the record in 2009, very informatively outlining the history of the relationship between community and transnational corporations.

Then, with the coming-true of Mayor MacLaughlin’s fears of environmental holocaust, opportunity opened the August 6, 2012 fire to possible personal gain. Things got much more complicated.

A Democracy Now! report placed the Richmond explosions and fires in a larger context, among others, globally.

CHECKPOINT: If you have followed all the links to the background for what follows, you may continue on through the body and mind scan to the next segment.

Another Delta, Other Charlies

[Note that “Charlie”, the military alphabet for “C”, also conventionally suggests or labels “communist”, as in Steinbeck’s Travels with Charlie.]

The Niger River Delta (NRD) is another place where the People have risen up in local unity for self-defense, which has been treated by their national government – who profit from enabling large transnational petroleum corporations – as “insurgency”. This tactic, signaling the Nigerian government’s submission to The Mission, assures these leaders of USNATO support, financial and military. Anything else would be political suicide, as it was with Kaddafi and now will be for Assad, save a miracle or an Armageddon at the Gates of Damascus.

The Delta of the Niger River makes the business in Richmond seem like a dropped ice cream cone.

Vast swathes of the Delta are covered with tar and stagnant lakes of crude.

By some estimates, over 13 million barrels of oil have spilled into the Delta.  That’s the equivalent of one Exxon Valdez spill every year for 40 years, according to The Independent.

Nigeria is the fifth largest exporter of oil to the United States and the largest producer in Africa.

The Niger Delta is one of the swarm points for the USNATO COIN infiltration of local populations and military/police forces even to the point of a career officer writing his MA thesis on this Mission for the US Army Command and General Staff College in 2007, Thesis Title: Emerging Requirements For US COIN: An Examination Of The Insurgency In The Niger River Delta Region.

‘The evolving insurgency in the Niger River Delta region of Nigeria is and will continue to threaten U.S. national security interests in terms of regional political stability and access to strategic resources.”

To be clear: the Major is saying that this war in Nigeria is about the USNATO’s presumed right of access to and exploitation of Nigeria’s own strategic resources.

The Major further informs us:

“From the U.S. national perspective, crises that occurred in Africa would never command the attention, resources, and commitment that a crisis in Western or Eastern Europe would.”

Hmmm, what? Oh, yes, of course! Atlas Shrugs, scientific racism, imperial self-interest, competition not cooperation, Paul Ryan, Noam Wrongski and all that.

“Now, along with other regions of Africa, as the Gulf of Guinea’s strategic influence on the U.S. and U.S. allies grows, its security has become a key part of the U.S. National Security Strategy and, like the enduring presence in the Horn of Africa, may see a semi-permanent deployment of U.S. forces in the near future.”

Yes indeed. Since 2007 we have seen Progress.

“Nigeria is the fifth largest provider of oil and petroleum products to the United States, currently providing 8.5% of total U.S. oil imports, and the most for any single African producer (U.S. Energy Information Administration 2007). Cote D’Ivoire is the largest regional refiner of crude oil, and Equatorial Guinea and Gabon are also major participants in the West African petroleum industry. The region, however, is beset with political instability and internal conflict, ranging from banditry and ethnic militarism to active and well organized insurgent movements. Regional neighbors such as Guinea-Bissau, Liberia and Sierra Leone are either embroiled in internal conflict or are in the immediate post-conflict recovery stage and reestablishing societies that suffered almost total destruction in the past decade.” (p. 15)

The Major’s “ethnic militarism and well organized insurgent movements” equates to what Eric Wolf called “local unity” and independent cooperation. I quote it again:

Empires and conquests sweep over the land, … but in the dusty streets of the little villages, a humble kind of life persists, and rises again to the surface when the fury of conquest is stilled, …. Yet, until today, the community of cultivators has retained its capacity to turn in upon itself and to maintain its integrity in the face of doubt and disaster – until today, and perhaps not much longer. Because the modern world is engaged in severing once and for all the ties which bind people into local unity, in committing them to complete participation in The Great Society. This is a one-way street from which there is no return. (Wolf, Eric, 1959, p. 68)

One can easily see that the USNATO Mission is to end all such attempts at sovereignty, at local unity, and simply play hard ball by economic, financial, social blockades and military intervention until there is no resistance to the Agenda, The Mission – which is to induce submission and dependence. Everything is up for grabs. Make up rules as if you can enforce them. This is the “one-way street” that Wolf saw for indigenous peoples if the Juggernaut could not be stopped by the Lilliputians.

In his analysis of his planning of Nigeria’s future, this US Major continues:

“Society and culture in Nigeria is defined in the large part by tribal affiliations. While Nigeria is an emerging democracy, where affiliations to the state and or a political party is becoming a solvent to the bonds of tribe and ethnicity, those original cultural structures are still in place, viable and important to understanding Nigeria as a whole.”

Made explicit here as part of US Army doctrine is that cultural diversity is presented as a threat to the goals of the Mission. But, The Mission has a solvent to dissolve those “bonds of tribe and ethnicity”: a “solvent” to dissolve genuine cultures and leave only raw human resources, human capital, ready for reprogramming; the raw human capital, almost ready for the shelves of the Human Resources Supermarket; from which leasing the “personnel manager” will get a bounty.

I find it impressive to read the real world images the Major which he has adopted from TRADOCs manual and other approved intelligence in evaluating the Mission:

“The growing insurgency in the Niger River Delta region of Nigeria can trace its roots back to the 1967-1970 Nigerian Civil War where ethnic tensions, violent political change at the federal level, re-partitioning or the creation of new of state governments, and the control of strategic resources caused the Igbo ethnic group within Nigeria to consolidate in their ancestral homeland in the south east of the country and secede, forming the state of Biafra. Today, many of the same root causes to the civil war are fueling the tensions and conflict seen in Rivers, Bayelsa, and Delta states. The federal government controls the oil revenues from the Delta region and returns almost nothing in the way of profits back to the local communities. The share of oil revenue that comes back to the state and local governments is almost completely consumed by endemic corruption that reaches into every corner of government. The enduring ethnic tensions, combined with heavy-handed police and military response to civil unrest, the crushing poverty, and the general availability of small arms and light weapons has created the current state of instability. This overarching disenfranchisement for the lower economic class in the Delta region and their total inability to gain redress through the political process has made their choice to become insurgents the only choice available in many cases. In the early 1990s, the Movement for the Survival of the Ogoni People (MOSOP) was the first organized response from the multi-ethnic Delta region against the actions of the Nigerian federal government and foreign oil companies. In 1995, when the Nigerian government executed the leaders of MOSOP on allegedly fabricated murder charges, other more militant groups began to emerge. The Niger Delta People’s Volunteer Force (NDPVF), the Bakassai Boys, the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND), the Coalition for Militant Action (COMA), the Niger Delta Vigilante Force (NDVF), and the Prince Igodo Gang, to name just a few, emerged onto the scene. While there is some evidence to indicate that these groups are partly organized and financed by local and regional authorities as private militias, they have conducted kidnap for ransom operations and theft of crude oil on a large scale (oil bunkering) to finance their existence. Not unlike the localized nature of inner city gangs in the U.S., these insurgent groups have established territories and compete with each other for the illicit profits from kidnapping and bunkering, but are not coordinated and synchronized with each other against their common enemy, the Government of Nigeria.”

So, continuing down the road of behaviorist network modeling and probable “key leader” identification by statistical sociological methods, they will seek to “win the hearts and minds” of the locals or, failing that to “bomb them back into the stone age”.

The Masters of Arts candidate continues:

“In order to examine the thesis, this study will answer the primary question; What new doctrinal, organizational, training, material, or leader development (DOTML) challenges or variations on existing DOTML requirements will COIN in the Niger River Delta present at the tactical and operational level as compared to recent operations in Afghanistan and Iraq? The secondary, or enabling, questions necessary to arrive at an answer for the primary question require a description of the NRD IOE and a description of the Government of Nigeria’s (GoN) response to insurgencies in order to determine the current problem-set. Using problem-set as a point of departure, this study will examine how current U.S. COIN doctrine plus the COIN experiences from Afghanistan and Iraq satisfy the requirements of the NRD IOE problem-set.”


 Niger River Delta Region – Based on a UN Map of Nigeria

So, now we have a “problem set”

 … so damnably cold!, his view of the world. This all gets much clearer when we are given the assumptions:


“The primary assumption in this study is that the U.S. will commit forces as a part of a coalition for COIN operations in NRD region within the next decade to protect U.S. national security interests. Those interests are or will be rooted in the exploration, extraction and production of oil. A secondary, but still critical assumption is that the U.S. Africa Command (USAFRICOM) will forward deploy forces to the Gulf of Guinea region to provide focus and national emphasis for operations on the continent and in the contiguous waters of Africa.”

And, the Major doesn’t blink when defining terms:

“Insurgency. An organized movement aimed at the overthrow of a constituted government through the use of subversion and armed conflict (U.S. Army FM 1-02 2004). For the purposes of this study, an insurgency is an asymmetric struggle between a non-state element and the state authority where the non-state element employs non-lethal and lethal means to alter political, economic and power relationships to redress a specific set of grievances.”

The list of what this study will NOT address gives us leads to other areas of interest for later exploration:

“This study will not address the U.S. COIN experience in Vietnam or El Salvador. This study will not address the conflicts in Liberia, Sierra Leone or Côte d’Ivoire. This study will not examine the Pan-Sahel Initiative, or its successor, the Trans Sahara Counter Terrorism Initiative. This study will not examine the 2004 coup attempt in Equatorial Guinea or Nigerian-Cameroonian tensions over the Bakassai Peninsula. This study will not examine Islamic extremism in Nigeria.”

 Whereas, on the one hand, the Major says:

“The current doctrine is a significant evolutionary step forward from the 1980 and 1990 doctrinal efforts in that it delves relatively deeply into factors of culture and social structures that are common world-wide. Not only does the doctrine examine the application of intelligence preparation of the battlefield to an insurgent environment, but the COIN principles, imperatives and some of the COIN paradoxes established in the fundamental theory of the doctrine support greater cultural and social understanding at all echelons of the services. …. The doctrine recognizes the importance of understanding cultural and social structures and systems on their own and not from a U.S. perspective. It discusses the importance of the reestablishment of essential services in a balanced and equitable manner for the region and its linkage to support for the government, along with some aspects of non-western concepts of leadership, values, and power relationships.

And, yet, on the other hand, the Major pulls back to admit:

“Within the EPMESIII model, social causality of conflict and social tools and programs to address insurgent grievances are an essential component and necessary to understand the basic motivations of the key populations. Data on the non-political social aspects of these conflicts is simply not available for this study. There is anecdotal evidence that the method of selection of tribal leadership is one contributing factor in the Yelwa violence of February 2003. Ethnic and tribal boundaries, both physical and economic, are the causes of inter-tribal violence in the NRD hidden behind the backdrop of the inequity between the NRD peoples as a whole and the GoN’s control of profits from the oil sector. For that reason, this category will go unexamined in the question of GoN responses to insurgency.”

The issue of social factors, of cultural worldview will go “Un-Examined”!?

But, I thought you said, about winning the hearts and minds … ?

“At the tactical level, maneuver commanders are generally not trained in the political and social complexities and subtleties of their area of responsibility. This failure to understand the local political structures and actors has resulted in practices serving to alienate host nation civilians and leaders who may have been initially supportive of coalition efforts” (CALL 04-13).

The Major’s cold analysis of what reality compels the US military to do to protect the USA’s security is quite a lesson in hard-bitten self-interest “… along with some aspects of western concepts of leadership, values, and power relationships.”  Especially Power relationships, Hard Ball! Free Enterprise warfare.

One press of a button in Virginia, and you are vaporized in Yemen, Ouagadougou, Richmond California, Weston Missouri, Gaza City, Guernica, Capetown or Caracas. We gotcha covered.

 Is this invincibility and omnipotence simply smoke, or is the USNATO Empire really that capable?

 Significance of the Study

“The competition between nations for strategic resources will increase as the world “shrinks” in terms of growing urbanization, global communications and the mobility of individuals and commodities. As already disenfranchised elements of national populations are increasingly marginalized in the drive towards globalization, those groups will more likely turn to insurgent struggle to gain redress, particularly in regions with weak governance and availability of small arms and light weapons. Now more so than in the past, insurgents in remote areas can directly threaten U.S. national security interests without necessarily threatening the destruction of their host nation. Therefore, while an insurgency in a remote corner of an African (or Latin American or South East Asian) nation may not substantively threaten the host government’s survival, those insurgent’s requirements for redress may come into direct conflict with U.S. national security interests. In order to restore the integrity of U.S. national security, such insurgencies may compel a response by the joint and interagency efforts of the U.S. military to participate in, or to independently conduct, COIN operations. Given that all insurgencies are unique in context and conduct, the COIN methodology from one operational experience may only be partially applicable to or be completely incompatible with the next COIN requirement.”

Note especially the linking of  “the mobility of individuals and commodities”. My point exactly! Community is irrelevant; individuals are the elemental unit of society and especially the unit of human capital in the market place with the other commodities; all of which need to be mobile. Communities and LOCAL UNITY are to be left behind in this vision of a future Global Corporate Empire.

But, don’t worry, there will be a Fun Island.

However, Sorry!  it won’t be free and only those with offshore banks accounts can go there.

So, in a strangely cold way, the Major adopts a behaviorist version of cultural relativism. He also offers a Way Forward when the Resistance’s requirements of redress for injustices comes into conflict with the US national security interests in the Niger River Delta of West Africa.

He seems lost among concepts related to genuine cultures and their societies’ different cultural worldviews, different experienced realities, which don’t register for him.

To me, the most important limitation of his view is that he does not seem to understand the significant difference between his own, behaviorist constructed theory of the mind of the people he calls “insurgents”, and the anthropological approaches to understanding the mind of those people by actually talking to them; or better, listening to them. Instead, he simply wants to “dissolve” the culture that is the matrix of their shared understanding, of their Local Unity.

And, of course, there is not only no interest in the anthropological approach, there is aversion to such contamination by actual intercourse. Better to use behaviorist and sociological network analysis methods to determine who are the probable key leaders, and then offer them money or death.

The Skinner Box Approach to Understanding Human Terrain

From there, the Thesis goes from empty of meaning to “very scientific” rhetoric that transforms persons into a “data set” from which one calculates probable social networks and probable key leaders.

“The data set are commissioned studies (e.g.: RAND, CSIS, etc.) and reports of NGOs (e.g.: Human Rights Watch, International Crisis Group, etc.), journalistic reporting, Nigerian government and insurgent IO products, and regional histories and country guides.

“For SQ2, describe the Government of Nigeria’s (GoN) response to insurgencies. PMESII is applied in its original form, without the Environment and without the Insurgent. The primary data set are commissioned studies (e.g.: RAND, CSIS, etc.) and reports of NGOs (e.g.: Human Rights Watch, International Crisis Group, etc.), journalistic reporting, Nigerian government and insurgent IO products, and regional histories and country guides.

“For SQ3, how does U.S. COIN doctrine apply to the Niger River Delta IOE?, the PM(D)ESII structure is used to conduct a qualitative review of service (U.S. Army, U.S. Marine Corps) doctrinal publications in common use since 2001.

“For SQ4, what U.S. COIN experiences from Iraq (OIF) and Afghanistan (OEF) are applicable to the NRD IOE?, the full analytic framework, EPM(DOTML)ESII, will be applied to the data set, but where the environment of Nigeria is different from the environment of Iraq or Afghanistan that difference and its potential modifying effect on lessons from Iraq or Afghanistan will be annotated. The primary data set will include the formally published service lessons learned, commissioned qualitative studies by analytical organizations (e.g. RAND, CSIS, AWC) and academic analytical works from the staff colleges of the uniformed services.”

So, Mr Cheney, We Have Arrived at the Dark Side in the Dark Continent

The Final Solution is, Surprise! -: Declare the Niger River Delta area of Nigeria as a “failed state” and occupy it militarily following Counterinsurgency Strategy.:

“The insurgent force does fluctuate in size between the week-day and week-end because of an element that maintains legitimate occupations and lives during the work week but who revert to insurgent status on the weekend. These “commuter guerillas” travel into the mangrove to linkup with full-time insurgents and conduct operations or training when not working their “regular” job (Jane’s Information Group 2006). This “commuter guerilla” represents a point of vulnerability for the insurgent, as these members can be targeted for HUMINT collection and exploitation and represents a capability in that this group provides near real time intelligence on the Nigerian military and security service activities and movements in the villages and towns.

“The instability in the Niger River Delta region can be summarized in terms of the elements of a failed state, or at least an ungoverned space.”

[Of course, it is an “ungoverned space” only if one ignores traditional indigenous social order as legitimate government. Empire does not! Empire recognizes only nations which Empire has built.]

“While Nigeria is not the extreme example of a failed state like Somalia, there are indicators that the governance of the NRD may be an example of failing governance. Elements of a failed state include 12 social, economic and political indicators.

Social Indicators

Mounting democratic pressures. [which can be stimulated or simulated by PsyOps]

Massive movement of refugees or internally displaced persons creating complex humanitarian emergencies.

Legacy of vengeance-seeking group grievance or group paranoia.

Chronic and sustained human flight.

Economic Indicators

Uneven economic development along group lines.

Sharp and/or severe economic decline.

[The trade blockade against Cuba  has achieved a little of this. And such “economic embargos” are designed to achieve some of these benchmarks for a “failed state”, validating an invasion or support of an insurgency.]

Political Indicators

Criminalization and/or delegitimization of the state.

Progressive deterioration of public services.

Suspension or arbitrary application of the rule of law and widespread violation of human rights.

Security apparatus operates as a “state within a state”.

Rise of factionalized elites.

Intervention of other states or external political actors.

(Fund for Peace 2007)

I wonder what the Fund for Peace represents.

“U.S. experiences in Afghanistan and Iraq have provided a generation of service members with first hand experiences operating with a dissimilar culture in joint and multinational COIN operations. However interesting these anecdotal experiences are, little has been accomplished in the way of preparing U.S. forces to effectively influence a host nation’s social structures and systems to achieve a specific objective. The U.S. may never be able to precipitate any change in the social fabric in Afghanistan or Iraq, in the present, or Nigeria in the future. We may be required to accept social institutions that are divisive, unjust and counterintuitive to effective COIN operations.”

But, don’t let that bother you; we have methods of surveillance and crowd control that will assure the continued success of the Mission.

The obvious implicit suggestion being made by the Major is that the Niger River Delta be built by NATO into a separate nation, like Benin and Biafra. Then it will be a more “governable” space; espcially after the bonds of culture are “dissolved” into the bonds of Free Enterprise corporations that they will then become human capital for.

So, who, ultimately benefits the most from global wars?

Behind the Curtain of the Wizards of Bilderberg

“The original conference was held at the Hotel de Bilderberg, near Arnhem in the Netherlands, from 29 to 31 May 1954. It was initiated by several people, including Polish politician Józef Retinger, concerned about the growth of anti-Americanism in Western Europe, who proposed an international conference at which leaders from European countries and the United States would be brought together with the aim of promoting Atlanticism – better understanding between the cultures of the United States and Western Europe to foster cooperation on political, economic, and defense issues. Retinger approached Prince Bernhard of the Netherlands who agreed to promote the idea, together with former Belgian Prime Minister Paul Van Zeeland, and the head of Unilever at that time, Dutchman Paul Rijkens. Bernhard in turn contacted Walter Bedell Smith, then head of the CIA, who asked Eisenhower adviser Charles Douglas Jackson to deal with the suggestion.

It was not long after this that Ike warned the US citizens of the Military Industrial Complex.

So, if the President of the United States does not control the USNATO military, who does?

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