By Robert Patrick Lewis
I fielded this question a lot after my first book (Love Me When I’m Gone) was published, but the death of a Navy SEAL in Somalia on May 4th has stirred that question back up. Most Americans don’t realize that all major wars have led to Africa, and the Global War on Terror (GWOT) hasn’t been any different (although the reasons for it are).
While many Leftists and progressives today automatically think of America when they hear the word slavery, many forgot that the major European nations (Britain, France, Belgium, Holland and Portugal) had been involved in slavery for quite a long time, taking turns colonizing Africa and fighting over the control of her people and resources. Many of these African colonies were not well-defended (as it was never their intention to be combat positions), and thus became excellent targets of opportunity for the warring nations in World War I. The European influence was so strong on the continent, in fact, that the Army taught me French before going to Africa as many parts of the continent still speak the language.
The Axis-owned colonies were a bit more robust during WWII, and their choice of the African continent as a battlefield led to many textbook-inspiring battles between German commander Erwin Rommel (known as The Desert Fox) and the inspiration for what I consider the greatest movie of all time, Casablanca. Of all the gin joints in all the world…
So if Western nations aren’t openly colonizing Africa anymore (but those of us with open eyes and we who have spent time in Africa know that slavery is very much still alive in many parts of the continent), why are there American troops engaged in combat operations within her borders?
In fact, there has been a 1600% increase in US troops with boots on the ground in Africa between 2005 and 2016. I’ve been there on orders as a Green Beret, have lost several military friends there and a Navy SEAL died in Somalia this month. And it all boils down to three things in my mind: open territory, religious zealots and poverty.
Many Americans have a hard time understanding just how different the world is outside of our borders; did you know that if you make over $32,400 as of 2016 you’re in the top 1% of income earners globally? If those smelly ANTIFA idiots had to chant that after drinking their pre-protest iced mocha frappucino (paid for by their parents credit card, of course) they may not have so many followers.
Aside from our creature comforts, most of America and Americans are “on the grid.” This means that if you run errands throughout the day, you’ve most likely been caught on camera numerous times by Big Brother. You’ve probably used your credit or debit card. And there’s is a high chance you’ve had to show someone your driver’s license or ID (yet it’s racist when needed to vote?).
This means that if Big Brother needed to find you, they could. If you were to commit a major crime or were suspected of plotting something they could most likely find you and emplace surveillance to see what you were up to and who you were commiserating with.
But not in Africa.
The grid may exist in some of the more advanced areas on the continent, say Johannesburg, Morocco and possibly a few others; but 99.99% of that continent is completely off the grid. And not only is it off the grid, but as one of the most corrupt regions on the planet (I wouldn’t put Washington D.C. too far behind) any local police or security that needs to be asked to “look the other way” will often do so for a very low price.
This means that if you were someone who needed to hide out, say a terrorist leader or arms dealer, you could probably find a good place to do it there. And what if you needed to set up a terrorist training camp to teach people how to shoot, make explosives and become deadly in the fight against the infidels? There’s quite a bit of prime-time off the grid desert property in which you could do that.
Its ease of access to the Middle East makes it a prime location for terrorists, and with the large amounts of money the Saudi’s give to setup Wahhabbi mosques (the most violent and terrorist-grooming sect of Islam) it’s a breeding ground for extremism. Add in the two final ingredients, heat and poverty, and you have a recipe for terrorism.
Sure, Boko Haram stealing schoolgirls made Oprah upset & Joseph Kony and his child soldiers are enough of a reason to send my former unit on a hunting mission in the jungles of the Central African Republic, but not enough to warrant a 1600% increase in US military presence.
If you ever find yourself questioning why the US, State Department and DoD make some of the very strange-seeming decisions that they do to fund nations which call us evil and send troops to the middle of nowhere, it all boils down to one word: stability.
Stable, rich and prosperous nations don’t allow terrorists to come into their country. They don’t allow the populace to live “off the grid” so that anyone can hide their evil deeds there. And they don’t bring Green Berets with our guns & beards to hunt evil within their borders.
Robert Patrick Lewis is a Green Beret OIF/OEF combat veteran with 10th SFG(A) and is an award-winning author of “The Pact” and “Love Me When I’m Gone: the true story of life, love and loss for a Green Beret in post-9/11 war.” Follow him @RobertPLewis on Twitter or on his RobertPatrickLewisAuthor Facebook page.