The Neocons’ Frankenstein Syndrome in Niger

by Julia Wright, published on Workers World, September 14, 2023

Mary Shelley, who wrote “Frankenstein,” published in 1819, was an English abolitionist born to radical feminist Mary Wollstonecraft and anarchist political philosopher William Godwin. Not only did she advocate the end of slavery, but in her father’s drawing room she overheard discussions about the beginning and the ending of biological life as evidenced by experiments in Galvanism conducted by two Italians — Luigi Galvani and his nephew, Giovanni Aldini. In fact, convicted paupers in Italy were even bribed into accepting the death penalty without a murmur, because they were told their corpse could be electrified back to life. This supplied Aldini and the Galvinists with a plethora of corpses on which to experiment.

What connection, might you ask, does this have to what is happening in Niger and across the Sahel?

The writing of “Frankenstein” when she was only 17 is believed to have stemmed from Mary Shelley’s vision of a misogynist, patriarchal and hubristic mindset using and abusing a “creature” created and brought to life from the limbs of have-nots buried in paupers’ cemeteries — a creature whose body and soul the entitled and arrogant creator feels he owns. However, as Shelley shows, the creature goes rogue, takes on life and agency of its own, and escapes the “puppeteering” of its creator. To my mind, Shelley depicts Dr. Victor Frankenstein as a white supremacist.

I would venture to say that the problem the U.S. Department of State and the Pentagon have with the new coup leaders in Niger is that, while the Pentagon may have trained them, they have now gone rogue. The U.S. government is convinced it must stalk, rein in and destroy its own creation.

Fast forward two centuries to the U.S. Armed Services Committee. On March 23, 2023, Matt Gaetz, the Republican representative from Florida, showed his fury over the American taxpayers’ money being spent on training Africans who then turn around and roguishly commit coups d’etat against the “democratic” U.S.-approved governments they were trained to uphold.

The five-minute video of Gaetz grilling the head of AFRICOM, General Michael Langley, is a foray into the white supremacist mindset I would personally use as a teaching tool in any course on U.S. neo-colonialism in Africa. It illustrates the “Frankenstein syndrome,” according to which you can dress, educate, train an African “creature,” make him your “White House n****r,” to paraphrase Malcolm X, but there is a risk that, in more and more cases, there will be a point of no return beyond which that “creature” will start thinking for his people and for himself. And that kind of thinking may be catching on. (www.youtube.com/watch?v=xngz90tHZWY)

Acting U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Victoria Nuland and the neocons imperiously pull strings and imagine the puppets will follow, till the day they realize there is no puppet at the end of the string, nothing to pull. But since the tradition of the “quiet American” depicted by Graham Greene still holds strong, they hide their panic quietly, behind the scenes.

Formation of Niger, Mali and Burkina Faso federation

So what are the signs, the red flags (maybe all the more red that they see Russia everywhere) that have shocked the neocons into realizing their Niger creature has escaped from them?

First, the very underreported Niger, Mali and Burkina Faso federation, announced on Aug. 24, 2023, importantly decided that the three military-ruled African states would pool their military resources to fight against the very terrorist threat the U.S. has been using as an excuse to maintain its heavy strategic presence in the Sahel. To use the image of the African economist, Edmund Konate: If a firefighter suddenly invites himself into your house, there has to be a fire first, even if he has to be the one to light it.

This new federation pooling economic, financial, cultural and military resources could only be frowned upon by the neocons whose three bases — especially Base 201 in Agadez — are justified by an assistance to the “fight against terrorism.” The Agadez base with its drones is the most powerful U.S. base in the world. So potentially, Niger, Mali and Burkina Faso getting together to fight terrorism on their own terms would spell the beginning of the end of the U.S. presence in Africa. It comes down to the fact that the U.S. obsession to “fight terrorism in Africa,” even if it means creating that terrorism, is caused by the need to be implanted where mineral wealth is to be secured and “cold war” influence to be exerted.

Uranium price bombshell

Second, and to my mind even more unexpected by the U.S. government and certainly even more underreported, was the news that the new leaders in Niger decided to increase the price of uranium by 24,900 percent — I repeat, 24,900 percent! In other words, overnight the new government is selling uranium for 200 euros per kilogram, not 0.8 euros per kilogram. France had been stealing over $54 billion a year from Niger, just for this one commodity.

This uranium “bombshell” could only worry the U.S. for at least three reasons: (1) such a drastic change in price will have a ripple effect on the world market, raising uranium prices; (2) this bold move can be emulated by other states in Africa; and (3) although Russia still provides uranium to the U.S., the U.S. remains nervous about when Russia might cut them off and is already lining up alternative sources of uranium — with trade with Niger in mind.

Also, the crowds of thousands of Nigerien people encircling the French military base in Niamey for a week to demand the withdrawal of the 1,500 French military troops and their assets, as well as the mass rebellion of Chadian crowds against a French army base there after the murder of a Chadian soldier by a French army doctor, have introduced a “people’s” factor in the algorithms the State Department is working on. And as the political commentator Laura Arbaoui says, the U.S. does not like direct confrontations with the people – they prefer to act covertly: “When the people stand up, the U.S. backs down and acts surreptitiously.”

Renewed threat of CIA against new African leaders

Which brings us to the announcement by Sputnik media on Sept. 7, 2023, that the Russian Foreign Intelligence Service (SVR) has warned that the physical integrity of the Niger coup leaders is now threatened by the U.S. with a recourse to “old and tried methods.” Given the “red flags” mentioned above — the birth of a federation described by Vijay Prashad as close to the spirit of the liberation movements of the 1970s, the sudden decision to increase the price of uranium exponentially and the looming factor of an armed people’s movement — many Pan Africanist commentators have taken the SVR’s announcement seriously, because it is characteristic — historically and strategically — that the U.S. should move in specific time-tested ways against “creatures” who have broken loose.

SVR notes that the U.S. government would prefer not to act through the bombastic ECOWAS (Economic Community of West African States) but rather quietly through covert methods using trained elements within the entourage of the new Niger leadership. The SVR goes on to state that the involvement of the CIA cannot be dismissed, given its past record of assassinations abroad. The assassination of Patrice Lumumba and the plots to kill Fidel Castro, as documented by the Church Commission, are referred to. The SVR also points out that although Gerald Ford and Jimmy Carter issued decrees against the involvement of U.S. government officials in political assassinations, Reagan went on to remove the word “political” in the text.

Pan Africanist commentators have tended to take the Russian Intelligence statement as coming directly from Putin and as based on intelligence gathered by Russian agents on the ground in Niger. They have a tendency to think this statement is corroborated by the evidence of a plot already discovered and thwarted. One commentator regretted that there had not been such proactive warning before the murder of Lumumba. Another commentator suggests the coup leaders might be targeted by an “accidental” airstrike, so they should avoid meeting all together in one physical space. Yet another commentator has suggested that the very recent repositioning of U.S. troops, away from the U.S. Niamey base to the Agadez drone base 800 kilometers to the north, may be in response to the SVR revelations. If there were indeed to be an accidental but surgical airstrike against the Niger leadership, the U.S. could say: “We had repositioned.” Plausible denial.

Others feel the repositioning is rather to take a distance from the French debacle in Niamey. Lastly, a commentator has interestingly hinted that the Russian investigation into Yevgeny Prigozhin’s death has been completed and points towards the involvement of Pentagon and CIA executives with Ukrainian help — hence the assurance with which SVR has now stated that the Niger leadership is next in line. It appears SVR also hinted that Mali and Burkina Faso were also in the CIA/Pentagon’s crosshairs. Indeed, there was an attempted pro-Western coup d’etat on Sept. 9 in Burkina Faso that was foiled.

In any event, most West African commentators would seem to agree that in spite of appearances to the contrary, the United States and France may be more united than divided — their differences being tactical rather than strategic, because they are part of a NATO in difficulty in Ukraine, and because they feel equally challenged by BRICS+.

Whatever is going through the minds of the neocons, whatever they have in store and we are not privy to, suffice it to say there is cause for extreme day-to-day vigilance.


(c) Julia Wright. September 10, 2023. All Rights Reserved.

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