The Neo Cons’ Frankenstein Syndrome in Niger

Have Africans, trained by the U.S., gotten “out of contro?l”
Have Africans, trained by the U.S., gotten “out of contro?l” | Photo:

By Julia Wright

Mary Shelley, who wrote Frankenstein published in 1819, was an English abolitionist born to a radical feminist, Mary Wollstonecraft, and an 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 – Galvani and his nephew, 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 to experiment on.

What connection might you ask 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 dead 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. State Department and the Pentagon have with the new coup leaders in Niger is that the Pentagon may have trained them but that now they have gone rogue and the U.S. is convinced it must  stalk, rein in and destroy its own creation.

Fast forward two centuries to the U.S. Armed Service Committee, on March 23, 2023, when Matt Gaetz, the Republican representative from Florida, shows his fury that the American taxpayers’ money is being spent on training Africans who 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 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 nigger” to paraphase 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.

Victoria Nuland and the neo cons 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.

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

First, the very under reported Niger, Mali and Burkina Faso federation, announced on August 24th 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 neo cons 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 USA presence in Africa. It comes down to the fact that the USA 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.

Second, and to my mind even more unexpected to the U.S. government and certainly even more under-reported, was the news that the new leaders in Niger decided to increase the price of uranium by 24,900 %, repeat 24,900 % ! In other words overnight the new government is selling uranium for 200 euros per kilogram not 0.80 euros per kilogram. France had been stealing over 54 billion dollars a year from Niger just for one commodity.

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

Third, the crowds of thousands of the Nigerien people encircling the French military base for a week in Niamey to demand the withdrawal of the 1500 French military troops and their assets but also the mass rebellion of Tchadian crowds against a French army base there after the murder of a Tchadian soldier by a French army doctor has introduced a “people’s” factor in the algorithms the State Department is working on. And as the political commentator Laura Arbaoui, says, the USA does not like direct confrontations with the people, they prefer to act covertly : ” When the people stand up, the USA back down and act surreptiously”.

Which brings us to the announcement by Media Sputnik, on September 7th 2023, that the Russian Foreign Intelligence Service, RSV, has warned that the physical integrity of the Niger coup leaders is now threatened by the USA  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 70’s ; the sudden decision to increase the price of uranium exponentially and the looming factor of an armed people’ movement – many Pan Africanist commentators have taken the RSV’s announcement seriously because it is characteristic – historically and strategically – that the USA should move in specific time-tested ways against “creatures” who have broken loose. RSV notes that the U.S. government would prefer not to act through the bombastic ECOWAS 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 km 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 cross hairs. Indeed, there was an attempted pro western coup d’etat foiled in Burkina Faso yesterday.

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 plus. France is already announcing that although she is negotiating a partial withdrawal of her troops from Niger, she will be ready to redeploy if there is an “emergency”. And when the Nigerien Prime Minister, Ali Lamine Zeine, wrote to the Secretary General of the United Nations to inform him he would be representing his country at the United Nations Assembly General in New York this month, Antonio Guterres replied : you are not invited.

Whatever is going through the minds of the neo cons, 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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