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Biden’s incompetence might lead to a permanent replacement of the U.S. military in Chad by the Russians

Biden’s incompetence might lead to a permanent replacement of the U.S. military in Chad by the Russians

Just like during the Cold War, but even more, Africa is again becoming an important strategic arena. The Russians are making gains there. First, they are replacing us in Niger. Now, they are about to do the same in Chad.

Let’s first look at why Africa matters. It has three primary significances:

  • Counterterrorism

  • Access to resources

  • Access to trade chokepoints

Americans intuitively understand the importance of denying safe havens to terrorists. We remember 9/11. The Chinese and Russians do too. They would love for the terrorists to plan attacks on the United States, both to kill Americans and damage our economy and also to drag us into counterterrorist wars to distract us from what they are doing.

Africa is also rich in resources—much of which remains undiscovered. There are two visions at odds. The American free-market ideology dictates that those nations control their resources and share them with the highest bidder. The Russians and Chinese want to control those resources themselves. They prefer to bribe African politicians and businessmen to get those natural resources at a cheap price and deny them to the rest of the world to control the global supply chain.

Eighty percent of world trade is done at the seas, and maritime navigation among Europe, the Middle East, and Asia passes through chokepoints north and east of the continent. Bab el-Mandab, Suez, and Gibraltar are the three main ones. U.S. import and export with those regions requires the passage of American merchant ships through these spots. As we saw with the Houthi blockade of the Red Sea, which cut access to the same chokepoints, land access near them could give anyone a huge advantage to disrupt commerce and deteriorate the free world’s economy, especially America’s.

In April, Chad announced that it was kicking American forces out. Weeks later, Joe Biden accepted the request and the U.S. military left. There have been ongoing negotiations to return, so far to no avail. Russia is getting close to entering Chad instead.

This was expected. Russians have been supporting Chadian rebels. Three years ago, the rebels killed the president, and Chad was run by military juntas until May 24th. Russian emissaries began meeting with the junta leaders that kicked the United States out. The Biden administration either missed these developments or was too incompetent to stop them.

The American military there, at least in theory, should do two things. First, by just being there, it will prevent the Russians and Chinese from entering. This includes building a partnership with the Chadian government and its military so the government can defend itself against rebels and terrorists. Second, it conducts counterterrorism raids to deny terrorists a safe haven.

By creating chaos in Chad and its neighborhood, the Russians hope to have another 9/11 or at least require the U.S. military to deploy more forces than otherwise necessary to Africa and be distracted. But there is a more immediate concern, too.

Chad is the 21st largest country in the world. Its sheer size means that it is abundant with raw materials. It definitely is. These include gold and oil. The Russian economy is in terrible shape because of the war and foreign sanctions. Access to oil and gold reserves will allow Russia to mitigate the effects of these sanctions so it can continue its war against Ukraine.

Biden’s incompetence might lead to a permanent replacement of the U.S. military in Chad by the Russians. There is time to reverse this problem, and we should hope that Biden does so. But it should never have been necessary in the first place if the administration had paid attention to what was going on and had killed the plot in its inception.

Note: the opinions expressed herein are those of Chuck Warren only and not his co-host Sam Stone or Breaking Battlegrounds’ staff.

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