Nikolas Kozloff

The Lure of Oil and the Drug War: Why Washington Has Joined the Battle For West Africa

With the winding down of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, Washington is turning its sights elsewhere.  Quietly, the Obama administration is building up a vast array of military resources in West Africa, and specifically in Portuguese-speaking Lusophone countries.  Reportedly, the Pentagon wants to establish a monitoring station in the Cape Verde islands, while further south in the Gulf of Guinea U.S. ships and personnel are patrolling local waters.  Concerned lest it draw too much attention to itself, the Pentagon has avoided constructing large military installations and focused instead on a so-called “lily pad” strategy of smaller bases.  In São Tomé and Príncipe, an island chain in the Gulf of Guinea and former Portuguese colony, the Pentagon may install one such “under the radar” base, and U.S. Navy Seabees are already engaged in construction work at the local airport.

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How the Latin American Drug War Will End

As the underlying rationale for the war on drugs falls apart, some may wonder whether Latin America is really prepared to push back against Washington’s militaristic approach toward marijuana trafficking. While such a prospect would have been unheard of just a few scant years ago, recent developments in the U.S. suggest that change could come fast at the hemispheric level. Indeed, successful pushes for marijuana legalization in Washington state and Colorado brought together some unusual political constituencies, and that is putting it mildly. 

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