On 14 October, President Barack Obama announced that he was sending United States special forces to Uganda to join the civil war there. In the next few months, US combat troops will be sent to South Sudan, Congo and Central African Republic. They will "engage" only for "self-defence", says Obama, satirically. With Libya secured, an American invasion of the African continent is under way.

The press describes Obama's decision as "highly unusual" and "surprising", even "weird". It is none of these things. It is the logic of US foreign policy since 1945. Take Vietnam. The priority was to halt the alleged influence of China, an imperial rival, and "protect" Indonesia, which President Richard Nixon called "the region's richest hoard of natural resources . . . the greatest prize". Vietnam got in the way; the slaughter of more than three million Vietnamese and the devastation and poisoning of their land were the price of America achieving its goal...read more