Tuesday, May 29, 2007
Millennium Challenge Series # 35: Africom- the new Security banner or US Millitariazation of Africa
Dear Patriotic Ethiopians and Friends of Ethiopia/Africa:
As we celebrate Africa Day to remembr the freedom and decolonization of Africa, we have two critical challenges in the New Millennium, that is the Europen Union- commonwealth of nations, Chinese Economic Reconfiguration and US Military interests in Africa.
The African continent has the largest equatorial land mass with access to the richest tropical biodiversity complimented with the largest mineral deposits and fossil oil and gas repositories.
As Global Climate Change evolves, Africa is the first continent that has been negatively impacted for the last 50 years and the global community is just waking up to the melting of the Arctic and Antarctic Ice Mountains and expanding of the Saharan and Asian Deserts make habitation for plant, animal and human lives very tenuous.
The African leadership has transformed the Organization of African Union to African Union propoer via the new tool of NEPAD (New Partnership for Development). This new strategy looks for win-win synergistic partnerships and was considered a mile stone when it surfaced about three years ago. Like every thing African, it is not supported with resources and budgets. So, the need for external partnership and buy in to the great African idea of win-win partnership. It appears after almost 5 years of meetings and discussions the Europeans, the Chinese and now the Americans have a different strategy. It is called one-way street resource and wealth accumulation for the Europeans and the Economic and Infrastructure Reconstruction by the Chinese and the Americans have come up with Africom, the new Military and Security Partnership with Africa. I put down the partnership word there to check if the Africans were ever consulted and would ever be partners to this new deal.
The response and the non response from the global community to this impending catastrophy is quite telling. Africa is already experiencing massive migration waves, the human genocide in Congo, Great Lake Regions, especially in Darfur, and Somalia has been calling for help and attention for quite some time.
The response of the European Union has been focusing mainly in the old colonial countries where the "Commonwealth of Nations" will continue to be resource channeling from Africa to Europe - business the same as usual under a new banner. So, Good Governance has come asking for transparency and accountability from all stakeholders and the only casualty so far is the World Bank President, who was the only one pushing for reducing poverty in Africa.
I always wonder why not go all the way and seek for prosperity of Africa, after all all the natural resources that enrich all these other great nations is African.
Please read below the Washington Post account of the new US Policy to partner with Africa on security and military fronts- Enter Africom- the new vision for Africa!
with regards and seeking for alternative and creative ideas on issues of our times!
Belai Habte-Jesus, MD, MPH
Global Strategic Enterprises, Inc
Global partnership for Peace and Prosperity
U.S. Africa Command Brings New Concerns
Fears of Militarization on Continent Cited
By Walter Pincus
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, May 28, 2007; Page A13
The creation of the Defense Department Africa Command,
with responsibilities to promote security and
government stability in the region, has heightened
concerns among African countries and in the U.S.
government over the militarization of U.S. foreign
policy, according to a newly released study by the
Congressional Research Service.
The Africa Command (AFRICOM) was announced in February
by the Bush administration and is scheduled to begin
operations in October with temporary headquarters in
Stuttgart, Germany. AFRICOM would have traditional
responsibilities of a combat command "to facilitate or
lead [U.S.] military operations" on the continent, but
would also include "a broader 'soft power' mandate
aimed at preemptively reducing conflict and would
incorporate a larger civilian component to address
those challenges," according to the CRS study.
AFRICOM raises oversight issues for congressional
committees, according to the report. "How will the
administration ensure that U.S. military efforts in
Africa do not overshadow or contradict U.S. diplomatic
and development objectives?" the report asks. Similar
concerns are being raised between Defense and State
Department officials over the Pentagon's plans to take
economic assistance programs begun in Iraq and
Afghanistan and make them permanent and worldwide,
with more than $1 billion allocated to them annually.
At a briefing last month after a trip to six African
countries, Ryan Henry, principal deputy undersecretary
of defense for policy, told reporters: "We discussed
different mission areas . . . emphasizing the
humanitarian, the building partnership capability,
[and] civil affairs aspects." He said he discussed
working "with the host nations to improve their
capacity to exercise sovereignty over any ungoverned
spaces" where terrorists could establish training
One unresolved issue is where to put AFRICOM
headquarters and its expected complement of 400 to
1,000 Americans. "Some initial reaction to locating
the Africa Command on the continent has been
negative," the CRS report said. Fear that it could
represent a first step toward more U.S. troops in
Africa led Henry to assure African leaders that the
"principal mission will be in the area of security
cooperation and building partnership capability. It
will not be in warfighting."
AFRICOM has also raised concerns within the U.S.
government. Whereas the State Department and U.S.
Agency for International Development officials
recognize that the Pentagon can obtain congressional
funding that they cannot, "there is also concern that
the military may overestimate its capabilities as well
as its diplomatic role in Africa, or pursue activities
that are not a core part of its mandate," CRS notes.
To meet that concern, a State Department civilian
official is to be one of the two deputy commanders of
AFRICOM, though that official would not be in the
chain of command on military operations, according to
the CRS report. In addition, more than one-third of
AFRICOM headquarters personnel would be from outside
the Pentagon. Defense officials told CRS that "the new
command will seek greater interagency coordination
with the State Department, USAID and other government
agencies," according to the report.
Nicole Lee, the executive director of TransAfrica
Forum, a think tank focusing on U.S. policy toward
Africa, said a greater U.S. military presence in
Africa is "neither wise nor productive." Instead, the
administration should focus on "development assistance
and respect for sovereignty," she said in a statement
released when the new command was announced.
AFRICOM notwithstanding, the Pentagon already has
military, economic, humanitarian, counterterrorism and
information programs underway in dozens of African
The Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa, set up
in October 2002, maintains a semi-permanent presence
of 1,500 U.S. military and civilian personnel at Camp
Lemonier in Djibouti, from which it carries out
counterterrorism and humanitarian operations. U.S.
military advisers from there currently aid the African
Union mission in Sudan.
The Pentagon is carrying out information operations
with military information support teams deployed to
U.S. embassies on the continent. One such operation
includes a Web site ( http://www.magharebia.com) that
provides news and comment directed at North Africa in
Arabic, French and English.
The Defense Department has also agreed on access to
air bases and ports in Africa and "bare-bones"
facilities maintained by local security forces in
Gabon, Kenya, Mali, Morocco, Namibia, Sao Tome and
Principe, Senegal, Tunisia, Uganda and Zambia,
according to the CRS report.
Under "Operation Enduring Freedom: Trans Sahara/Trans
Sahara Counter-Terrorism Initiative," the Pentagon has
provided $500 million to increase border security and
counterterrorism capacity to Mali, Chad, Niger and
Mauritania. The Africa Contingency Operations Training
and Assistance program has provided small arms and
training for peacekeeping operations to Benin,
Botswana, Cote d'Ivoire, Ethiopia, Gabon, Ghana,
Kenya, Malawi, Mozambique, Nigeria, Senegal, South
Africa, Uganda and Zambia.