The East African Community as the Potential EU of Africa

In a recent opinion piece for the Pambazuka News that was picked up by allafrica.com  Dr. Odomaro Mubangizi writes about the future prospects of the East African Community, which consists currently of  Burundi, Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda and Rawanda, as they were coming to the agreement over a proposed monetary union that was to see implementation within the next 10 years. In the piece he likens the EAC and its future prospects to the EU, while being careful to note the large differences in the two regions and the formations of each organization, he suggests that increased integration and cooperation within the EAC throughout various sectors will lead to one of Africa’s most prosperous intergovernmental and economic cooperation alliances that could turn the region into a rising actor in the global economy.

He points to the EAC as an infrastructure hub within Africa and its growing projects, such a high speed rail that will connect four of the five countries of the sub-region, along with improvement of existing bus systems and their international extensions as signs of tremendous potential in economic and human development terms in a region where a common market counting 160 million people(and growing) is present. He also points to the resource sector that is starting to boom in the EAC due to recent oil discoveries in Uganda and Kenya as well as natural gas deposits discovered in Tanzania. He also points to international investment attention from rising global players such as Brazil, China, and India. Another possible sector with a large economic potential of the EAC that he mentions is that of tourism due to the presence of very internationally attractive national parks, such as Serengti and Kidepo. He also mentions the possible strategic geopolitical advantages of the EAC with regards to cooperating more militarily between the countries to combat rebel groups and other dangers in the sub-region while also being able to cooperate more as a sub-region on security matters with other regional organizations, such as the Afican Union, who are headquartered in close proximity to the EAC. Lastly he mentions the strategic advantage of the EAC in terms of what he calls the “demographic dividend”, suggesting that the high amount of increasingly more educated and innovative youth in the sub-region have much human capital that will only be magnified by cooperation and mobility within the EAC as it becomes a more integrated community.

The tone of his opinion piece is a very optimistic one, but is he reaching a little far by pointing out the mostly positive aspects of the EAC without giving considerable attention to the possible roadblocks that lie in the path of that progress? The five countries within the EAC have seen many recent improvements, but have political situations and governments that can not be counted as completely stable or relatively not corrupt. International infrastructure projects will rely heavily on cross border cooperation and could easily be interrupted by political instability or disagreement by incoming government on financial burden sharing within the EAC. Stability in the sub-region will also play a determining factor in the other areas that he mentions as strategically positive within the EAC such as international tourism and investment. The military cooperation within the sub-region would be a positive step, but could also be seen as fragile due to the civil-military relations considerations within some of the countries. These are not challenges that cannot be overcome and the EAC may actually prove to be a positive institution for joint cooperation in dealing with some of the challenges to stability faced by its members. However, as Dr. Mubangizi uses the European Union for comparison of the benefits that closer economic and political union can bring, it would serve well to note the many varied difficulties that the EU encounters at an increasing pace dealing with their economic and political cooperation and also that these major issues arise despite the members of the EU having much longer experiences with degrees of political stability that have not been present in the member countries of the EAC. I think the EAC does offer plenty of potential for the sub-region and its further integration should be viewed quite positively, but I would be cautious about the tendency of such great potential to be partially blinding to the not completely stable nature of the sub-region and the negative effects that instability could play on that potential.

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Sudan’s Regional Exclusion: An institutional Problem in Darfur causes Violence

The displacement of 50,000 people in Sudan’s Darfur region since February has left the international community concerned about a resurgence in violence between the government and rebel forces. Since the rebels have taken up arms in 2003, an estimated 2 million people have been displaced. To account for this, there are three major components to the violence and each of them contributes to our understanding of the conflict. There is the International Criminal Court’s (ICC) warrant for the arrest of Sudan’s president Omar Al Bashir on legitimate claims of genocide in Darfur. Likewise, we also have to take into account the existence of the rebels and their grievances and finally there are structural challenges that leave the government unable to possess a monopoly over the use of force within its borders.

The exclusionary politics of Omar Al Bashir was met in 2003 with rebels taking up arms against the government. Since then, many have died and even more have fled for their lives. The exclusive nature of politics, redistribution and representation is reason enough for rebels to demand these things as well as autonomy for their region. The president, a foremost expert in repression and in the avoidance of international norms and human rights, has a strong military grip on the country and uses it at will. This has generated hatred not only in the country but also internationally. Hatred however, is not a sufficient condition for the international community to take serious action. The international community is well aware of the track record of Omar Al Bashir and through the ICC has issued warrants of arrest on multiple occasions.

The failure of the ICC to follow through with its warrants, have been a result of the conditions and rules by which they operate. The ICC does not have its own army to go and make arrests for example because of breaches of sovereignty that it would cause. In the same way, the institutional frameworks for citizens in Darfur to effectively express their grievances are highly lacking. In this respect, it is justifiable to have rebels because violence, if used correctly, guarantees a seat at the negotiation tables as recently proven by the SPLA/M of South Sudan in attaining their own nation. This may not always be the goal, but regardless of what it is, the institutional constraints of the ICC and the lack of a strong institutional framework in Darfur and Sudan in general in detaining Bashir for the former and expression for the latter are leaving the country at a huge disadvantage. It would be advantageous for Sudan to spread mechanisms for democratic institutions; something that is very lacking.

The International Community namely the United Nations Secretary General,Ban Kai moon, recently said that he was deeply concerned with escalating violence in the Darfur region. This is by and large a common type of response from international actors to apply pressure but not to act beyond that. Important actors like the US have expressed interest in allowing people to determine their own future within their country and this will continue to be the stance of the international system unless there are deeper interests at stake like economics or regional instability. regardless of where the impetus will come from, whether internally driven or external there is the need to create stronger institutional structures within which all actors (rebels, government, the IC) can operate within Sudan. 

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Colonial Guilt?

Francophone Africa

The last French colony in Africa to achieve Independence was the former French Somaliland, now known as Djibouti, in 1977. Post-colonial French/African relations had begun to normalize after the end of Françafrique Policy in the 1990s. However, in the last few years, there has been a sudden resurgence of French involvement in Africa, sparking questions of French intentions. Arguably the event that set the stage for the resent spate of interventions was the failure of UN Peacekeeping Forces (some of them French) in Rwanda to prevent genocide. The counterpoint would be that the French failed to intervene in multiple genocidal situations in Africa between Rwanda and the Ivory Coast.  While not likely a causal incident, it may  certainly provide some of the impetus behind French activities.

The recent uptick in French involvement in Africa really begins with French intervention in 2011. The dominoes of the Arab Spring began ticking over quickly after that, and the opportunity to intervene on behalf of rebel forces in Libya presented itself that same year. The surge of Tuareg fighters fleeing Libya and returning to Northern Mali provided kindling for the start of a civil war in Mali, which the French responded to by sending ground troops to pacify the situation in favor of the Mali government in early 2013. France is currently reinforcing a badly under supported AU Peacekeeping Mission in the Central African Republic in an effort to prevent all out sectarian violence on a near genocidal scale. All but Libya were former colonies of the French Empire, and the manner in which the French have consistently taken the lead as part of an International coalition, or even gone in alone has begun to raise eyebrows over neo-colonial tendencies.

At the end of the day, it may be irrelevant whether or not France has increased its role in African interventions in order to protect national interests, out of humanitarian good will, out of guilt for colonial mistakes, or in the interest of restarting the exploitation of the continent in a neo-colonial fashion. The fact is, Francophone Africa is indelibly scarred with the legacy the French left behind. The key take away here is that as well intentioned as Western efforts in Africa may be, there is a significant possibility that they will not be perceived to be as innocent as intended. As Western states attempt to facilitate democracy promotion, program implementors and diplomats must be cognizant of the legacy that their state has left in the reason, and recognize that their actions will be interpreted through that lens. This does not make it impossible for Western states to do good things in the realm of democracy promotion. Rather, the implication is that we must be very careful in the way that our actions are framed, and requires a healthy dose of humility.

It is equally important, however, to be willing to engage, or re-engage the Continent, in spite of past sins. The re-engagement effort  that France has undertaken in the past few years has probably saved many lives and dramatically improved humanitarian situations in several African States. Interventions are not un-problematic, but they can have very positive outcomes if handled appropriately. Regardless of why France has re-engaged, it is probably a positive development overall, and some of the problems that many post-colonial states are tied, at least in part, to the failed policies of colonizing powers. A little guilt motivated intervention might be just what the doctor ordered.

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From “Bridging the Digital Divide” to Opening a Digital Dumping Ground: Can Democracy Rise from the Rubble?

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Electronic waste—defined by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) as “various forms of electrical and electronic equipment (EEE) that are old, end-of-life (EOL) appliances which have ceased to be of any value to their owners”— is likely to grow in volume by 1/3 before 2017. This is a rather unsettling projection, given that e-waste is already currently recognized as the fastest-growing component of the solid waste stream, with 20 to 50 million tons being generated each year.

Yet, those primarily tasked with the internalization of this adverse externality are responsible for a mere fraction of that generated. Estimates suggest that 80% of total e-waste production is contributed by the west, of which 75% is exported to developing countries. The European Union accounts for up to 47% of all electronic waste, though the rate at which such accumulates is expected to increase from 3% to 5% per year. Given the seemingly infinite expansion of waste, coupled with the finite land throughout Europe upon which to dispose of such, it may come as no surprise that Member States are—and have been—exporting this waste to regions outside their sovereign jurisdiction, namely to the former colonies that presently comprise West Africa.

Since the new millennium, Ghana has increasingly served as a primary destination within the electronic waste circuitry. In 2010 alone, 40,000 tons of electronic waste were unloaded at the port of Tema on the coast of the Gulf of Guinea. Eighty-five percent of this total—or 34,000 tons of waste—originated in Europe. The systematic principles fueling the movement of these transborder consignments beg exploration, considering that such transfers are in utter violation of the Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and Their Disposal—which both the EU and Ghana have signed and ratified. The issue of noncompliance demonstrated among these state actors has resulted in the literal “dumping” of waste upon those least equipped to manage such, much less to treat and recycle such in an environmentally responsible manner.

So what does all of this have to do with development and democratization in Africa? It is important to draw explicit attention to the fact that this waste transfer is fuelled by the concept of trade liberalization—and environmental liberalization to attract trade—which, together,  have become increasingly embraced by both the Northern and the Southern constituents of our ever-globalizing economy. The EU has established some of the strongest environmental protection measures in the world, which involve costly, complex processes to address the domestic disposal of waste. These expensive standards incentivize both state leaders and electronics manufacturers throughout EU Member States to look to those nations in which environmental regulations, and the associated expense of abiding by such, are weak or entirely absent. In this sense, our capitalist world-economy is structured in such a way that a sovereign country’s resolve to liberalize its regulatory regimes—both with regard to international trade and its intra-state environment—is an important determinant of its competitive advantage in the global marketplace.

Thus, western powers—in an effort to protect their respective economic and environmental interests—have created a system by which the Ghanaian Government is more highly incentivized to relax its regulatory standards than it is to remain accountable to the Ghanaian people.

While the EU maintains a vested economic interest in outsourcing the environmental risk of electronic waste management, the Government of Ghana perceives motivation to sacrifice its environmental integrity by preserving minimal legislation. The documentation of the trade of electronic waste is marginal, given its illicit nature. However, there is reason to believe that “importing countries receive payments from exporting countries for accepting waste material,” inducing nations such as Ghana to maintain lax environmental standards so as to appeal to exporting nations and reap the economic benefits of the electronic waste enterprise.

Ironically, it is under the banner of development that the unloading of electronic waste at the port of Tema was first justified by the EU, and the guise under which the primary loophole of the Basel Convention is systematically manipulated. In 2004, the Government of Ghana implemented a new policy to “bridge the digital divide,” eliminating the import duty on used computers. Rather than empowering Ghanaians, however, this policy has made them vulnerable to exploitation.

The Basel Convention permits the transboundary movement of hazardous materials if such are to be “reused or recovered through recycling.” Therefore, to circumvent the liability of illicit trade, EU states classify shipments of hazardous electronic waste as second-hand electronic products. Criminal enforcement at the port of departure has the capacity to detect only a fraction of illegal exports, as such requires time-consuming verification and inspection. Considering the immense volume of containers, only a minor percentage of export materials are examined and tested. Consequently, while shipments of electronic “donations,” varying between “300 to 600 40-foot-long receptacles (each with 2,390 cubic feet of storage space)” enter the port of Tema from EU Member States each month, 75% of their contents are inoperable. The alleged closing of the digital divide has, thus, led to the opening of a digital dumping ground.

However, in spite of realizing repeatedly that the vast majority of these shipments are inoperable and unusable, the Government of Ghana continues to accept such, opting not to demand that EU Member States fulfill their “duty to re-import,” and subsequently collecting the economic incentives that perpetuate lax environmental standards and welcoming ports. However, as the Ghanaian Government reaps the economic reward from this importation of waste, one community in particular is forced to suffer disproportionately.

“The site is scattered with scrap metal, engine parts, computer parts, circuit boards and tangled wires filled with valuable copper. The air is filled with smoke from the nearby burning of wires . . . Children play on the soiled ground blackened from oil and fires, while women cook food for the workers. A busy produce market is open next to the scrap metal and e-waste recycling site, the other side lined with a small, winding river, coated with industrial oils and littered with remnants of disassembled machinery” (Caravanos et al., 2011:22).

Such is the geographical landscape, spatial organization, and environmental quality characteristic of Agbogbloshie, Ghana’s largest and “most controversial” slum, and burgeoning hub of the electronic waste market. It was no accident that this community was designated to be the destination of imports when the Ghanaian Government realized that what had been deemed to be fully functional “donations,” were actually inoperative and unusable waste.

Comprised of informal settlements, Agbogbloshie is widely regarded as “a no-man’s land,” while the individuals occupying this district of Accra, for which they do not own titles, are described as “squatters” and even “invaders,” stigmatized within society and branded by media outlets as “armed robbers, prostitutes, and drug pushers.” Having established their livelihoods on land owned and controlled by the state, the approximately 79,000 inhabitants of Agbogbloshie subsist under the incessant threat of eviction, compounding the lack of stability that has compelled these individuals to enter into the electronic waste market at rates that have risen sharply since its inception in the community throughout the early years of the new millennium.

The Government of Ghana has continued to advocate a “politics of non-recognition” toward the occupants of Agbogbloshie, prompting and perpetuating a tradition of unequal development throughout Accra. This inequity is demonstrated most visibly through disparities in the spatial distribution of solid waste-collection services and waste-disposal sites, reflecting the uneven allotment of status and wealth within Ghanaian society and functioning to widen the cleavage in social justice.

The unmonitored market that is the informal electronic waste industry lacks the infrastructure necessary to dismantle and recycle the toxic components of such waste safely and sustainably, prompting “waste workers” as young as nine years old to participate in the manual disassembly of electronic commodities in order to harvest valuable metals. Extraction techniques, however, include the open air burning of wires and cables to obtain steel and copper, and open-pit acid baths, which involve the use of corrosive chemicals to melt steel and plastic casings. These practices, however, expose workers and community members alike to a host of noxious elements including, but not limited to Chlorinated Benzenes, Brominated Flame Retardants, cadmium, lead, and mercury. These contaminants are essentially omnipresent, as such pollute the atmosphere and leach into soil and lakes, resulting in the contamination of entire food chains.

The vast majority of the research conducted on this industry illustrates that the configuration of the electronic waste circuitry and the nature of market practices elicit grave implications for the exacerbation of poverty, and undermine basic human rights protection and public service provision. Given its decision to reject recognition of the residents of Agbogbloshie as legitimized citizens of the country, the Government of Ghana has excused itself from the obligatory functions that mandate the maintenance of channels for political representation. Herein lies the most paramount issue confronting the residents of Agbogbloshie. Devoid of official citizenship, and, therefore, denied a political identity as well as the right to participate within the democratic process, the individuals of this forsaken community remain utterly voiceless.

Thus, there are several power structures—both inter- and intra-national—at play that are ultimately shaping the discourse and reality surrounding the construct of electronic waste. While this waste economy booms, those participating in, and affected by, the unremitting processes of collection and disassembly necessary to elicit such activity are descending further into lives marked by unsustainability and impoverishment. Thus, if the scrap operations employed throughout the settlement of Agbogbloshie persist as they are—unmonitored, unrestricted, and unabated—the overarching result will inevitably be protracted and exponentially more pervasive poverty and political disenfranchisement. Those most vulnerable will be further stigmatized, marginalized, and, therefore, denied access to the resources, and democratic processes, necessary for further development. The unrealized capacities of this constituency will ultimately hinder sustainable and constructive productivity, thwarting the progress attained by the community of Agbogbloshie as a collective unit and reinforcing the barriers erected to inhibit the facilitation of meaningful human development and lives marked by agency, autonomy, and dignity.

It is glaringly obvious that the immediate economic reward received by the Ghanaian Government in exchange for the acceptance of such waste does not compensate for the long-term environmental costs that are simultaneously being imposed, nor for the disenfranchisement that is actively perpetuated. The channels through which Ghana has sought to develop socially and politically—those being digital technology and the information economy—have paradoxically expedited the nation’s underdevelopment—at least for those alienated to the periphery of society, beyond the purview of political participation. Thus, it would seem as though the tradition of “unequal exchange” that has been ever-present within the North-South relationship, becomes most transparent in describing the cost-benefit analysis of trade and economic integration on the one hand, and environmental governance, development, and democracy on the other.

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Freedom House Report Highlights Growing Concerns for Freedom of Expression and Association in Africa

With the recent release of its Freedom in the World 2014 report, global human rights NGO Freedom House paints an underwhelming picture for freedom and civil liberties across the world, and a blurry one in Africa. For the eighth consecutive year, the world has witnessed more declines than gains in political rights and civil liberties, with 54 countries showing declines and only 40 demonstrating improvements. At the close of 2013, Freedom House ranked 55% of the world’s countries as “non-free” or “partly free.” 

“With major democratic breakthroughs in some countries, and coups, insurgencies, and authoritarian crackdowns in others,” sub-Saharan Africa represents both the best and worst in regard to the advancement of freedom. But mostly, the news is not good. Of the ten countries receiving Freedom House’s lowest rating (7) for both political and civil liberties, half are in Africa (Sudan, Central African Republic, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, and Somalia). Over the past ten years, the number of African countries deemed “not-free” has increased by 6% (from 35% to 41%). And in the past five years, the continent has witnessed a decline in all seven categories of political and civil liberties measured by Freedom House, with the greatest decrease seen in freedom of expression and association. The latter is particularly worrisome given the significance that freedom of expression and assembly laws (FOAA) have for opposition groups, media, and civil society organizations, as well as the growing importance of civil society  for democracy across Africa

In one example, Freedom House downgraded Uganda’s political rights score from 5 to a 6, likely the result of a new law restricting freedom of expression among Ugandan opposition and civil society groups. As various human rights organizations have noted, this Public Order Management Act is weakly justified by public security concerns and goes “well beyond the restrictions permitted under international and regional human rights law(s)…” to which Uganda has committed. Uganda’s rating may decrease further with the recent adoption of the anti-homosexuality act.

Zambia also received a downgrade for increasing enforcement of a similar law. Critics argue that the country’s Public Order Act is being abused, especially by police forces, to stifle opposition groups and break up public protests.  Perhaps worse, the Zambian High Court dismissed a petition to review the law’s constitutionality last October.

And in December, the Kenyan parliament passed the Information and Communication Amendment Bill, which allows government tribunals to regulate all forms of free media and issue an unlimited number of fines against journalists and media organizations. The law was passed after Kenyan media released critical portrayals of the Kenyan Defense Forces looting at the Westgate mall shooting, and of President Kenyatta following his indictment by the ICC for crimes against humanity.

Though only anecdotal evidence is provided here, it is apparent that freedoms of expression and assembly face challenges across the African continent, even in countries where significant progress towards democratization has already been made. As Freedom House Africa director Vukasin Petrovic reminds us, “Freedom of expression, and especially a free media sector, are absolutely essential for a democracy to function.” I wholeheartedly agree. Do you?

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This isn’t about us.

Namibia: An Outlier?

Namibia: An Outlier?

When we look at the most recent Freedomhouse.org map of Sub-Saharan Africa, the Southern tip of Africa stands out as consolidated bastion of “Free” states on a continent that is almost entirely dominated by Partly Free and Not Free states. In fact, nowhere else in Africa do two states listed as “Free” share a border. One of these states, Namibia, is very young, achieving independence in 1990. Since then, Namibia has been astonishingly stable, especially given the unrest that many of the states in its neighborhood have experienced. Despite the fact that Namibian politics have been dominated by the South-West Africa People’s Organisation (SWAPO), the former rebel organization that had fought for Namibian independence from South Africa, elections have been considered free and fair. While the press is still somewhat constrained, the state is otherwise characterized by fairly strong democratic institutions. Stability has been maintained despite the ongoing effort for land reforms related to the overwhelming over representation of the white-minority as land owners.

Given the success of this young but stable democracy, two adjectives that rarely accompany one another, Namibia potentially serves as an example of how democracy development should progress. The strong democratic institutions that Namibia enjoys: a bicameral parliament, hybrid presidential/prime-minister executive, and independent courts, were established by a Constitution that was developed immediately prior to Independence. Arguably, the well developed institutions are the key to Namibia’s success. In an article that appeared today in Bloomberg, Joshua Kulantzick argues that the Obama administration, and American administrations in general, have failed to support institution building. He argues that supporting democratic big men and elections alone is insufficient to support democratic transitions in Africa, the Middle-East and elsewhere. Namibia potentially represents a case study to support Kulantzick’s argument. If he is right, this is important given the emphasis that the West has put on democracy development for normative reasons and the more salient security benefit.

As we pursue our objective of spreading democracy (and in the act hopefully creating new allies and perhaps more importantly, new trading partners in the act) it is important to remember two things. First, spreading democracy by force is probably not a good idea. Not only does the use of force to promote democracy carry with it potential normative problems, it also has numerous practical hurdles to overcome. International intervention, even when humanitarian in intent, may not produce the desired results. Second and most important though, is illuminated by a quote from Prime Minister Hage Geingob: “We are not trying to be democratic because we want to please anybody, we have struggled for this democracy.”

In all of our efforts to promote democracy, however we attempt to do that, we must recognize that our economic interests, geo-political interests, and even security interests should not be the driving force for democratization. At the end of the day, this is not about us. Democracy is, as outlined in Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address, established of the people, by the people, for the people. Whatever support we decide to lend to democratization efforts, it is worth keeping this in mind. Anything else will result in superficial changes and democratic failure.

 

 

 

 

(This article does contain links to Wikipedia.org. While this is admittedly a less than academic source. It does provide a great resource for basic knowledge though and allows the reader to quickly grasp potentially complex concepts.)

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U.S. Counterterrorism Strategies in Africa

Eric Schmitt wrote an article for the New York Times last week that was entitled, ” U.S. Takes Training Role in Africa as Threats Grow and Budgets Shrink”. In it he describes the military strategy that the U.S. is using in Africa as threats from militant Islamist groups, such as Boko Haram, are rapidly growing. He describes how the Pentagon has been using a strategy of providing training to African militaries in efforts to increase their counterterrorism capabilities while simultaneously providing public aid, such as vitamins and mosquito nets, to villagers in order to fulfill their nutrition and health needs and to foster the people’s trust in their own military as a provider. He focuses on training exercises, called Flintlock, that have been taking place since 2006 and have been recently held in Niger, which has become an important country for counterterrorism efforts due to its geographic position bordering multiple countries (Nigeria, Libya, Mali) that have seen rapidly increasing levels of violence committed by terrorist groups.

This strategy has its critics. There are those who approach the humanitarian assistance/public goods provisions with caution as they would suggest the changing of traditional military roles could lead in the long term to undermine civil-military relations and increase the tendency of the military to become more involved in politics and public affairs outside of the areas of national security. There are also critics of this approach who come from the development world who suggest that providing public goods and assistance through the military leads to a militarization and politicization of aid provision that ultimately has negative effects on relief efforts and undermines progress that is being made by some non-government organizations. A third, and much less credible in my opinion, source of criticism of these training strategies is that they serve ultimately to strengthen the military of other countries who may at present time be U.S. allies, but could in time turn to foes who would then use American supplies and training against the U.S. more effectively than would have been possible without these programs. Many of such critics would point to U.S. training that the, now Taliban, received in order to combat the Soviet forces in Afghanistan. This is not a completely fair comparison though as the training the U.S. provided in the 80s in Afghanistan was to militant groups that operated outside of government structures and not the official national military which would be more responsive to civilian control and international norms.

On the other hand, those who support this type of strategy tend to point out the need to enhance the structure and capabilities of African militaries if they are ever to have a credible chance at combating terrorism in the region without relying on foreign militaries to  do the job. Either way, those who criticize the strategy as well as those who offer support must both face the reality that the situation has changed in the U.S. and it is no longer desired or feasible in an economic or political sense to send American troops in large numbers and in active roles to areas of global conflict. After what seem to be daunting and less than optimal results in both Iraq and Afghanistan, American policy makers and those who formulate military strategy have decided that these newer means of providing support roles in an attempt to strengthen the effectiveness of local militaries to deal with threats in their countries as well as relying on U.S. allies in Europe to take on more military responsibilities in countries in Africa in which they have more influence due to colonial histories and encouraging local cooperation with the military by distributing needed aid locally are the way, at least for the time being, that the U.S. strategy is heading. It is hard to see a return to the more direct methods previously used in areas that are not of an immediate and highly credible threat to U.S. security in an atmosphere of public fatigue with large military deployments and serious fiscal concerns that demand shrinking public expenditures across the board. The new strategy will soon face more tests of its effectiveness as recent trends in increasing violence perpetuated by African militant Islamist groups continue. Hopefully, strategy formulators are correct and this new way forward will serve to combat threats in the region in a more long-term and sustainable manner while fostering lasting partnerships and relationships with the militaries of U.S. allies in the region.

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