AFRICOM is an African anomaly

Suleiman B.

From time to time since George W. Bush administration there have been outbreaks of melancholy about the US Africa Command or AFRICOM. The explanation is not hard to find: the memory of imperial order does not contrast favorably with such recent events as genocide in Rwanda, the need to check continuous civil war in the Congo, international terrorism or humanitarian intervention. US military presence in Africa, whatever lofty ideals attached to it, would remain questionable. Not to mention the predictable link between US military expansion and US oil companies. African countries are still considered ‘resource zones’. Part of the curiosity emanates from the fact that recently AFRICOM has also become instrumental in joint military exercises with some African countries, a rarity in military history in the continent. There are indications the next military exercises would be in July-August this year in Southern Africa coinciding with the political conference of the African National Congress/ANC/.

Military-engineering interaction is another attention-grabbing facet. Unless geared towards capacitating African Task Forces this is utterly counterproductive. The US has a history of using military advisers to guide and direct troops in other countries to no good end. Interestingly, the same excuses i.e. international terrorism and humanitarian aid is being used to justify these high flying entanglements. In a way the people of Africa are still being asked to embrace a US military command for reasons that are illogical, and perhaps even nonsensical. Alas, the foreign command has come to fruition at a time when Africa started to establish its own military structures. Being an aberration and massively financed it perpetuates not only a state of dependency, but a military dependency that is potentially destructive in its own right, and which facilitates foreign theft and exploitation of the very resources that are the source of Africa’s potential for political and economic redemption. For these and many other reasons, the AFRICOM concept should be called for what it is: attempt by a foreign actor to disrupt, confuse and degrade the AUs security space capability.

How many of these issues will be debated or ultimately wind up in the final resolutions of the AU and Regional Brigades is unclear. AFRICOM is an anomaly and should be treated as such. Such a ruinous advance should not be normalized. But if there are any defenders of the US military command’s continued expansion, they should immediately leap up and publicly proclaim their support. The spectacle of US military expansion must excite a desire for determined African response mechanism.

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