Thursday, December 6, 2007

AFRICOM's Dilemma (Strategic Studies Institute)

The US Army's Strategic Studies Institute has just published an interesting monograph on some of the challenges facing AFRICOM as it stands up. Robert Berschinski, the author of the piece, has spent a good bit of time in Africa and talks about the Global War On Terror, capacity building, humanitarianism and the future of US security policy in Africa.

Highlights extracted from the Summary:

"AFRICOM’s proponents claim that the
new command accurately reflects Africa’s growing
strategic importance and an enlightened U.S. foreign
policy focused on supporting “African solutions to
African problems.” Its critics allege that the command
demonstrates a self-serving American policy focused
on fighting terrorism, securing the Africa’s burgeoning
energy stocks, and countering Chinese influence."

"Indeed, much African distrust is justified. Since
September 11, 2001 (9/11), the Department of Defense’s
(DoD) most significant endeavors in Africa have been
undertaken in pursuit of narrowly conceived goals
related to the Global War on Terrorism (GWOT)."

"Though often tactically successful, these efforts—
against Algerian insurgents in North Africa and an
assortment of Islamists in Somalia—have neither
benefited American security interests nor stabilized
events in their respective regions."

"Misdirected analyses regarding
Africa’s sizable Muslim population, its overwhelming
poverty, and its numerous ungoverned spaces and
failed states further contribute to a distorted picture
of the terrorist threat emanating from the continent."

"Because of its pioneering incorporation of security,
development, and humanitarian functions into
one organization, AFRICOM may be particularly
susceptible to criticism if its sporadic “hard” operations
overshadow its “softer” initiatives."

"AFRICOM must demonstrate
its commitment to a long-term security relationship
on African terms."

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