A quote from Gandhi: “We must be the change that we want to see.”
From a street mural in Esteli Nicaragua.

Once again the US is getting it backwards. The neocons running US foreign policy like to think the end justifies the means. When people say the end justifies the means, they miss the point entirely.

The means you use determine the ends you get. Military means beget military ends, diplomatic means beget diplomatic ends, violent means beget violent ends, democratic means beget democratic ends. There are a few exceptions, but if you base your planning on assuming you will be the exception, it is the same as basing your financial planning on assuming you will win the lottery.

UPI reports that Africom is seeking 25 percent of the billets in the new command to be filled by the departments of State, Agriculture, Commerce, Health and Human Services and other agencies. Those agencies, who have generally seen their budgets slashed, are not eager to anti up. Why should they turn over scarce resources to the Pentagon whose budget is gargantuan in comparison to theirs? Supposedly:


AFRICOM will be untraditional in that its staff will focus not on preparations for military action in Africa but instead on stabilizing governments, training their militaries, encouraging their economies and helping governments address destabilizing problems like AIDS and famine. AFRICOM’s aim is less to be prepared for military conflict than it is to avert the possibility of it.


Recent actions against the government of Somalia and Somali citizens
, and the alliance with Nguema in Equatorial Guinea, put the lie to these claims of helpful intentions.

Army Gen. Bantz Craddock, EUCOM commander appears to understand what is needed. As a member of the US armed forces, I am sure he is doing his best to fulfill his mission. Unfortunately, the mission itself is flawed. As he says:


“Very few (of Africa’s) challenges can be solved by the department of the military,” Craddock told reporters Friday. “It’s Health and Human Services, Commerce, Department of Justice, Energy, Agriculture.



Diplomatic and technical problems need to be addressed with diplomacy and technology. If the US wants to address the real challenges in Africa, it needs to do so with skilled diplomacy, working through the State Department, allied with other departments of the US government who can bring their expertise. The US must show by example it believes in what it preaches. Military assitance yields militarized results.

One way to understand Gandhi’s words is that in order to effect change, one must assume the nature of the change one wishes to effect. In other words, the word justify is irrelevant, the means determine the ends.