The Stars and Stripes speaks of AFRICOM having military and charity roles. Africa has already had too much of both. What Africa needs is investment and business development.

In the Senate and House hearings on AFRICOM held August 1 & 2, these questions emerged:

  • How come Congress wasn’t consulted on this? Or Africans, for that matter?
  • What if China, which now sells weapons to African nations and buys their oil, wants to set up its own Africa Command?
  • Why do the Defense Department and White House think that Africans are interested in furthering “U.S. interests” on their continent?

The first question strikes me as the most important – How come Congress wasn’t consulted on this? Or Africans, for that matter? And nobody should even need to ask the third question. Though based on Defense Department and White House behavior, I guess it needs to be asked.

No answers were forthcoming. The Defense Department is running the policy, and so far it is running it alone. This is the same outfit that has been running Iraq policy, and their record does not inspire trust. If the Defense Department did not consult in creating the command, why would it consult anyone once the command is in place.

“I read about the administration’s plans to establish a new command in the newspaper,” said Rep. Donald M. Payne, D-N.J., chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Africa and Global Health, during a hearing on AFRICOM last Thursday.

“There has been no consultation with this committee about the establishment or structure of the command. The few briefings that we have had — which by the way are not consultations — have not been particularly informative.”

Sen. Richard Lugar, R-Ind., former chairman and now ranking member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, warned that the military should not create a humanitarian-sounding command before consulting the humanitarians.