In 1986 Mr Reagan welcomed Savimbi to the White House and talked of Unita winning “a victory that electrifies the world and brings great sympathy and assistance from other nations to those struggling for freedom”.

In Darfur, before we talk of genocide or terrorism, we need to look at the US role in the beginnings of state sponsored terrorism in Africa. What is below is some background necessary to understand the situation in Sudan and Darfur, and necessary for understanding many African reactions to AFRICOM. In the words of Mahmood Mamdani regarding Darfur:

We need to keep in mind . . . the history of state-sponsored terrorism in that part of Africa begins with the US providing a political umbrella to South Africa to create a state-sponsored terrorist movement in Mozambique: RENAMO. And it is after a full decade of that impunity that others learn the experience, and Charles Taylor begins it in Liberia, and the Sudanese government begins it in the south.

Mamdani tells us more about RENAMO in Good Muslim, Bad Muslim: Renamo: Africa’s First Genuine Terrorist Movement:

Renamo was created as a terrorist outfit by the Rhodesian army in the early 1970s and was patronized by the South African Defense Forces after the fall of Rhodesia in 1980 . . . it never ceased to use terror with abandon.

(The alliance of UNITA) . . . with apartheid South Africa opened it (Unita) to learning the tactics of (Renamo’s) terrorism by example. . . . In sharp contrast to its unabashed support for Unita, the US government never openly supported Renamo. But this did not rule out collaboration between the political right in the United States and representatives of Renamo: “Renamo’s Washington office shared an address with the Heritage Foundation” and by 1987, right-wing pressure “brought Senate Minority Leader Robert Dole into the pro-Renamo camp.”
. . .
(The reason for US sponsored terrorism, backing Unita in Angola, was) . . . if only the level of collateral damage could be made unacceptably high, the people would surely vote the terrorists into power as the price of peace.
. . .

Political terror had brought a kind of war never before seen in Africa. The hallmark of the terror was that it targeted civilian life: blowing up infrastructure such as bridges and power stations, destroying health and educational centers, mining paths and fields, and kidnapping civilians – particularly children – to press-gang them into recruits. Terrorism distinguished itself from guerrilla struggle by making civilians its preferred target . . . What is now termed collateral damage was not an unfortunate by-product of the war; it was the very point of terrorism.

. . .

America’s role when it came to perpetuating the reign of terror that Renamo unleashed in Mozambique and that Unita periodically resorted to in Angola was one of political support.

. . .
The Reagan administration called that embrace “constructive engagement,” . . . Without American political support, the South African government could not have continued to prop up a terrorist movement in a newly independent African country for more than a decade and done so with impunity.
(from Good Muslim, Bad Muslim by Mahmood Mamdani, pp 89-92, hardback ISBN#:0-375-42285-4)

Proponents and opponents of AFRICOM, and interested parties, need to look at this history. People in Africa have not forgotten it. Many are still living it.

Those who have positive intentions in Africa need to understand, as Mamdani also tells us:
(cached version)

. . . peace cannot be built on humanitarian intervention, which is the language of big powers. The history of colonialism should teach us that every major intervention has been justified as humanitarian, a ‘civilising mission’.