Africom’s budget of $763 million in the coming fiscal year, compared to the Africa Bureau’s allocation of $226 million, is enabling the US military to take on roles previously played by American diplomats and civilian development experts. (from the East African)
“The US military is stepping into void created by a lack of resources for traditional development and public diplomacy,” the inspector general warns.
That finding appears to confirm charges by some independent analysts that American policy toward Africa has grown increasingly militarised in the years since the 2001 terror attacks on New York and Washington.
… the Obama administration is continuing to move in that direction, despite Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s emphasis on development issues during her recent seven-nation Africa tour.
The inspector general’s report contrasts the work of Africom’s “military information support teams” (Mist) with what it describes as the “failure” of the State Department’s 10-year-old effort to integrate public diplomacy into its operations. “Mist teams have exponentially more money to spend in a country than do embassy public affairs offices,” the report says
For more on the spending inequities the August OIG report, PDF reports:
In Somalia, for example, the Embassy had $30,000 to spend on public diplomacy while the MIST team had $600,000. Given the urgency of combating terrorism in Somalia, money was needed and the reported successes of MIST programs elsewhere served as a recommendation. Under MIST, AFRICOM inherited an established military practice of working closely with embassy public affairs officers to develop and fund effective programs.
In Somalia so far there is no evidence of any success resulting from MIST, or any other US spending. Although if one assumes the purpose of US spending and intervention is to weaken and destabilize Somalia, then the policy has been a success. Spending this money would have been the responsibility of US Ambassador to Kenya Ranneberger, who is tasked with managing Somalia relations, and who has engineered a consistently disastrous policy for Somalia, as well as damaging Kenyan democracy.
Daniel Volman writes that:
In May 2008, the United States Army War College in Carlisle, Pennsylvania, hosted “Unified Quest 2008,” … it was the first time the war games included African scenarios as part of the Pentagon’s plan to create a new military command for the continent: the Africa Command or Africom.
There were 4 scenarios gamed, including one in Somalia and one in Nigeria, about which we have some information:
… set in 2013 — which was a test of how Africom could respond to a crisis in Nigeria in which the Nigerian government is near collapse, and rival factions and rebels are fighting for control of the oil fields of the Niger Delta and vying for power in the country which is the sixth largest supplier of America’s oil imports.
As the game progressed, according to former U.S. ambassador David Lyon, it became clear that the government of Nigeria was a large part of the problem. As he put it, “we have a circle of elites [the government of Nigeria] who have seized resources and are trying to perpetuate themselves. Their interests are not exactly those of the people.”
Furthermore, according to U.S. Army Major Robert Thornton, an officer with the Joint Center for International Security Force Assistance at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, “it became apparent that it was actually green (the host nation government) which had the initiative, and that any blue [the U.S. government and its allies] actions within the frame were contingent upon what green was willing to tolerate and accommodate.”
This information should not have been a surprise to anyone with even a moderate knowledge of Nigeria. I’m sure most Nigerians could have told the wargamers this same information. I think one thing it makes clear is that diplomacy, NOT military force is what is needed now, and what will be most useful going forward. So far, despite examples such as this, or the ongoing disaster in Somalia, continually made worse by US interference, the Obama administration seems committed to the military path. And despite all the talk of cooperation and development from those promoting Africom:
… neither the commander of Africom, General William Ward, nor his deputy, Vice Admiral Robert Moeller, are under any illusions about the purpose of the new command.
Thus, when General Ward appeared before the House Armed Services Committee on March 13, 2008, he cited America’s growing dependence on African oil as a priority issue for Africom and went on to proclaim that combating terrorism would be “Africom’s number one theater-wide goal.” He barely mentioned development, humanitarian aid, peacekeeping or conflict resolution.
And in a presentation by Vice Admiral Moeller at an Africom conference held at Fort McNair on February 18, 2008 and subsequently posted on the web by the Pentagon, he declared that protecting “the free flow of natural resources from Africa to the global market” was one of Africom’s “guiding principles” and specifically cited “oil disruption,” “terrorism,” and the “growing influence” of China as major “challenges” to U.S. interests in Africa.
So far President Obama, rather than seeking the civil and diplomatic route, has decided:
… to expand the operations of Africom throughout the continent. He has proposed a budget for financial year 2010 that will provide increased security assistance to repressive and undemocratic governments in resource-rich countries like Nigeria, Niger, Chad, the Democratic Republic of Congo, and to countries that are key military allies of the United States like Ethiopia, Kenya, Djibouti, Rwanda and Uganda.
And he has actually chosen to escalate U.S. military intervention in Africa, most conspicuously by providing arms and training to the beleaguered Transitional Federal Government of Somalia, as part of his effort to make Africa a central battlefield in the “global war on terrorism.” So it is clearly wishful thinking to believe that his exposure to the real risks of such a strategy revealed by these hypothetical scenarios gave him a better appreciation of the risks that the strategy entails.
h/t b real of africa comments for source material