February 2012


Alassane Ouattara is the current President of Ivory Coast, selected by France and the United States on behalf of the international community, and with the assistance of U.N. mission chief to Ivory Coast Y.J. Choi, they declared Ouattara the winner of the November 2010 Ivoirian presidential election in 2011. Ouattara spent much of his career at the IMF, including serving as Deputy Managing Director of the IMF from 1994-1999.

A popular photocartoon of Ouattara as Sarkozy's puppet. I think it is appropriate here.

On Feb. 17 we heard that Alassane Ouattara Is the new Chairman Of ECOWAS. In his acceptance speech he concentrated on security issues, which works well with the the priorities of France, the US, and NATO.

The Ivorian president was elected for a single-year tenure at the 40th Ordinary Session of the Authority of Heads of State and Government of ECOWAS concluded in Abuja on Friday.

Quattara said in his acceptance speech that his administration would define common policy and combine resources to fight terrorism, piracy, banditry and proliferation of small arms and light weapons in the sub-region.

The Ivorian president also said that he would ensure the modernisation of ECOMOG to tackle security challenges.

He thanked his immediate predecessor, Jonathan, for his efforts in piloting ECOWAS in the resolution of the Ivorian political crisis and consolidation of peace and stability in other member- states.

The next summit of ECOWAS has been fixed for the Ivorian Capital, Yamussoukrou, on a date to be announced by the chairman.

At Nairaland, where the comments can be interesting, in comment #5 here, Danka7777 wrote:

Quattara – a known former IMF executive, this guy that was hand picked by the western countries to rule Ivory Coast. We are finished. Nigerians reading this, don’t take my words at face value, go and do your own research on why former President of Ivory Coast, Gbagbo was hunted and ousted from power. This guy was trying to untie Ivory Coast from the shackles of colonial France, in other words, he was trying to untie Ivorian currency from french currency. … essentially what this means is that the former colonial master(France) still controls the currency value of Ivory Coast. Gbagbo was hunted because he VOWED to untie Ivory Coast from the shackles of colonial slavery. They tell you in the mainstream media that Quattara won? Lets put this in context: how did he win? Who decides on who won elections? What constitutional body has absolute and final say on election malpractices? Is it the supreme court or electoral body? My judgement tells me its the Supreme court and most of you will agree. Who decided the election of President Goodluck Jonathan vs. Buhari few weeks ago and in the past elections, was it Supreme court or Electoral body(INEC)? Of course it was the Nigerian Supreme court. Who decided the election of Bush vs. Gore in 2000? United Supreme court did. Now, conversely, when the Ivorian Supreme court ruled that Gbagbo was the winner of the election in Ivory Coast, the western world said, No! no! no! … Who did these people think they are fooling? Like we are babies and can’t think for our selves.

IMF policies, particularly the market theology inspired SAPs, structural adjustment programs, have been responsible for the death and suffering of hundreds and thousands of people and the dismantling and destruction of vital institutions of government in many developing countries around the world. The IMF is the tool of bankers, with a banker’s view of the world. Currently we can see how harmful that can be in Greece.

I think it is important to consider this in the light of recent studies and information about the nature of global finance.

Revealed – the capitalist network that runs the world

An analysis of the relationships between 43,000 transnational corporations has identified a relatively small group of companies, mainly banks, with disproportionate power over the global economy.

The study’s assumptions have attracted some criticism, but complex systems analysts contacted by New Scientist say it is a unique effort to untangle control in the global economy. Pushing the analysis further, they say, could help to identify ways of making global capitalism more stable.

The work, to be published in PLoS One, revealed a core of 1318 companies with interlocking ownerships (see image). Each of the 1318 had ties to two or more other companies, and on average they were connected to 20. What’s more, although they represented 20 per cent of global operating revenues, the 1318 appeared to collectively own through their shares the majority of the world’s large blue chip and manufacturing firms – the “real” economy – representing a further 60 per cent of global revenues.

When the team further untangled the web of ownership, it found much of it tracked back to a “super-entity” of 147 even more tightly knit companies – all of their ownership was held by other members of the super-entity – that controlled 40 per cent of the total wealth in the network. “In effect, less than 1 per cent of the companies were able to control 40 per cent of the entire network,” says Glattfelder. Most were financial institutions. The top 20 included Barclays Bank, JPMorgan Chase & Co, and The Goldman Sachs Group.

Crucially, by identifying the architecture of global economic power, the analysis could help make it more stable. By finding the vulnerable aspects of the system, economists can suggest measures to prevent future collapses spreading through the entire economy. Glattfelder says we may need global anti-trust rules, which now exist only at national level, to limit over-connection among TNCs. Sugihara says the analysis suggests one possible solution: firms should be taxed for excess interconnectivity to discourage this risk.

the super-entity is unlikely to be the intentional result of a conspiracy to rule the world. “Such structures are common in nature,” says Sugihara.

I don’t believe much in conspiracies, eventually people talk. The more people that know a secret, the less likely it is to stay a secret. Common interests are a different matter. Individuals and groups can organize and act as powerful forces to protect their own interests without the need to conspire.

As a long term employee and official of the IMF, Ouattara is a part of the global financial structure and likely to work for its interests above the interests of Ivory Coast, West Africa, or the continent of Africa. To date he has shown no sign that his allegiances are with Ivory Coast or with Africa above the IMF, Sarkozy, France, and the bankers.

Chatham House hosted a discussion in January, Nigeria in 2012: Crises and Reforms. In it Garba Sani gave a brief history of Boko Harum that is one of the best I have seen.

View of Zuma rock from Madalla market, taken October 2008, photo from Christian Blanchard on Flickr. Madalla was a site of the 2011 Christmas day bombings by Boko Haram.

Garba Sani:

Garba took a narrower and more focussed perspective analysing the issues facing Northern Nigeria and the role of Boko Haram. From the perspective of Northern Nigerians, ever since the days of colonialism Western style education and Christianity have been imposed upon them as a package from the south. The response to this has been a resistance to Western education and the Western way of life. However, this is not simply a cultural sentiment. The civil servants and politicians produced by this system are seen conspicuously wasting money. Poor Nigerians see their politicians flying abroad, shopping in Dubai, and sending their children to expensive Western schools. Consequently people feel that the leadership is devoid of justice, and when they call for the establishment of Sharia law it is not about religious piety but reflects a desire for a more just system.

The resentment fostered among the youth of Northern Nigeria is where Boko Haram has its beginnings. Whilst Boko Haram started as a non-violent breakaway group, persecution and aggressive crack-downs from the security services brought a violent response. Boko Haram was at first a small and controllable problem, but the issue escalated in 2009 after heavy crackdowns were ordered by President Yar’Adua. The crackdown was brutal and disproportionate; around 700 innocent people were killed, some of them publicly executed on suspicions that they were member of Boko Haram.

Following the killing of their leader the movement went underground but emerged a year later with renewed attacks. Even at this point the situation was controllable, yet the government response was again heavy-handed. Local people felt more intimidated by the soldiers deployed to fight Boko Haram than they did by Boko Haram itself. This sentiment was compounded by the violent and indiscriminate responses of the security forces, which frequently caused the destruction of property and the loss of innocent lives. It is quite possible that the Boko Haram situation may have been encouraged by the Federal Government to undermine the North. The fact that the government refuses to negotiate with the group fuels these suspicions.

With regard to international actors and what helpful role they may play, the main problem is that internationally the current situation in Nigeria is seen very simplistically. It would be helpful for international actors to instead look at the problem from a local perspective. For example, calls for Sharia law and Jihad are exaggerated in the Western discourse. There is also no affiliation between Boko Haram and Al Qaeda. Rather, the statements made by Boko Haram’s leaders reflect local grievances and in this sense there is some sympathy for the group in the North. That said, Boko Haram is not representative of Islam and has been condemned by Muslims in northern Nigeria. Both the international community and the federal government should
proceed with caution – they need to understand the local nature of the problem. A good start would be to consult diasporas from the northern communities.

Following a policy of wherever there is oil we must engage terrorists, the US Dept. of Homeland Security has just issued a report that examines the threat of Boko Haram predictably simplistically.
Boko Haram: Emerging Threat to the US Homeland PDF.

The shorter version of this report is: We don’t know anything about Boko Haram but even without any evidence we think they are collaborating with al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), and al Shabaab in Somalia. This creates a huge threat to the United States. Therefore we need to crank up a massive military and diplomatic response.

Keep in mind that the US is constantly looking for terrorists to feed the anti-terrorism industry. US corporations need terrorists to justify selling their anti-terrorist products. More terrorists equals more sales. And the US Africa Command needs terrorists to justify its ongoing security activities all around the continent.

The US report does recommend consulting with the Nigerian diaspora. However judging by experience to date with expat Muslim communities in the US, and particularly the Somali community in Minnesota, consulting with the diaspora consists of spying and intimidation rather than actually listening to what the diaspora has to say.

The African Partnership station is mentioned in the report, and right on cue, the African Partnership station is back visiting Nigeria. You can view pictures of APS activities at AFRICOM Along the Coasts and In the Creeks.

The suspect in the Madalla bombing was captured by the Nigerian authorities, and then “mysteriously” escaped. As Teju Cole put it in one of his eloquently understated tweets:

@tejucole
The Madalla bombing mastermind, arrested in a state governor’s lodge, coincidentally, has escaped from jail, quite by chance.
19 Jan (2012)

This escape proved such an embarrassment that Nigeria has recaptured the suspect Kabiru Abubakar Umar Dikko, who is also known as Kabiru Sokoto. Getting caught came as a shock to Kabiru Sokoto who is quoted:

The source quoted Sokoto saying in an emotional tone: “For instance, I never for once believed I could be arrested.

“I thought I was invincible. But now I’ve realised that if I could be arrested; if Abdullahi Damasak, the spiritual adviser, could disappear (arrested), then it’s a matter of time before everyone is caught.”

Sokoto is now said to be cooperating and providing a great deal of information which is being compared to the information provided by Abdul Qaqa, captured separately, who is being interrogated about the money trail:

It would be recalled that Monday, one other chieftains of the sect, Abdul Qaqa said the group engaged in criminal activities, breaking banks and seeking for money from every available illicit sources.

He spoke on the exploits of the dreaded body and stated that though they agreed to split such monies into five, “nobody dared ask how the money was spent and nobody dared ask questions for fear of death”.

Sokoto said the members feared the leadership of the group more than the security agencies.

Sokoto is said to have provided details of the sponsors of the sect who comprise mainly politicians, traditional rulers and some influential business men.

“The man is co-operating well with us. He has said a lot, though some of the revelations he made are chilling and nerve racking. He has named some top personalities in the society as their sponsors.

“He has also named some of the bank managers who have been facilitating them to make some transactions and how they bring in their deadly weapons, including the explosives they use in their bombings.

“We have put some construction companies on surveillance and we shall screen the permits they obtained for dynamites and explosives and we shall cross-match these with the activities they had to carry out for which they applied for such explosives,”

At the moment Nigeria appears on the right track regarding Boko Haram. It is important for genuine security that Nigeria handle this internally. The more the CIA and US military Special Operations go beetling around playing at counterinsurgency, the more damage they will do to Nigeria and Nigerians.

Nigeria needs to find some way of addressing corruption, and needs to avoid heavy crackdowns on the innocent. The Occupy Nigeria protests in response to the sudden removal of the fuel subsidy may have given Nigeria a nudge in the direction of trying to do something about corruption. The Nigerian police have been trying to upgrade their image. So far that does not seem to include modifying police behavior. I haven’t read anything that indicates people believe they can trust the police more than before. Teju Cole addresses this with another relevant tweet.

@tejucole
To ensure that Nigerians see the police force in a new way, Inspector General Abubakar announced a redesign in police uniforms.
15 Feb (2012)

Kano from Dala Hill, November 2005. Recently Kano has suffered several bomb attacks by Boko Haram

[T]he United States must employ its soft power to persuade African nations to work with it. The time to do so is now, before China’s inroads in African states become insurmountable. If the United States is to secure its resource needs from Africa in the future, it must be prepared to employ all elements of hard and soft power to meet the demands of future proxy conflict on the continent.

This passage comes from the Recommendations at the end of the paper Bipolarity, Proxy Wars, and the Rise of China (PDF) by Mark O. Yeisley, Lieutenant Colonel, USAF published in Strategic Studies Quarterly. The paper lays out the expectation of increasing proxy war in Africa. He anticipates decades of proxy wars with China on the African continent, using African soldiers, over African resources.

… proxy conflicts are those in which great-power hostilities are expressed through client states rather than between great powers themselves. These proxy conflicts occur between nations that disagree over specific issues but do not wish to engage in direct conflict …

From an earlier discussion comes this definition of proxy war:

Within the military realm, the terms proxy and surrogate are largely interchangeable. … a surrogate force is defined as an organization that serves the needs or interests of a secondary actor—the sponsor—by employing military power in place of the sponsor’s own forces. Implicit within this definition is the requirement for the sponsor to fund, equip, train, or otherwise support the surrogate. (Discussed in Obama’s African Rifles – Partners/Surrogates/Proxies)

Proxy war means real death and real suffering by other than the principal parties. Here is cartoonist Amin Amir on Kenya's war against the Somali people.

In his paper Lt. Col Yeisley describes how the Soviet US bipolar power balance led to proxy war on many continents from the end of WWII until the 1990s. He points out that China is the most likely threat to current American global hegemony, and suggests that proxy wars over resources in Africa are a likely future scenario. He points out that any of the BRIC, Brazil, Russia, India, and China, states may become great powers, but China is in the lead on that road at present.

He does not discuss the fact that the new wave of proxy wars in Africa have already begun, with Libya and Somalia being two of the most obvious current examples. These wars are partly maneuvering against China, but are also simply using and exacerbating conflicts to manipulate countries for the use of their resources.

The most likely challenger to US hegemony to emerge, at least in the foreseeable future, is China. Only China is close to possessing sufficient economic might leveraged into military spending and growth to soon rival the United States. It may well become the second great-power state in a new bipolar international regime.

… While direct conflict is indeed a possibility, it remains remote. A more likely outcome is subnational conflict as the United States and China engage in proxy wars over resource access in Africa. These conflicts will place great demands on all US instruments of power as involvement in foreign internal defense, particularly counterinsurgency operations in Africa, trends upward. Bipolarity and renewed proxy conflict will require rethinking of long-term national and military strategies now focused primarily on large-scale interstate wars. This will impact defense acquisition and military doctrine as US strategic focus shifts from conventional conflict to more low-end operations.

Yeisley describes how the Cold War:

… increased the incidence of subnational proxy conflict via two complementary mechanisms. It provided the superpowers a means to achieve geostrategic goals without the risk of nuclear war while also providing groups within client states the means to achieve their goals, through violence if necessary.

What it means is that other people fight and die, real fighting, real death, so that the manipulating powers can compete and acquire without suffering at home.

Yeisley also discusses:

Why did the United States and the USSR engage in Cold War proxy conflict? Realists of the period warned against doing so—involvement in
third-world conflicts was detrimental to US interests and did not enhance the all-important balance of power
.

… impressions of power were just as important as military equality; this resulted in strategies that depended on perceptions of a balance of power as much as the balance itself. Thus, US policy treated any Soviet gains as a threat that had to be countered in a zero-sum realpolitik game.

Cold War proxy conflicts usually took the form of aid provided to either insurgent forces or to those of the state—cash transfers, provision of weapons/technology, and advisory or combat support.

The rising incidence of subnational conflict during the Cold War and its decline in the current era were thus influenced by superpower policy decisions to pursue strategic goals by proxy within client states to avoid the high costs of nuclear war.

From Yeisley’s conclusion:

It is likely China will achieve economic and then military parity with the United States in the next two decades. … But why would China’s rising necessarily lead to geostrategic competition with the United States, and where would this most likely occur? Unlike the Cold War, access to strategic resources rather than ideology would lie at the heart of future US-Sino competition, and the new “great game” will most likely be played in Africa.

Africa is home to a wealth of mineral and energy resources, much of which still remains largely unexploited. Seven African states possess huge endowments of oil, and four of these have equally substantial amounts of natural gas. Africa also enjoys large deposits of bauxite (used to make aluminum), copper, lead, nickel, zinc, and iron ore, all of which are imported and highly desired by China.

Of primary interest is open access to Africa’s significant deposits of oil and other energy resources.

Africa is thus a vital foreign interest for the Chinese and must be for the United States; access to its mineral and petroleum wealth is crucial to the survival of each. Although the US and Chinese economies are tightly interconnected, the nonrenewable nature of these assets means competition will remain a zero-sum game. Nearly all African states have been independent entities for less than 50 years; consolidating robust domestic state institutions and stable governments remains problematic. Studies have shown that weak governments are often prime targets for civil conflicts that prove costly to control. Many African nations possess both strategic resources and weak regimes, making them vulnerable to internal conflict and thus valuable candidates for assistance from China or the United States to help settle their domestic grievances. With access to African resources of vital strategic interest to each side, competition could likely occur by proxy via diplomatic, economic, or military assistance to one (or both) of the parties involved.

The asymmetric nature of future conflict over African resources means defense acquisition must therefore focus on equipping and training military as well as civilian foreign internal defense teams. Both military and civilian doctrine must be altered to allow robust and effective interagency actions to meet the challenges of proxy conflict that will span the continuum of war from security forces assistance, counterinsurgency, information, and combat operations to peace enforcement and postconflict stability efforts.

While the United States should not reduce current preparations for conventional war-fighting dominance, prudence dictates that it also prepares for future proxy conflict management in Africa.

Yeisley’s paper is not a policy document, it is more predictive analysis, as the disclaimer states:

The views and opinions expressed or implied in the SSQ are those of the authors and should not be construed as carrying the official sanction of the United States Air Force, the Department of Defense, Air Education and Training Command, Air University, or other agencies or departments of the US government.

The Pentagon is way out in front of this paper. The US Africa Command is already in place and already actively engaged in proxy war on the African continent, in Somalia, in Libya, in the Great Lakes regions, and in a less overt manner in a number of other countries. About a year ago General Hogg from AFRICOM was soliciting Ghana to participate in proxy war in Ivory Coast.

Yeisley tells us that China has 4,000 military personnel in Sudan to protect its interests in energy and mineral investments there; it also owns 40 percent of the Greater Nile Oil Production Company.

Lt. Col. Yeisley’s paper may not be a policy statement, but increased proxy war waged by the United States in Africa is already underway and already US policy.

Both African leaders and opposition groups can see what the United States is doing in both Africa and the Middle East. Many already have a gleam in their eyes aiming to be the next dictator of choice or favored freedom fighters. At the same time many Africans are profoundly offended by the manipulative violence sponsored by the US and its European allies. This was most recently expressed at the African Union summit January 2012, when Jean Ping failed to secure the necessary 2/3 votes to continue as AU Commission Chairperson, even after his opposition withdrew from the contest. Delegates were particularly troubled by his role in the Libya debacle and many saw him as a tool of French policy.

Sudan, its oil, land, and other resources is currently a major target of the interest of the US and its Africa Command. Proxy war is being funded and underway. Regarding South Sudan, Uganda, the Eastern DRC and other countries in the Great Lakes region:

… this whole area is prime real estate where the fierce battle between China and the Americans/Europeans plays out, centered on oil and minerals, all part of the Great 21st Century African Resource War. (from Obama, the king of Africa)

Sudan has long been the focus of the United States interest. The US promoted the separation of north and south, and pushed forward the referendum that separated the two into two different countries.

President Obama would have you believe that 100 elite U.S. Special Forces soldiers are running around in the African Bush looking for what’s left of the Lord’s Resistance Army. … The real target is South Sudan, where the United States is setting the stage for an African proxy oil war with China. … The Green Berets are in central Africa to coordinate military operations by Washington’s African clients. … The United States and Europe can no longer compete economically with China in Africa, and must now resort to raw force, through African puppet armies.

Reporter Thomas C. Mountain … points out in a recent article that the United States pays the salaries of South Sudan’s army, and also pays the costs of the thousands of United Nations so-called “peacekeepers” who have been sent to South Sudan to help contain the ethnic violence. Those UN peacekeepers are mostly soldiers from Ethiopia, a U.S. client state that, along with Kenya and Uganda, is waging a proxy war under U.S. sponsorship in Somalia. The Ethiopians worked very closely with U.S. Special Forces, right down to the company level, in the 2006 invasion of Somalia.

Now, in the heart of central Africa where South Sudan, Ethiopia, Uganda, Kenya, Congo, and the Central African Republic meet – all of them U.S. client states – the U.S. needs its own Special Forces units in place to coordinate its puppet African armies, and to keep all of them focused on the larger mission … to destabilize northern Sudan and China’s oil operations, there. (from Coming Soon: Obama’s Big Move in Central Africa)

Dyncorp had a State Department contract to train the SPLA back in 2007, which may still be in effect or renewed since then. Mountain tells us, the:

US pays the salaries for the Sudan Peoples Liberation Army (SPLA, the national army of South Sudan), over $100 million in 2011 alone. Does a country really have independence when a foreign power pays its army’s salaries? Whose orders is the army really going to follow?

And now comes word that the Obama regime presently occupying the White House in the USA is planning on “selling” advanced weaponry to the SPLA. As every day hundreds of children in South Sudan die from lack of clean drinking water, food, shelter and medical care the USA’s answer is to provide jet fighters and bombers, the better to see Sudanese kill Sudanese.

What this is all about is the Sudanese oil fields in the Abeye region, basically right on the border between Sudan and South Sudan. The Sudanese oil fields are the only majority owned and controlled Chinese developed oil fields in Africa.

The “USA/UN” plan is supposed to see up to 10,000 Ethiopian military personnel under cover of a UN “peacekeeper” mandate take up stations around the Abeye oil fields, the better to one day control that oil.

The one thing that should be expected is a continuing “crisis management” policy by the USA in South Sudan, as in create a crisis and then manage the murder and mayhem the better to exploit the wealth of the land, or if necessary, at least deny it to your enemy.

US AFRICOM Commander General Carter Ham (in gray camo, next to the man in the light blue shirt) in South Sudan August 26, 2011. South Sudan officially became independent in July 2011.

Mountain also says that:

In mid 2011 South Sudanese officials were reported to have said that the USA had told them they didn’t need oil money to survive, they could depend on western aid. A fore teller of things to come?

This sounds like the message the US was telling African countries immediately post independence in the late 1950s and 1960s, shorter version: Don’t worry, you don’t need to grow your own food or produce your own goods, trust us, we’ll take care of you. We all know how well that worked. Those African leaders who tried to steer a truly independent course faced western hostility, coups, and assassination, Nkrumah, Lumumba, Sekou Toure, Amilcar Cabral, Thomas Sankara, among others.

The African continent is a big place. There is US interest in proxy conflict in a number of other locations around the continent as well. An ongoing focus of US attention is Nigeria, with its huge oil reserves. The US Department of Homeland Security just declared Nigeria’s insurgent terrorists, Boko Haram, a threat to the US homeland, Boko Haram: Emerging Threat to the US Homeland PDF. This opens the way to increased military interference (partnering) in Nigeria and its neighbors.

AFRICA ENDEAVOR 2011 NIGERIA - ABUJA, NIGERIA – Marine Forces Africa’s Sgt. Ryan Kish teaches ECOWAS Combat Forces Signal Squadron soldiers to properly set up and operate a Broadband Global Area Network (BGAN) satellite system as part of the train up to US Africa Command’s Africa Endeavor 2011 communications exercise which is taking place simultaneously in Banjul, The Gambia; ECOWAS in Abuja, Niger and the AU in Addis Abba, Ethiopia, 12 July 2011. (AFRICOM photo by Lt. Col. Steven Lamb)

You can view more pictures of AFRICOM activities all around the coasts of Africa in AFRICOM Along the Coasts and In the Creeks.

We have seen the devastation to lives, countries and economies that proxy war has created in Africa. In the beginning of this century it looked like Africa might be able to put that behind. Conflicts decreased. There was a surge in conflict in the 1990s, followed by a cessation between 2002 and 2006. With the decrease in violence, African economies began to take off. Chinese investment has been a great help, although one cannot always regard it as benign. African economies are growing a lot faster than either the United States or Europe at present. More war could put a stop to all that.

A 2007 Human Security Brief:

… describes and analyses the extraordinary, but largely unnoticed, positive change in sub-Saharan Africa’s security landscape. After a surge of conflicts in the 1990s, the number of conflicts being waged in the region more than halved between 1999 and 2006; the combat toll dropped by 98 percent.

° There has been a major decline in the scope and intensity of conflicts.
° Refugee numbers have shrunk substantially.
° The share of global humanitarian assistance going to Africa doubled between 1999 and 2006—from 23 percent to 46 percent

Between 2002 and 2006 the number of campaigns of organized violence against civilians fell by two-thirds. (Human security in Africa)

We know the effect of proxy war, of training and equipping client militaries.

From Congressional testimony by the Africa Faith and Justice Network, in July 2008:

The ‘train and equip’ idea is not new. In fact, it has a very bad history in Africa – a history that harkens back to the proxy wars of the Cold War and U.S. support for illegitimate or corrupt regimes.

In the 1980’s, the U.S. spent $500 million to train and equip Samuel Doe in Liberia. According to a report from the U.S. Army’s Strategic Studies Institute, “every armed group that plundered Liberia over the past 25 years had its core in these U.S.-trained Armed Forces of Liberia (AFL) soldiers. There is thus a fear that when the United States withdraws support for its security sector reform program and funding for the AFL, Liberia will be sitting on a time bomb; a well-trained and armed force of elite soldiers who are used to good pay and conditions of service, which may be impossible for the government of Liberia to sustain on its own.”

AFRICOM’s value as a structure for legitimizing African armies should therefore be called into serious question.

That train and equip disaster continues to play out. Former fighters who needed jobs, experienced in the brutalities of the Liberian civil war, headed to Ivory Coast after the 2011 elections to work as mercenaries in the conflict there.

Escalating proxy wars in Africa will ultimately damage the United States. Proxy war will cut the United States off from the friends and resources it badly needs. Unfortunately the US does not seem to understand how much it needs friends.

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