African Loft has posed a question “Does Africa need Africom” and invited readers to join in a debate. Here’s my $1.
The question should not be whether Africa NEEDS Africom but why the US believes it NEEDS to have a military presence in Africa. We should be asking ourselves the following questions. Why does the US feels it needs a military presence in Africa? What will the US military presence consist of in terms of military hardware and numbers of personnel? How does the US intend to operate and in what circumstances will it’s forces be mobilized? In what way will the US military presence dictate or determine the price of Africa’s natural resources and who gets access to them? In what way will the US military presence infringe on the internal affairs of independent African countries and determine their foreign policy towards other AU members? How will the US military presence influence the foreign policy of independent African states towards non AU countries such as China? How will the US enhanced military presence infringe of the rights of African citizens? How will Africom impact on continental migration and the rights of the millions of Africans without citizenship and the rights of refugees?
With regard China’s growing presence in Africa and the accompanying Western paranoia over China in general. The US has always been at the forefront of Free Trade Agreements. Now it finds itself in $billions of dollars trade deficit with China it is crying, forgetting that China’s industrial growth and huge export market is part of the same globalisation that the US is itself the main proponent. The difference is simply that China is in the driving seat and not the US. The US has serious economic problems and high unemployment and they have to take responsibility for that rather than act out this racist paranoia against all things Chinese and blame them for everything. As for African citizens, China is doing to Africa what Europe and the US have been doing for 100s of years. Instead of joining in Western economic paranoia we should recognise this is merely an extension of colonialism / neo-colonialism and economic exploitation and deal with it as such. The US and the West have their own issues with China and to some extent this is played out on our soil. We should be seizing the time and using this as a weapon to ensure we get the best deal for our resources and citizens.
*Title changed as original previously used.