Foreign Policy Blogs

America’s Africa Command

The United States is moving forward with plans to establish an Africa Command that will enable the United States to respond quickly to address strategic situations that artise on the continent, which is increasingly visible in American and global policy. The establishment of the new command, which will deal with issues such as terrorism, humanitarian crises, aid operations, and the like has been in the planning stages for a while. At the end of last year I argued that such a command could well represent a dual-edged sword:

If anything shows the low place that Africa has held in the United States, this pretty much sums it up. On the one hand, anyone concerned with Africa has to be pleased that the United States is taking the continent seriously. On the other hand, what took us so long? I realize that it has only been 65 years since America began its involvement in World War II in Africa, but it is pretty flabbergasting that it has taken us this long to make some sort of permanent military commitment to Africa and its people.
In the be careful of what you ask for category, of course, I would imagine that some in Africa might be more than a little skeptical of our newfound interest in the continent. The United States has not exactly earned the trust of most Africans, and in recent years our reputation has gotten worse. Cynical observers might be moved to wonder just how much Africans will benefit, or if this is not simply another chapter of colonialism, neocolonialism, or simply of using Africa as a pawn in western games. I am inclined to hope that this signals a recognition of Africa's long-term significance, but will keep a wary eye on things as AFRICOM develops.

My inclination is still to be wary but to hope that the American African Command will coordinate and work with Africans rather than impose American political, military, strategic, and tactical solutions.