Re-evaluate U.S. policy toward Africa
September 30, 2010
The following alert is circulated by the Africa Human Security Working Group.
As the two-year anniversary of the U.S. Command for Africa (AFRICOM) approaches, the time for re-evaluating our militarized U.S. Africa policy is long overdue. Since its 2008 launch, AFRICOM has demonstrated that a military-led approach to security in Africa only serves to make things worse.
Consider the following cases:
- The army of the Transitional Federal Government in Somalia continues to receive hefty U.S. training and U.S. arms, despite documentation that TFG soldiers frequently defect to extremist groups. Furthermore, the TFG been shown to recruit and use child soldiers.
- The Rwandan national army, U.S. ally and partner in U.S. “train and equip” programs and an oft-cited example of successful military-military partnerships, faces recent allegations from the UN of human rights violations and possible genocide.
- In December 2008, the U.S. attempted a military-led resolution to the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) rebel group in central Africa. AFRICOM partnered with the Ugandan military for what was known as “Operation Lightning Thunder.” Instead of capturing rebel leaders and creating security, the operation scattered the LRA into the surrounding region and incited LRA violent retaliation against civilians.
If the above cases are not enough, the U.S. government’s own agency of oversight is unsatisfied -- the Government Accountability Office released a report this July stating that AFRICOM activities are being implemented even as the detailed supporting plans “have not yet been finalized,” mechanisms for evaluating the impact of its programs are absent, and there is no clarity amongst AFRICOM personnel how all of its funding is applied.
Is this the entity we want implementing $1.4 billion of the U.S. budget?
Instead, Congress should direct funding into programs of development and diplomacy, whereby the U.S. can support stronger institutions, infrastructure, education, health care, and other building blocks of a truly stable society. Tell Congress to take action in support of true human security across the continent of Africa.