There has been a widespread debate in Africa and the entire worldwith regard to the reasons behind the establishment of AFRICOM. It isclear that after the establishment of the military command towardsthe end of Bush administration, there is no African country that waswilling to host the military base and this forced the US to have themilitary command in Germany and Italy. The economic rise of china hasbeen viewed as one of the reasons as to why AFRICOM was formed. It isclear that the economy of China has been growing at a rate of 9%consistently and therefore the US views China as a threat in Africanbusiness. China has surpassed the US in doing business with Africannations and therefore the US seeks to address this through AFRICOM(Seybolt, 2008). The US also wants to divert the Africa’sdependence on Chinese military equipments.
The second reason that has been put forward with regard to theestablishment of AFRICOM by the United States is the interest of oilin African nations that has been discovered in the recent past.Research has estimated that the oil available in Africa would be thesolution to the energy problems that the United States is facing. Asa result, the administration of President Bush viewed the oil inAfrica as a strategic interest of the USA. The US’s focus and sharpinterest of oil in Africa has been exacerbated by the idea that Chinareceives a third of its oil needs from Africa (Seybolt, 2008). It istherefore clear that the establishment of AFRICOM was to facilitate acold war between America and China as they scramble for the resourcesin Africa. The third reason as to why AFRICOM was established was tofight terrorism. The military command seeks to coordinate and managethe fight on terror in African countries. America argues thatterrorist activities are capable of thriving in poor countries as itthrives in the developed countries. It is, however, clear that the USis using the war terror mantra to penetrate into African countries.
The US focuses on three D’s in its foreign policy in Africa. Thethree D’s stand for diplomacy, development and defense. It isevident that the United States has diplomatic relationships with amajority of countries in the world and therefore its foreign policytowards Africa seeks to enhance diplomatic relations with the Africancountries. It is clear that the African countries are under developedand therefore the role of the United States foreign policy in Africais to aid development of the African nations. It is clear that theUnited States has offered various forms of aid to African state suchfinancial aid to deal with malaria and HIV and Aids. Defense is yetanother aspect that the American foreign policy seeks to address inAfrica (Seybolt, 2008). Top amongst the defense elements thatAmerican foreign policy seeks to address in Africa is the issue ofterrorism. It is clear that this is a defense issue not only inAfrica, but also in the United States.
According to Adjaye (chapter 4), it is abundantly clear that most ofthe African countries have not bough the AFRICOM idea. Africancountries view the presence of AFRICOM as a way of advancing theinterests of the United States in Africa rather than helping Africannations to develop. African nations believe that the United States isfocused on oil resources in Africa and African nations have viewedthis as a neo-colonization of African states. It is also clear thatthe African leaders and nations are skeptical about the militarypresence of the United States in African nations.
According to Seybolt (chapter 13), it is clear that the Americanforeign policy in Africa has been militarized in some ways. The issueof insecurity cannot be solved by the military forces alone. Thereneed to be a proper and accountable government which is free fromcorruption that would deal with the issue security instability inAfrica. The formation of a military command for Africa by the UnitedStates is by itself a message of militarizing the foreign policy inAfrica. What African countries need is assistance to establishresponsible and stable governments that would ensure balancedallocation of resources to all parties. For instance, the issue ofterrorism in Nigeria has emanated from an incompetent government thatis unable to address the political issue and distribution of oilresources across all the parties. The military intervention of theissue in Nigeria has only escalated the problem (Seybolt, 2008). Themilitary intervention of the United States in Africa in humanitarianissue that requires management approach is inappropriate andcounter-productive. The military command has engaged in diplomacy anddevelopment agendas of the American foreign policy functions whichare meant to be carried out by humanitarians and NGOs.
Seybolt proposes various policies that the American government canapply to avoid the militarization of its foreign policy in Africa. Heproposes that the decision makers at AFRICOM should includenon-defense personnel. It is paramount to have the defense functionbeing separated from the development and diplomacy function. Themilitary command must not engage in the affairs of diplomacy ordevelopment in Africa, but should only focus on defense. Are-organization of the military command is necessary to ensure thatit does not interfere with trying to help nations in Africa enhancetheir governance. He also proposes that the American foreign policyshould be guided by the need for human security. This is linked toimproving the welfare of the people in Africa and ensuring that theylive dignified lives. This will largely reduce the militarization ofthe American foreign policy.
China has and continues to play a major role in African countries.China has been in the frontline in providing non-conditional loans toAfrican countries. China has also enhanced development in Africathrough various projects such as the construction of roads andrailways. It is also clear that China has sent over 1000 doctors andover 10000 agricultural engineers in Africa (Gilpin, 2001). China hasalso been involved in training some Africans in various fields suchas engineering and medicine. The economic interest that the UnitedStates has in Africa has been viewed as one of the causes of a coldwar between China and the US. China has become a primary competitorand it is on its way of overtaking the United States as the economicgiant in the continent. Many African countries have also turned tothe Chinese for loan and for development agendas. Malaquias (Chapter6) states that economic factors have been said to be key in thecompetition that the two countries are engaged in. Oil and naturalresources as well as market for these countries products are alsofactors that have been considered.
China’s seven’s principles of peaceful co-existence are the lackof interference on each other’s internal affairs and mutualnon-aggression between the countries. Peaceful co-existence, mutualbenefit and respect for each other’s territorial integrity andsovereignty are also part of the principles. These policies maypresent normative problems in that China offers financial and otherforms of support to countries with some questionable governments suchas south Sudan. African agencies in Africa-China relations have notbeen given sufficient attention and focus. Mohan and Lampert (2012),argue that the engagements of China in Africa has not been driven bychina alone, but African agencies outside the state elite have alsochampioned, negotiated and shaped the African-Chinese engagements inAfrica. There are African agencies that have interest in the Chinesepresence in Africa since they view them as a source of cheap andexpertise labor. A good example is Angola. The long serving presidentwho is viewed as illegitimate by the international community gaveChina lucrative oil deals in exchange of recognition and approval.Nigerian manufacturers have also been cited as having been agenciesfor African-Chinese engagements. They believe that Africans benefitimmensely from cheap labor and influx of cheap quality good fromChina from the good relationship between China and African nations.
Ake (1976), states that the African political economy is largelydependent on the western countries for support. Grants, loans, aidand other forms of assistance dominate the African political economy.He asserts that the African economy is largely capitalist and the gapbetween income and production is extremely huge. Ethnic conflicts andpolitical repression are at the epicenter of development in Africannations. Countries with ethnic conflicts find it hard to developsince there is no space for investment. Resources are focused onresolving the conflicts and there is little left for development.Political repressions such as one party system in Africa hinderdevelopment. There is no second voice and the policies made aresimply implemented regardless of their shortcomings.
Nigeria’s oil producing region has had poor governance that hasled to the conflict that is witnessed today. Many people from theregion felt that they were being left out and never got enough shareof the proceeds from the oil. The people living in the areas wherethe crude oil is extracted have not had social services offered tothem by the government. Self organization and self governing havebeen applied by the communities in these regions to provide socialservices for themselves. The theories of collective action,institutional analysis and developmental framework applied directlyto these form of organizing. People come together and carry outcollective actions aimed at meeting their needs.
There has been a long time struggle for constitution reform in Kenyasince the Moi’s regime. The abolishment of the one party stateopened doors for democratic space in 1992. From since then, thepoliticians have been advocating for a constitutional change. Multiparty system allowed different voice with regard to the constitutionof Kenya which the country had adopted from the colonialists. Thepolitical economy was leaning towards a constitutional change in thecountry. The Kibaki administration was also in the frontlinechampioning for a new constitution. Although the first newconstitution was not approved by the electorates in 2005, the newconstitution proposed in 2010 was approved by majority of Kenyans.
Whitehouse (2012) asserts that strangerhood is a condition thatimmigrants into foreign countries face. An example of strangerhoodcondition is the one faced by the West African who migrated intoBrazzaville, Congo. The immigrants try to maintain their culturalvalues in the midst of a community with foreign values and beliefs.For instance, the Western Africans in Congo are mainly Muslims in acountry that is predominantly Christian (Whitehouse, 2012). He arguesthat the foreigners are treated as strangers and they are deniedvarious rights by the natives of the host country. This condition isreproduced by the host communities, as well as the immigrants. Thehosts mistreat the immigrants and view them as competitors in theeconomy and for resources. Host communities disrespect the foreignersand are uncomfortable when the foreigners show off their wealth.
Social capital, which is viewed as the economic benefit that groupsgain from the cooperation and preferential treatment of the membershas a great effect on market-dominant minorities. The foreigners orthe strangers in the host countries dominate the economy due to theunity they have and the cooperation. They have a form of unity thatthe other members of the local community do not have. Enforceabletrust is the trust that members of a community have for one another.This trust is manifested when a member lends money to another memberand trusts that the other member will return the money. This form oftrust is used as a method of approving membership. This has affectedthe market dominant minority. The foreigners, who are the minority,are able to bargain their way into the economy through unsecuredloans that they receive from the other members of their communities(Whitehouse, 2012). Dignity and honor of the members demanded thatthey be loyal to the groups and their communities. This implies thatthe members must return the money they borrow as a way of showingtheir honor and dignity.
Religion has been a key factor in the strangerhood condition.Considering that majority of the people in Congo are Christians andthe immigrants are Muslims, it is evident that this enhancedstrangerhood. The Muslim minorities were considered as strangers andtheir religion and beliefs were also viewed as foreign. Therefore, itis evident that religion was one of the key elements of strangerhood.Strangers’ code has been defined as the unwritten rules that governthe behavior of the western Africans in Congo. There are variousthings that the foreigners are forbidden from doing. The strangers’code consists of abstinence from the politics of the host country.Whitehouse warns the foreigners that involvement in the localpolitics is a taboo. It is also unacceptable for the foreigners toflaunt their wealth. This is viewed as taking advantage of the localseconomically and the locals do not approve of it. Lastly, thestrangers’ code warns that the foreign should never attempt toconvert the religious beliefs of the locals. For instance, thewestern Africans should no attempt to convert the Congolese fromChristianity to Muslim (Whitehouse, 2012). Transinationalism is afact and people interacting freely due to the high rates of migrationto various countries. However, immigrants maintain their identity inthe midst of the cultural values of the foreigners. Intergenerationaland transmissibility are aspects that Whitehouse has also touched on.He concludes that there will be the transfer of values betweengenerations from different countries.
Ake, C. (1976). Political Economy of Africa. The Journal of ModernAfrican Studies, Vol. 14, No. 1 (Mar., 1976), pp. 1-23. Pdf.
Gilpin, R. (2001). China in Africa. An AFRICOM issue. Chapter7. Pdf.
Seybolt, B. (2008). What AFRICOM says about US foreign policy.Pdf.
Whitehouse, B. (2012). Migrants and strangers in an African city:Exile, dignity, belonging. Bloomington: Indiana University Press.