United States Africa command and human security in Africa.
Since 2005, the United States (US) has shifted its justification for the militarization of the African continent to the more humanitarian security-development discourse. This apparent paradigmatic shift presents the United States African Command as more benign than it may be. However, the response to the emergence of United States Africa Command (AFRICOM) has ranged from wholesale condemnation to selective criticism of US policy. Skeptics of AFRICOM cite previous US military forays in Africa which led to a disproportionate development of military institutions relative to instruments of civilian rule. Others see AFRICOM as a naked attempt to exert American control over Africa’s valuable natural resources (Taguem, 2010, Esterhuyse, 2008, Isike, Uzodike and Gilbert, 2008, 2009). On 11th July 2009, while addressing Ghana’s Parliament, President Barack Obama remarked that Africa is not the crude caricature of a continent at war but nonetheless, for far too many Africans, conflict is a part of life, as constant as the sun. He reiterated that America has responsibility to ameliorate the deplorable human security condition of Africans not just in words, but with support that strengthens Africans’ capacity (President Obama’s address to Ghana’s Parliament July 11, 2009). In his 2010 National Security Strategy (NNS), President Obama called for partnership with African nations as they grow their economies, and strengthen their democratic institutions and governance. In June 2012, he approved Presidential policy directives that outline his vision for sub- Saharan Africa. The stated pillars of US strategy towards Africa are to strengthen democratic institutions, to spur economic growth, trade and investment, advancement of peace and security, and the promotion of opportunities and development by promoting food security and transforming Africa’s public health system (US.Strategy toward Sub-Saharan Africa, 2012). The achievement of these stated goals is incumbent on the third goal which AFRICOM is expected to spearhead. Africans predominantly see Washington’s profession of concern for development and security as transparent cover for hegemonic assertions of “Imperialist power” (Stevenson, 2011:28). However, these debates have been based on conjectures informed by a historical review of major power involvement with Africa. There is a need to move from these conjectural debates to provide empirical details of AFRICOM activities and their consequences for human security in Africa. This study therefore contributes to this debate by investigating AFRICOM’s activities since its formation in 2007. The series of activities by AFRICOM on the continent and its intervention in security situations in Libya, Mali, Nigeria and Somalia makes this study very promising in light of the study’s engagement with the strategic possibilities of AFRICOM through a critical review of the objective security conditions in Africa within a changing global security context. The research identifies the nexus between AFRICOM and human security in Africa. By doing so, it articulates the security concerns of African States and contributes to discussions on, and practices of, alternative ways of providing human security to African people(s). This study argues that the lopsided power relationship between the United States of America and Africa engendered the imposition of AFRICOM on Africans without due consultation with the African Union (AU), while the multi-faceted challenges of poverty, inter-ethnic conflicts, religious intolerance, trans-border crimes and terrorist attacks in Africa induced the US government to categorize the continent as zone of conflicts from whence threats to US stability emanate. The thesis also argues that the successful securitization of these threats by United States government engendered the creation of USAFRICOM. The study constructs the above arguments on historical, exploratory, descriptive and critical foundations. The research contains a substantial amount of fieldwork data on which it bases an empirical evaluation and analysis.
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