June 30, 2007:
While the United States has been
setting up the new "Africa Command" (AFRICOM), it is finding that many African
nations are leery about getting involved. There is fear of terrorist attacks on
any AFRICOM facilities in their territory, and some African nations, at least
those run by dictators, don't want more Americans, and their democratic ideas,
upsetting the status quo.
AFRICOM is similar in organization to other
commands (Central, for the Middle East, and South, for Latin America, etc).
AFRICOM will coordinate all American military operations in African. Before,
those operations were coordinated between two commands (the one covering Europe
and the one covering Latin America). The establishment of AFRICOM means more
money for counter-terror operations in Africa, and more long range projects.
One thing most African nations do want from AFRICOM
are military and counter-terrorism trainers. The problem with this is that, the
people so trained are often then employed as enforcers for the local dictator.
Even providing training for peacekeepers can backfire, for those peacekeeping
skills can also be used to pacify your own people.
This lack of cooperation is troublesome, although
not unexpected. Many of the requests for basing rights come with large
financial incentives (rent payments, jobs for locals), and there are expected
to be takers eventually. The United States is the major provider of foreign aid
to Africa, and has been for some time. The mass media has been painting the
U.S. as Mr Evil for the last five years, especially in nations with large
Moslem populations. But eventually, reality trumps propaganda.