Helpful though these efforts are in a dirt-poor country, they were also a public-relations exercise to persuade suspicious African governments to welcome America's planned Africa Command (AFRICOM), with an increased military presence on the continent, before it becomes fully operational in October. Dubbed the Africa Partnership Station, two American navy ships, the USS Fort McHenry and the twin-hulled USS Swift, are near the end of a six-month cruise that has taken in seven countries in the Gulf of Guinea (Cameroon, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, Ghana, Liberia, São Tomé and Príncipe, and Senegal) with the aim of improving maritime security as well as winning hearts and minds in this oil-rich region. (...)The article is here.
“We wouldn't be here if it wasn't in [American] interests,” acknowledges Commodore Nowell. Despite the talk of soft power and the much-vaunted humanitarian aspect of the naval presence in the Gulf of Guinea, the real emphasis is still on security. It is plainly in America's interest to help African navies and armies to stop thefts of crude oil, illegal fishing and immigration, drug trafficking and piracy. All these hurt local economies, undermine political stability and threaten to turn poor countries into failed states, such as Somalia, that may breed terrorism.
Friday, April 11, 2008
Economist on Africom
The Economist has picked up on Africom, but seems not to accept one basic premise of Africom. Namely, that American and African interests may coincide a long way when it comes to protecting globalization: