November 17, 2014

The Myth of the Militarization of America's Africa Policy

Featuring Alice Hunt Friend

After almost fifteen years of unprecedented political stabilization and economic development in Africa, the ravages of Ebola and a spike in military coups in places like Burkina Faso and Mali are ominous signs of a continent backsliding under the weight of corruption and political conflict. Pundits and reporters in the United States are framing these events with concerns about the “militarization” of U.S. Africa policy. But the modest level of American security assistance in Africa is not to blame for recent developments in West Africa. If we learn anything from recent civil-military conflicts, it should be that Africa needs more U.S. security assistance, not less.

Since the 2008 establishment of the U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM), alarmist voices have spun a popular narrative that the United States is blanketing Africa with military forces, and soon security activities will eclipse economic, development and humanitarian investments. This narrative also expresses concern that partner capacity-building efforts on the continent will overstrengthen military institutions, empowering them to play a dominant role in national-level politics.

Read the full piece at The National Interest.