Sunday, November 15, 2009

More On The AFRICOM Debate

One of my posts regarding AFRICOM has prompted a healthy and civil discussion of the issues from readers. Let me add a thought or two:

While there have been many misguided ventures financed by the IMF and others (including the U.S.) in Africa, not all have failed. Nor have all the failures been due to the source. The U.S. is not an evil country as it is so often portrayed. Much good is done by the people, corporations, and yes, the government of the U.S. for the people of Africa and elsewhere in the world. Are U.S. aid programs perfect? Of course not. Are U.S. investments without strings? Of course not. Nor are those by China, Germany, France, or Britain. The question I would pose is, if these powers don't invest in Africa, who will? Development of third world economies, improvement of living conditions, and peace in the societies won't happen without investment and assistance.

What prompted the discussion, of course, is the growing influence of AFRICOM. Please keep in mind that AFRICOM is no more than the re-organization of existing U.S. military operations on the continent. I have very mixed feelings about the use of U.S. military assets for humanitarian purposes as I wrote when AFRICOM was announced, but would like to suggest that we look beyond the rhetoric to see what's actually happening on the ground, particularly in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

AFRICOM has offered training assistance in two key areas that would be a great help to Congo. One is in the justice system, where U.S. legal experts have provided training in the investigation and prosecution of rape and other crimes by Congolese military personnel. The other is in training programs for FARDC units designed to discourage crimes against the civilians the army is supposed to be protecting. It should be noted that both programs were conducted upon the express invitation of the Congolese government.

I don't advocate military solutions for social problems, but the transfer of knowledge is far from an invasion of sovereignty. In these instances, the U.S. provided expertise lacking in the Congo. How is that wrong?

Dave Donelson, author of Heart of Diamonds a about in the

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