Here is the official word from the AFRICOM blog on the current annual joint African Endeavor exercise in West Africa, along with a good comment from David Aronson to the effect that these things make conceptual sense to build the security capacity of African states, but also raise concerns in terms of the potential for this capacity to benefit repressive regimes.
It seems that in the U.S. most people who pay attention to things are asking what then is new in the “New Policy” on Sub-Saharan Africa from the White House last week. Rhetorically the prioritization on democracy has been there–the question is what concrete steps we are willing to take to do a better job in practice of balancing competing priorities. The policy announcement speaks to the concerns raised in my last post, but in generalities.
Ultimately, democratic transition involves risk and uncertainty–something different than “security”. Local perspective is necessary. In Kenya, for instance, we have seen the al-Qaeda-related Embassy bombing and other acts of terrorism; nonetheless, Kenyans can only dream of the day when poor performance by their own government is not vastly more dangerous than the terrorists. Even with the current war in Somalia the regular stream of explosions killing Kenyans week in and week out are road accidents.
- Ham: Africa Presents Opportunity, Challenges (defense.gov)
- Democracy and Competing Objectives: “We need you to back us up” (africommons.com)