The United States is better off sending funds to Africa rather than troops, to encourage participation and dialogue between the various groups, an analyst tells Press TV.
The Pentagon has set up an army brigade consisting of 3,500 combat troops to its Africa Command, to be deployed to as many as 35 African nations to train local forces.
Press TV has conducted an interview with Nii Akuetteh, an African policy analyst, from Washington, to further discuss the issue. The following is a rough transcription of the interview.
Press TV: The US is going to have a nice little proxy army in Africa. What do you make of it?
Akuetteh: Of course, two things. I am dismayed by it because, you know, increasingly militarism across Africa is not what Africa needs.
On the other hand, I am not too surprised for two reasons, because the US has had AFRICOM, a separate wing of the US army, devoted to Africa since 2008. So, it’s been there.
Then we must remember that on September 11, in Benghazi, an American ambassador was killed. In fact, it got President Obama into quite a bit of hot water, and I knew that they were going to react to that.
One of the reactions is that US didn’t have troops close by to go to the aid of the ambassador in Benghazi. If you listen carefully, we’ve seen this coming.
But what they have done, that is not what Africa needs especially to deal with issues with terrorism and extremism. Militarism is not the approach.
Press TV: Even though the US is right now saying that this Africa force is basically going to be used for the sake of combating extremism, do you think militarization of an already volatile region is the answer to this?
Akuetteh: No, I don’t at all. In fact, in both writing and talking to American officials even in the US Congress, I have stressed to them that Mali is a special case.
But for the rest of the continent, the way to fight extremism is to deepen democracy and development and reconciliation among Africa’s many different groups because if you talk and have reconciliation, and everybody has a stake in development, you are less likely to get extremism.
Mali is a special case because war has already been used to take the top 60 percent of the country, and so it’s a different issue. But even there, it’s not US troops that are needed. It is just international backing for West African troops.
Press TV: To think all the funds that will be put into training this army that they’re creating in Africa, this could be better used in countries which are going through famines, drought and diseases. Wouldn’t you agree?
Akuetteh: I agree completely. In fact, if you will forgive me, two-and-a-half years ago I wrote an essay. This is a copy of it. It was published in a magazine here making the same argument, that US funds are better used to encourage development, democracy and reconciliation.
One more quick point, even the kind of training that the US military has done, it should be training African soldiers – anybody it gives training to should appreciate civilian leadership, democracy and respect for human rights.
Many of the soldiers that have been trained don’t behave that way. Mali is a perfect example. We have a captain who has been abusing and overthrowing the government, and he was trained for several years and in several cycles by the US.
Even the military training that we’ve seen so far doesn’t quite agree. But you’re right; the money’s better spent in democracy and development.