Open Letter To Mr. Paul Biya, President of Cameroon. RE: US Troops in Cameroon!

Dear Mr. President!

For the past few days, Cameroon has been trending on social media. Unfortunately, it is not because we achieved something wonderful. Rather it is because your request for US assistance in fighting Boko Haram was granted. Hence, Cameroon was trending alongside a word like Boko Haram. Imagine that!

US Troops to Cameroon

I do not know the nitty-gritty of what transpired between you and President Obama, but I do know that on Wednesday he notified the US Congress that he intends to deploy 300 troops to Cameroon to conduct intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance operations. I also saw a letter released by the White House, stating that APPROXIMATELY 90 personnel had already been deployed, and would be armed for self-defense. Now two things worried me about this letter – first, Obama is talking of troops and yet he cannot say exactly how many have already been deployed. Only 90 and it is a matter for approximation??? I hope some of them will not be forgotten behind. Oh! and that brings me to the second worrying thing – there is no time frame for this mission  because the troops will be there – “until their support is no longer needed”! If we are looking at other cases the US has been involved in as a guide, then we should be thinking of at least 10 years??? Remember they are not yet out of Afghanistan!

Also, I know it is none of my business but when an American president starts talking about self-defense, I really get worried. I know you are oblivious of anything that goes on around you (given that you have not done anything to change the deplorable situation of Cameroon for over 33 years) but I am sure you must have seen on the news that the US is one of the countries in the world with the highest number of people who shoot each other for no reason whatsoever! In fact, in 2015 alone, according to the Gun violence archives, the total number of gun-related incidents in the US was 41,433 and the number of deaths from guns was 10,448.

So permit me to ask some questions:

BUT WHY THE USA?

The statistics I just presented above are for the deaths caused by Americans on their fellow citizens and nothing has been done about it. Do you really think that if Americans do not care when fellow Americans are needlessly killed, they will care what happens to someone in Northern Cameroon? Just imagine that! You have forgotten about Northern Cameroon since you took over power, yet you want Obama who has not visited Cameroon before, to send troops to help you fight to terrorists?

Also, if I were to employ someone for a job, I will look at their CV. There is something employers talk about called ‘track record’! The US has a track record of starting wars, making existing conflicts grow worse, and looking at their CV, I don’t see any time they successfully stopped terrorists – check it out – from Afghanistan, to Iraq, Libya, Syria, Somalia, Uganda (Obama sent 100 troops in 2011 to catch Joseph Kony but they are yet to find him; and as a matter of fact, by 2014, Obama was sending in more troops)! What makes you think that Cameroon will be any different?

And by the way, Boko Haram started in Nigeria, why did Obama not agree to help Nigeria fight them? We all know that the best way to solve a problem is to go to the source! How do you think fighting Boko Haram only in Cameroon and its environs will stop them completely?

WHAT HAVE YOU BEEN DOING ALL THIS WHILE?

Now enough about what the US can or cannot do, let us focus on you! What have you been doing for 33 years that you cannot even protect the territorial integrity of your country? As I was growing up, the image I had of you was that of a man who had a lion by his face depicting courage. In fact I remember you presented yourself during the 1992 presidential elections as l’homme Lion, (Lion Man) imbued with the power, courage and ability to protect Cameroon. What happened to that courage? I vividly remember that I was just a young child, when you were able to declare a state of emergency over the North West Province and deployed troops to throw teargas at Cameroonians.

L’homme courage! What happened to the Battalion d’Intervention Rapide (BIR) that you have been building over the years? I thought you said they were an elite force capable of fighting terrorism within the Northern regions? Now if such an elite force that you have spent billions of CFA Francs training and equipping cannot fight Boko Haram, what is the guarantee that 300 US troops will do anything to make a difference?

NOW LET’S GET SERIOUS!

In 2011, I conducted a research in Ngaoundéré and my focus was on Regional Inequality and the role of religion in Cameroon politics. It was my working hypothesis then that if nothing was done to change the state of development of the Northern Regions of Cameroon, the religious violence (including Boko Haram insurgencies) that was already plaguing Northern Nigeria will spill over to Cameroon. So you see, I already knew that something needed to be done as early as 2011 to stop Boko Haram but you did not know. And yet, you are the Commander in chief of the Armed Forces and have the responsibility to protect the nation!

I know you must be wondering how I knew. I will try to be as brief as possible. I will take you back to Huntington (1993) who makes the strong argument that the “Clash of Civilizations” was going to be the result of the growing threat of violence arising from renewed conflicts between cultures and countries, especially those that base their traditions on religious faith and dogma. Categorising the civilisations. Huntington (1993, p.26) suggested that the world is returning to a civilisation-dominated world where future conflicts would come from clashes between “civilisations”.

The question that could be worth asking is why conflict arises? Aristotle had already opined that: “The lesser engage in factional conflict in order to be equal; those who are equal, in order to be greater” (Politics: 1302a29). And that  “as for the things over which they engage in factional conflict, these are profit and honour and their opposites….They are stirred up further by arrogance, by fear, by pre-eminence, by contempt, by disproportionate growth, by electioneering, by underestimation, by (neglect of) small things, and by dissimilarity” (Politics: 1302a33). This Aristotelian passage could be a huge pointer to the causes of conflict in Northern Cameroon given that there already are great dissimilarities in development within different regions of the country and there is disproportionate growth of Cameroon compared to other countries. This argument gains more credence because Huntington, in presenting the nature of Islam and Christianity lists five factors that have exacerbated conflict between the two religions in the late twentieth century:

  • The Muslim population growth has generated large numbers of unemployed and dissatisfied youth that become recruits to Islamic causes.
  • The recent resurgence of Islam has given Muslims a reaffirmation of the relevance of Islam compared to other religions
  • The West’s attempt to universalise values and institutions, and maintain military superiority has generated intense resentment within Muslim communities; this is a fact not limited to religion or culture but common to human nature.
  • Without the common threat of communism, the West and Islam now perceive each other as enemies.
  • Increased communication and interaction between Islam and the West has exaggerated the perceived differences between the two societies (1996, p.211).

Now as you can see Mr. President, the Boko Haram problem is has its roots more in the lack of development and employment opportunities than by an innate desire for violence or even by religion on its own. There are many other factors to consider when thinking of insurgencies like Boko Haram!

THE WAY FORWARD

I know you must already be wondering if I will suggest a way forward! Of course I am going to do just that. The first thing to do now is for you to call you buddy Obama and tell him that you are withdrawing your request for troops, because US military intervention cannot solve the terrorist crisis in Cameroon. Ask him that if he has taken over 4 years with hundreds of troops and cannot catch one man – Joseph Kony – what is the guarantee that he can deliver on Boko Haram.

Secondly, since you and I both know that you lack both the political will and ability to change the situation in Cameroon, you should step down quietly and hand over power to someone with a vision who can engineer change.

Finally, I will suggest that after your resignation, if the new president is kind enough to let you go free, take a holiday, go somewhere quiet and read some of the blog posts I have written before about your terrible lack of vision and horrible governance. At least by the time you finish, you will realise that I had no ill will towards you as a person.

OH! And one last thing, Obama will be completing his second term in office soon so you can actually ask him for an invitation to visit him. As two former presidents, you might have something in common to talk about – but please let it not be about troops to Cameroon!

I wish you the best as you think of these suggestions!

Long Live the Republic of Cameroon

REFERENCES

Aristotle, (1998) The Politics; Translated by C.D.C. Reeve, Indianapolis: Hackett Publishing,

Huntington, S. (1993). “The clash of civilizations” Foreign Affairs, 72(3):22-49.

Huntington, S. (1996).  The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of World Order. New York, NY: Simon and Schuster

Examining the Logic of the Obama ‘RED LINE’ and the Case for Military Intervention in Syria

Even if one were tempted to discard everything Plato wrote, his argument that in Hypocrisy or Diplomacy?the Ideal State, Reason should rule over Courage and Appetite, cannot be overlooked. This has been proven beyond measure over the past few days as the clouds of foreign invasion hangs over Syria, drowning the throes of the inglorious civil war that has engulfed the nation for over 2 years. Beating the drums and sounding the gongs of this war have been Western leaders, notably those of the United States, the United Kingdom and France. The high level of irrationality exhibited by some of the statements of these leaders, challenges the folly of the dark ages.

For example, how could David Cameron so boldly tell the world that there is evidence that the Syrian government has used Chemical weapons against its own people over 10 times already, presents a motion to be debated in parliament with the support of his Deputy, which claims of ‘at least 14 times’, yet fails to back this with any evidence other than what they call ‘highly sensitive intelligence’? How could Francoise Hollande make the rather strong and obviously naïve statement that France will ‘punish’ all those responsible for the attack, when he was in no way capable of telling who did it and the work of the UN Inspectors was yet to determine what substances were used and by whom and clearly oblivious of the fact that punitive action has no place in international law?

If anyone was to wonder who was playing the music to which these two stooges were dancing, then look no further than the United States of America. But the question that should be asked ab initio is: why all the flurry all of a sudden? Who is playing the music to which the USA itself is dancing?

Syrian women

At other times, it would be easy to point to Israel. This time, paradoxically, it is no other than what Paul Flynn says is a ‘foolishly drawn red line’ by

President Obama that needed to be crossed in Syria to become a catalyst for action. Paul Flynn, Labour MP for Newport West goes on to argue that the real reason “…is not because of the horror of these weapons and the horror exists – but because the American president foolishly drew a red line and because of his position now, he’s going to attack or face humiliation. That’s why we’re being drawn into war”. Why then is this ‘Red Line’ statement a catalyst for invasion?

The Obama ‘RED LINE’

At the beginning of the Syrian conflict, there was only one message from the West which they claimed was the panacea to the crises… Assad had to leave power. In fact, during the last US presidential debate, President Obama firmly asserted that “Syrians are going to have to determine their own future” and Mitt Romney twice made the point that he did not ” want to have our military involved in Syria.” Both Candidates however agreed that the US needed to “make sure they [the Syrian opposition] have the arms necessary to defend themselves [though] We do need to make sure that they don’t have arms that get into the wrong hands” said Mr. Romney and President Obama concurred “For us to get more entangled militarily in Syria is a serious step, and we have to do so making absolutely certain that we know who we are helping; that we’re not putting arms in the hands of folks who eventually could turn them against us or allies in the region.”

So arming the rebels was not debatable hence it will  be anyone’s guess how the rebels have been able to sustain their offensive till date.

The point of the Obama ‘red line’ became an area of agreement between the Vice Presidential Candidates. When Raddatz asked Paul Ryan “What happens if Assad does not fall, Congressman Ryan? What happens to the region? What happens if he hangs on? What happens if he does?”
The response was ” Then Iran keeps their greatest ally in the region. He’s a sponsor of terrorism. He’ll probably continue slaughtering his people. We and the world community will lose our credibility on this.” And then again Raddatz quizzed “So what would Romney-Ryan do about that credibility?” And came the obvious answer “Well, we agree with the same RED LINE, actually, they do on chemical weapons, but not putting American troops in, other than to secure those chemical weapons. They’re right about that.”

From the onset therefore, it has never been about the Syrian people who would die because of a chemical weapons attack, but because it will be a blow to the image of the United States and a plus for Iran if Assad did not go in the end.

President Obama in his characteristic cautious nature when it comes to interventions, had therefore laid the precedence by making the infamous statement that the only time an intervention in Syria will be indubitable would be if ‘a red line was crossed’. While many at the time questioned what the red line could signify in real terms or how it could be measured, very few, if any, questioned the possibility that the line could be crossed by the rebels.

While Carla del Ponte, a member of the U.N. Independent International Commission of Inquiry on Syria had already told Swiss TV that there was strong, though inconclusive evidence that the rebels rather than the Syrian government were using Sarin nerve gas, it was not surprising that no one felt a ‘red line’ had been crossed

Out of the blue that ‘red line’ has now been crossed because a few hundred people had joined the hundreds of thousand others who had met unprecedented death because of the civil war. Before UN inspectors had even begun their investigations, a conclusion had been drawn in Washington that it MUST have been the Syrian Regime.

While this may have come as a surprise to many, it would have been expected by those who have been following the Syrian conflict closely. 

The Syrian Conflict – How Far, So far?

One major outcome of the so-called Arab Spring, was the testing of the concept of humanitarian wars, enshrined in the notion of ‘responsibility to Protect’. Libya was the first laboratory, the rhetoric of ‘Gaddafi killing his own people’ was amplified and sold to the world. Everyone was tricked, including the United Nations which sat by and watched NATO use ‘all necessary means’ to ‘protect’ Libyans from Gaddafi. ‘All necessary means’ as ambiguous as it sounded, proved just that – equivocal at best, obscenely abstruse at worse. Libyans and their country was bombed indiscriminately, killed and maimed to ‘protect’ them from being killed by Gaddafi. After the murder of Gaddafi, Libyans were left at the mercy of armed rebels. America failed to protect her own diplomats in a Libya which had returned to the ‘state of nature’. There is no question then that they could not protect a singly Libyan. As irresponsible as the neglect of Libya was, it was not questioned by many. Emboldened by the Libyan experiment, Syria became the next in line.

The euphoria of erecting western-style democracies albeit through the use of mass revolution caught a few Syrians who were naïve enough to believe that democracy, rather than being a process, was something that could simply be uprooted and replanted. The seeds of a civil war had been planted. While Western countries quickly took to providing logistic support to rebel factions and arming them, Russia was busy fortifying the Syrian Regime. As the proxy wars were being fought, Syrians were dying in thousands and many more were becoming refugees.Syrian Children

As disunited as the rebels were, they soon made quick advance, capturing many cities including key ones like, Homs, Aleppo and Qusayr. As the rebels made rapid progress, all talk of using diplomatic means to end the conflict were quickly squashed. Many UN missions to Syria to negotiate peace ended in fiascos. As each successful mission was botched, the Syrian regime was blamed for refusing to negotiate.

By the second quarter of 2013 however, the tides began to change. The Syrian government began to gain an upper hand in the conflict, presumably with the help of Hezbollah. In the first week of June, the Syrian government gained control of Qusayr  and July, government forces had regained control of Aleppo and only the old City of Homs and a few other districts were held by the opposition.

It was becoming obvious that the government had greater chances of winning. As already discussed, An Assad victory would have serious implications:

  • First, it would be a slap to the face of the USA and a huge setback to its hegemony.
  • Secondly, It would mean another lost investment by Western powers and there will be no returns from all the arms and logistic support given to the rebels.
  • Thirdly, it would mean a major victory for Russia and China, and especially the former who would have made huge financial gains from supplying arms to the Syrian goverment
  • Fourthly, it would mean the emboldenment of Iran and the consolidation of their power in the region.

This therefore meant, Assad had to be stopped from winning at all costs. Helping the rebels had proven abortive, and another direct intervention would certainly be frowned at not only in the Middle East but also within Western countries where citizens have become war-weary.

The only remaining option was therefore for the Syrian regime to do that which they had been warned not to do – cross the red line. It therefore seemed only too convenient that Syrian forces, which were already having an upper hand in the civil war, should carry out an act which they knew would inevitably bring the biggest military in the world against them.

Simple logic would tell that the Syrian regime had no reason whatsoever to use chemical weapons, whereas, the rebels, desperate for Western intervention and banking on the Obama threat, had every motivation to use it.

English: US President Barack Obama and British...
US President Barack Obama and British Prime Minister David Cameron trade bottles of beer to settle a bet during a bilateral meeting at the G20 Summit in Toronto, Canada, Saturday, June 26, 2010. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Obama therefore, like Herod who made a promise to Herodias’ daughter and realized too late he could not back out, had to do something. Since he cannot act on his own, he needed to recruit heralds.  Remembering the gullibility of Tony Blair during the Iraqi invasion of 2003 and the role David Cameron and Nicholas Sarkozy played in Libya, Obama knew exactly who to recruit.

The British Connection and the Triumph of Reason

Obama... You deceived me!
Obama… You deceived me!

A 40-minute call to David Cameron did the trick. Mr. Cameron abandoned his holiday, rushed back and convened parliament, also cutting short their holidays. A motion was hurriedly put together, but like sweet palm wine, it was sweet to the mouth but void of substance. The British House of Commons came out on the 29th of August 2013 and showed the world that they were not only going to avoid being sucked into the folly of 2003, but that they had enough information to ask the questions that needed asking.

With a complete deconstruction of the government’s motion for a military intervention into Syria, Reason triumphed over Courage and Appetite. The historic defeat of the British government in parliament on an issue of foreign policy certainly marks a new dawn for imperialistic wars.

Conclusion

Whether the US will decide to go into Syria without the UK or not is left to be seen within the next few days. What this is going to mean for UK-US relations is still a matter of conjecture. These notwithstanding, it will go down in history that the world stood by and watched innocent children, women and men, being murdered in Syria while power-politics and proxy wars took centre stage. The UN Security Council will certainly not provide a solution as the divide that has existed over Syria will not dissolve into thin air. Of the 165 nations that signed the convention on Chemical weapons, Syria is not among (contrary to David Cameron’s postulations) meaning that the signatories of the convention do not even have the legitimacy to call Syria to order for the alleged use of chemical weapons.

While Libya has been the white elephant in the room throughout this debate, as clearly evidenced in the British Parliament where it was completely ignored and Iraq became the reference point, the failure of the Libyan intervention certainly writes a memorandum for us all.

What Comes to Mind When I think of a US President…

It seems to be just an ordinary day everywhere in the world, not least of which is the USA where people went to work as usual, and did the normal things they would do on a Tuesday. But in reality this is no ordinary Tuesday!!!

As the hours die down voters have been going out to decide who becomes the US President for the next four years. While it is now left for a few swing states to decide, the decision will boil down largely to maybe Florida and most importantly Ohio.

The outcome of the vote in Ohio will hinge on candidates’ attitude to the automakers’ bail-out in 2009. While Obama had decided that the government would allow GM and Chrysler to move into bankruptcy and provide transitional financing while both firms restructured their liabilities and returned to viability, Romney had instead gone on to write an opinion piece in the New York Times urging bankruptcy for the two car-makers, stating that he preferred them to rely on transitional financing from the private sector. Given that the automakers’ bail-out is now viewed as a success and is believed to have saved around 1 million jobs in the car industry, and most especially in the manufacturing-heavy state of Ohio, Obama can, from that policy secure re-election, which will have paid off in political as well as economic terms.

This is because as things stand, getting the 18 Electoral Votes of Ohio will see Obama easily crossing the 270 mark needed to win… the question remains however as to whether Iowa will remember the bailout and whether the Hispanics in Florida will think of the gains of Obama’s proposed immigration changes.

Whatever the outcome, whoever wins today will be a great decider on how many wars the world will have in the next four years… at least that is the one thing I remember US Presidents for – the ability to wage war, especially on Sovereign States.

US Foreign Policy: Isolationism or Strategy Change?

Introduction

Anyone who followed the three US Presidential debates (Barack Obama vs Mitt Romney) and the VP Debate (Ryan Paul Vs Joe Biden) may have noticed something I noticed in the last Presidential debate. While it was meant to be a debate on Foreign Policy, both Presidential Candidates  seemed more comfortable with ‘taking’ the debate back home to domestic discussions. This may seem unusual to those who expected to hear the candidates thrill viewers and the electorate with their policies for the next four years, but the reality is that it is far from being unusual given the recent state of US foreign policy.  Two things could be deduced from the debate

  • First, some of the US electorate are not interested in what the foreign policy of their presidents are, hence to convince the undecided voters, attention had to be drawn constantly to domestic policy.
  • Secondly, the candidates really had nothing to sell in terms of foreign policy.

In fact for the most part, both Obama and Romney were in agreement on almost every aspect of US Foreign policy – from Iraq, to Libya, to Afghanistan, Pakistan, China and Iran. The only notable difference was that while Obama thought he was doing enough and needed to sustain that (something which Republican Former Secretary of State Colin Powell agrees with), Romney thought there was need to go much further. They differed therefore only on the intensity of sanctions, the time frame for troop-withdrawals and the manner of interventions. However, whether Romney is a ‘whopper’ or not, is really of no consequence but I daresay that for him to have tagged Obama’s Middle East visit an ‘Apology tour’ means he may not be realising the changing tide of US Foreign Policy. This should not be surprising since the current policy is largely due to lessons learned from the mistakes created by people who thought like Romney.

The lessons from Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya and even Syria are enough to make any US president think twice before talking as if declaring war on the first provocation, or carrying out an outright intervention, or even challenging China is fashionable. The laid-back attitude of the USA is one that therefore makes one wonder if they will soon be reconsidering isolationism or if they are simply adopting a new strategy.

Lessons From Afghanistan…

Upon the ousting of the USSR from Afghanistan in 1979, the USA thought they had scored a major victory and surely there would have been pats on backs when the USSR finally collapsed 10 years later. But just about 11 years after the collapse of the USSR, the biggest attack on American soil in recent memory took place and is largely acclaimed to have been hatched in Afghanistan. Some may therefore wonder if it would have been better if the USSR had stayed on in Afghanistan. Without thinking, Bush went on to declare war against the Taliban – a war that has not only consumed great numbers of US and NATO troops but one that has decimated large civilian populations in both Afghanistan and Pakistan and keeps terrorising people through incessant drone attacks. Most significant to this is the fact that the 2014 deadline for withdrawal does not signal victory for the USA and her allies. A lesson must surely have been learned.

Iraq: Anything to Learn?

Iran is considered today to be a serious threat to the USA and Israel especially if they succeed in getting a nuclear weapon. In the 1980’s this same Iran was caught in a long-drawn war with Iraq, a war that ended in what can be termed an ‘uneasy understanding’ between the two countries. In 1990/91, Operation Desert Storm against Iraq weakened the country considerably, and in 2003, the invasion by George W. Bush, which led to the killing of Saddam Hussein threw the country in to complete chaos and created a power vacuum, one that is quickly being filled by Iran, especially given the withdrawal of US troops from Iraq. The US withdrew without achieving anything positive both for them and the Iraqis by the intervention. A lesson was surely learned.

Paying a New Price in Libya – Lesson for Syria?

The above two cases may have sent a warning note to the US about interfering too much, hence, when it got to Libya, they took a passive position initially and left France and the UK to take the lead. When it became very tough for NATO and the war was dragging on more than anticipated, the US had to come in, or fallout with her European allies. They did and killed Gaddafi and a puppet regime was installed. Less than a year later, on the anniversary of 9/11, the US again paid a big price. While the UK ambassador was earlier targeted, he was luckier than his US counterpart. Unfortunately, there is no one in Libya for the USA to go after directly, so the withdrawal attitude this time was to divert the cause of the attack to religious fundamentalism.

In the light of this, it is not surprising therefore that the USA has been taking a different attitude towards Syria. Though out-rightly seeking the overthrow of Al Assad, supporting rebel factions and admitting it will be a blow if Al Assad does not fall eventually, they  have been reluctant to push enough to get full scale Libya-style ‘humanitarian’ intervention. No matter how Syria plays out in the end therefore, the US will not be able to claim any direct role in its outcome. Hence, if it turns out sour, they will not be responsible, though that will mean Iran’s influence will extend to the Mediterranean. But if it turns out the way the US wants, their objective of isolating Iran will have been realised. The long and short of all this is that the USA is gradually slowing down on its role as the self-acclaimed policeman of the world.

Isolationism – Maybe Not

From George Washington’s farewell speech, to  the First World War, the USA showed great reluctance to becoming involved in European alliances and wars. Their policy of Isolationism is based on the view that America’s perspective on the world was different from that of European societies and that America could advance the cause of freedom and democracy by means other than war. This worked well until their brief involvement in WW I against the Central Powers. Their later rejection of the Treaty of Versailles and consequently never becoming a member of the League of Nations, meant that the interwar years was a quick return to isolationism. However, it is worthy of mention that US isolationism did not mean complete disengagement from the world stage. The United States continued to be a world player and to further its territorial, ideological and economic interests, particularly in the Western Hemisphere.

Coming into WW II in 1940 against Germany and Japan in 1941, seemed to have been the final blow to Isolationism, especially with the USA actively participating in the formation of the United Nations, the International Monetary Fund and the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development.  The post war Marshal Plan and the onslaught of the Cold War meant the USA had reached the point of no return – at least until events of the last decade and most importantly, the last few years.

But is the USA again going to isolationism? I really think not. The reason is simple – while the US Presidential candidates discussed different aspects of Foreign Policy, there was no direct mention of their active role in Africa, (except the moments when Romney mentioned Mali and Libya as parts of happenings in the Middle East).

Africa – Integral Part of a New Strategy?

The non-mention of Africa is no ordinary omission given that just last year President Obama deployed 100 U.S. troops to Uganda to conduct a  search for Joseph Kony, leader of the Lord’s Resistance Army in what I questioned whether it was a mission of Liberation or Reconolisation.  If that question seemed out of place then, it may not anymore given that the Army Times news service recently stated that the U.S. plans to deploy more than 3,000 soldiers to Africa in 2013.

It is therefore obvious that the US is not really thinking of Isolationism in the pre-1940 style, because, while they may have been taking a back seat attitude following recent losses and setbacks especially in the Middle East, their attitude in Africa has been one of active colonisation. This is especially when one thinks of operations such as “Cutlass Express”, the naval exercise that focused on fighting piracy in the Somali Basin region; “Africa Endeavor 2012” in Cameroon aimed at coordinating and training military communications and the Battalion Intervention Rapide in the same Cameroon (initially said to be aimed at fighting armed terrorism along the northern borders, but which has effectively become a force stationed in the Naval base of Limbe and was used to help Biya crackdown on protests in 2008 and change the constitution that helped him hold on to power)

Others such as the “Southern Accord 12” in Botswana aimed at establishing a military working relationship between southern African military forces and the U.S, and the “Western Accord 2012”  in Senegal that involved every type of military operation from fire exercises, intelligence gathering to combat marksmanship inter alia, really puts to rest any speculations that the USA is adopting any form of isolationism soon.

Since Africa was obviously the ‘elephant in the room’ during the debate, it therefore, makes one wonder what the new strategy is. Whatever it is, it is one that has this attitude of staying in the shadows and masquerading under the pretext of alliances. But if they are real strategic alliances that stand to benefit both the US and Africa, then would it  have been so conspicuously absent from a debate on Foreign Policy? Or was it – maybe not really, especially when one considers that statements like ‘I will go after China’ could only mean making Africa the battleground.

As the saying goes – ‘When two elephants fight, it is the grass that suffers’ hence AFRICOM if anything, signals danger for Africa because one cannot help but beg the question as to whose interest such a force stands to serve.