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American Strategy In Africa Essay

1446 words - 6 pages

In an article warning about a potential clash of civilizations, Huntington said "and possibly Africa", when listing the eight civilizations he reckoned in the world. But, if it not a civilization on itself, he never suggested to include Africa in another one. As Huntington illustrated, the United States never historically regarded Africa as serious or significant. Thus, it never set Africa as a priority of its strategy or of its foreign policy, which hindered its actions and achievements on the continent. Consequently, the US military never had a strong footprint, and never did actually well there. Until the late 60s, internal racial tensions in the United States itself simply prevented ...view middle of the document...

Second, with few contacts with indigenous people, the US military never develops proper cultural skills. Finally accepting to settle soldiers with their families among African populations, just as DoS and nonprofits do, would alleviate these flaws.

When operating abroad, especially when doing nation building, American forces are so tempted to promote American institutions and values that they actually do so or, at least, try to do so, projecting their own reality on that of foreign grounds and populations. Naturally influenced by their commendable patriotism, troops are also subject to trends of thoughts conveyed in the military and in the US population as a whole. Indeed, as pretentious as this may be, galvanized and compelled by the concept of American exceptionalism, a too large fringe of the US population argues that the United States as a nation is divinely chosen. But, such views totally misunderstand the legitimate sociological foundation of the original concept, and thus forget its essential idea. The conditions which led to the building of the United States are unlikely to repeat again. It is therefore illusory to consider reproducing political institutions mirroring those of the United States elsewhere, especially in Africa today.
Moreover, American exceptionalism, when brandished as an ideology, induces practices that can raise anti-Americanism as they already did in several places in the world. Indeed when deployed, the US military almost exclusively lives in camps, garrisons or bases, and rarely goes out, except for operational or training purposes. This is typically for security concerns. The US public opinion is wounded by, and afraid of attacks against military facilities, persons and interests. Comprehensible in situations and in regions of conflict, this behavior is less admitted in peaceful environments and therefore often not well perceived, and considered by native populations as an attitude of Americans.
Additionally, local people do not benefit directly from US presence. Not only cannot the troops wander out, but the products required for US facilities are largely brought from America. If they are yet occasionally bought locally, their acquisition follows processes similar to those in the US, which regrettably favor large businesses and corporations, to the detriment of local stores, retailers, and consequently individuals.
Repeatedly, this further adds to local crawling bribery practices. US financial aid goes largely to local government funds and, if not distributed directly to populations, rarely reaches them. The United States is admittedly not responsible for such flaws, but, if it does not nurture the problem, at least does it contribute to increase inequalities and, consequently, tensions between poor people and ruling elites.
Altogether, these practices raise, if not characteristic anti-Americanism, at least a strong resentment from indigenous populations towards American troops. Now, in Africa, regime change...

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