Africa is slowly becoming a focal point in international relations. While the continent has long been the attention of aid and economic development efforts, beyond that the region has largely flown off the radar. With China emerging on the global stage and the United States slowly receding, Africa is now becoming increasingly important.
At the same time, Africa is emerging as a high-growth region. Many Asian countries have already reached a comparatively developed status, while Latin America’s growth has been somewhat stagnant in recent years.
Military presence in Africa expanding
The United States maintains only one full scale base in Africa, Camp Lemonnier in Djibouti. The United States is believed to be involved with as many as 50 other countries in Africa, mostly through providing training and other assistance. It is also believed that America could be running as many as a dozen drone bases on the continent.
While one might assume that most of the resources are concentrated in North Africa, the United States has been aggressively expanding its presence in the sub-Sahara. Most of America’s efforts on the continent focus on temporary support and military training exercises, not establishing a long term presence.
The military is also believed to be involved in direct raids on high value targets, however, suggesting that America’s War on Terror may be much larger and more widespread than most are aware of. U.S. special forces are believed to be actively involved in numerous operations across the continent, and training local special forces in numerous other operations.
Much of the focus is on hunting down radical Islamic terrorists who have taken up arms and residence in many African countries. The poor living conditions and religious tensions in many African countries have made Africa the perfect recruiting ground for the next generation of terrorists.
Could assistance backfire?
Since the infamous School of the America’s trained numerous leaders who would later go on to violate human rights across Latin America, the United States government has generally tried to tread lightly when training forces in developing countries.
Africa itself has a long history of violence and genocide. While increasing the military capabilities of countries could lead to increased stability and help countries fight against radicalized terrorists, there is also a risk that those who receive training will misuse their newfound skills.
If so, America’s efforts to train African military forces could backfire. If abuses were to occur, the United States would once again shoulder the blame for the misdeeds, which could sully its reputation across Africa and the world.