Over the past decade, Africa’s status in U.S. national security policy has risen dramatically, for three main reasons: America’s growing dependence on Africa’s oil exports, Africa’s importance as a major battlefield in America’s “Global War on Terrorism,” and Africa’s central position in the global competition between America and China for economic and political power.

As a result, U.S. military involvement in Africa has escalated significantly. The total value of U.S. security assistance to Africa has risen from about $100 million each year, to an annual level of about $800 million. And the United States has created AFRICOM, a new independent military command for Africa that became operational on October 1, 2008. AFRICOM now oversees all U.S. military activities on the continent, including arms sales, military training, military exercises, naval operations in the oil-rich Gulf of Guinea, and air raids. AFRICOM has overseen counterinsurgency operations in the Sahara and, through the Horn of Africa Joint Task Force, air raids on alleged terrorists.

Our primary concern as organizations promoting peace, development, and justice in Africa lies in the projected structure and mandate of AFRICOM. We are concerned that U.S.-Africa policy will be driven by military engagement, rather than diplomacy, development, and a genuine partnership. The Obama administration is following an approach to Africa that is more focused on security and resources than on developing Africa’s economies. This could lead to further instability and insecurity throughout the continent.

We urge President Obama to abandon the path marked out by the Bush administration and chart a new path based on a multilateral partnership with Africa, as well as with other countries that have a stake in the continent (including China and India), to promote sustainable economic development, renewable energy creation,democracy, and human rights on the continent.

This booklet was created by the Foreign Policy In Focus (FPIF) project of the Institute for Policy Studies. Content was provided by FPIF, Africa Action, TransAfrica Forum, African Faith and Justice network, American Friends Service Committee, Mennonite Service Committee, Africa Security Research Institute, Health GAP, Global Aids Alliance, Friends of the Congo, African Alliance for the 21st Century, African Network for African Development, Sustainable Energy and Economy Network project of the Institute for Policy Studies, Jubilee USA, Association of Concerned Africa Scholars, Third World Networks-Africa, Integrated Social Development Ghana (ISODEC), and Blackcommentator.com.

Get more news like this, directly in your inbox.

Subscribe to our newsletter.