In the past several years, the United States has increased its military presence in the African continent at alarming levels. For the most part, the current U.S. military adventures in Africa have taken place quietly and without much public notice. The government justifies these actions by invoking the need to counter terrorism on the continent.
First there was AFRICOM, the U.S. Africa Command established in 2007. Although AFRICOM's headquarters are in Stuttgart, Germany, it has an operational base in Djibouti. In addition, hundreds of its military and civilian personnel are assigned in Offices of Security Cooperation and Defense Attaché in 38 African nations.
Furthermore, U.S. military secret intelligence operations continue to multiply across the continent. While many Africans have been aware of these activities for quite some time, a recent Washington Post article, which provides a detailed account of such undertakings, has brought it to the attention of many Americans. <http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/us-expands-secret-intelligence-operations-inafrica/2012/06/13/gJQAHyvAbV_story.html>
As we know from our Anabaptist teachings, military actions do not generate peace; in contrast, military actions often lead to increased insecurity. Regardless of what the government would like us to believe, U.S. military presence in Africa is harmful. For one, it sends the wrong message to the young African countries that military valor is the only way to achieve peace. This is especially damaging to the communities with high levels of armed violence, places in much need of peaceful conflict resolution.
Instead of spreading military might, U.S. engagement with Africa should be driven by diplomacy, civilian-led development and genuine partnership that benefit African people.
In addition, the U.S. government must stop the supply of arms, military training, and other security assistance to African governments and non-state actors responsible for violence against innocent civilians.
Visit <http://africa.mcc.org/> to learn more about MCC's work in Africa.