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Huanqiu, China

The Motivation Behind US
Military Expansion in Africa

By Zefei Wang

The U.S. is deliberately exaggerating the danger of terrorism in Africa, magnifying and aggravating indigenous problems in order to increase its control over the continent while using terrorism as an excuse.

Translated By Stefanie Zhou

1 January 2013

Edited by Hana Livingston

China - Huanqiu - Original Article (Chinese)

The U.S. plans to deploy 3,500 troops in Africa in 2013, to be divided and stationed throughout 35 African countries, NBC disclosed recently. Although the U.S. has repeatedly emphasized that the primary purpose of this deployment is anti-terrorism training, not military combat, the news still caused an international uproar in public opinion. Some media sources state that U.S. military involvement in Africa has entered a defining stage.

However, for those who have been watching Africa for a long time, U.S. military expansion on the continent is nothing new. The U.S. had already established headquarters in Africa as early as 2007. Despite opposition from African countries, the U.S. military advanced actively, silently and stealthily. In 2012 alone, the U.S. initiated more than ten military operations in Africa. They have already signed military agreements with over 20 African countries regarding the use of airports and ports during wartime, and they have set up drone bases in many countries.

While the U.S. is once again resorting to waving the anti-terrorism flag to “legitimize” its expanding military presence in Africa, it is finding it difficult to dispel doubts about its motivation from outside parties. Why did the U.S. “withdraw” from Africa in the 1990s, when Africa was at its most turbulent and in need of external support, and “return” to Africa now during a rare period of stability? Some regions and countries in Africa are indeed facing the threat of terrorism. In fact, the threat seems to increase with the expansion of the U.S. war on terror and the shift of its counter-terrorism strategy toward Africa. This is a something worth thinking about.

After all, the true purpose of the U.S. military’s “return” to Africa is not to fight terrorism, no more than it is to safeguard the interests of Africa. Rather it is to maintain its hegemony. South African media bluntly pointed out that the majority of extremist organizations in Africa only have local demands; they do not have a global target that would constitute a direct threat to the interests of the U.S. The U.S. is deliberately exaggerating the danger of terrorism in Africa, magnifying and aggravating indigenous problems in order to increase its control over the continent while using terrorism as an excuse.

African media also reported that recent U.S. military operations on the continent were mainly focused on the origin and expansion of supply lines for energy resources. The U.S. does not seem to be concerned about regions that are not relevant to its economic and strategic interests. The U.S. military’s “anti-terrorist” actions in Africa are selective. They only oppose “terrorism” that threatens U.S. interests; in regards to “terrorism” that is unrelated to U.S. interests, they will probably choose to be “selectively blind,” even when it results in turmoil.

In addition, the increasing influence of “emerging powers” in Africa is a major fear of the U.S. The U.S. hates and envies the flourishing development of cooperation between Africa and these emerging nations. Because it is trapped in a financial crisis, the U.S. cannot compete by increasing investment in Africa. Thus it is forced to respond to the rising influence of emerging countries in Africa with unorthodox methods. Increasing control over Africa via the military became its “trump card.”

An old Chinese proverb says, “The fear of theft is worse than the theft itself.” The evolution of the international situation in the last two years has made clear that whenever the U.S. shifts its strategic focus to a new region, restlessness follows. Whether the expanding U.S. military presence in Africa is a blessing or a curse speaks for itself.



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