U.S. Media Renew Interest In African Affairs

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Written by Kevin Mwanza

From DW via AllAfrica

U.S. media are increasingly reporting on and debating their country’s presence in Africa. How strong should it be? Is its purpose to bring stability to crisis regions or rather to counter Chinese activity?

In mid-March 2014 President Obama gave orders for a remarkable expansion of the US military presence in Uganda. The 100 soldiers of a special unit would be joined by a further 150. For the first time, planes would also be dispatched. The troops would be used to help Uganda’s government to track down warlord Joseph Kony, leader of the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA). The soldiers wear battledress but may only fight in self-defense.

Is this beefing up just the latest step in a massive expansion of the US military presence in Africa as US media are speculating? Online magazine “Mother Jones” sees a general increase in US operations in Africa. It reports there were 546 examples of military ‘activity’ in 2013, attributing this information to General David Rodriguez, commander of the United States Africa Command (AFRICOM) based in the German city of Stuttgart.

US making ‘more aggressive effort’

Rudy deLeon of the Washington-based American Center for Progress confirms that US activity in Africa has been stepped up. “We are seeing a more aggressive effort in what we call building partnership capacity,” he said in an interview with DW.

The purpose of this, he said, is to “help local militaries to build up their capabilities for self defense, respect for democratic institutions and respect for the rule of law.”

According to the Los Angeles Times, more than 5,000 US soldiers are currently deployed in 38 African states, including Somalia, Libya and Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

There is no doubt that Africa is attracting greater interest in US politics. For a long time the continent was seen only as a source of armed conflicts, disasters and famines. The political class recalls the 1994 genocide in Rwanda. Former president Bill Clinton has described his failure to act then as his greatest mistake.

Read more at AllAfrica