Monday, July 9, 2012

An American Brigade Invasion

I've been wanting to write a post on Africa for sometime now. After living in Africa for two years as as a Peace Corps volunteer, I learned quite a bit about the continent. Everything I thought and had seen/read about Africa was quite different than what I expected. Probably the most striking aspect I noticed was the amount of foreigners living and/or working in Africa. For the most part I encountered Europeans who started small businesses or saw large Chinese factories at port cities. I always wondered what motivated these individuals/companies (besides money/resources) to come to Africa. I also wonder what they feel their impact is on the continent. Colonialism has had a very negative impact on Africa, and the legacy still impacts social structures in all African countries. I have yet to meet someone that disagrees with this statement.

The scramble for Africa became a way for colonial powers to strategize various locations for their gain. Many like to blame the current problems on various dictators and corruption but I argue that all of the current problems are lingering effects of colonialism. Colonial states had no interest in promoting a viable Africa. Peoples selected by colonial powers were often favored. This favoritism endures until today. Familiar relation to the ruling elite determines much of the social inequality seen in Africa. Below is a unique photo retrieved from a very cool blog:

Given this legacy of colonialism and the amount of aid centered on Africa, it is interesting that many countries are not assessing how their interventions are affecting this continent. I recently read this Al Jazeera about the U.S. sending an army brigade to Africa. See article:

This brigade will be sent around the continent. Now military intervention is another cup of tea. Given the reputation of U.S. in some areas, say the Chagos Islands, I'm a little concerned when a country sends its military to another continent, brigade or no brigade. It is claimed that these troops will be trained and sent to "participate in military exercises." These troops will be 'assisting' the forces of various countries. I also found it interesting that these troops will be sent to areas that are "perceived as threats" to the U.S. This should concern the everyone. Intervening has never gone well for the U.S. and I don't believe this is the way. All the training in the world can't help these brigades to understand ongoing conflicts in this part of the world. And furthermore, what will this lead to? As bases in other areas are closing we may very well see more popping up in the name of U.S. security. Just as colonialism has left a legacy, I wonder what impact this will have? Perhaps all the billions given to 'develop' Africa hasn't ended up in the U.S.'s favor and now they are employing a new approach. 

Africa must be strengthened from within. A this is true for all continents with legacies of colonialism. No country in the global north has the answer to the problems in the global south and nothing can make up for the years of exploitation, dehumanization and countless human rights violations.  If anything, these troops will learn this lesson.


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