July 24, 2007

More on Africa Command

Just to follow up on the long post below. Via Jim, the Center for Global Development offers even more skepticism about the newly-minted Africa Command. Key quote: "By giving the Pentagon responsibility for government-wide policy integration, AFRICOM risks undercutting U.S. public diplomacy while accentuating our image as a militaristic nation." Sure, although I'd say that understates the risks by quite a bit.

Meanwhile, a May Washington Post article raised some more mundane procedural questions concerning congressional oversight of the new command. And while the State Department will have nominal input into what AFRICOM does--to ensure the military doesn't "pursue activities that are not a core part of its mandate" or "overestimate its capabilities"--it's not clear that that will be an effective safeguard.

Update: Rob Farley has a more sympathetic take here. I should clarify that my concern isn't the fact that the military is reorganizing so that Africa gets its own combatant command--it's true, the previous haphazard setup, in which Africa was split three ways, didn't make much sense. No, my main concern is the fact that the U.S. military presence in Africa seems to be expanding quite heavily, and the Pentagon is increasingly taking over tasks that would normally be handled by the State Department or USAID.
-- Brad Plumer 10:25 AM || ||