Cultural Revolutions

A COM For Africa

Ryan Henry, principal deputy under secretary of defense for policy, held a briefing on April 23 about the future opening of the new Africa Command (AFRICOM).  It will join other U.S. commands that coordinate military and interagency operations for the Middle East, Latin America, Europe, and the Pacific.  In her influential book The Mission, Dana Priest called the commanders of these regional headquarters “virtual proconsuls” in America’s informal global empire.  According to Henry, “The goal of AFRICOM is to support indigenous governments, not to assert U.S. primacy on the continent.”  AFRICOM will encompass 52 countries—every state on the continent except Egypt, which will stay within the Middle East’s Central Command.

According to the briefing, “Africa represents about 35 percent of the world’s land mass, about 25 percent of the world’s population . . . [which includes] 400 million Muslims, 400 million non-Muslims—very significant amount of natural resource . . . but most especially a remarkable human potential on the continent.”  Yet, organizing the new command on the basis of continental geography rather than on a political and strategic basis is problematic.  The Horn of Africa, which has been a radical Muslim hot spot, should have stayed in Central Command; the Mediterranean coastal states should have been left in the...

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