chapter  5
20 Pages

The Performance of Civilian and Military Regimes: A Comparative Assessment

The new parliaments that have emerged in many African countries can enhance civilian control over the armed forces through parliamentary oversight. As part of the state formation process in post-colonial Africa, the military was ostensibly established as part of the state apparatus with the primary mission of defending the body politic against external aggression. To play a role in African political reform, Western powers such as the United States must hone their understanding of the forces promoting and opposing democracy. While the ability of American officials to encourage, shape, and influence the reform of African civil-military relations will be limited, with focused, well-thought-out policies and programs organized into a coherent strategy, the United States can play an important role. American decision and policymakers can frame policies that reflect a clear, historically-grounded understanding of African civil-military relations and thus slightly increase the chances that open government will be sustained.