Solutions not yet sought: a human security paradigm for twenty- first-century Africa ShANNON BeeBe
A few years ago, while working as the senior Africa analyst on the US Army general staff, I was tasked by the Chief of Staff to conduct an open-ended research project exploring how Africans view security and whether our current strategic security paradigm adequately addresses the concerns of Africa. A fair question, since Africa is often considered a country rather than a continent in Western security circle parlance. Indeed, there is a reason Africa is shaped like a question mark when it comes to our understanding of what drives security in Africa. In short, although the US strategic security narrative is necessary for traditional types of threat – the primary role of the military will always be to defend and protect against all enemies, foreign and domestic – it is insufficient for addressingthesecurityconcernsofAfricans,thusmarginalizingtheinfluenceof the United States. Why is this? While US security is driven through a lens of kinetic-based threat, African security – or insecurity – is best seen as conditionsbased, falling along the strategic seams of Western security institutions. These conditions in and of themselves aren’t threats, but are best seen as creeping vulnerabilities. However, left unchecked, these vulnerabilities become increasingly interdependent, combining over time into intractable, hydra-type threats defying traditional monolithic security responses, thus creating a vortex of violence incapable of being halted without great expenditure of resources. This chapter seeks to challenge traditional thinking about what security means for Africa and explore solutions not yet sought in the form of a twenty-firstcentury human security paradigm. This will be accomplished through looking at how the United States – and by extension most of the West – has viewed security. We then transition to what Africans have said are their primary security concerns. With the imbalance between how the West has viewed security and the views on the continent, I then discuss how it might be we can bridge this gap for a more substantial partnership arriving at sustainable security arrangements: a human security paradigm. In the final section, I discuss the “what might be” should a shift towards a human security paradigm occur.