chapter  1
29 Pages

Introduction: AFRICOM – US strategic interests and African security DAvID J . FRANCIS

No single issue or event in the recent decades in Africa has provoked so much controversy and unified hostility and opposition as the announcement by former President George W. Bush, on 7 February 2007, of the establishment of the United Stated Africa Command (AFRICOM). The intensity and sheer scale of the unprecedented unity of opposition to AFRICOM across Africa surprised even experienced experts and pundits on Africa. Why this hostility to AFRICOM? Is the real purpose and intention of AFRICOM simply misunderstood? Are criticisms of the latest efforts by the United States to develop a consistent and longterm structural engagement with Africa by creating a new unified geographic combatant command for Africa a broader manifestation of the growing antiAmerican sentiments dominant during the Bush presidency, and partly a product of the US-led wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, as well as its Global War on Terror (GWOT)? President Bush announced the establishment of AFRICOM thus:

Today, I am pleased to announce my decision to create a Department of Defence Unified Combatant Command for Africa. I have directed the Secretary of Defence to stand up US Africa Command by the end of the fiscal year 2008. We will be consulting with African leaders to seek their thoughts on how Africa Command can respond to security challenges and opportunities in Africa. We will work closely with African partners to determine an appropriate location for the new command in Africa.1