Aljazeera: tsunami of Chinese commerce is sparking tension and even violence in some parts of Africa

Earlier this month, Aljazeera screened a movie titled The Colony by Brent Huffman and Xiaoli Zhou. Huffman and Zhou explored the “onslaught of Chinese economic might and its impact on long-standing African traditions.” This economic colonization, hence the title of the film, is not without its pitfalls with minimal assimilation, integration, or perception of mutual benefit. As Huffman notes,

Although there is communication between the two sides at a certain level, it is rather limited. Despite various differences in language, culture, and work ethics, the Chinese are not making enough of an effort to integrate into Senegalese society.

Although the Chinese businesses have brought some benefits to the local low-income consumers, their overall presence is viewed with suspicion and hostility by many Senegalese.

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Al-Shabaab receiving support from U.S. citizens and others in the U.S.

In a press conference today, Attorney General Eric Holder announced the Justice Department unsealed four separate indictments charging 14 individuals in Minnesota, California, and Alabama with terrorism violations, including providing money, personnel, and services to the terrorist group Al-Shabaab. An indictment in Minnesota charged 10 men for leaving the U.S. to join al-Shabaab, an organization with ties to al-Qaeda, as foreign fighters. In Minnesota alone, 19 have been charged with material support of al-Shabaab. Two women, naturalized U.S. citizens and residents of Minnesota, were charged with raising money to support al-Shabaab through door-to-door solicitations and teleconferences in the Somali communities in Minneapolis, Rochester, and elsewhere in the U.S. and Canada.
Holder noted that members of the American Muslim community “have been – and continue to – strong partners in fighting this emerging threat” through denouncing terrorist acts and those who carry them out, as well as helping law enforcement disrupt plots and radicalization.

As laudable as these efforts are, they happen too late in the process of radicalization. Facts about Somalia, al-Shabaab, and the region are too often ignored by the mainstream media and largely unavailable to these communities, even those actively engaged online.

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Broadband hits Africa

From Foreign Policy, a map showing increased connectivity and the importance of investing in Information & Communication Technology for Development (ICT4D) in Africa.

As interconnectivity between African countries increases, economic benefits are expected, especially in Kenya, which has a fast developing IT sector. Other potential impacts include education and access to media.

Increased interconnectivity also means increased importance of online media.

See also this 2007 global map by Alcatel-Lucent (5.6mb PDF).

Noteworthy

“The “militarization” of diplomacy exists and is accelerating.” – A Foreign Affairs Budget for the Future: Fixing the Crisis in Diplomatic Readiness from the American Academy of Diplomacy. (see also this post)

“The trends across the board are not going in the right direction. And I would anticipate next year would be a tougher year.” – Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, Adm. Mike Mullen, The New York Times.

“The announcement last week that the United States will relocate its London embassy from Grosvenor Square, in the heart of the British capital, to an out-of-the-way spot south of the River Thames may be good news for property developers, but should concern almost everyone else. The London move is the latest and most dramatic example of a worrying trend toward vastly scaling down American public diplomacy abroad, abandoning embassies that were once beacons of American culture and openness in favour of walled suburban fortresses.” – Globe and Mail, 6 October 2008 (h/t KAE)

“The New York Times’ Web site is getting more global, and IHT.com is going bye-bye.” – Forbes, 7 October 2008 (h/t KAE)

“There was no single silver bullet, but rather a multifaceted strategy crafted and carried out by those in Baghdad — not, despite recent claims, in Washington.” – Linda Robinson in the Washington Post (see also Tom Barnett)

“Whatever the final form it takes, the establishment of Africom is a good idea whose time has come — finally. The command’s emphasis on civil-military integration and a low-key operational profile is appropriate and well suited to its mission. We should wish it well.” – Bob Killebrew, Africom Stands-Up. (see also this post)

Event: AFRICOM and Beyond: The Future of U.S.-African Security and Defense Relations

From the American Enterprise Institute:

The October 1 operational launch of U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM), on the eve of a new American presidential administration, provides an unprecedented opportunity to reshape U.S. strategy toward Africa. Significant attention has been devoted to the structure and functions of AFRICOM–and to its strategic communications challenges. Less thought, however, has been given to identifying the core security interests that should guide U.S. strategy on the continent or to defining the new kinds of partnership with a more self-assured Africa that are most likely to advance those interests.

With its capacity for political as well as military engagement and for conflict prevention as well as traditional war-fighting, AFRICOM has the potential to serve as a model for future interagency security cooperation efforts abroad. But what AFRICOM does is more important than how the command is structured. What is the strategic rationale for increased U.S. security engagement with African countries? What are the emerging threats and challenges in Africa, and how should they be addressed? AEI’s Mauro De Lorenzo and Thomas Donnelly will host two panel discussions with African security experts to answer these and other questions.

When: Wednesday, October 1, 2008  10:30 AM – 1:30 PM

Where: Wohlstetter Conference Center, Twelfth Floor, AEI
1150 Seventeenth Street, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20036

Register here.

See also:

AFRICOM: DOA or in Need of Better Marketing? No and Yes. (Updated)

image Like Mark Twain’s "death" in 1897 (he died in 1910), reports of AFRICOM’s demise may be exaggerated.  Concerns that AFRICOM hasn’t been thought out or is unnecessary aren’t supported by the actions and statements of those charged with building this entity.  However, based on the poor marketing of AFRICOM, these concerns are not surprising.

I attended USC’s AFRICOM conference earlier this month and between panel discussions and offline conversations, I came away with a new appreciation (and hope) for the newest, and very different, command. 

This is not like the other Combatant Commands (one DOD representative said they dropped "Combatant" from the title, but depending on where you look, either all the commands include "Combatant" or none of the commands do).  Also unlike other commands, AFRICOM is "focused on prevention and not containment or fighting wars."  This is, as one speaker continued, is a "risk-laden experiment" that is like an Ironman with multidisciplinary requirements and always different demands (note: thank you for not saying it’s a marathon… once you’ve done one marathon, they’re easy, you can "fake" a marathon… Ironman triathlons are always unpredictable.).  The goal, he continued, was to "keep combat troops off the continent for 50 years" because the consensus was, once troops landed on Africa, it would be extremely difficult to take them off. 

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Upcoming events on Africa

Heads up on two upcoming events on Africa. The first is titled AFRICOM: The American Military and Public Diplomacy in Africa and will be at the University of Southern California February 8, 2008:

The USC Center on Public Diplomacy at the Annenberg School and the USC Center for International Studies are pleased to announce the upcoming conference, AFRICOM: The American Military and Public Diplomacy in Africa. The first of a series of conferences on public diplomacy, this conference will be held on Friday, February 8, 2008 at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles.

This conference will feature panel sessions addressing U.S.-African relations, the State Department and Department of Defense concepts of public diplomacy in Africa, and African perspectives on the issue. Some questions to be discussed include how AFRICOM should be presented to African publics, to what extent African nations and regional organizations will be involved in shaping AFRICOM’s role, and how AFRICOM will work with other developmental and humanitarian projects on the continent. The conference hopes to provide AFRICOM as a case study for a discussion of public diplomacy in a broader sense, considering who should conduct public diplomacy and how it can be better integrated into government policy.

Confirmed panelists include: Jendayi Frazer, Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs; Ryan Henry, Principal Deputy Undersecretary of Defense; Nicole Lee, Executive Director of the TransAfrica Forum; Amb. Brian Carlson, State-DoD Liaison in the Office of the Undersecretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs; Mark Malan, Peacebuilding Program Officer at Refugees International; and H.E. Peter N.R.O Ogego, Kenyan Ambassador to the United States. The conference will be recorded and followed by the publication of the transcript and briefing papers. All sessions will be open to the USC community, the news media, the Los Angeles consular corps, and the general public.

For further information, please contact Lisa Larsen, Assistant Director for Programming and Events, at (213) 821-0768 or llarsen@usc.edu.

The second event is a 1.5 day event, February 28-29, 2008: Countering Terrorism in Africa through Human Security Solutions at The Fletcher School at Tufts University.

The Jebsen Center for Counter-Terrorism Studies—with support from the Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation and co-sponsorship from the Conflict and Human Security Studies Program at the U.S. Military Academy, West Point; the Fletcher Institute for Human Security; the Feinstein International Center at Tufts University; and Synexxus, Inc.—presents a two-day conference, “Countering Terrorism in Africa Through Human Security Solutions” on Thursday, February 28 and Friday, February 20 at The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy.

The conference will explore the mutual concerns of development, human rights, and security professionals working in a region that, due to poverty, civil violence, and mismanaged security interventions, may be susceptible to: influence and activity carried out by global terrorist networks such as al Qaeda and affiliated movements (AQAM); radicalization and the formation of independent violent terrorist cells; and the use of violent, civilian-focused terrorist tactics. Through three panels and two keynote addresses, the aim of this conference is to explore collaborative efforts to improve human security in Africa by addressing both development and security issues, which could help to improve conditions on the continent and, by extension, prevent terrorist networks from exploiting grievances and garnering support.

Both look interesting and worthwhile.

See also:

China Blogging for September 14, 2007

Some catch-up on China blogging included here to clear my China queue

China is upset, claiming foreign nations are causing “massive and shocking” damage by hacking into computers to “ferret out political, military and scientific secrets.” Some might say that turnaround is fair play. Another thought is someone might be showing off for DHS that it’s worthwhile to revisit a denied application?

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