US Military practicing effective public diplomacy in Africa

The distinction that the military does not conduct public diplomacy — it practices public affairs — is disappearing by the day. A four country tour by Admiral Harry Ulrich,commander of US naval forces in Southern Europe and Africa, was more military-led diplomacy. Will there be follow up w/ civilian resources? State Department teams of public and cultural diplomats?

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US “military infiltration into Africa”

The People’s Daily from China is an interesting resource. Definitely an item worth monitoring because of the alternative insight which is sometimes just that, an insight. Other times, just like any other source of news from any other agency or media outlet, it comes on a slant. From the opinion section of the People’s Daily Online comes this: U.S. steps up military infiltration into Africa. The piece starts w/ Rumsfeld’s recent trip to the Maghreb, hitting Morocco, Tunisia, and Algeria.

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Fiber Optics connecting Ethiopia and Sudan

News brief Ethiopian firm extends optical fiber telephone line to Sudan.

The extension of optical fiber telephone line, connecting Ethiopia and Sudan via the northern border town of Metema, has been launched, said the state-owned Ethiopian Telecommunication Corporation (ETC) on Tuesday.

The extension of the optical fiber line would enable Ethiopia access
up-to-date telephone, data, and audio-video communications and curb
congestions in web sites and internet lines, according to Kassahun.

Ethiopia, one of the world’s poorest and least-wired nations, wants to expand information and communication technologies coverage to the entire country in three years.

Question about Commons

Charles Clover, writing in the Transatlantic Edition of Internationale Politik (4 / 2005, Vol 6, p32), reminds us that law, especially international law, is written to address political and social demands at the time it’s written and framed through technological limitations (not many laws governing the territory on Mars… although I think there are some general "for mankind" feel-good "laws" for the moon). His article "Who Owns the Sea?" considers the roots of international laws of the sea, questioning their validity and applicability in modernity. Comparing the causes of the reduction of shared commons on land with the current conditions in fishing and other activity can lead to interesting explorations into a variety of areas, including telecommunications and privacy.

The laws of the sea, based on Grotius’s Mare Liberum, established the ocean as a common. Clover writes "John Selden, an English jurist, asserted in Mare Clausum the right of the crown to claim sovereignty over sea closest to its territory." This was the basis of the three-mile limit, Clover continues, as based by the distance a shore battery could lob a cannon ball. Modern technology, such as radar, sonar, and the Gloria trawl (64m opening), exceeds the limitors of ancient law, stripping resources down to the nub.

As I was reading Clover’s piece, I received an email about the deaths of whales off Gibraltar.

There are 3 more beaked whale deaths in the beach…(last October 2005 one more whale stranded during the passsage of the aircarrier Invincible in his way from the Mediterraneasn to the naval exercises Noble Javalin of the Nato response Force in the Canary Islands)

This was followed by this

We got some information now, the H. M. S. Kent, of the UK Royal Navy, together with the Gibraltar squadron, was dong manoeuvres in the area and carried a mid frequency active sonar (similar to the SQ 53 present in the strandings of Bahamas and Canaries)

There are 4 dead beaked whales by now, searching for a fifth, necropsyes are being done and all indicates the sonar is related to the deaths

The US Navy has dealt with similar issues with proposed sonar systems.

The conflict between man and nature, outside of the global warming debate, will continue to escalate. However, such fights are generally limited to countries with at certain amount of institutional capacity. Somali fish stocks are being plundered by China and other countries without any credible response. As someone pointed out to me a while ago when the Top Cat Marine Security fiasco first appeared, Somalia has tremendous natural resources (beyond energy supplies) that could finance a legitimate government. That particular discussion started from the point of lacking maritime security inhibiting the growth of a legitimate fishing fleet.

Something to think about.

Hunting in East Africa

News brief from the StrategyPage on Counter-Terrorism Operations on the Horn / East Africa:

the leader of al Qaeda in East Africa, Harun Fazul (or Fazul Abdullah Mohammed), a native of the Comoro Island with dual citizenship in Kenya, is being hunted aggressively. One of the most wanted terrorists in the world (the US has put $5 million on his head), Fazul was a ringleader in the 1998 East African embassy bombings and other attacks in the region. In his early 30s, Fazul has been a member of al Qaeda since the early ’90s.

Practicing Effective Public Diplomacy in Africa (or elsewhere)

Let’s say you’re charged with finding the path to partnership with a few dozen African countries that have resources you want and need. How would you approach the them to establish a relationship to establish a partnership? This might be especially important if you are locking for priority treatment or even to lockout a competitor. A blocking strategy would really entail developing a deep partnership of trust, or coercion. If you want to go with the trust route, believing that it will cost less in the long run (i.e. soft power vs hard power) it would make sense to establish and build trust and understanding. Perhaps even a spirit of mutual assistance since. A little give, a little take. Making governments and people comfortable with your overtures would require a coherent policy, right? What might that policy look like?

Relationships begin with dialogs. The goal is to build trust. Trust cannot be manufactured, it has to be earned. On a personal level now, how did you come to trust your best friend? Was a bond of trust "created" or did it evolve over time? It probably built up over time through actions by both you and the other person after some initial, perhaps small, amount of trust was placed in the both of you by the other. We build trust, we do not "create" trust. We can build and maintain trust just as we can "fritter" it away, to quote Martin Rose of the British Council.

So, in this hypothetical let me add something. Let’s say you’ve had a presence in the region for a few decades. Nearly fifty years ago you initiated a program to assist, convert really, the peoples and governments to your way of thinking. This established contacts in the region. It didn’t go over the way you really wanted, but it didn’t end up in flames either. The reasons for that original approach are now in the pages of history and the contacts have been maintained and in the last few years, you reactivated them to get to a new level. So, with the knowledge that you have at least some amount of trust built up with these countries. What would you do next?

You might consider documenting a policy to share with Africa. This would describe how important sincerity, friendship and equality are to you. It would also put you on a moral high ground when contrasted with other global players. It would emphasize your belief in the mutual benefit of economic and social development and cooperation, especially focusing on reciprocity and common prosperity.  This would probably sound like a good, if not great, deal to the Africans, corrupt or not. There is something of a track record that leans toward the positive side, if not completely positive.

The idea of riches to be made in global economy might be appealing, or even just being heard when you suggest how you will help them strengthen their role in global institutions through coordination and support. Those are great words to use, in fact. Non-threatening, friendly, and reciprocal. All key in building trust and deepening ties.

This relationship you’re seeking to build upon and expand would cause each side to learn and develop. So you would suggest cultural, civic, and educational exchanges to deepen understanding and awareness of each other as you learn from each other and create a sustainable world. Well, you can hope for a sustainable world, which is what you want to try for, right? You do not want to pollute. You want a moral high ground, especially when considering the beautiful African continent. Perhaps you might suggest something to your friends on this? There is money to be made in eco-toursism, after all.

How about cooperation on resources, tourism (means $), debt reduction ($ — offering assistance with the global institutions), infrastructure (goods, people and tourists have to get around), agriculture ($ greater crop density and quality), education, media, consular affairs (helping in the international community, did I mention you’re a big country with pull?), disaster reduction, relief and humanitarian assistance, military training, police, courts, and more.

Sounds pretty fancy. Too much to lay out in a document, isn’t it? I mean, who would really go so far to do this? Africa does have all that oil, natural gas, and plenty of other fantastic resources, energy and otherwise.

Does it sound too fantastic if you have already been building prestige buildings on Africa? You’d offer the people the choice of a sports stadium or a government building. Most of the time they picked stadium, but once the bureaucrats got lucky and a government building was built. Africans might see the friendly side you’re trying to promote, right?

They might also see a friendly culture if you’re broadcasting the English language TV into Africa. That would be great, wouldn’t it? Let’s say you’re doing that already.

Does it sound like I’m trying to sell you a bridge or ocean front property (sorry, US-centric joke)? I’m not. The policy document I described exists and was published January 2006. China reportedly gets over a quarter of its oil from Africa, so it is not surprising it’s interested in building up and maintaining relations on the continent. In 2000, Beijing established the China-Africa Cooperation Forum (CACF) to promote trade and investment with 44 African countries. In 2003, Prime Minister Wen visited several oil-producing African states accompanied by Chinese oil executives, and President Hu toured Algeria, Egypt, and Gabon. China has been working closely with governments in the Gulf of Guinea, from Angola to Nigeria, as well as with the Central African Republic, Chad, Congo, Libya, Niger, and Sudan. (See Sep/Oct 2005 Foreign Affairs: China’s Global Hunt for Energy)

In mid-January 2006, China issued an African Policy Paper. The strategy China has laid out, besides being laid out open for all to see, should cause concern at State. This paper is divided into six parts:

    1. Africa’s Position and Role
    2. China’s Relations with Africa
    3. China’s African Policy
    4. Enhancing All-round Cooperation Between China and Africa
    5. Forum on China-Africa Cooperation And Its Follow-up Actions
    6. China’s Relations with African Regional Organizations

The document is easily available as html, making accessibility as universal as possible. The English is simple and straight forward, making it easy to read for those who first, or even second or third, language is not English. This document is public diplomacy at its finest. The Chinese are doing a bang-up job in the region. China’s connection with the public goes beyond building prestige buildings for the public. Offered the option of a sports stadium or government building, the public gets to chose, only once did a public group chose the government building. Television in the region is also becoming largely English language broadcast from China. In the culture war, the West, and the US specifically, is losing.

The most visible American presence in the area is a multinational military base on the Horn and corporate oil on the Gulf of Guinea. The rhetoric out of Washington is militaristic and focused on counter-insurgency (COIN) and counter-terrorism. Efforts at public diplomacy, economic and cultural connections are not heard when they are spoken at all. They are drowned out by louder actions and lousy follow through.

The African Policy Paper is quite impressive. It is a great piece of propaganda (in the pure sense) and a tremendous example of what public diplomacy can look like. Working from an equality in partnership, establishing two-way communication and understanding is done through exchanges and commitments to build trust through assistance in all sectors of the civil sector. Textbook.

With established relationships with nearly all the countries on the continent, including expanding cultural and economic ties, this policy could very easily be seen as likely steps the Chinese would fulfill. The Chinese are not perfect, despite the appearance of The Policy. Holes in both reality and the document will be discussed in a follow up post. As well as the importance of China in the 2006 Quadrennial Defense Review.

The international military on the Horn is an effective fighting force working with some USAID elements, but where is the full frontal effort on public, cultural, and diplomacy diplomacy to build deep relationships and trust? Building schools, roads, economies, and social structures is the best way to prevent terrorism and to assure a resource supply that will be steady and sure. The Chinese seem to know that. Does the United States want to sit back and see if the plan works? Countering such a plan is just like countering and preventing terrorism: a long and steady effort. Will it happen? We’ll have to see, unfortunately, I doubt Las Vegas bookies will give me good odds on it.

Technorati Tags: Africa, Horn of Africa, QDR, Current Affairs,
Public Diplomacy,

African oil is an American security challenge

News brief from David Wood at Newhouse News Service. David writes about the Gulf of Guinea security problem, which is becoming appearing in the headlines more often these days.

The United States is becoming increasingly dependent on oil from a region beset by official corruption, tottering governments, violent criminal syndicates and religious and ethnic strife: West Africa….

"We can’t afford to have a ship there 365 days a year," said Rear Adm. D.C. Curtis of the U.S. 6th Fleet, which oversees naval responsibilities in Europe and Africa from its headquarters in Naples, Italy. "The days of getting an aircraft carrier off the coast are gone."

That leaves most security in the hands of local forces clearly not up to the job. U.S. officials said thieves each year steal at least $1 billion worth of oil from Nigeria’s coastal pipelines; perhaps twice that much is siphoned off by official government corruption.

In one recent case, two Nigerian admirals — since fired — arranged for the hijacking of the African Pride, a rust-streaked, Greek-registered coastal tanker laden with 11,000 tons of Nigerian crude worth some $4 million. The ship was seized by the Nigerian navy on suspicion that its cargo had been stolen. But the navy escorted the African Pride to sea, where its cargo was pumped to another tanker, which disappeared.

US Navy captures Somali ‘Pirate’

The BBC reports the USS Winston S. Churchill captured a Somali pirate ship. This followed a report of piracy in the area. Notable about the BBC report is, in addition to the standard background, was the fact the are still referencing the Top Cat Marine Security contract to provide anti-piracy services, implying it is current (a few weeks back the BBC reported TopCat was “in mobilization” for the gig). What about the US Navy being the world maritime police?

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Alexander Strategy Group and Eritrea

Interesting (and old) news from PR Watch 8 Nov 04.

From The O’Drwyer Report — Eritrea “signed Alexander Strategy Group, a firm with strong Republican ties, to a contract worth more than $300K a year to improve its ties with the United States.” According to Amnesty International, “torture, arbitrary detention, ‘disappearances’ and ill-treatment of political prisoners” are common in the Horn of Africa nation. Human Rights Watch reports, “The Eritrean government has lobbied the United States to use Eritrea’s Red Sea ports as military bases in the war against terrorism.” The contract “forbids the [Alexander Strategy Group] from discussing its work without the consent of Eritrea.” The Alexander Strategy Group’s other clients include the Nuclear Energy Institute, Blackwater USA and PhRMA.

It seems the lobbying was unsuccessful as the US forces are apparently based further south.

China’s Africa expansion

News briefs from UPI and People’s Daily Online. First, the raw story, later an analysis.

First, from UPI: China’s Africa expansion

the last decade China and the continent of Africa have gradually been
building diplomatic and economic ties in the hopes of further advancing
globalization and enjoying mutually beneficial cooperation. But now
with a mounting global oil crisis and reforms underway at the United
Nations, China has emerged as a growing ally to most of the 57 African
territories, stepping up efforts to expand its ties to the continent,
host of the world’s least-developed countries.

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Public Diplomacy brought to you by the Department of Defense, not State

News brief from Yemen:

US Troops help animals in Yemen. More than 780 animals were treated as part of a free veterinary project by American forces last week, the US military news agency reported. Local veterinarians joined with civil affairs team members from the US Combined Joint Task Force Horn of Africa to treat herds in the villages of Bani Mamoon, Thula and Hababa. Animals were given vitamins and anti-parasitic medication and were checked for any other problems. While the number of animals treated was lower than in past held by the task force, team members said they felt the mission was succesful, according to the American Forces Press Service. "We made a big difference for probably 700-plus families, each with their own work animal," said Army Major Jim Riche, a veterinarian and civic action team leader. "Each animal was extremely valuable to the owner, so we had a larger effect on the human population owning these animals than we originally expected." In addition to helping the villagers, team members shared and learnt techniques with the local vets they worked with. "They were a lot of fun, even if communication was a little difficult at times," said Riche. "There were a lot of tools we use that they weren’t familiar with, and techniques they use we’ve never seen before, so the experience improved the profession on both sides."

Is the US military really the best tool for public diplomacy? Initial PD makes sense, especially in war ravaged or dangerous regions. But there must be follow through folks.

Technorati Tags: Public Diplomacy, 4GW, Yemen, Horn of Africa

Djibouti Sues France

From Opinio Juris comes news Dijibouti, where our Marines have an counter-terrorism base and are practicing the a real campaign of public diplomacy (see CT in the Horn and Revisiting the Roosevelt Doctrine).

[T]he Republic of Djibouti has filed an application with the International Court of Justice against France alleging France violated its treaty obligations to provide judicial assistance in a Djibouti criminal investigation.

This looks like a fairly tedious and unimportant case. The only
interesting aspect (to me, anyway) is whether France refuses to accept
the ICJ’s jurisdiction. France famously withdrew from the compulsory
jurisdiction of the ICJ back in 1996 (those unilateralist Frenchies, so
disrespectful of international courts!) and this case can only go
forward with France’s consent. If France refuses to accept ICJ
jurisdiction, even here in this fairly minor case, it will be a slap at
the ICJ’s authority and credibility.

Somalia clashes leave 15 dead

News Brief from ISN Security Watch:

At least 15 militiamen have been killed and 35 others wounded in fighting between opposing factions from a clan in central Somalia in a territorial battle for control over grazing land and water, news agencies reported.

The late Wednesday clashes between members of the Sa’ad and Suleman factions of the Habar Gidir clan broke over control of several small towns in Somalia’s arid Mudug and Galgudud regions.

The two sides have fought several times for control of the lawless region.

Sudan army attacks rebel stronghold

News Brief from ISN Security Watch:

Sudanese and UN troops have entered rebel territory in southern Sudan and are threatening to evict opposition forces there, news agencies reported.

Some 3,000 Sudanese soldiers entered the town of Hamesh Koreb on Wednesday to take up position against the former southern rebel Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM), reports said.

The move comes only a week before peace negotiations were set to begin.

Rebels told reporters that at least two children were killed in the aircraft and artillery attacks by the Sudanese army forces.

Peace talks are due to start in Libya next week between the government and rebels. The rebels accused the government of discrimination.

Chinese and the Horn of Africa

News from the Horn of Africa is diverse and found along many paths. To start, US troops in the Ogaden area rescued two abused and endangered cheetah cubs late last month (Nov 2005) while the Taipei Times is reporting the Chinese navy is "flexing its soft power" as part of an "assertive foreign policy…connecting Chinese seaports with the Middle East and the Horn of Africa. Its strategy: to build up sea power, measured in ships, bases and alliances. Energizing a populace accustomed to thinking of China as a land power is one crucial element of Beijing’s new maritime diplomacy." The sea-based public diplomacy is integral to Chinese expansion in the Middle East region as Iran seeks to seal a deal with China next month (Jan 2006):

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Rove Energy Corporation Limited

Somaliland_maplarge_1The blogosphere is increasingly used to incite and investigate and this recent comment is a further example of this growing use of the new pamphleteers to influence events. The region in question has obvious links to other disucssions on this site (see the Somalia category and take your pick of readings).

How does the South African Ophir Corporation has recently announced a 75% stake in the Rova Energy Corporation figure into all of this? The maritime diplomacy of the Chinese, Yemini fields accessed from Somalia, and the general lawlessness of the region certainly makes for some interesting reading. More investigation on this surely to come. Comments, leads?

Chinese Public Diplomacy via UN Peacekeeping

The Chinese state media has highlighted an interesting point as part of their growing public diplomacy campaign to win the hearts and minds of the world, and not least of the impovrished and non-G8 that have important resources China needs. In the last six months, China has had generally 1,000 troops or police on United Nations peacekeeping missions.

A Chinese scholar said Tuesday that China has sent out more than 3,000 troops and policemen to United Nations peacekeeping missions since the late 1980s, reflecting its firm support of the UN’s role in maintaining world peace and security. 
"China has contributed the largest number of troops to UN peacekeeping operations among the five permanent members of the UN Security Council," said Yang Mingjie, a Chinese researcher in international relations…

Chinese peacekeepers have won extensive accolades because of their
strict discipline and high work efficiency. In January 2005, Chinese
peacekeeping riot police in Haiti were awarded a UN peace medal for
their outstanding performance in the crisis-torn country, the highest
honor granted by the UN to peacekeeping missions. [emphasis added]

By the way, the Chinese seem to prefer to participate in African PKOs (peacekeeping operations).