tv [untitled] July 9, 2012 3:30pm-4:00pm EDT
this is our top stories not exactly the russian capital. victims of a devastating flash flood region which has killed over one hundred. thirty five thousand becoming the worst ever natural disaster. international envoy. leadership. america for its role in the civil war. protests rage across. taking part in huge convoys against the reopening of supply routes.
for the moment we'll be back with more. guests explore american military expansion into africa in the latest crosstalk. it is. still. a long way and welcome to cross talk time peter lavelle targeting africa the us is expanding its covert military and intelligence operations across the continent this is being done we are told under the pretext of fighting terrorism is africa again being colonized by outside powers. can.
start. to cross talk the u.s. military in africa i'm joined by my guest in washington ivan eland he's a senior fellow and director of the center on peace and liberty at the independent institute james middlemen he's a university professor of international affairs at the american university and peter pham he is the director of the unsorry africa center at the atlantic council all right gentlemen crosstalk rules in effect that means you can jump in anytime you want ivan eland if i go to you first is the u.s. militarizing africa. i think very definitely and i think the primary reason is oil africa was never regarded as a strategic continent it might have been the only common in the world that wasn't regarded as strategic by the military and i think now what we're seeing is that more and more u.s. oil comes from africa and the u.s. military has essentially become a oil protection force if you look at where they're deployed in that sort of thing
. and so i think definitely and whether they're worried about china going in and getting some of the oil contracts which to me is a mere a mere commercial. transaction and should really worry anybody but i think the u.s. military is orienting more toward africa with the africa command and everything else principally because of the oil james what do you think about that i mean we're told it's the pretext is to fight terrorism do you buy it. i think that is the pretext i add a little bit of perspective here there is a continuation of the certain aspects of cold war policies the arms trade is a major issue the united states is the largest arms trader in the world it does thirty percent. by export value all russia great britain france germany china all are also part of the big six for the arms trade
so today there is a continuation of soviet and american policies with russia the united states doing arms trade but yes it's about oil yet for the united states yes it's about containing china in this is done under the banner of terror a war on terror ok peter where do you come in all this. well i agree that africa has increasingly a strategic importance to the united states but let's get some facts straight first for example if the pursuit was really of terrorist was merely a cover for pursuing and defending oil interests the u.s. would certainly not have gone to bat to bring about the independence of south sudan where eighty percent of sudan's oil reserves are found and which goes almost exclusively to china the interest would be far more in the western part of the cause of the cotton in nigeria algeria where the u.s.
does purchase its oil on the weapon sales certainly the u.s. is a major arms. source of arms globally but for most african countries u.s. arms are not affordable u.s. systems are too complex in fact the u.s. military in a number of cases has sourced weapons for allied countries to the former eastern bloc or even look at china as a source simply because those weapons are far more affordable and it is your brain and spine can you explain to my audience what the mission of africa are is africa what is its mission the u.s. the mission of the u.s. africa command is like that of all the six geographic unmanned is to have planning purposes and military to military relations with countries in specific regions formally africa was divided into three different commands part of it was handled out of the pacific part of it was handled the middle east and the majority handled out of europe that didn't give africa the focus or the specialized attention it
needed within the military so those three sub par were put together in a specific command to take africa on as a whole what is out there that comes what is it supposed to do what is africa command supposed to do peter i want to stay with it if. it's supposed to coordinate u.s. military to military relations what has been going on before i wrote a study a couple of years ago saying been there doing that it really starts subsumes millet . hard to military cooperation training equipping things that were done long before the africa command was created it now does it together in a coordinated fashion bringing bring it together under one even if it sounds like me is that the united states they want the united states have africans kill other africans in their interest that's what it sounds like to me you know in this and this is my international version go ahead i mean first go ahead. but i have to say that the you know africa was split up in these commands and it wasn't given
much emphasis because nobody really cared about it frankly and now all you do is you hear the commander and other people in the in the command itself talking about what are the threats the threats toile right so i think well is a major factor in this and we can't discount that i don't know as we're trying to the united states is trying to have africa africans kill other africans but certainly we have all these military training programs with special forces around the world and that's kind of what ends up ends up happening we want geo political influence for oil and other reasons but what happens is a lot of the time unfortunately that all this training goes to repressing internal revolt and we try we say that we're instilling democratic values but you can't you can't do that in a seminar or training course or whatever so they take these militaries take the the military training but they don't always have human rights and democracy in mind so
i don't think the u.s. has the that we're going to set africans against each other but unfortunately i think sometimes that's the end product of it james you want to jump in there go ahead. well the i want to jump in and say that it's more about and then military. military let me quote vice admiral mohler of africa he said protecting the free flow of natural resources from africa to the global market is one of africa's guiding principles ok end of court ation so africa africa started during the bush years it's continued and expanded during the obama years today what has happened is that military assistance and other types of aid have become intermingled the military u.s. military is helping with the immunizations with health issues the number of
military personnel working on africa. far outnumber the number of department of state in usa idea officials according to one of my sources here in washington it's seven to one military personnel opposed to department of state and u.s. id i mean clearly what is happening is that u.s. foreign policy is becoming very heavily militarized in various parts of africa peter what do you how do you respond to that because that's how it that was right there is that was my first question ok go ahead. well i think again it's a matter of looking at the data and looking at carefully for example afrikan does have at headquarters approximately thirteen fourteen hundred personnel but those are people personnel based in supporting roles in germany in stuttgart on the continent at any given moment afrikan has probably fewer than fifteen hundred military personnel many of them in and out on rotations of short periods of several
weeks or even days in training exercises and other functions so one compares that to the number of. personnel in diplomatic missions and u.s. aid in any given country at any given point except when that exercise is taking place it's very hard to make the case that military personnel outnumber diplomatic and development assistance personnel ok well i mean it's kind of interesting and what if i could say in two thousand and ten seven hundred sixty three million dollars was allotted to africa command whereas the state department's africa bureau operational budget had two hundred twenty six million dollars i mean. how do you respond to that peter i mean it certainly the military is much more important well you know if you look at the military it has to do all of that with the six hundred million you quoted the state department's only the operational budget when you add in the aid budget the budget for military and challenge corporation and other
things you get a far larger budget it's just simply parsed in several different pots one has to look at the aggregate rather than the singling out the budget that goes simply to embassy personnel salaries and maintenance ok i mean if i go back to you i mean is the united states sending china a message chair that it is africa is a strategic interest of the united states i guess the whole world is america's interest but africa specifically in this case. well i think yes they're worried about china but china's activities are mainly commercial and that really shouldn't threaten anybody because frankly when the chinese government goes out and tries to develop well sources that aren't really commercially available it's just it's just a subsidy tallest consumers around the world so their state owned oil companies really don't operate necessarily on the market based principles so a lot of times that's what they're doing they're trying to lock up all these long term oil contracts but you know that really doesn't affect us security at all and i
would challenge anybody to say that it does any economist will tell you that the supplies us reorder and whatever i think you know in the in the larger context and what we measure people on the ground or whatever but the problem with the us military is it has all these related bills all these relationships it gets everything ready to go and then it has a swing for sick and sent anywhere and i think us foreign policy has become very militarized across the board and just because you know if you don't have a lot of people in on the ground in africa you can get them there very quickly the way our men expeditionary military work so i think we shall in that were we're going to are the military solution on a lot of different things and of all you have is a hammer everything looks like a nail so. you know there's no question about why that the u.s. has become more militarized over time and its foreign policy and i also think the lack the one thing i think in terms of u.s.
security instead of us empire this is a very bad because now we've centrally we've created the problem in somalia for people trying to attack the u.s. when they weren't really trying to do that before somalia has always been a mass but we always seem to make it worse every time we go in there all right gentlemen we're going to a short break and after that short break we'll continue our discussion on africa's militarisation stay. and you can. still. there are those who desperately need it to survive. misspoken is the time give
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ok james you being an expert on africa i mean how do the africans feel about this about the united states coming in jockeying for power and training its military for a clandestine operations etc etc i mean do you have any information whatsoever what the people on the ground think we always know what washington things but what are the people on the ground think. well there are governments who want u.s. military assistance in who gain from this they're able to use military patronage within their own countries and to try to stabilize the situation but most africans want local solutions take northern uganda for example i lived in uganda for two and a half years there are religious leaders and other civil society groups are clamoring for internal solutions not extra no solutions to the problems that exist at this point general petraeus over at the cia is authorizing special
operations there are drone attacks assassinations taking place in central africa today oftentimes african governments are not notified before this this takes place but people want internal solutions also the african union is involved the african union has special negotiators there is the u.s. role to support internal solutions to these problems not to militarize them more violence does not solve the innocent civilians get caught in the crosshairs ok peter what do you think about that i mean it what does the united states want to do does it want to make have all of the governments of africa on the same page when it comes to military threats and those kind of things it seems rather odd to me why doesn't the african union just take care of itself. well in fact the u.s. policy would be favorable in fact would encourage the african union take more
ownership of these issues but the fact is it's not fully capable and in areas where it in fact has reached out for example in somalia where the african union mission force has been in the last two and a half years greatly assisted by u.s. and european. military doesn't mean holding up peter as the african union isn't willing to do it why then should the united states do it i mean if the united states want to point i should it be determining on that you go right ahead go ahead let me answer that to point first the african union is willing but it's not capable there's a difference being the willingness to do something and the ability to do so secondly in some cases even if it were not willing and those are few and a fair fairly far between there the u.s. as any other great power has its own interests and those interests give it a right to act in the sense of those interests now in central africa we have instances where at the invitation of local governments the u.s.
has actually gone in where does not have a direct interest northern uganda james's example the ugandan military along with that of the central african republic and the so-called democratic republic of the congo have been unable to deal with jos of coding for the better part of two decades and it's at the request of these governments in the us as model has said in a modest force and i can offer a lot of people would say just to reverse the you know africa command in the in this ridiculous story about tony two thousand and twelve and all of that is just an invitation to average thais the militarization of the continent what do you think about that ivan. well i think that's true i mean i'm not sure why coney is a strategic interest of the u.s. and when we say u.s. is the u.s. is a great power and we have the right to defend our interests the question should really be from us security is what are our vital interests and are they really in africa chasing around kone or anybody else right either you even in somalia combating the
shabab we're just making more likely that somebody all attacked the united states right there are things that we don't really need to worry about and unfortunately our foreign policy elite doesn't seem to think that there's any place africa used to be the only place where we really didn't care about the strategic community didn't care about africa was probably better off for it but i think this idea that we can say this innate to our rich allies well they just don't have the capability to do it well if you continue to do stuff for countries they're never going to get the capability to do it if somebody pays your rent for you why should you pay it right and in that we we face this with the rich allies in nato so of course we're going to face it also in africa but the real question is. are a vile interest in some of these places and why the heck are we there right why not get out peter you want to react to that. when you have so many people and feed her so you're going to burst it's very civil i think i think i would miss is the bigger
point the bigger point is you can't have allies who you only call upon when it affects you and you don't come to their assistance when they want something now in the case of uganda northern uganda lies that we have that we have. why do you need our i am here i ask because we have. been here the editor and it in an era in and hero drove i think i am doing our i phone five of bomb guys off there now they're throwing back no love it love well let me finish any of the nato allies the fact that the would you would you mind let me finish go ahead here the fact the fact is that we have allies and allies occasionally three hundred special operations forces that help the ugandans and others hunt down coney it's not a vital interest but it's a vital interest to them that's what friends are for if you only call upon them whenever we need them but don't respond when they need us don't be surprised that we don't have many friends in international settings so i think it's
a very simple it's a vital interest to them not to us but we recognize that that's why their partner i james jump in go ahead. oh ok who are they allies the fact is that to many of the allies are undemocratic regimes in they are militias that are being funded by the united states. this is not in u.s. vital interests there is a bill up in congress right now to authorize more troops to go into northern uganda in the central african republic this follows making of the viral video kohak only twenty twelve millions of dollars have been devoted to this by private citizens kone is not in uganda at this point it's a local band of criminals who have gone elsewhere to other african countries the policy on the ground there is one of reconciliation it's the amnesty the u.s. vital interest are true to facilitate the development of africa to correct the
poverty to correct the inequality africans have to do this themselves development is an internal matter what development happened many african economies are growing quite rapidly now according to a recent i.m.f. report six of the ten fastest growing economies in the world are in africa not all of that is commodity driven much of the wealth from commodities is being diversified in industrialised nation is taking place for the united states it should be hands off except to support a negotiated settlements internally and to give assistance to the united nations high commission for refugees and for to unicef to rehabilitate people in war torn areas peter if i can go to you one of the concerns i have with his whole idea is that you know i said earlier to get africans the africans what i meant by that i should've been more clear is that you you have basically lies in the american
allies in the region and on the continent and you get them to do. things for you so americans don't have to die americans don't like it when soldiers die but once other other people soldiers die they don't really care about it that's what i'm getting at using that is that an alliance on the continent do used to go after american interests protect american interests certainly and part of that i grew with you peter on that and part of that however cars building up their capacity training them and although i know why friends here are skeptical in fact human rights watch reported just last month that the us training mission in uganda has actually helped rein in and professionalize the ugandan military in several aspects is a perfect far from it but is it an improvement over what was without those hundred special operations forces certainly and so part of training up includes deploying small units for training purposes to fill in capacity gaps and to bring them up to
a level where the africans can take ownership and i agree fully with james africa's the big story in africa's development and economic growth but the precondition for either of those two is security and all too many places in africa regrettably security has to be established first then we can build up ok i mean what do you think about that i still understand why the united states has to make africa's safe . well i think that's exactly right i mean what we can't afford this was i like to bring some domestic reality to this conversation you know we run wars in libya which are not strategic our strategic interest or whatever and we have a one trillion dollar budget deficit in something as to be cut and we may have draconian budget cuts if they don't the congress and the president don't do something about it so which is going to cut back the military capability and even if we don't have the drastic cuts there are still going to be cuts and i think we need to start prioritizing what are in our vital interests what are not so vital as
sattar and i just don't think we can afford this kind of stuff anymore and the second thing is you know look what we've done in yemen and in pakistan the pakistani taliban wasn't human exist before we went into afghanistan now they're attacking the u.s. with terrorist attacks the same way with the people in yemen and then in the arabian peninsula well if we go into africa what about the shabab i mean they have a lot of there's a lot of somalis that live in minnesota do we get retaliatory terrorist attacks there how is that increasing our security for these it's great to have allies but we need to know why we're having allies places we don't just the u.s. just goes out and tries to get as many allies worldwide and that was a superpower days the cold war days and now we don't really need to do that anymore and i think we need to be a little bit more careful where we're intervening and who are helping because we may be making people mad ok peter going to give you the last word on the program
blowback that's what we just heard how do you deal with that. well i think you do it by partnering with countries being clear and transparent about our mission doing it intelligently i agree with ivan you can't do everything to everyone but one has to assess the cost benefit in africa it's a very minimal investment the figures side at six hundred million with the budget cuts could be a little slightly less than that that's to secure a continent that is soon to be home to one in four of the world's workers. the supplier of about a quarter of america's energy imports it's certainly all really so right you know i would jump in and we always end up on the note of oil here many thanks my guest today in washington and thanks to our viewers for watching us here are see you next time and remember prospal prove. it you can. still.
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