(FinalCall.com) – The Defense Department announced on July 10, that the Army’s only Black four-star general, William E. “Kip” Ward, 58, would head up the new African Command (AFRICOM). Gen. Ward, a Morgan State University ROTC graduate, is currently the deputy commander of the U.S. European Command, and served in Somalia as commander of the 2nd Brigade, 10th Mountain Division (Light) Fort Drum, when the U.S. government sent troops into the Horn of Africa nation to fight militias.

In 2000, he commanded the forces in Bosnia and Herzegovina following the breakup of Yugoslavia and also served as the U.S. Security coordinator for the Palestinian Authority in 2005. He earned his promotion to four-star general in the summer of 2006.

President George W. Bush announced the new command in February (see “Bush wants a military command in Africa, FCN Vol. 26, No. 25, March 27, 2007), saying that AFRICOM “will strengthen our security cooperation with Africa and create new opportunities to bolster the capabilities of our partners in Africa.”


“It’s clear that the Bush administration has embarked on a bold effort to increase U.S. presence and influence in Africa and that part of the effort is putting African Americans upfront,” stated Carl Bloice in an article for BlackCommentator.com published on July 23. Mr. Bloice is a member of the BlackCommentator.com board of directors.

Mr. Bloice also mentions two other Blacks: Cindy Courville, recently-appointed U.S. ambassador to the African Union; and Jendayi Frazer, Assistant U.S. Secretary of State for Africa under the Bush Administration.

According to Mr. Bloice, Ms. Courville stated at her confirmation hearing: “Africa holds growing geo-strategic importance and is a high priority of this administration.”

Ms. Frazer testified about AFRICOM on Aug. 1 before the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations Subcommittee on Africa, where she stated that “This is a true innovation in our Africa policy and an unprecedented step forward in inter-agency cooperation, which provides a new vehicle for addressing security issues in Africa. We believe AFRICOM will be an important asset in our overall African policy.” She also said that the State Department was glad to see the nomination of Gen. Ward. “He has the background and experience to lead this initiative,” Ms. Frazer stressed.

And of course, there is U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, Ms. Frazer’s boss:

“What we are seeing is the president’s very active policy in Africa in partnership with Africans to resolve Africa’s problems,” said Secy. Rice to participants in the 2007 Edward R. Murrow Program for Journalists.

“What we are seeing is sort of a foreign policy minstrel show,” Bill Fletcher, author, lecturer and former director of TransAfrica Forum told The Final Call. He noted that there seemed to be a new level–a new type–of African American “advocating” for Africa, implying that they are okay with what the administration is doing in Africa.

“A U.S. military presence does not help Africa. We need voices to actively oppose the use of American troops and personnel on the continent,” Mr. Fletcher argues.

For hundreds of years, the continent has been the playground for Western and European nations to perpetrate their unforgivable claims to its people, land and natural resources. In a July 22, 1985 lectured delivered by the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan, titled “The Bloodsuckers of the Poor,” he addressed America’s foreign policy and the devastating effects it has had on other nations, particularly Africa.

“What America thinks of the outside world or foreign policy is an extension of domestic policy; however America treats people within the country is the way she treats people abroad, because her foreign policy is an extension of her psyche, values and cultural upbringing. So, we can judge American actions towards Africa by Americas actions towards the sons and daughters of Africa,” Minister Farrakhan said.

“America is losing control of her world. In desperation, she feels that her guns, rockets, bombs and technology will keep her kingdom in power.”

Congressman Donald M. Payne (D-NJ), chairman of the Subcommittee on Africa and Global Health, held a hearing on Aug. 2 to gain assurances regarding the U.S. military’s intentions on the continent, according to the press release from his office. Rep. Payne noted, “I was shocked and dismayed when I learned from a newspaper of the administration’s plans to establish AFRICOM.”

Rep. Payne said there had been no discussion with the subcommittee concerning the “structure” of the new command. “Makes me wonder how the government informed our African partners and allies,” the congressman said.

The press release stated that the Defense Department did “not provide a thorough account of AFRICOM’s organizational structure.”

“The formation of AFRICOM symbolizes that the U.S. is taking a greater interest in Africa. As the details of the Africa Command become finalized, we must make sure that this will be a mutually beneficial arrangement for the U.S., but more importantly for Africa,” Rep. Payne stated in his press release.

Dr. Wafula Okumu of the South African Institute for Security Studies testified before Rep. Payne’s committee on Aug. 2. “Today many people think the U.S. is very nervous of Chinese economic penetration into Africa. The U.S. is also worried that radical Islamism is a dangerous idea that could germinate in poorly and badly governed states of Africa. AFRICOM is being sold as an answer to these threats.

“AFRICOM will not only militarize U.S.-African relations but also those African countries in which it is located,” Dr. Okumu said, adding, “Africans are wary of the U.S. record in Iraq and concerned that the Pentagon is taking the lead role in the promotion of U.S. interests.”

Mr. Bloice revealed that think tanks such as the American Enterprise Institute (AEI) and the Heritage Foundation supply the Bush administration with recommendations on African policy. He said the Heritage Foundation in particular helped formulate the policy for AFRICOM.

“The Heritage Foundation has long advocated an independent command for Africa. It is necessary to address the increasing importance of the region to U.S. national interests,” wrote Brett D. Schaefer, a Heritage Foundation Fellow, back in February. “AFRICOM will better equip the U.S. in meeting the unique challenges in the region. Africa is a vital source of energy and other mineral resources,” he noted.

Mr. Fletcher says that when all is said and done, Africa’s resources are the bottom line of any U.S. policy towards Africa. He stressed that he was pleased that most African nations have taken a “we don’t want AFRICOM position,” with the exception of Liberia (see “Africa rebukes Bush on African Command,” FCN Vol. 26, No. 40, July 10, 2007).

In an illuminating piece titled “AFRICOM: Wrong for Liberia, Disastrous for Africa,” that appeared July 26 on www.fpif.org, Emira Woods, a Liberian who serves as co-director for the Washington D.C.-based Foreign Policy In Focus, wrote, “Liberia’s 26-year descent into chaos started when the Reagan administration prioritized military engagement and funneled military hardware, training, and financing a regime of the ruthless dictator Samuel K. Doe.

“Basing AFRICOM in Liberia will put Liberians at risk now and into the future,” Ms. Woods stressed, further stating that “The Bush administration will have an unacceptable amount of power to dictate Liberia’s security interests and orchestrate how the country manages those interests.”

Ms. Woods told The Final Call that she has been surprised by the reaction of the progressive community, who have said to her, “If Europe has an American military command, why shouldn’t Africa?”