Friday, July 11, 2003

An American in Africa

This is a sobering opinion piece in today's CS Monitor: "US creates African enemies where none were before" by David Gutelius.
PALO ALTO, CALIF. – President Bush repeatedly highlighted the importance of democracy, peace, and security during his African tour this week. But, administration mismanagement of the war on terror has deeply undermined stability across Africa in the past year.

In its African incarnation, that war has managed to produce almost exactly the opposite of what was intended. The administration has allowed African partner regimes to crack down on a wide range of Muslim groups over the past 18 months, creating enemies where they previously didn't exist. The majority of Muslim leaders in Africa abhor violence as a response to government repression and coercion. They have little or nothing in common with Al Qaeda. Yet US foreign policy in Africa has inspired radicalism, discredited moderate African Muslims, and fomented political instability in key nations. . . .

At several stops along his African tour, Mr. Bush touted $100 million in new funding to fight terrorism in Africa. Yet the administration appears oblivious of the effect of US policy on African Muslims. This is perhaps because few US government analysts speak local languages or have direct field experience in Africa. But if the US doesn't closely monitor how governments use this new funding, it's likely to increase political instability in a dozen African nations.

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