Week 6: The United States in Africa- From Aid to Anti-Terror

Jessica Slade- 110232060

For the purposes of this week’s blog post, I will be responding to the works of Alice Hills, “Trojan Horses? USAID, counter-terrorism and Africa’s police,” Jeremy Prestholdt’s, “Kenya, the United States, and Counterterrorism,” and Jeremy Keenan’s, “The Banana Theory of Terrorism: Alternative Truths and the Collapse of the ‘Second’ (Saharan) Front in the War on Terror.” To begin, I will start with the work of Hills.

Alice Hills wrote the work entitled, “Trojan Horses? USAID, counter-terrorism and Africa’s police,” which seeks to assess that ever-changing scape of foreign assistance in Africa. This work specifically focuses on a case study in Kenya and the proposed transition that could lead to development work transitioning into a ‘policing’ type mission. USAID is the organization at the center of this work, and Hills works to deconstruct the fact that “short-term state security objectives will be pursued at the expense of long-term transformational goals, thereby lessening the chances of … achieving transparent and accountable forms of governance,” (Hills, 2006, pg. 630). Hills suggests that the proposed changes will counter the goals of the campaign, which are to strengthen the counter terrorist capacity of Africa. Kenya is the center of this movement as it has been a central location for USA deemed terrorist activity, and this holds a special place for their involvement. In hopes of creating a counter terrorism policing movement in the country, USAID has invested both financially and through time in pursuit of their interests. Throughout the duration of this work the learn reasons as to why Hills believes that the United States’ self-interest in creating a policing force in Africa, is contrary to desires of African governments and will have little success once implemented. After reading this work do you believe that “using USAID to improve the counter terrorist capacity of Africa’s police in pursuit of US national security objectives if a ‘seriously’ flawed strategy,” or do you think on some levels it could work to improve the overall intelligence insight gathered through primary source participation?

In case you are interested in listening to the speech presented by the then head of state Condoleezza Rice, here is the link:


The second reading for this week is Jeremy Prestholdt’s, “Kenya, the United States, and Counterterrorism,” which assesses the relationship between Kenya, the United States and counterterrorism. Prestholdt uses this work to discuss the push for counterterrorism developments in Kenya as a result of the country being deemed the hub of many terrorist related activities. While the author provides meaningful insight as to the place of convictions and persecutions within local Kenyan authoritative bodies, we can begin to see the problems that arise from this action. Prestholdt states, “recent counterterrorism efforts are unique in that Kenyan forces receive training and direct funding from the United States,” (Prestholdt, 2011, pg. 5). In reading this work we learn that while the initiative had once been centered on a US agenda for counterterrorism, Kenya has since used their strategic location as an economic ‘instrument’ in creating a platform for change within the context of its working relationship with the USA. This article takes us through the historical accounts of localized movements as well as the various forms of US intervention at all points over the last decade. Through accounts of the Bush Administration weighing in on potential legislative passing, and the giving of aid directed as specified regions of counterterrorism development, we can see the invested interest that the USA has in Kenya. In his conclusion Prestholdt states, “The global war on terrorism’s dividends for the government of Kenya may prove minimal, or perhaps significant in the long run, but what has become clear is that ordinary Kenyans with no perceptible link to terrorists regularly bear the cost of counterterrorism,” (Predtholdt, 2011, pg. 20). In reading this conclusionary statement, do you believe that the USA has a place in Kenyan intervention? Based on the lack of evidentiary finding, do you believe that racial profiling and political/economic class targeting’s have actually worked against the agenda of winging the ‘hearts and minds’ of residents?

Lastly, this week we read the work of Jeremy Keenan in “The Banana Theory of Terrorism: Alternative Truths and the Collapse of the ‘Second’ (Saharan) Front in the War on Terror.” In this work Keenan seeks to deconstruct the truth, lies and everything in between. Keenan uses USA and Algeria as the basis for this account. The order: a background account of the Saharan war on terror, an anthropological based truth, evidence for these accounts and the basis of motivation of each the USA and Algeria. In setting out these distinct sections, Keenan is able to frame a debate around the conditions and implications of all levels that have lead to the ‘collapse of the front’. After reading the work of Keenan, do you believe what he says about the distinctly labeled ‘lies’ and ‘truths’ of the USA-Algeria relations? In his conclusion he states that “it certainly provides a good underpinning for the US Secretary of Defense’s next step in militarizing the continent through the creation of a single, unified US African Command,” (Keenan, 2007, pg. 50). After reading this work, do you share the same view that this may be the underlying motive of US aid, investment and intervention in Africa?


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