Week 6- From Aid to Anti Terror

Naomi Pearson

This week’s readings discussed the United State’s continued efforts to implement counter-terrorism strategies and reinforce police presence and surveillance as part of their development policy in Africa. In the article  “Trojan Horses? USAID, counter-terrorism and Africa’s police,” the author Alice Hills discusses how the American government implemented counter-terrorism as part of their development initiatives. Under USAID, police forces and surveillance were increased, justified through liberal peacebuilding as part of creating public order and good governance, which is generally viewed as conducive to development work. However, the author states that this was a ploy in order to gain greater power for Americans in the region, allowing the government to hunt down extremists; if not themselves, by extension through other governments.

The second article,  “Kenya, the United States, and Counterterrorism,” by Jeremy Prestholt also discusses the United State’s concern with what they perceive as “weak states” and the dangers of “breeding grounds” for extremism. The article essentially answers the question of who has the money to deal with the terrorism problem and who is potentially more concerned with the threat? Terrorism is currently the United State’s witch hunt and it appears that they are willing to take it all the way to Africa. The article talks about how the American government has also been implementing these anti-terror measures around the world as part of their official military-lead development assistance programs.The article states that just as in Iraq and Afghanistan, these kinds of programs place a high importance on “winning the hearts and minds of the local people.” Simply put, earning their trust and convincing them that the foreigners are there for the locals vested interest. However, as Iraq and Afghanistan actually demonstrate, this is the exact opposite message which locals received from military development assistance programs. As African models are now being created in similar ways, leading with security interests and following with development concerns; it is unlikely that “hearts and minds” are going to be swayed.  Contrarily, former models found that these kinds of models actually contributed to the recruiting of insurgencies and their ideologies, thus USA interference in the African countries in this particular context is concerning. In the Kenyan context, the American government is subbing out its security concerns by paying the Kenyan government to enhance their security and pursue counter-terrorism.

The last article  “The Banana Theory of Terrorism: Alternative Truths and the Collapse of the ‘Second’ (Saharan) Front in the War on Terror” describes the differing accounts or ‘truths’ about the Sub-Saharan war on terror. Altogether, these three articles document shady and sometimes illicit activity by the American government in various African countries in order to further the anti-terror mantra in a region of the world they have little business being in. Hiding surveillance deals within development packages is reminiscent of insidious SAPs which had extremely detrimental effects on local populations in these very regions.

1) How might the American government actively including counter-terrorism as a part of development policy (in a formerly colonized region such as Africa) actually further the cause of radicals?

2) Do you think the United States approach will be successful in winning “hearts and minds” this time? If they fight against terrorism in Africa through localized governments rather than with their own soldiers do you think it will be different?

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