Week 6: From Aid to Anti-Terror

In the first article this week, Kenya, the United States, and Counterterrorism, Prestholdt addresses U.S foreign policy and their pressures on Africa to increase counterterrorism activities after the global war on terror. The issue this poses, as he argues, is that without winning the ‘hearts and minds’ of the target minority populations, military assistance and stronger security will provide few results in the end. As a Christian nation, Kenyan minorities are scrutinized by counterterrorist activity and suspicion, which create a lot of tension between central governments and minority groups. With tensions and unintended effects of U.S security measures, authorities are often quick to jump to a narrow conclusion that the problem of terrorism can be accredited to Muslim minorities in Kenya. What I found to be an interesting point is even though counterterrorist activities in Kenya may go against domestic and international law, the U.S continues to support these operations through security funding and assistance.

American aid has allowed Kenyan authorities to expand their security infrastructure significantly; however, this infrastructure has yet been seen to affect authorities’ ability to identify terrorists, foil terrorist plots, and bring criminals to justice. (Prestholdt, 2011)

If continuous aid from the U.S and an increase of American forces on the ground has not yet solved these very basic problems of infrastructure, identifying terrorists, and in some ways encouraged an ignorance to domestic and international law, do you think that the U.S is beneficial in Africa or only making the threat of terrorism worse?

The second article is more focused on U.S and Kenya relations and the so called ‘banana theory’ that Washington held in accordance to the banana shaped route that he believed was the route of terrorists travelling from Afghanistan into Africa. The Banana Theory of Terrorism: Alternative Truths and the Collapse of the ‘Second’ (Saharan) Front in the War on Terror analyzes the two regimes of truth that come from the second front of the global war on terror and interestingly places blame on U.S security policies and their assumptions towards Muslim minorities within Africa. It states that the U.S and Algeria’s military intelligence services and informal team of local researchers are the ‘alternative truth’ behind the war on terror in the Sahara-Sahel region despite the ‘official truth’ that everyone is taught and exposed to. This leads to further questions about the motives of countries who provide this kind of disinformation to their nations and the international community, like the U.S and their potential for using the Saharan front as an ‘operational zone’. Washington is criticized to have launched the Saharan front in order to secure access to Africa’s oil resources.

Do you think that the U.S is using Sahara as an ‘operational zone’ in attempt to cover up the alternative truth that lies behind such terrorist operations?

Do you agree that the Bush administration was vulnerable to attack due to their lack of human intelligence on the ground and their acceptance of unverified intelligence on the front?

What this article further detailed that I had not taken into as much consideration was the effects that these events and ‘alternative truths’ have had on the Sahara-Sahel region. The war on terror has forced hundreds of young men to find alternative employment because of the destruction of Africa’s tourist industry. It also impacted the trafficking industry because of drivers who were now able to expand their businesses. What I found to be the most interesting argument, and no less discriminative, was that U.S foreign policy was classifying trafficking as terrorist activity, which leads me to believe that the presence of U.S authority, security and counterterrorism is only making terrorist activities worse, especially through their recategorizing of trafficking activity, and discrimination of minority populations.

Sources

Prestholdt, J. (2011). Kenya, the United States, and counterterrorism. Africa Today, 57(4), 2-27.

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