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In the wake of September 11: Africa, The United States and The European Union


Gorm Rye Olsen

Less than two months after the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, it was officially declared that Africa was an important region for the US government’s high priority war on international terrorism. On 30 October 2001, the National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice stated in front of the House of Representatives’ subcommittee on Africa: ‘Africa’s history and geography give it a pivotal role in the war on terrorism…..Africa is critical to our war on terrorism’ (Hentz, 2004, 37, 39). On a number of occasions, European officials have likewise stressed that Africa takes up a new position on the European security agenda and a position which is different from the situation prior to September 2001 (Background note, 2001; European Council, 2002, annex I). Moreover, official analyses such as the White House National Security Strategy from 2002 and the EU’s Security Strategy from 2003, clearly states that Africa is important within the framework of the global war on terror. The paper shows that the Africa policies of the two Western powers have undergone significant changes in the years following September 2001. At the face of it, this is no surprise. Applying a historical institutionalist argument, September 11 is a clear example of a ‘critical juncture’ which can be used to explain radical policy changes (Hall and Taylor, 1996, 942). Nevertheless, it is the argument of the paper that the current Africa policies of the two Western actors are basically a continuation of policies that were already in place prior to September 11, i.e they are path dependent. The core argument of path dependency is that it is difficult to make fundamental changes of existing policies and therefore, policy continuity tends to prevail simply because when policies are laid down, decisionmakers tend to oppose change (North, 1990; Pierson, 1993; cf. also Hill, 2003, 86ff). It is only when a so-called critical juncture occurs there is a theoretical possibility that a change of policy can take place. It is very often dramatic events such as wars, military conflicts or economic crises that create “a ‘breaching point’ from which historical developments moves into a new path” (Hall and Taylor, 1996, 942). In summary, what seems to be radical policy changes following the terrorist attacks on the US are basically ‘more of the same’ suggesting that the Africa policy of the United States as well as the Africa policy of the European Union are ‘path dependent’.

Western Analyses of Africa

After September 11 The terrorist attacks on September 11 no doubt changed the American strategic perceptions of Africa south of the Sahara (Cohen, 2005; Schraeder, 2005; Pham, 2005). First of all, Africa was suddenly considered an important region where the US was to meet the new enemy, international terrorism as it was emphasized clearly in the US national ‘Security Strategy’ launched in September 2002. It was pointed out that ‘the events of September 11, 2001 taught us that weak states.…..can pose as great a danger to our national interest as strong states…poverty, weak institutions and corruption can make weak states vulnerable to terrorist networks and drug cartels within their borders’ (White House, 2002, n.p.). Therefore, it is a crucial aim of US policy in Africa to contribute to ‘resolving regional conflicts, countering global terror networks, combating international crime etc’ (ibid: 5, 8). The strategy suggests to focus the US efforts on countries with major impact on their neighbourhood such as South Africa, Nigeria, Kenya and Ethiopia (White House, 2002, 10-11). Together with the strong emphasis on failed states, the ‘Security Strategy’ expressed strong reservations towards one of the traditional instruments in US Africa policy, namely development aid (ibid: 21-23). In the ‘Strategic Plan for 2004-2009’, the State Department and the USAID jointly emphasized that development assistance ‘must be fully aligned with the U.S. foreign policy’ (State Department and USAID, 2003, 4). The clearly stated policy goal of fighting international terrorism has increasingly been mixed with another classical US national security issue namely access to oil supplies from Africa (Klare and Volman, 2006; Schraeder, 2005, 52ff). According to National Intelligence Council forecasts, the US could be importing as much as 25% of its oil from Central Africa by 2015 compared with 16% at the beginning of this century (Pham, 2005, 19; Servant, 2003). The growing American dependence on oil from Africa is not a new thing. It was a reality before September 11 and as such it has nothing to do with the terrorist attacks on New York (Servant, 2003). There are a number of obvious and striking points of resemblance between the American post- September 11 evaluation of Africa and that of the European Union as far as the fight against international terrorism is concerned. There is no doubt that the European Union considers terrorism as a very serious threat to Europe (European Council, 2003, 3). However, there is one crucial difference between the European Security Strategy and the American as the former establishes a close link between the new security threats and underdevelopment. By doing this, the European Strategy links up to one of the main historical reasons for having EU policies towards sub-Saharan Africa which has been to promote economic and social development.

The US Fight Against Terrorism in Africa

Immediately after September 11, the US launched a number of regional security initiatives proving that Africa is integrated in the global fight against terrorism. Pentagon established its ‘Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa’ based in Djibouti with the objective to engage in counterterrorist activities in the whole region (Lobe, 2003; Rothchild and Emmanuel, 2005). The task force consists of up to 2000 troops stationed in Djibouti and around the Horn of Africa with the aim to engage in direct combat activities. It is no coincidence that the programme is particularly focussed on the countries in and around the Horn of Africa as they happen to be located close to the Middle East and the oil routes. Pentagon also launched two other programmes focussing on regional security. The Pan-Sahelian Initiative (PSI) is focused on the vast desert areas of West Africa. Concretely, the PSI aims at controlling the more or less inhabited areas in Chad, Mali, Mauritania and Niger with the explicit objective to prevent the area from becoming a sanctuary for terrorist groups. After the launch of the PSI, Algeria and Senegal have been included in the programme. The other regional programme is the ‘East African Counter-terrorism Initiative’ which includes Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda. It was launched in 2003 with financial backing of no less than 100 million dollars over a period of 15 months. ‘That is indicative of the importance, the United States attributes to counterterrorism in comparison to other aims of its Africa policy’, Fernanda Faria argues (Faria, 2004, 24). It is considered a pilot project for the State Department and it aims at financing a number of smaller programmes focussing on border control in the wider East African region. Its stated objective is to hit whatever al-Qaida networks there might be in the region. According to Peter Schraeder, the regional security programmes clearly show the change in the American policy towards Africa in the period after September 2001 (Schraeder, 2005, 47). They underline that security has come into the forefront of the American concerns towards the region. The new and much more offensive American policy towards Africa also manifests itself in programmes which deal with training and education of African armies with the explicit aim to have the African troops ready to engage actively in the fight against terrorism in Africa. No less than 41 countries receive support under the ‘International Military Educations and Training Programme’ where the practical training takes place in the US. This particular strategic component of course has to be seen in the context of the strong reservations, the Bush administration has had towards using American armed forces in Africa (Schraeder, 2005, 49f). Also, the American government has launched a special initiative aimed at strengthening the capacity of African armies to carry out operations in the hostile environment which are found in many parts of Africa (Schraeder, 2005, 51). Finally, the Defence Department plans to expand the existing military training programmes and to broaden intelligence operations to cover the whole of Africa. Donald Rothchild and Nikolas Emmanuel underline that the increased focus on security issues has taken place while at the same time, the Bush administration has reduced the relative budget allocations for democracy promotion despite its strong verbal support for this particular issue (Rothchild and Emmanuel, 2005, 21). Peter Schraeder interprets the different programmes as the result of Pentagon’s vision of the need to fight terrorism in Africa and that this particular vision implies an increasing militarization of the American foreign policy towards Africa (Schraeder, 2005, 52).

American development assistance

In spite of the National Security Strategy’s sceptical view on development assistance, Washington increased its aid to Sub-Saharan Africa dramatically from 2001 and onwards. By the end of the financial year (FY) 2004, the real increase in US foreign assistance to the region was 56%. If the calculations include an estimate for the FY 2005, the real increase from 2000 to 2005 is 78% (Rice, 2005, 4, 6). Not only did the US increase its foreign assistance to Africa, but the US also quite dramatically changed its pattern of aid allocations to different countries in Africa. Using the Financial Year 2001 as the baseline, a number of countries experienced significant increases in the volume of foreign aid from the US. The foreign assistance to Angola increased by no less than 163% from FY 2001 to FY 2003. Likewise, aid to Ethiopia increased by 182%, to Sudan by 148%, the DRC by 92% and Uganda by 78%. These are remarkable growth rates. What is also striking is that in 2004 and continuing into 2005, the growth in the volume of aid to a number of African countries stopped and it seems that the level of aid has stabilized. However, the general volume of foreign aid to Africa is still at a much higher level than it was during the 1990s (www.us.aid.gov/policy/budget/cbj2005/afr/, accessed 18 November 2005). Compared to the bad old days of the cold war, there are many points of resemblance between the new policy and the traditional American containment approach towards Africa. It is the case for the strong reliance on military means including support to friendly regimes and training of local forces to fight the ‘enemy’, be it communism or terrorism. During the 1990s, American policymakers launched the African Crises Response Initiative (ACRI) which was aimed to train local armed forces to deal better and more efficiently with local conflicts (Alden, 2000; Schraeder, 2001). Also, the strong regional focus can be considered as a continuation of policies already laid down during the 1990s and which were continued during the early period of President George W. Bush. Thus, the United States developed the idea that it should base its Africa policy on regional keystates such as Nigeria, Kenya and South Africa long before 2001 (Alden, 2000; Schraeder, 2001). In conclusion, it is possible to argue that the basic features of the post September 11 American Africa policies were already laid down during the cold war and during the 1990s and into the first years of the Bush administration. It seems to buttress the argument the choice of policy instruments is path dependent.

The EU’s Foreign and Security Policy

Towards Africa Following the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001, the already ongoing debate on European security became strongly focused on the need to react to terrorism and on how to do so adequately (Allen and Smith, 2002, 97ff; Boer and Monar, 2002). The European Council produced a number of declarations and statements concerning international terrorism starting with the ‘Conclusion and plan of action of the extraordinary European Council meeting on 21 September 2001’ (European Council, 2001). When it comes to Africa, the EU has restricted its post-September 11 policy to issuing a number of declarations that have condemned terrorism (Background note, 2001, annex II; European Council, 2002, annex I). The issue of fighting terrorism remained on the agenda of the EU-Africa dialogue during the years under scrutiny even though the issue increasingly receded into the background whereas the traditional topics, such as peace and security, governance, regional integration and trade, debt, food security and HIV/AIDS, continued to be addressed at some length. At the EU-Africa summit held in Dublin in April 2004, terrorism attracted the following attention in a document of 5 pages: ‘Ministers reaffirmed their commitment and determination to continue to co-operate in the global fight against terrorism’ (Commission, 2004, 2).

Operation Artemis in Congo

On June 12 2003, the EU Council of Ministers adopted a ground-breaking resolution within the framework of the European Common Defence Policy (ESDP). For the first time ever, the Council decided to deploy a pure EU military force in a crisis management operation outside Europe. It was the first ESDP operation in Africa and it was even implemented without using NATO facilities under the Berlin Plus Agreement (Gegout, 2005; Ulriksen, et al.). The aim of Operation Artemis was to stabilize the security situation in the crisis-ridden Ituri province in the Democratic Republic of Congo and thereby, improve the humanitarian situation in and around the main town Bunia. It is obvious that Operation ‘Artemis’ had nothing to do with the global fight against terrorism unless it is argued that attempts to manage widespread instability including preventing genocide in this particular region of Africa are related to the global war on terror following September 11. Even though operation Artemis appears as a spectacular initiative, it is possible to interpret the intervention as a continuation of policy reflections that were launched already during the 1990s which increasingly put emphasis on conflict management and conflict prevention (Olsen 2005, 134-9). If, at all it is possible to interpret Operation Artemis as a new policy and thus not path dependent, is has to be with reference to circumstances that has nothing to do with the war on terror. One interpretation is to see the intervention on the background of the deep divisions among the European member states caused by the war on Iraq in the spring of 2003. The Congo operation was an attempt by the European powers to prove that they could still cooperate and that the CFSP/ESDP was still alive (Salmon, 2005, 375- 9; Menon 2005, 631-48; confidential interviews Brussels December 2005). At this particular point in time, it also appears that the French president Chirac found it pertinent for the EU to prove that it could act autonomously from NATO. And ‘Artemis’ was a way for France to be recognized politically as an effective military actor (Gegout, 2005, 437; Ulriksen et al., 2004, 512).

Darfur and the African Peace Facility

On 17 November 2003, the General Affairs Council approved a draft decision to use the European Development Fund (EDF) to create a so-called ‘Peace Facility for Africa’ in line with the request made by the African Union (Faria, 2004, 36). On 25 March 2004, it was officially announced that the African Peace Facility which is a 250 million Euro instrument, financed by the EU, was aimed at supporting African peacekeeping operations. In his speech, EU Commissioner Poul Nielson said ‘the EU's speedy approval of the Peace Facility recognizes the credibility in the area of peace and security. The Peace Facility gives concrete backing to the emerging African resolve to deal with African conflicts’ (www.europa.eu.int/pressRelease, accessed 18 November 2005). So far, the Peace Facility has supported the African Union in Darfur in Western Sudan by providing more than 92 million euros to its mission. Also, the EU has disbursed a very significant amount of money for humanitarian assistance including food aid. It has also funded a number of political initiatives (Factsheet, 2005). In the spring of 2005 the African Union set out to increase its force to more than 7,700 staff both soldiers and civilians. Closely related to this increase, the EU has contributed no less than 58 individuals including military officers and military observers to the AU mission. It is particularly worth noting that the 58 EU personnel are included in the AU command structure and are as such under the command of AU officers (http://Europe-eu_un.org/articles/en/article_5128_en.htm; accessed 15 November 2005) The Darfur crisis points towards a dual observation as far as the CFSP towards Africa is concerned. On the one hand, it is beyond any discussion that the EU is a very strong and generous supporter of African efforts to promote peace and stability in Africa concretely to find a peaceful solution to the enduring crisis in Western Sudan. It is possible to argue that the significant EU involvement in the crisis in Darfur is promoted by a strong desire to have the African Union to take the responsibility with the explicit aim to avoid a more direct EU involvement (confidential interview Brussels December 2005). This is very much a continuation of policies laid down during the 1990s. At the same time, it is very difficult to interpret the African Peace Facility as well as the other initiatives towards the Darfur crisis as part of the global fight against international terrorism.

Increase in EU development assistance

The disbursement of European development aid to Africa increased from 1,809 million US$ in 2001 in fixed prices and exchange rates to 2,054 million US $ in 2003 which is equivalent to a 13.5 % increase. Compared with the growth in aid disbursements from the US, the increase in EU’s aid to Sub-Saharan Africa is moderate. Nevertheless, the share of EU aid to SubSaharan Africa grew from 30.4 % of the total budget in 2001 to 38.9% in 2003 (OECD, 2005, table 29). Also, interesting changes took place in the geographical distribution of development aid from the EU. Compared to the American figures for the years 2001 to 2004, it seems as if the Europeans tended to cut their aid in cases where the Americans increased their foreign assistance and the other way round. For example Ivory Coast had its aid from the EU reduced by no less than 77%. Kenya experienced a 41% cut, Eritrea 64%, Ethiopia 17%. On the other hand, the DRC experienced an increase in EU aid of no less than 309%, Mozambique 72%, Sudan 118% and Nigeria 57% (Europeaid/European Commission, 2005). There is no discussion that the European Union increased its aid to Africa in the years following 2001. However, it has not been possible to find indications that the increase in aid volume can be explained with reference to the fight against international terrorism. Some of the increase is even the result of disbursements of funds committed before 2001 (confidential interview, December 2003). Moreover, there are numerous statements and official documents which explain the increase with reference to the strong EU consent to the UN Millennium goals which implies a commitment to increase development assistance significantly (Commission, 2005). Also, it is difficult to explain the change in geographical distribution of EU aid to Africa as an element in the fight against terrorism. Rather, the European decision-makers disburse aid to the African countries based mainly on criteria tied to the traditional aim of reducing poverty. Both elements point towards a conclusion that traditional values and norms of the civilian power have had a significant impact on this particular component of the Union’s Africa policy. At the same time, it is difficult to argue that the increase in aid volume as well as the changing pattern of geographical allocation has anything to do with the war on terror. As such there is no doubt that the EU’s development policy is path dependent in particular if the focus is on the choice of policy instruments.

Path Dependency In The Face of the New Security Agenda?

As far as the choice of policy instruments is concerned, the post-September 2001 American Africa policy to a large extent appears to be path dependent. On the other hand, it is difficult to maintain that the US Africa policy in total is path dependent if the size and the magnitude of the post September 11 initiatives are included in the analysis. The paper has shown that there is a clear difference between the current Africa policy and that of the previous periods when it comes to the size of the military initiatives and the volume of development aid which showed remarkable growth rates during the years under scrutiny. The Africa policy of the European Union is characterized by continuity as the basic features of the post September 11 policy were already laid down before terrorist attacks on New York. Not only was the crisis management interventions but also the development assistance policy of the European Union basically path dependent, maybe apart from the African Peace facility. This may not necessary be the most important conclusion. It is far more significant that the initiatives launched after 2001 had nothing to do with the global war against terrorism. Rather, the initiatives were influenced by traditional development goals such as poverty eradication combined with crisis management which have been the two most important components of the Africa policy of the EU since the mid 1990s. Summing up, it appears that the choice of policy instruments both in the case of the US and in the case of the EU are path dependent and therefore, bureaucratic inertia and institutional constrains can explain the policy choices. The observation points towards a conclusion that path dependency in the Africa policy of the two Western powers is a stronger explanatory variable than critical juncture. However, it has to be emphasized that this is only valid for the European Union’s Africa policy. No doubt, September 11 was a critical juncture for the American Africa policy and as such it can explain the size of the counter terrorist initiatives and also the increase in aid volumes.

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