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Former Envoy Praises Bush Anti-Terrorist Partnerships With Africa
Washington , DC , November 18, 2005 (United States Department of State) – By focusing on poverty and security, the Bush administration's partnerships with Africans to combat international terrorism are moving in the right direction, says diplomat-turned-scholar David Shinn.
A career Foreign Service officer who served as U.S. ambassador to Burkina Faso and later to Ethiopia , Shinn now teaches young Americans about Africa as an adjunct professor at George Washington University 's Elliott School of International Affairs in Washington .
"No country outside Africa has done more than the U.S. to combat terrorism on the continent," Shinn told more than 300 participants on the second day of the November 15-16 National Defense University (NDU) conference examining, " Africa : Vital to U.S. Security?"
The two-day meeting, held on NDU's campus at historic Fort Lesley J. McNair in Washington , was co-sponsored by the Institute for National Strategic Studies and the African Center for Strategic Studies. All three organizations are policy research organizations associated with the U.S. Department of Defense.
Shinn, who made his comments on the panel "Terrorism and Transnational Threats -- Causes and Enablers," said there are many reasons why extremism and terrorism develop in Africa . They include "poor governance, corruption, radical ideology and religious beliefs, opposition to Western policies, [and] a desire to impose a new political order."
Many believe poverty is an underlying cause of terrorism, Shinn pointed out. And African leaders "tend to draw a closer link between poverty and terrorism," he said. Therefore, he reasoned, any strategy designed to counter extremism and terrorism in Africa "must be conducted in partnership with African governments. If those governments perceive that reducing poverty is an intrinsic part of the solution, then it must be considered seriously in the dialogue."
With that in mind, Shinn said, " U.S. policy on the role of poverty and inequality as reasons for extremism and terrorism has been evolving in the right direction."
For example, he noted that President Bush in his September 2002 National Security Strategy paper stated: "Poverty does not make poor people into terrorists and murderers. Yet poverty, weak institutions, and corruption can make weak states vulnerable to terrorist networks and drug cartels within their borders."
Shinn also pointed out that Bush's February 2003 National Strategy for Combating Terrorism acknowledged that although many terrorist organizations have little in common with the poor and destitute, they exploit these conditions to their advantage. "It recognized that weak and failed states are a source of international instability and that they may become a sanctuary for terrorism," he said.
President Bush was even more explicit, Shinn said, when he said at the United Nations in New York on September 14: "We must help raise up the failing states and stagnant societies that provide fertile ground for the terrorists. We must defend and extend a vision of human dignity, and opportunity, and prosperity -- a vision far stronger than the dark appeal of resentment and murder. To spread a vision of hope, the United States is determined to help nations that are struggling with poverty." (See related article.)
In the past year, Bush announced more spending to help Africans fight HIV/AIDS and malaria as well as fund educational programs aimed at women and children. He also announced a massive debt relief program for Africa 's poorest nations. In 2004 alone, total U.S. government emergency assistance and development aid to the continent totaled $3 billion. (See U.S. Aid to Africa .)
Bush policy also has taken steps to strengthen African security by identifying and diminishing conditions that contribute to state weakness and failure. This includes U.S. help to resolve regional disputes and protect against homegrown terrorism. Since America was attacked on September 11, 2001 , there have been several multi-country partnerships with African nations aimed at enhancing their security, he said.
-- The Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa (CJTF-HOA), established in Djibouti in 2002. Its 1,400 military and civilian personnel focus on gathering intelligence, training friendly militaries and creating good will by carrying out civic action projects. It works in partnership with Djibouti , Eritrea , Ethiopia , Sudan , Somalia , Kenya and Yemen and plans to include Tanzania and Uganda .
-- The $100 million East Africa Counterterrorism Initiative (EACTI), launched in 2003 to provide counterterrorism equipment, training and assistance to Djibouti , Eritrea , Ethiopia , Tanzania , Uganda and Kenya .
-- The $8.4 million Pan Sahel Initiative (PSI), which provided counterterrorism training for the security forces of Mauritania , Mali , Niger and Chad during 2003-2004. As a follow-up, the United States started the Trans Sahara Counterterrorism Initiative (TSCTI) in 2005, which includes the four Sahel countries and adds Algeria , Senegal , Nigeria , Morocco , Tunisia and potentially Libya . Funding for TSCTI may reach $500 million over the next seven years.
The purpose of these programs is to improve the military and political capability of the African governments to meet the terrorist threat by providing training and equipment not only for counterterrorist units but also for "development assistance, expanded public diplomacy, and support for improved governance and human rights," Shinn said.
(The Washington File is a product of the Bureau of International Information Programs, U.S. Department of State. Web site: http://usinfo.state.gov)