Thinking global, living local: Voices in a globalized world

The Greater WE: Military Interventions in a Globalized World

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Global governance and the movement toward a Greater WE means a protection of global public goods, supranational structures and the harmonization of laws and procedures regarding human rights, trade and security. The Greater WE is about the common good of all, not the profit of a few.

“With this in mind, where do undeclared proxy wars over resources fit into this framework of global governance?”

These military interventions have become a peculiar form of aid that destroys infrastructure, creates dependence and vulnerability. Furthermore, in the case of nations like Somalia, wars and military interventions undermine regional food security, contributing to famine. Considering these factors, it is apparent that security within a global governance framework needs to be reconfigured to address and prevent the resultant destabilization wrought by military interventions.

The overlap of global governance and military might is easily seen when one looks at the United States’ foreign policy. Undeclared wars, interventions and military aid are hallmarks of the Washington’s strategies. For example, the United States is increasing its military presence on the African continent- most pointedly in resource-rich nations like Nigeria, Somalia and Uganda.

What are the implications of President Obama’s decision to send military advisers to Uganda, South Sudan, Central African Republic and the Democratic Republic of the Congo? Can we learn from the United States armed forces’ forays into Africa? Can we look at the First (1993) and Second (2006) Battles of Mogadishu (Somalia) and Operation Lightning Thunder (2008) and learn from the resultant civilian casualties, displacement and heightened risk of hunger and famine?

Billed as a strategy to force Joseph Kony (head of the Lord‘s Resistance Army) to sign the Final Peace Agreement (FPA) (a peace agreement that even the Ugandan government has refused to sign), Operation Lightning Thunder destroyed the Lord‘s Resistance Army (LRA) base camp and scattered the LRA over the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Sudan and the Central African Republic (CAR). Tens of thousands of Congolese and Sudanese were displaced in the December 2008 military operation, comprising a percentage of the 200,000 displaced.

In the DRC, citizens either fled to major towns or across the border to Sudan. Thousands of Sudanese left their villages along the border and sought shelter and security in major towns. However, in towns, it was unclear whether the army was providing security. Other factors, including the rainy season, lack of food, housing, medical care, exacerbated the plight of those displaced by the fighting.

Another effect of Operation Lightning Thunder was the militarization of communities. Most border communities set up civilian defense groups in response to increased insecurity. Armed with everything from  bows and arrows to AK-47s, these groups patrolled the streets and villages, sometimes with support from local army bases. Communities often did not expect to be protected by national or international troops. While community self-defence is important, some local authorities and community leaders expressed concern that the increased insecurity would lead to renewed militarization and cause shifts in local power structures that would undermine peace-building efforts.

The United States already has 2500 troops stationed in Camp Lemonier in Djibouti, enabling operations in the Horn of Africa, including the drone war in Somalia. This is in addition to the Special Forces stationed in West Africa- most particularly in the Niger Delta in light of increased incidences of Boko Haram violence in Northern Nigeria. Now what do the Niger Delta, southern Somalia and northern Uganda have in common? Answer: all are home to large deposits of oil.

In 2009, Heritage Oil discovered the oil deposits, later selling them off to their competition Tullow Oil for £84 million in order to avoid paying a capital gains tax to the Ugandan government. Tullow, the leading oil explorer in Uganda, then turned around and sold 30 percent of its interest to Total (France) and China CNOOC, for $2.9 billion. Since then, the Ugandan government has delayed the deal, but recently Uganda’s President Yoweri Museveni has indicated that he would not delay it further, citing the possible damage to his credibility in future deals.

Following up the 2001 Patriot Act, which declared the LRA a terrorist organization, The United States‘ the Lord’s Resistance Army Disarmament and Northern Uganda Recovery Act of 2009, Public Law 111-172, enacted May 24, 2010 provides a legal basis for sending military assistance to Uganda. In his October 14, 2011 letter to the House of Representatives and the President Pro Tempore of the Senate, President Obama admitted that even with U.S. assistance, regional military efforts have thus far been unsuccessful in removing LRA leader Joseph Kony and his top commanders, announcing that as Chief Executive of the United States Armed Forces, he sent military advisors to Uganda, South Sudan, Central African Republic and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

This move was described as being in the best interests of the United States‘ national security and foreign policy interests. The question now is – is this move in the best interests of Africans? How does this fit within global governance?

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ArriannaMarie Twitter: ArriannaMarieArrianna Marie

Writer. UChicago Grad Student. Novelist-in-Progress. Budding Activist. Researcher. Consultant. Prolific Reader. History Buff. Lover of all things Africa. You can find my blog on human trafficking and development issues in Africa here.