Item regarding O'hanlon Memorandum
On the last day in January a leading Thinktank here in Washington drafted a unique memorandum for President Obama. This document seeks to address two of the main flaws in the Foreign Policy of the Administration as it is directed towards Africa.
The areas that are addressed are Libya and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Both Nations are currently faced with acute Security Issues. Ever since the United States joined in the Air Campaign to support the effort to oust Libyan Strongman Qadaffi the Country has been rife with Militias. An Al-Qaeda linked Militia was behind the attack on the US Compound in Benghazi in 2012 which resulted in the Deaths of Ambassador Stevens and three other Americans.
The author of the memo for Brookings Institution Michael O'hanlon a Defense Expert feels that a modest effort by the Administration can keep the country from further slipping into anarchy. In recent weeks there has been several attempts to bring the Oil Platforms in the South back online to generate Revenues for the “Government” in Tripoli. Stability in Libya will be seen as a benefit to a very jittery Military Regime in Egypt and in Algeria.
Going on to the Democratic Republic of the Congo. This is a unique Situation. When the President was serving in the United States Senate He introduced Legislation that dealt with the Situation in the Democratic Republic of the Congo back in 2006 . But since it was signed into law by President Bush both his Administration and the Current Administration have been lax in implementing the Law. Particularly the clause which calls for Sanctions to be imposed on those parties that are known to be behind the strife in the Country.
In this memo a call is made for the deployment of a Brigade of US Combat Forces to the DRC. What exactly will this mission entail? Will these forces be used to prop up Failing UN Peacekeeping Missions in South Sudan and the Central African Republic? If the Brigade is sent more than likely it will be the Dagger Brigade which is the 1st Brigade of the 1st Infantry Division based at Fort Riley, Kansas. This brigade has already been tasked to AFRICOM. Although the mission at this time is for the Brigade to Build up the Military Capabilities of the Nations in its Area of Responsibility.( the only exception being Egypt.) Having the unit assume a combat posture will be seen in two lights.
First of all there will be an element that will see this as an attempt by the US as the first step in the grab for Natural Resources. Another way that the naysayers will see this will be that this is an attempt to further place American Forces on the Ground to further the Militarization of the Policy towards Africa. The Opposite Position will be seen as once again the US is going to have to bail the UN out of a Mission that has become problematic.
There will be a problem about how this can be “sold” to the General Public here in the US. The perception is that the Nation is tired of War. There is merit to this argument after the Operations in both Iraq and Afganistan that have been underway since 2001. However a small force in the region is felt to be more cost effective now then a future deployment of a larger force down the road. In an era of current Austerity this may be seen as a benefit.
Whatever the motive there are hidden messages here. One of them is that whatever the reason the situation in Central Africa is now seen as a National Security Interest of the United States. Secondly this suggestion can be seen as an idea to address policy blunders made by this and previous Administrations. Thirdly it can be seen as a vote of no confidence in the Actions of the United Nations and other actors in African Security.
The Author is President of Red Eagle Enterprises. Two ventures are the blogs Confused Eagle and Subsaharan Wire. they can be found at confusedeagle.livejournal.com and www.subsaharanwire.com