The U.S. seems hell bent on global withdrawal as fast as it debt grows. One could ask do “lemmings have a strategy?”
A recent illustration of “leading from behind” is the leadership of General Carter Ham. After the General’s dazzling leadership of the NATO effort, he had time to now reflect on the future of the African continent. And in a period of fiscal stringency, he has found a way to help the African continent: Back the Chinese.
America’s financial crisis, war fatigue and the public’s isolationist mood are certain to put a damper on U.S. military efforts to rebuild war-ravaged countries and prop up failing states. Today’s biggest spenders on foreign development assistance and stability operations — the United States, Europe and Japan — are all in the throes of economic downturn.
Nowhere would cutbacks in foreign military assistance be felt more acutely than in Africa, home of seven of the world’s top 10 “failed states.”
These virtually lawless nations, which the United States considers “safe havens” for extremist groups and pirates, include Somalia, Chad, Sudan, Zimbabwe the Democratic Republic of Congo, Central African Republic and Guinea.
But as the United States dials back its role as the world’s policeman, China increasingly is expected to fill the gap, at least in Africa, says the U.S. military officer who oversees the African continent, Army Gen. Carter Ham.
“It is very clear that the Chinese, like us and like many others, are engaged in supporting African militaries with equipment,” said Ham, commander of U.S. Africa Command…..
Ham says, China’s participation is encouraging. “I don’t see that as a military competition between us and China.” A number of African nations fly Chinese aircraft and patrol their coastal waters with Chinese vessels. This is not to be seen as an arms race but rather as “African nations making decisions about where they can best find supplies and equipment they need,” Ham says. “As a U.S. guy, would I prefer for them to have all U.S. stuff? Absolutely. That makes it easier for us to engage. But Africans will make decisions that are best for them.”
Lest one think that such leadership skills are limited to Africom, we find that during the air campaign our crack Predator intelligence guided us to bomb facilitates with thousands of manpads. Of course, manpads are amongst the deadliest of weapons in the hands of asymmetric enemies. One can easily imagine Iran aiding our little buddies in Iraq and Afghanistan more than eager to give Uncle Sam a nice push out.
But I am sure that our Department of Homeland Security has continued the focused effort of the Bush Administration on the manpads issue. It seems that this has not been the case, that the manpads issues is far down the scale of DHS priorities whilst they are pursuing gangs within the US.
A question from this concerned citizen is simple: I hope the Administration BEFORE bombing a manpads rich country, stoked up the fires at DHS to deal with the issue. I hope this will not be another example of “leading from