Publication year: 2017

To prevent weak foreign states from succumbing to conditions of poverty and corruption that could create a breeding ground for terrorism, the United States must implement a more comprehensive approach to fighting terrorism by increasing its military and economic recourses to regions that exhibit those conditions.  Poverty and corruption create an atmosphere that is conducive to the type of illicit trade and drug trafficking that terrorists conduct in order to fund their terrorist activities worldwide.  Specifically, escalating corruption, poverty, anti-American sentiment, and cultural tensions in Central and West Africa create the type of politically unstable environment that terrorists find appealing to conduct their illegal activities.  This paper will argue that the America’s current Global War on Terrorism (GWOT) would benefit it the government were to increase its current military and economic aid to Central and West Africa, because existing conditions of poverty and corruption in those regions create an environment that is tolerant of illicit activities and drug trafficking, thereby making it conducive to terrorists.  In addition, this essay will consider various views concerning the cause of Central and West Africa’s problems that directly, or indirectly, refute the notion that increasing economic and military aid to those regions would benefit America’s GWOT.

America’s goal in the GWOT is to break the global terrorist network into small groups, thereby allowing local law enforcement officials to prosecute terrorists as criminals.[1]  To accomplish that goal, the United States developed the, “National Strategy for Combating Terrorism” (hereafter referred to as NSCT): a plan issuing guidelines for America’s policies towards defeating international terrorism.  Featured within the NSCT is the 4D strategy:  a policy that outlines its goals and objectives.  The 4D strategy specifies that America will defeat terrorists and their organizations; deny support, sponsorship, and sanctuary to terrorists; diminish the underlying conditions that terrorists seek to exploit; and defend U.S. Citizens and interests at home and abroad, thus recognizing and eliminating threats before they present an, “immediate threat” (National Strategy for Combating Terrorism, 2003) of terrorism.[2]

America possesses a dominant, well-funded military, which, unlike armies of past empires that coerced its soldiers into enlisting, is comprised of volunteers.  It might be argued that because its military is comprised of a, “small volunteer army,” (Ferguson, 2004) the United States is incapable of promoting its, “hegemonic aspirations with true colonization,” (Ferguson, 2004) suggesting that America desires to colonize non-Western states in the same manner as the British Empire, for example, that typically used colonization as a means to expansion.[3]  That argument, nonetheless, insinuates that America desires to colonize weak states, such as those in Central and West Africa, yet is unable to realize that goal because of its limited number of soldiers, further suggesting that America is inconsistent with the policies set forth in the NSCT, and is therefore destined to fail in the GWOT.  In fact, certain evidence indicates that the United States government has been consistent with the 4D strategy vis-à-vis immediate threats to terrorism.  For example, in 2002, Somalia, Kenya, and Yemen were identified by the United States as regions posing an immediate threat, and the Bush administration responded appropriately by developing the Combined Joint Task Force – Horn of Africa, whose purpose is to, “deter, preempt, and disable terrorist threats.”  (Lyman and Morrison, 2004)  That decision is consistent with the first tenet of the 4D strategy, which indicates that the United States will use, “law enforcement, military…and other instruments of power” (National Strategy for Combating Terrorism, 2003) to defeat terrorist organizations.  Nevertheless, the NSCT also indicates that America the will not ignore, “emerging threats,” (National Strategy for Combating Terrorism, 2003) and the Bush administration has recognized a connection between, “failed states and terrorism,” (Lyman et al., 2004) conceding that “poverty, weak institutions, and corruption can make weak states vulnerable to terrorist networks.”  (Lyman et al., 2004)  Connections between weak states and terrorism notwithstanding, the United States forfeited the opportunity to expound its strategic intentions in weakened areas of Africa during President Bush’s visit in 2002.  President Bush refrained from assigning peacekeeping troops in Liberia when it was on the verge of civil war, and in so doing, “badly damaged” (Lyman et al., 2004) America’s credibility in Africa because it indicated that the United States was not committed to the region, thereby sending, “precisely the wrong signal” (Lyman et al., 2004) to terrorists operating in Central and West Africa.  That decision contradicts the third tenet of the 4D strategy, which asserts America’s commitment to reduce conditions that, “terrorists can exploit,” (National Strategy for Combating Terrorism, 2003) in countries with, “people living in poverty, deprivation, social disenfranchisement, and unresolved political and regional disputes.”  (National Strategy for Combating Terrorism, 2003)  Acknowledgement by the Bush administration that poverty and corruption make weak states vulnerable to terrorism, combined with the stated goals and objectives of the NSCT jointly support the theory that allocating additional military resources to weak foreign states, as a preemptive measure against terrorism, could benefit America’s GWOT because it would reducing the risk of terrorism.

On one hand, it can be said that the above-mentioned lack of American military presence in Africa contributes to terrorist activities because, by default, it permits corruption, a condition required for illicit activities, to run rampant.  On the other hand, the, “real “strategic” danger” (Kaplan, 1994) in West Africa might stem from, “criminal anarchy” (Kaplan, 1994) that primarily originates from rising expectations (the hope or expectation of a deprived group that social conditions will improve in the near future, but often results in social unrest due to disease, deforestation, and diminishing natural resources).[4]  Deforestation, the process of removing trees or forests to accommodate new construction, is occurring at an alarming rate in West Africa, specifically Nigeria, thus resulting in widespread malaria and other diseases.[5]  In addition, diminishing natural resources, such as clean water, can lead to privatization (the conversion of a public enterprise to a private enterprise in order to create a profit).  Moreover, racial and cultural clashes typically result from deforestation and privatization, often exerting a, “destabilizing influence” (Kaplan, 1994) on the region, one that results in poverty and corruption, and creates an environment conducive to terrorists who will benefit from the situation via illicit activities such as illegal drug trafficking.  Regardless if West Africa’s problems are the result of the United States government’s failure to adhere to the NSCT’s policies, or if they are due to criminal anarchy, America’s GWOT would benefit from increasing its military aid to that region because its future will likely be marked by violence, corruption, and poverty if the situation is ignored.  The United States must, as a preemptive measure against terrorism, allocate additional military assets to West Africa to alleviate the violence and corruption because those conditions typically result in poverty and disease, and create an environment that benefit terrorists who capitalize on the regions misfortune, and conduct illegal financial activities.

Another possible reason for West Africa’s quandary suggests that overpopulation in Nigeria, which continues at a staggering rate, is the primary cause of its high level of corruption and poverty.[6]  For instance, Nigeria’s population is expected to increase from one million (1950 consensus) to approximately twenty-five million by 2015.[7]  The mega-city (urban cities characterized by overpopulation and poverty) in emerging countries such as Nigeria, “will contribute ninety-five percent” (Liotta and Miskel, 2004) of the worlds population growth, and will result in destabilizing already weakened states.  Therefore, focusing on failed states, as previously mentioned, rather than on states with a serious population crisis, might cause the American government to, “pay insufficient attention to” (Liotta et al., 2004) the geographic areas of the, “Lagos-Cairo-Karachi-Jakarta arc” (Liotta et al., 2004) whose projected population increase will destabilize the region, thus creating the greatest threat to developed countries.  However, it seems logical to suggest that Central and West Africa’s problems are not isolated to one set of circumstances, but rather, they are the collective result of poverty, corruption, disease, overpopulation, and deforestation.  That fact, combined with the aforementioned data that weakened states are prone to terrorism, along with the objective of the third tenet of the 4D strategy, collectively sustain the premise that Washington, “must not ignore Africa”  (Lyman et al., 2004) if it is to win the GWOT.

Military supremacy notwithstanding, the United States possess an envious economy, one that is characterized by economic transparency, (requiring a rule of law, accounting standards, and a stable currency) which is a necessary component of democracy.[8]  Despite that anti-American sentiment develops in weak foreign states that view the presence of the American military as an instrument to force democracy on their culture, the United States not desire to play, “the old games of dominance,” (Mead, 2004) such as the British Empire had for centuries, in order to succeed in its GWOT.  In fact, if the United States government were to force its military might on weak states, rather than simply increase its number of peacekeeping troops, as suggested above, it would create an asymmetrical confrontation, one where, “two forces are completely out of balance,” (White, 285) and could result in further escalating the level of anti-American sentiment.  Instead, the United States prefers to evoke change through the promotion of democracy without using, “the methods of the Romans.”  (Mead, 2004)  For example, during the Cold War, the United States adopted a containment policy (a method of preventing a country from territorial expansion through economic means), thereby using its economic power to cause change within the Soviet Union without military force.[9]  That containment policy, known as the Marshall Plan, was implemented by the Truman administration, and was designed to send a message to the Soviet Union and the Eastern European countries that it controlled, that they would be entitled to receive economic aid only if they revised their economic policies to, “meet Western standards for open economics.”  (Lamborn and Lepgold, 2003)  Consequently, that economic aid ended a tense period in world history that could have resulted in worldwide nuclear destruction, and demonstrates that monetary aid can affect peace.  Simply put, America’s goal is to promote stability without reducing the status of weakened foreign states to, “tributary provinces,” (Mead, 2004) because the act of colonization would be inconsistent with the liberating concepts of democracy.  However, despite the historical evidence that economic aid can deter a potential crisis, as demonstrated by the effectiveness of the Marshall Plan, and regardless that the Bush administration has acknowledged that Central and West Africa’s stability is important to America’s GWOT, the United States government refuses to provide additional economic aid to those regions.  Moreover, America currently imports, “seven percent of its oil”  (Lyman et al., 2004) from Nigeria, thereby creating an important economic partnership.  Nonetheless, Washington has done little to check rising instability in Africa, and al Qaeda, the terrorist group headed by Osama bin Laden, has capitalized on the civil war in Congo by colluding with West African governments to purchase illegal diamonds that are later sold to fund terrorist activities worldwide.[10]  Although terrorism means, “different things to different people,” (White, 2002) all terrorists are attempting to, “make a political statement using violence,” (Norwitz, 2002) and fund their operations within the borders of weak countries via trading illegal diamonds, drug trafficking, kidnapping, or money laundering (the excessive electronic money transfers that are designed to hide its origin).  That money is then used to fund terrorist activities that are often directed at symbolic, “targets of opportunity,” (White, 2002) such as The World Trade Center, and other soft targets (easy targets, populated by civilians, rather than military personnel) such as café’s or restaurants.[11]  In addition, under the Bush administration, the United States has become a debtor nation (a nation that depends on foreign loans) and its, “growing dependence on foreign capital,” (Ferguson, 2004) might indicate that it would be economically irresponsible to commit additional economic aid to Africa because of America’s high debt level.  It might be argued, for example, that Americas high debt level is similar to past failed empires, such as British empire under Henry IV, which also exhibited high levels of debt, thus insinuating that the United States is also destined to fail, and therefore cannot afford to send more aid to other regions.[12]  However, the rules of economic transparency, which are relevant in today’s global economy, did not apply during medieval times.  Therefore, it is illogical to compare the aspirations of medieval empires, whose fiscal policies were based on mercantilism (the belief that wealth could only be discovered, not created, and based its trade on precious metals), and possessed a zero-sum attitude towards finance, to NGO’s (international non-governmental organizations) such as the IMF, the World Bank, and the Inter-American Development Bank, who are committed to assisting weak foreign states with low interest loans, in exchange for a commitment to reform.  Additionally, the Bush administration has recognized the connection between poverty, corruption and terrorism in Central and West Africa, and the 4D strategy proposes that the United States will defeat terrorism, “through the direct or indirect use” (National Strategy for Combating Terrorism, 2003) of economic and financial power.  Those facts, combined with the previously mentioned results of the Marshall Plan, collectively support the premise that that America must increase its economic aid to Central and West Africa if it is to win the GWOT.

Nigeria’s gross domestic product (the value of all goods and services produced annually inside a state) has recently fallen by two-thirds, thus creating a, “severe economic depression” (Lyman et al., 2004) that is partly responsible for the tensions that exist in that region.[13]  By comparison, the United States comprises, “Just 4 percent of the world population,” (Chua, 2003) yet, it controls virtually all technological, financial, and cultural aspects of the global free market, and consequently boasts a prosperous GPD.  America must work towards tightening the gap between the poor and the wealthy, or risk the feelings of resentment that can further develop into anti-American sentiment.  However, despite Nigeria’s brutal economic problems, the United States has offered it little economic support.  To evoke economic reform, Nigeria’s president, Charles Obasanjo, is currently working with the World Bank, and the International Monetary Fund with the goal of developing economic transparency, (which require a rule of law, accounting standards, and a stable currency).  Unfortunately, many Nigerians find it difficult to adhere to the rules of economic transparency, partly because its citizens do not trust their governments to make honest monetary decisions.  In fact, Transparency International, a NGO that brings civil society, businesses, and governments together in a global coalition, and is devoted to combating corruption, polled 40,838 people in 47 counties for its annual 2003 corruption survey.  Given the option to eliminate corruption in a variety of institutions, such as police, political parties, education, or taxes, within their own countries, participants were asked which one they would eliminate first.  In Nigeria, a majority 59.1 % said they would eliminate the corruption that existed in political parties and police.[14]  Corruption affects the poor much harder than the wealthy, makes it impossible for millions of Nigerians to earn an honest living,[15] and contributes to an environment that virtually sanctions violence.  The Bush administration has recognized the connection between poverty, corruption and terrorism, and the 4D strategy proposes that the United States will defeat terrorism, “through the direct or indirect use” (National Strategy for Combating Terrorism, 2003) of economic and financial power.  Nonetheless, America has not made a noteworthy effort to boost its economic allocation to Nigeria, and is therefore, inconsistent with the policies set forth in the NSCT.  In addition, that level of corruption in Nigeria could be controlled if the United States were to increase its number of peacekeeping troops in the region because it would instill a level of trust in its citizens, who would then be more likely to follow Obasanjo’s policies.  The level of poverty in Nigeria, together with its level of corruption, make it a likely candidate for terrorism, and mutually support the premise that America must allocate more economic assets to West Africa as a preemptive measure against terrorism.

In addition to the abovementioned conditions of poverty, overpopulation, corruption, disease, and deforestation in Central and West Africa that threaten America’s success in the GWOT, existing cultural conditions in predominantly Muslim states, such as Nigeria, can lead to anti-American sentiment.  A systematic misunderstanding, which occurs when one countries framework is so fundamentally different than the other, that it cannot be corrected by providing more information, could result in a, “clash of civilizations” (Huntington, 1993) at the boarders, or seams, where civilizations meet in Africa.[16]  In addition, anti-American sentiment in Central and West Africa could be further escalated by Super Empowered Angry Men (men who hate America and are able to use America’s own technologies, also known as dual-use technologies, against them to commit acts of terror).[17]  Those men are capable of capitalizing on the, “absence of strong secular politics” (Mead, 2004) within the Muslim world, and entice Muslims worldwide to rise up against America in protest of Westernization and globalization (the declining meaningfulness of state boundaries in an era characterized by the growing number if global trans-state communication, transportation, and economic networks).  The future of politics will be defined by a clash of civilizations because globalization is creating fault lines (lines where cultures overlap are destined to become the battle lines of the future) where civilizations will rise against the United States, and ultimately result in worldwide anarchy if America is unable to control the situation.[18]  Finally, although, “religious institutions often set the political agenda,” (Mead, 2004) America’s enemy in the GWOT, “is not a religion” (National Strategy for Combating Terrorism, 2003) nor is it against, “a single political regime,”(National Strategy for Combating Terrorism, 2003) because America, unlike ancient empires, does not target specific religions; doing so would be inconsistent with the rules of democracy.  Rather, America’s fight is against terrorism, and those who use it to, “achieve a political objective by targeting innocent people.”  (White, 2002)  The fact that America’s GWOT is not against any religion, along with the development of anti-American sentiment that currently exists, together with the increased risks to America that develops from Muslim countries that misunderstand America’s goals, collectively sustain the premise that America must increase its economic and military aid to weak states if it is to be successful in the GWOT.

http://galesolutions.com/map The military and economic aid that America has provided to areas posing an immediate threat of terrorism, such as Kenya, Somalia, and Yemen, is appropriate because it is consistent with America’s National Strategy for Combating Terrorism, and because it benefits the GWOT.  In contrast, ignoring the developing problems in Central and West Africa is both inappropriate and dangerous because terrorism typically develops after deep-rooted problems have long been in place.  To prevent anti-American sentiment, poverty, and corruption in weak foreign states from developing into an immediate threat of terrorism, the United States must remain consistent with all of the goals and objectives of the NSCT, particularly those that preemptively fight terrorism and work towards dismantling environments that are conducive to funding terrorist activities.

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References

Chua, A. (2004). Why They Hate Us. In World on Fire. New York, NY: Doubleday.

Kaplan, R. D. (1994, February). The Coming Anarchy. The Atlantic Online. Retrieved from http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/foreign/anarchy.htm

Lamborn, A. C., & Lepgold, J.. World Politics Into the Twenty-First Century. Uppere Saddle River, New Jersey 07458: Prentice Hall.

Liotta, P., & Miskel, J. F. (2004). Redrawing the Map of the Future. World Policy Journal.

Lyman, P. N., & Morrison, J. (2004). The Terrorist Threat in Africa. Foreign Affairs, 75 to 86.

National Strategy for Combating Terrorism. (2003). Retrieved from http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2003/02/counter_terrorism/counter_terrorism_strategy.pdf

Norwitz, J. H. (2002, August). Combating Terrorism: With a Helmet or a Badge? Retrieved from http://homelandsecurity.org/journal/Articles/norwitz.html

Transparency International 2003 Corruption Survey (2003). Abstract retrieved from http://www.transparency.org/surveys/barometer/dnld/barometer2003_release.en.pdf

White, J. R. (2002). Terrorism An Introduction. Belmont CA 94002: Wadsworth/Thompson Learning.

 

 

 

 

[1] Norwitz, J. H. (2002, August). Combating Terrorism: With a Helmet or a Badge? Retrieved from http://homelandsecurity.org/journal/Articles/norwitz.html

[2] National Strategy for Combating Terrorism. (2003). Retrieved from http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2003/02/counter_terrorism/counter_terrorism_strategy

[3] Lamborn, A. C., & Lepgold, J.. World Politics Into the Twenty-First Century. Upper Saddle River, New Jersey 07458: Prentice Hall. Pg. 183

 

[4] Kaplan, R. D. (1994, February). The Coming Anarchy. The Atlantic Online. Retrieved from

http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/foreign/anarchy.htm

[5] Kaplan, R. D. (1994, February). The Coming Anarchy. The Atlantic Online. Retrieved from http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/foreign/anarchy.htm

[6] Liotta, P., & Miskel, J. F. (2004). Redrawing the Map of the Future. World Policy Journal.

[7] Liotta, P., & Miskel, J. F. (2004). Redrawing the Map of the Future. World Policy Journal.

[8] Friedman, T. L. (2000). The Lexus and the Olive Tree. New York: Anchor Books.

[9] John Lewis Gaddis, Strategies of Containment (Oxford University Press, 1982), Ch. 2

 

[10] Lyman, P. N., & Morrison, J. (2004). The Terrorist Threat in Africa. Foreign Affairs, 75 to 86.

 

[11] Mead, W. (2004). Power, Terror, Peace, and War. New York: Alfred A. Knopf

[12] Ferguson, N. (2004). A World Without Power. Foreign Policy

[13] Lyman, P. N., & Morrison, J. (2004). The Terrorist Threat in Africa. Foreign Affairs, 75 to 86.

 

[14] http://www.transparency.org/surveys/barometer/dnld/barometer2003_release.en.pdf

[15] http://www.transparency.org/surveys/barometer/dnld/barometer2003_release.en.pdf

[16] Huntington, S. P.. The Clash of Civilizations? Abstract retrieved from

http://www.cc.colorado.edu/dept/PS/Finley/PS425/reading/Huntington1.html

[17] Mead, W. (2004). Power, Terror, Peace, and War. New York: Alfred A. Knopf

[18] Huntington, S. P.. The Clash of Civilizations? Abstract retrieved from

http://www.cc.colorado.edu/dept/PS/Finley/PS425/reading/Huntington1.html