Do You Know About the US Drones in Africa?

Obama needs to be mindful of doing more harm to the continent while protecting American interests.

Don Emmert/Getty Images
Don Emmert/Getty Images

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While the media have focused primarily on drone strikes in the Middle East, the high-tech nature of America’s silent war in Africa has garnered little media attention — ensuring that most Americans hardly realize it’s happening.

Critics claim that oil and competition with China are driving the administration’s military interest in Africa. According to IMF finance reports, trade between African nations and China increased 40 percent in the past decade, compared with 14 percent with the United States and the rest of the world. Somalia — in the Horn of Africa — has been a key focus of Chinese agricultural investments as China attempts to deal with future food insecurity.

China also bids on oil-drilling rights, competing with Western corporations. According to the Guardian, Somalia’s oil reserves are comparable to Kuwait’s and could “eclipse Nigeria’s reserves and make Somalia the seventh largest oil-rich nation.”

The rationale, therefore, that America’s interest in Africa has more to do with China could carry weight. Obama’s decision to shift U.S. military attention to Asia has been a telling one. The Department of Defense has announced that 60 percent of American warships would be stationed in Asia by 2020, the Economist reports, along with “a range of other ‘investments’ to ensure that despite China’s fast-growing military might, America would still be able to ‘rapidly project military power if needed.’ “

Containing Chinese Activities

If there is a covert American strategy with respect to Chinese activity in Africa, it is one of containment. U.S. oil imports from Africa already exceed those of the Middle East, and China has been aggressively outbidding U.S. companies for contracts. PetroChina — China’s national oil company — announced that its oil production surpassed ExxonMobil’s last year. This is due, in part, to China’s oil extractions in the Sudan.  

America has a dual interest in curbing terrorist activity as well as protecting oil, gas, gold and other natural resources. Perhaps both can be justified as matters of “national security,” but as drone wars wage with little congressional oversight and increasing civilian casualties, more scrutiny is necessary.