SEATTLE, Washington — In light of the recent fight to eradicate systematic racism and demilitarize policing in the United States, the U.S. government must also look at how systematic racism and militarization permeate foreign policy. Protecting Black communities at home and in foreign nations should be a priority, and there are many ways that the U.S. can improve foreign policies to achieve this.
Systemic Racism in U.S. Foreign Policy
Of the many countries supporting the fight for black equality in the U.S., African embassies and the African Union Commission have been especially vocal about condemning the U.S.’s historical and ongoing treatment of African Americans. They have also felt the effects of racism through the U.S.’s foreign policies toward African countries.
The stories of Black Americans, many of African descent, being killed by the police has sparked outrage in the U.S., and the same records exist through the U.S. militarization of African countries. This militarization ramped up after 9/11, and there has now been a 170% increase in the military presence in Africa since 2008. With more military missions thanks to the start of U.S. Africa Command in 2008, Africa has also seen a rise in extremist groups and violence across African countries in the same time period.
Militarization Responses in Africa
William Hartung, the director of the arms and security project at the Center for International Policy, explains that this spike in African terrorism incidents shows that the U.S. militarization response toward Africa was wholly unsuccessful in quelling violence in Africa as it was intended to do. He adds that fighting violence with violence may be aggravating the issue, instead of helping. The militarization response to terrorism in Africa is only one of many American policies that overlook African governments and citizens’ wishes and push forward without African countries’ consent or input.
America Today and Moving Forward
The institutionalized racism in the U.S. government casts bias against American citizens of African descent and is still prevalent in leaders’ minds when dealing with policy decisions regarding African countries. This is partly evident through President Trump’s recent comments referring to African nations as akin to slums and using inappropriate language to describe the continent as a whole. However, it is also a longstanding American sentiment that drives racism in U.S. foreign policy that can be seen clearly through the U.S.’s violent and disproportionate responses toward incidents of violence in African countries, as well as the U.S.’s conditional aid programs.
Americans must take stock of not only the institutionalized racism that persists in American society and is evidenced by over-policing, militarization and the killings of unarmed black citizens but also the parallels that African countries experience at the hands of racism in U.S. foreign policy. With the knowledge of America’s current approach to pursuing peace in Africa and its failings at achieving this, Americans can demand change in how their government provides aid and safety in both the U.S. and overseas