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Page last updated at 08:58 GMT, Wednesday, 1 October 2008 09:58 UK

Your views: US-African command

US-trained Ugandan soldier running

Africans across the continent share their views on the US-African military command (Africom) which has begun operating from its headquarters in Germany.

The original idea was for Africom to be based on the continent but all except Liberia refused to host it, voicing strong reservations over its intentions despite the US's assurances that its mandate is to improve security and promote development.

Click on the links below to read their views:

William, 25, student, Monrovia, Liberia



Femi, 37, petroleum sector worker, Lagos, Nigeria



Artur, 64, retired, Johannesburg, South Africa

WILLIAM KOKULO, 25, STUDENT, MONROVIA, LIBERIA

This so-called Africom will not benefit ordinary Africans in any way. All it will do is protect America's interests and enrich the government officials of a particular regime.

President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf's offer to America to host Africom's base was not reflective of the country's will. She should have had it approved through parliament. Accepting it would not have been the wish of ordinary Liberians.

HAVE YOUR SAY
Nigeria, South Africa and Libya were right in opposing the establishment of US military bases on African soil
Mbugwile Nkolokosa, Manchester

I cannot see Liberians ever welcoming it.

To me it would be how America could control Africa; to re-gain their interests. For my personal view, America has played a big role in our country but it has been a very unsuccessful influence and actually America has always only thought of its own interests.

They always back the so-called "big men" that will do what they say.

If America really had this dream of long-time peace for Africa then so many innocent lives would not have been lost. I cannot trust America's promises now.

Some of our ministers even admitted to Liberia's Truth and Reconciliation Commission that America was on a mission with [former Liberian President] Charles Taylor and his rebels. They supported Mr Taylor and his rise to power which led to the destruction and ruin of our country and Sierra Leone.

And our parents made those days worse because they made a mistake in choosing to fight each other. But now we need to leave those days behind and make the most of our resources and make it possible to live a good life here at home.

There is still something about America though, especially to us Liberians. Although we know all about what they have done, if you ask any young Liberian what their dream is, all of them will say to live in America because they see it as a free country where you can get a job.

It's a contradiction.

If only they could be trusted to help make our country good to live in like theirs.

FEMI, 37, PETROLEUM INDUSTRY, LAGOS, NIGERIA

The last thing Africa needs is US army operations. It is a case of the US forcing its policy upon an unwilling continent.

Unidentified US soldier with flag behind
Femi thinks US forces create problems wherever they go

Most of us here believe that the US is just trying to protect its access to natural resources, like oil.

The US is also definitely trying to find a way to counterbalance the influence of China on the continent because you know, China is playing a greater a greater role here in Africa.

Africom says it plans to promote development and economic growth; these things can be done, yes, but they could use other means to achieve these. Africom is not the best way to bring development. If the US really wanted to do those things then they could channel their money in more direct ways.

The money being used for Africom would go a long way to develop agricultural activities, for example, which would keep millions of people occupied and achieve in no small way what Africom and the defence industry want - stability, without resulting in their collateral damages from conflict.

And as we know, a lot of the conflict our continent has seen has been the result of international intervention by them propping up dictators and warlords for their own interests.

More worryingsome is that wherever American forces go, they more or less become a magnet for terrorists.

For now, here in Nigeria, we have enough of our own problems - ethnic-related tensions and the like. We have adequate resources to deal with our problems but if these were added to by external forces arriving on our soil and attracting and bringing with them new threats, we would end up in an even worse spot.

American forces seem to create problems wherever they go.

Nigeria has a very poor reputation anyway and we don't need further unwelcome attention. It would not be good for our country.

ARTUR DE FREITAS, 64, RETIRED, JOBURG, SOUTH AFRICA

Historically - unfortunately - everything the US touches, goes wrong.

My opinion is that I am not personally against the US. It is an outstanding country. But the perception it gives out is poor.

US AC-130 Gunship
Many Africans question Africom's outlined mandate

And so I think it would be better for the US, together with the EU, to support the African Union; and when I say that I mean with conditions, of course. That way, it would be more beneficial for Africa and it would mean their involvement would be less controversial.

Yes, there would be controversies amongst the AU but at least we would be keeping it at home.

Some opponents to Africom cited that if South Africa were to host its base then our regional influence would be undermined; but I don't think it would.

A military base is not a source of financial poweress.

And for South Africa to be undermined regionally the competition would be business related but as I said, the military base would not really have any influence in that sphere.

I don't understand the idea behind America being out to counter Chinese influence either.

My father studied politics at the Sorbonne in Paris and he always used to tell me that if China were to get involved in wars around the world it could disintegrate internally because of its enormous numbers as a nation. I believe this.

China is only interested in trade - they don't get involved with the locals; they are isolated.

Their interest is to come and take as much as they can.

Anyway, America could not counter-balance China's business interest with a military base.

The US uses force for everything to get its way.




SEE ALSO
US shifts on Africom base plans
18 Feb 08 |  Africa
The controversy over Africom
03 Oct 07 |  Africa
Pentagon launches Africa command
30 Sep 07 |  Americas

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