The Next Hot Spot: Africa
The United States has stood alone as the dominant world power since the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991. Unfortunately, this era of Pax-Americana has entered its twilight years.
Today, on the global stage, we see an emerging China establish its dominance in Asia via economics, infrastructure, and military growth. Xi Jinping’s China is establishing steadfast allies with Russia, Iran, and Syria as it continues to develop its grip on Eastern Hemisphere economies all while simultaneously and continuously expanding its position in the West. On top of this, China has begun utilizing the world’s largest military and world’s second largest military budget to rapidly spread their influence in Africa.
The United States and the French have shared a military dominance in the African Continent, allowing for the ideals of Democracy to be spread in grassroots efforts via aid to local militaries and governments in the fight against terrorism.
China, though, is doing everything in their power to turn the tide their way.
China established their first permanent military overseas base in Djibouti in 2017 west of Djibouti City, a mere 10 kilometers from the United States’ Camp Lemonnier. The People’s Liberation Army officially states that this military post’s only function is to supply logistical support to Chinese-based aid missions in Africa, but it has been noted by United States officials that the Chinese military presence, and overall Chinese influence, extends far beyond the limits of Djibouti City.
The Communist Party of China (CPC) has established over 20 Chinese Cultural Centers, known as Confucius Institutes, at universities in 13 different countries. At these centers, local nationals and students are invited to come and take courses to learn about the Chinese culture and how it can benefit themselves and their nation. Language classes are also taught at these centers. Confucius Institutes are found all over the world, but many Western Universities ban them for they are directly controlled by the CPC with the direct intent of politically influencing students.
Yet, in Africa, many of these Confucius Centers are seen as a positive entity which offers potential growth for the often-impoverished people of these nations. President Xi Jinping has visited African leaders on multiple occasions, opening up the door to growing alliances among the Chinese, their allies, and the African Continent. Losing the allegiances of these African countries to the Chinese would be a drastic blow to the foreign policy of the United States and the rest of NATO.
In response, the United States has intensely ramped up their operations in the Horn of Africa, utilizing military strategies that mimic what we see in Syria, Iraq, and Afghanistan. The United States is hoping that with this revitalized focus that they can deter the developing Chinese presence in Africa and reassert the United States as the dominant force in the region.
While hostilities between the United States and China are not yet known to have existed in the region, having two dominating military powers competing for positioning in the same region has previously led to difficult situations in the past, and I do not expect this to end any differently.