Two key long-term energy trends are shifting the strategic balance between the United States and China, the world’s superpower rivals in the 21st century: first, a domestic boom in U.S. shale oil and gas is dramatically boosting America’s energy security; second, the frenetic and successful search for hydrocarbons in Africa is making it an increasingly crucial element in China’s energy diversification strategy. America’s increasing energy security and China’s increased dependence on energy imports from Africa and the Middle East until well past 2040 despite its own shale discoveries will make Beijing’s own increasing energy insecurity be felt even more acutely, pushing the People’s Liberation Army to accelerate adoption of a “two ocean” military strategy that includes an enduring presence in the Indian Ocean as well as the Pacific Ocean.
The explosive growth of China’s economic interests in Africa—bilateral trade rocketed from $1 billion in 1990 to $150 billion in 2011—may be the most important trend in the continent’s foreign relations since the end of the Cold War. In 2010, China surpassed the United States as Africa’s top trading partner; its quest to build a strategic partnership with Africa on own its terms through tied aid, trade, and development finance is also part of Beijing’s broader aspirations to surpass the United States as the world’s preeminent superpower. Africa and other emerging economies have become attractive partners for China not only for natural resources, but as growing markets. Africa’s rapid growth since 2000 has not just occurred because of higher commodity prices, but more importantly due to other factors including improved governance, economic reforms, and an expanding labor force. China’s rapid and successful expansion in Africa is due to multiple factors, including economic diplomacy that is clearly superior to that of the United States. China’s “no strings attached” approach to development, however, risks undoing decades of Western efforts to promote good governance. Consequently, this monograph examines China’s oil diplomacy, equity investments in strategic minerals, and food policy toward Africa. The official U.S. rhetoric is that China’s rise in Africa should not be seen as a zero-sum game, but areas where real U.S.-China cooperation can help Africa remain elusive, mainly because of Beijing’s hyper-mistrust of Washington. The United States could help itself, and Africa, by improving its own economic diplomacy and adequately funding its own soft-power efforts.
An understanding the political economy of Nigeria is needed to reveal the root causes of its many ethnic, religious, economic, and political problems and to address them for the long term. The pressures now weighing on Nigeria could literally fracture the state along deep fault lines if rampant corruption and partisanship continues. As mutually important partners for both of our interests in Africa, the United States should assist in specific but indirect ways to help Nigerians overcome their political economic problems. Within such assistance, the role of the U.S. military is particularly delicate but needed through focused aid to specific programs and sharing of expertise, all best managed through employing units that are regionally aligned to Nigeria or West Africa.
Recent events in Mali, Libya, Syria, Afghanistan, Iraq, and elsewhere demonstrate that building professional indigenous forces is imperative to regional stability, yet few success stories exist. Liberia is a qualified “success,” and this study explores how it was achieved by the program’s chief architect. Liberia suffered a 14-year civil war replete with human rights atrocities that killed 250,000 people and displaced a third of its population. Following President Charles Taylor’s exile in 2003, the U.S. contracted DynCorp International to demobilize and rebuild the Armed Forces of Liberia and Ministry of Defense; the first time in 150 years that one sovereign nation hired a private company to raise another sovereign nation’s military. This monograph explores the theory and practice behind the successful disarmament, demobilization, and reintegration (DDR) of the legacy military and security sector reform (SSR) that built the new one. It also considers some of the benefits and difficulties of contracting out the making of militaries. This is significant since the private sector will probably participate increasingly in security sector reform. The monograph concludes with 28 concrete recommendations for practitioners and 6 recommendations for the U.S. Army on how to expand this capability. Finally, this monograph is written by a practitioner for practitioners.