opinion

5 Positive Points and 5 Questions on the US Strategy to Prevent Conflict and Promote Stability: Part (1)

Mekki ELMOGRABI

In April 2022, the US has taken a major step forward in the spirit of partnership with Africa and the Third World to implement the “US ten-year Strategy to Prevent Conflict and Promote Stability.”

Pilot countries selected under the strategy include Haiti, Libya, Mozambique, Papua New Guinea, and a group of West African coastal countries including Benin, Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana, Guinea, and Togo.

The strategy is based on the Global Fragility Act of 2019, which emphasizes preventing conflict and promoting stability to break the cycle of costly fragility in some parts of the world.

Point 1: It is the best US foreign policy strategy of the past two decades, more explanation from an African point of view.

I can’t hide my admiration for “The U.S. Strategy to Prevent Conflict and Promote Stability”. Yes, there are some concerns but overall, this is the best U.S. foreign policy strategy of the past two decades.

It has been proven that a united America helps more in international peace and security while a divided America is dangerous to the rest of the world – not just itself – because instead of having positive US intervention in global problems, the US exports its left-right extreme disputes to the world, more particularly to the donation receivers and fragile states and regions where people are easy to be polarized by the two sides in American politics.

America does its best in solving global problems when it acts in its foreign policy through bipartisanship, by forcing the disputes to “stop at the water’s edge”. The new strategy came out after a thorough bipartisan congressional debate sponsored by USIP and based on the learned lessons from the last two decades after 9/11.

Invading countries and dropping bombs in some parts of the world could help the US target and dismantle the active terrorist groups and get the revenge for American people from Qaida and others but not address the causes that create the conducive environment for terrorism and violent extremism.

Moreover, some African countries were out of the counterterrorism focus, then its fragility creates violent extremism. Sadly, they joined the terror club as a full member. The bombs that killed active terrorists, killed also innocent people creating the worst image of the USA helping in recruiting new terrorists more dangerous than previous ones.

The new strategy took all these Lessons and more others and put US foreign policy on the right track again.

Point 2: Prevention first, stabilization and counter-terrorism will continue, but not at the expense of prevention.

It has been well said by congressman Peter Meijer (R-MI) in the USIP event, “Keeping things together is better than collecting them once they have been broken”. He was explaining how allowing fragile states to collapse and make the environment of terrorism and major threats to the USA and the world will never be the right recipe for protecting the USA. Therefore, preventing fragile states from collapsing is a vital part of the US and international security.

Congresswoman Sara Jacobs (D-CA) presented facts and figures on the cost of violent conflicts and counterterrorism, “As we looking at our all priorities and all other gains that we have made around economic development and human rights, we know that so much of that can be turned back because of the conflicts and that the best thing to make sure that we are working in a preventive way”. The numbers that presented by Sara reflect the huge cost of conflicts, “The cost of conflicts is huge, over the last 18 years we have lost 10,000 American lives and 50,000 wounded in counterterrorism operations at the expense of 5.9 trillion dollars to US taxpayers. The impact of conflicts on the global economy is 14 trillion dollars. And the cost of violent conflicts just in 2017 was over 800 billion dollars.”.

No need for further explanation for the necessity of a preventive strategy and not to continue only in counterterrorism operations.

Point 3: A new picture of America. Say goodbye to the old image of the US as a maker of “constructive chaos”.

The USA now deserves to be seen in a new and beautiful image after this strategy. The existed image needs to be discussed and reviewed. A term like “constructive chaos” should be investigated, was it part of US policy or not? Also, was the practice closer to this term, or did the atmosphere of wars and conflicts make it looks like that? I don’t think that we need to portray the new strategy as an apology to the world. Such an explanation will not open a new chapter, it rather leads to consuming time and efforts in a blame game that could put all the mistakes again on the USA. People in conflict-affected parts of the world should understand the new strategy and cooperate with the USA. Terrorism and violent extremism are enemies of all.

Point 4: One of the best aspects of this strategy is that it emphasizes the importance of locally driven solutions. This is similar to “Homegrown Solutions” in Africa.

Here is a paragraph from the strategy, “The United States will pursue a new approach that addresses the political drivers of fragility and supports locally driven solutions. The United States will engage selectively based on defined metrics, host country political will, respect for democracy and human rights, defined cost-sharing, and mechanisms that promote mutual accountability with national and local actors.”, the US Strategy to Prevent Conflict and Promote Stability.

This is marvelous, I can’t agree more with this strategy at this point specifically. What has been said is exactly what Africans working for within the example of “homegrown solutions” and “African solutions for African problems”. The strategy can easily capitalize on existed efforts and initiatives. Also, it could create a platform for Africa and the third world to exchange local solutions. One of the most important African strategies that should be discussed in the same context as the US preventive strategy is “Conflict Prevention and Early Warning”, the Africa Union – Peace and Security Department.

Point 5: On the role of the private sector in prevention, please read the article on the issue I focused on for nearly a decade, then consolidated under the term “Morning Economy”, to be connected with AfCFTA and RECs.

I will bring also here this paragraph from the strategy and then present the approach to “border and producers’ markets” that I dedicated myself to in Africa:

“A robust private sector and attractive investment climate help to: create jobs and economic opportunity, detracting from the need to turn to armed groups and illicit avenues or other malign actors for income; increase government resources and revenue available for service delivery, including through tax receipts; and improve stability and transparency by diffusing economic power and empowering individuals when conducted in a conflict-sensitive fashion.

Additionally, broad-based private sector growth creates a virtuous circle by signaling stability to other firms and encouraging new investment.”

I want here to draw attention to the topic that was advocated for almost ten years and then crystallized in the term “Morning Economy” and how it is the right approach to address economic development, stability and turn conflict areas into productive ones, “In developing countries, granting full economic freedom to producers in their morning markets will put the entire economy on the right track and will eliminate illegal activities inside countries and along the tense borders.”

I wrote in my article on “the Morning Economy” which was widely published on African websites. That I hope the strategy’s task force and the concerned actors of the strategy have a look at my article. Also, I wrote a detailed article on how the US could partner with the African private sector and promote for free economy and human rights “News Analysis: A New Paradigm for US-African Relations – African Regional Capitalism”, published originally in American Media Institute.

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