EU Defense in Central Africa

I personally identified with Stephen Walt’s mea culpa post regarding his own and America’s strategic ethnocentricism regarding what’s called “Africa’s World War.” As a result of reviewing submissions here at WPR, my own understanding of the various interwoven conflicts in Central Africa has risen slightly from total to simply near-total ignorance. But for probably many of the reasons Walt lists, although I periodically register the enormity of the human tragedy there, it’s not something I spend a great deal of time thinking about or studying. And when you’re dealing with over 5 million deaths in a decade, that kind of ignorance is, as Walt says, unforgivable.

One thing that occurred to me after reading the post, though, is that, for all that European defense is derided Stateside, and for all its shortcomings, EU defense — through a number of EUFORs (EU defense missions) and EUPOLs (EU police missions) — has been very present in Central Africa, both in preparing several zones of operations for U.N. peacekeeping forces, or else in deploying fully outsourced military and police missions on behalf of the U.N.

These operaitons have perhaps been a drop in the bucket, and they certainly have had their accompanying challenges. But the idea that Europe is unwilling or unable to engage in difficult and dangerous deployments is demonstrably false. Part of EU defense’s image problem might just have to do with the same sort of strategic ethnocentrism Walt identifies.

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