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I have been very busy lately, but a recent notice about an event on Obama’s Power Africa Initiative sponsored by the Department of Defense caught my notice.  I haven’t really had time to scratch the surface of the TIDES project, but at first glance, this really seems to be an unfortunate example of the continued militarization of US Africa Policy.

An email I received notes: “this forum intends to stimulate debate on how to build military, civilian and interagency corporation when formulating African electrification policies and legislation as stipulated by the presidential initiative.”  It adds that it is a $70 billion initiative, a figure much larger than I’ve seen elsewhere.

Someone, please give me a good reason why the US military needs to be involved in formulating African electrification policies?  It is even more disturbing that the event is not for attribution.  We’ve got the State Department convening the head of the Power Africa Initiative, Andrew Herscowitz and several private sector players, and what they’re talking about (‘a third way of energy solutions’ apparently) is so sensitive that they’re not even willing to go on record in what is billed as “an open dialogue between energy sector stakeholders and policy makers.”  No wonder the US couldn’t find an African location for AFRICOM.

How has this sort of work not been the victim of sequestration?  This seems to me to be a splendid example of DoD receiving resources at the expense of State and  more legitimate US public diplomacy.

I deign to call this BS, the same sort of BS that has me blogging quasi-anonymously as the government funded operation I work for has policies on blogging (writing in general really) that eviscerate my freedom of expression.

What are your thoughts?  Am I overreacting?  Does the TIDES project indicate some legitimate longstanding interest of DoD in Africa’s energy sector?