n Journal of African Foreign Affairs - Foreign military forces in Africa : permanence and change

Volume 1, Issue 1
  • ISSN : 2056-564X
  • E-ISSN: 2056-5658


The geopolitical and geostrategic importance of the African continent constitutes a permanent feature of the global political arena. Subsequent military calculations explain the salience of the American and French military presence in Africa. Even when political action occurs far from Africa itself, thoughts of their application to the African context are not far from the minds of geopolitical actors.

For example, in the volume (1986: 161-162), French journalist Christine Ockrent and Comte Alexandre de Marenches, former Director of the (General Agency for External Security), France's equivalent of the CIA, explained the ultimate goals of the 1979 , France's military intervention that removed Emperor Bokassa from power in what was then the Central African Empire (current Central African Republic). According to the authors, the operation was to "free" the country from its Emperor and to prevent Libya from occupying a position at the center of Africa. The French speculated that the strategic thinking of Colonel Gadhafi was to occupy Chad, then the Central African Republic situated just below. Ockrent and de Marenches compared that strategic area to the (the Pratzen plateau) on the basis of which Napoleon conceived of the maneuver of the battle of Austerlitz in 1805. The area could be used as a launching pad for conquests either in the direction of the Gulf of Guinea (West Africa) or the Horn of Africa and the Red Sea (East Africa). In the 1970s, such conquest would help consolidate the communist regime in Ethiopia and achieve control over a large part of Africa.

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