College of Liberal Arts & Social Sciences Theses and Dissertations

Graduation Date


Document Type


Department/Program Conferring Degree

International Studies


AFRICOM, orientalism, Africa, Department of Defense, U.S. foreign policy


The Africa Command (AFRICOM) was established in October 2008 on the premise of a partnership between the United States Department of Defense (DOD) and African militaries in which shared goals were to be pursued and each side was to learn from the other. However, no African counterparts were consulted during the processes leading up to the establishment of the Command. Notwithstanding the oft-repeated rhetoric of “partnerships” by the Bush Administration, in reality, AFRICOM was created to more effectively implement U.S. foreign policy in Africa, most notably containing terrorism after 9/11. This thesis examines the relationship between the U.S. and Africa and uses Edward Said’s theory of Orientalism as the basis for exploring their relationship in AFRICOM. I argue that DOD has, perhaps unwittingly, used what I call “Neo-Orientalism” to legitimize its actions in Africa through the institution of AFRICOM. This work also examines the unspoken American hegemonic motives for the establishment of AFRICOM and its predicted effects. Ultimately, AFRICOM will not be successful in combatting terrorism on the continent unless it addresses the underlying issues of reforming African governments and building/rebuilding institutions to better serve the interests of the people of this vast continent.