African Journal of
Political Science and International Relations

  • Abbreviation: Afr. J. Pol. Sci. Int. Relat.
  • Language: English
  • ISSN: 1996-0832
  • DOI: 10.5897/AJPSIR
  • Start Year: 2007
  • Published Articles: 389

Full Length Research Paper

The U.S informal empire: US African Command (AFRICOM) expanding the US economic-frontier by discursively securitizing Africa using exceptional speech acts

Khaled Al-Kassimi
  • Khaled Al-Kassimi
  • Department of Political Science, McMaster University, Hamilton, Ontario, Canada.
  • Google Scholar

  •  Received: 07 May 2017
  •  Accepted: 11 September 2017
  •  Published: 30 November 2017


The mission statement of US African Command (AFRICOM), articulated by President George Bush in 2007, declared African underdevelopment and human insecurities as a threat to US national security. Since 10 years have elapsed from the time of AFRICOM’s inauguration, this paper seeks to highlight that the organization has fallen short in realizing its mission statement. This unnerving reality has given credence to intellectuals who adopt an apocalyptic position vis-à-vis the organization. Intellectual skeptics disconcerted with AFRICOM located in the Global South and Global North have come to the conclusion that AFRICOM’s actuality as an organization primarily advanced American economic interest and perceived issues of African development as trivial. In the 21st-century, US security experts discursively shifted Africa from being a politicized issue to a securitized issue thereby constructing the continent as posing an existential threat not only to American geostrategic interest, but also American identity of exceptionalism. By using the work of New Left historian William Appleman Williams and by referencing speech actors with political capital, this paper highlights that the process of securitizing Africa using exceptional speech acts to expand corporate capitalism is not unique to Africa since there are historical discursive parallels between early and current speech acts deliberated during junctures involving US foreign ventures.

Key words: US African Command (AFRICOM), African Union (AU), securitization, speech act, exceptionalism, expansionism, economic-frontier, security-development discourse, US informal empire, William Appleman Williams, apocalyptic-complementary positions.