The event will have served as an eye opener to those following developments in US-Tanzania partnership.
The envoy’s visit to the Dar es Salaam-based National Defence College, whose students are chiefly drawn from middle and higher ranking military cadres in Tanzania and other parts of the region, was salutary.
Developing countries usually have multiple links with various other countries, often recognising them as development partners. But there is special care as to which they cultivate intense affinities with when it comes to national defence.
When a country is invited to share ideas on how the military thinks or plans, that means it is part of a country’s vision of its own security, not merely rolling out sectoral plans for possible financing.
Changing the image of Tanzania’s relationships abroad was one of the cardinal projections of the foreign policy outlook that President Samia Suluhu Hassan laid out when appointing key officials, notably ministers and permanent secretaries.In reconstructing the image of the country as regards foreign policy as well as defence and security, the president appointed two long-serving diplomats.
These are current Foreign Affairs and East African Cooperation minister Liberata Mulamula and her Defence and National Service counterpart, Dr Stergomena Tax.
To be sure, US-Tanzania relations even in the field of security are of a long date, not just owing to a changing outlook from liberation politics to regional security but also in large measure owing to shared threats, including terrorism pressures in the East African region.
Neither the US Embassy in Tanzania nor policy makers at the Tanzanian Foreign Affairs ministry are in a position to forget the August 10, 1998 “twin” bombings of US embassies in Nairobi and Dar es Salaam. The events permanently altered the global picture about threats to national security, which also dictates the key allies involved.
From that moment onwards, a number of contours have become especially visible in an evolving relationship. This is considering bilateral links and forging a specific relationship within a wider web of multilateral relationships.
China may evidently have been increasingly more important a segment of the region in infrastructure projects and imports of a wide array of basic consumer goods.
However, the US retained the leading role in various other goods on which undeniably a wide section of the population relied.
Other changes were developing, among them strategic commercial links with the US after AGOA (African Growth and Opportunity Act), in 2003.
AGOA was a piece of US legislation meant to assist the economies of sub-Saharan Africa and to improve economic relations between the US and the region.
As noticeable were regional police anti-crime cooperation obtaining support from the US Federal Bureau of Investigations – as it was for the 1998 outrage. In a way, this explains Wednesday’s visit and lecture by the US ambassador.