Thu May 28 2015 21:15:53 +0200 CEST

Africa: United States Policy Toward Africa: a Dossier

What is a Dossier?

Via the dossiers, we try to highlight the priorities of the US Government with regard to specific foreign policy policy issues. We provide statements by U.S. public officials, but also reports, hearings, and journal articles.
resident Barack Obama greets residents of Gorée Island, Senegal, June 27, 2013.

There are five pillars that serve as the foundation of U.S. policy toward Africa:
1) Support for democracy and the strengthening of democratic institutions on the continent, including free, fair, and transparent elections.
2) Supporting African economic growth and development.
3) Conflict prevention, mitigation, and resolution.
4) Supporting Presidential initiatives such as the Global Health Initiative, Feed the Future, and the Global Climate Change Initiative.
5) Working with African nations on transnational issues such as drug smuggling, money laundering, illicit arms, and trafficking in persons.

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US Government Information: 
02/26/14   Prospects for Peace in the Democratic Republic of Congo and Great Lakes Region

Oct 3, 2013  Hearing: Al-Shabaab: How Great a Threat? Source: U.S. House, Foreign Affairs Committee | Hearing

-08/02/13   African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA): Background and Reauthorization  [434 Kb] Source: CRS Report for Congress

Aug. 1, 2013 The Impact of U.S. Water Programs on Global Health Source: U.S. House, Foreign Affairs Committee

-07/23/13   International Illegal Trade in Wildlife: Threats and U.S. Policy  [409 Kb] Source: CRS Report for Congress

Jul. 18, 2013 Is There an African Resource Curse? Source: U.S. House, Foreign Affairs Committee

-06/18/13 Examining Prospects for Democratic Reform and Economic Recovery in Zimbabwe Source: U.S. Senate, Foreign Relations Committee

May 21, 2013 The Growing Crisis in Africa's Sahel Region Source: U.S. House, Foreign Affairs Committee

May 17, 2013 The U.S. Contribution to the Fight Against Malaria Source: U.S. House, Foreign Affairs Committee

May 7, 2013  Increasing American Jobs through Greater Exports to Africa Source: U.S. House, Foreign Affairs Committee

May 6, 2013 H. Res. 131, Concerning the ongoing conflict in the Democratic Republic of the Congo... Source: U.S. House, Foreign Affairs Committee

-04/16/13 Examining Ongoing Conflict in Eastern Congo Source: U.S. Senate, Foreign Relations Committee

April 16, 2013 Kenya's 2013 Elections: An Effective Assistance Model? Source: U.S. House, Foreign Affairs Committee

-02/26/13   Kenya: Current Issues and U.S. Policy  [412 Kb] Source: CRS Report for Congress

-11/14/12   U.S. Trade and Investment Relations with Sub-Saharan Africa and the African Growth and Opportunity Act  [558 Kb] Source: CRS Report for Congress

-07/20/12   Conflict Minerals in Central Africa: U.S. and International Responses  [519 Kb] Source: CRS Report for Congress

Non-US Government Information: 

Kimberley's Illicit Process, World Policy Journal, Khadija Sharife and John Grobler, World Policy Journal, Winter 2013, var. pages. “Though the Kimberley Process was established to purge the international gem trade of blood diamonds, it has indirectly enriched the unscrupulous to the tune of billions of dollars. Khadija Sharife and John Grobler examine how the Kimberley Process has failed in its noble mission and discuss ways the system may be expanded and refined to curb the illicit activity that threatens to undermine its foundations.” READ MORE

Africa Attacks the International Criminal Court. Kenneth Roth, Human Rights Watch New York Review of Books, February 6, 2014, var. pages. "The court's future now rests to a large extent on the battle being waged between African leaders with little interest in justice and those Africans, including many activists and victims, who see an end to impunity for mass atrocities as essential for Africa's future. One can only hope that the welfare of African people takes precedence over the perceived interests of African leaders." READ MORE

Sudan–South Sudan: The Unfinished Tasks. Princeton N. Lyman, American Foreign Policy Interests, Nov-Dec. 2013, pp. 333-338. “The 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement between the Sudanese Government in Khartoum and the Sudanese People's Liberation Movement (SPLM) in the south ended a very long civil war and provided for a self-determination referendum for the people in the south. They voted to secede from Sudan to become an independent nation, South Sudan, in 2011. Nevertheless, major problems remain that threaten the peace between Sudan and South Sudan. Both countries also suffer from internal divisions that threaten stability, including the real danger that South Sudan may be entering a downhill trajectory toward state failure. The work of the international community, especially that of the United States, is far from finished.” READ MORE

A New Oil World: The Game Has Changed, but How? Africa Is Becoming a Major New Player in the New World Hydrocarbon Order. Ray Leonard, American Foreign Policy Interests, Nov-Dec. 2013, pp. 352-359. “World oil production will rise considerably during the next decade. However, the oil is found in ultra-deep-water fields and by hydraulic fracturing, both of which involve high cost. Thus, world oil prices will necessarily remain high to keep the unconventional sources operating. Most of the unconventional deep-water fields are in Africa and North America. Production from these sources will help the United States and Europe reduce their dependence on oil from the Arabian Gulf and Russia, the major low-cost conventional producers. The newer high-cost nonconventional sources will reach peak production within a decade and then will start to decline. In the longer term, abundant, less polluting natural gas apparently will be the answer to the world's energy needs. Major gas fields have been discovered recently in East Africa. In general, Africa is the focus of increasing political and investor attention as it becomes a bigger player in oil and gas.” READ MORE

Hunger, Food Security, and the African Land Grab. Richard Schiffman, Ethics and International Affairs, September 13, 2013, var. pages. “Many global analysts predict that the biggest security threats in the twenty-first century may center on disputes over water and the food that Earth’s dwindling water supply is able to produce. The greatest threat to our common future, writes Lester Brown, President of the Earth Policy Institute, ‘is no longer conflict between heavily armed superpowers, but rather spreading food shortages and rising food prices—and the political turmoil this would lead to.’” READ MORE

Africa and the United States—A Military Perspective. Laura R. Varhola & Thomas E. Sheperd, American Foreign Policy Interests, November-December 2013, pp. 325-332.  Changes in the global strategic environment are increasing the importance of Africa to the United States. Terrorism, a rise in violent extremism, piracy, smuggling, and the second- and third-order effects of the Arab Spring present challenges to U.S., and indeed global, interests in Africa. The U.S. military is playing an increasingly important role in addressing these challenges and achieving U.S. aims on the continent. The purpose of this article is to provide a perspective on U.S. military approaches and how they nest within a whole-of-government approach that seeks to reinforce ongoing African security initiatives. The article concludes with challenges the U.S. military faces in effectively operating in Africa and possible ways to increase the chances of success. READ MORE

Africa and the United States of America: A New Kind of Partnership in Today's Globalized Environment? Macky Sall, American Foreign Policy Interests, November-December 2013, pp. 313-316. Sub-Saharan Africa is emerging as a rapidly growing continent that has weathered the storm of worldwide recession. The United States should no longer view Africa as an area for humanitarian initiatives to be treated solely through foreign assistance. The time has come for a new relationship based on mutual interests signified by expanding trade and investment. The United States needs to get away from the conventional wisdom that Africa is too risky. African nations are engaged in adopting necessary reforms—especially the rule of law and expedited formalities—designed to attract and reassure investors. Times have changed and U.S. thinking needs to adapt if the United States wants to take advantage of some interesting new opportunities to make money. READ MORE

The Obama Administration's Africa Policy: The First Four Years, 2009–2013. Johnnie Carson, American Foreign Policy Interests, November-December 2013, pp. 317-324. For the first time since retiring, the veteran career diplomat who coordinated U.S. policy toward Africa during President Obama's first term provides a comprehensive overview of the administration's objectives and accomplishments. While maintaining successful programs of previous administrations, President Obama is focusing on the modernization of agriculture and advancing the continent's electrification, both indispensable to sustainable development. Security cooperation has also grown in response to the growing threat of Islamic violence. Overarching all initiatives is President Obama's emphasis on democracy and good governance. READ MORE

Is American Policy toward Sub-Saharan Africa Increasingly Militarized? John Campbell, American Foreign Policy Interests, November-December 2013, pp. 346-351. Since the end of colonialism in Africa a half-century ago, U.S. policy has focused on economic development and the encouragement of transitions to democracy and good governance. The arrival of Islamic violence and terrorism in some regions of Africa after 9/11 has stimulated the steady growth of U.S. military activities in sub-Saharan countries, especially those close to the Arab world. Since 2000, military-to-military relations have expanded significantly to include counterterrorism training, intelligence sharing, and U.S. military units on the ground. The Defense Department established a separate geographic command—AFRICOM—to cover U.S. military activities in all countries on the continent except Egypt. Some observers, in both Africa and the United States, fear that the military dimension may be crowding out the core economic development and democracy-building policies. READ MORE

The New Terrorist Training Ground. Yochi Dreazen, The Atlantic, October 2013, var. pages. "Last year, al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb did something no other modern terrorist group has: conquered a broad swath of a sovereign country—Mali. Since then, despite French intervention, northern Mali has become a jihadist front, with Islamist militants flowing in from around the world. While America remains focused on threats from the Middle East and South Asia, the new face of terror is likely to be African." READ MORE 

The Somali Question. Mwaura Samora, World Policy Journal, Fall 2013, var. pages. "Somalia’s civil war is spilling over into neighboring Kenya. Islamic terrorists have infiltrated the country and are responsible for several bloody attacks in Nairobi, which has in turn led to hostility toward Somalis, Kenyan journalist Mwaura Samora writes. He argues that the government must reward informants and ensure that its campaign against terrorism is not directed against peaceful Somalis in Kenya." READ MORE

Securing Development: Challenges of Economic Inclusion. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Survival, August–September 2013, pp. 121–128. "Africa is growing fast but inequality has also increased. This trend could arrest progress towards peace and security." READ MORE

Explaining the Great War in Africa: How Conflict in the Congo Became a Continental Crisis. Christopher Williams, Fletcher Forum of World Affairs, Summer 2013, pp. 81-100. "In 1998, conflict erupted in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and rapidly involved nine African nations and many rebel groups. The scale of the fighting and speed of proliferation was such that Susan Rice labeled it “Africa’s first world war.” Scholars have studied the causes of World War I exhaustively and why that war engulfed Europe. Christopher Williams applies neo-realist theories used to explain the outbreak and expansion of the First World War to conflict in the DRC. He argues that the belief that “the enemy of my enemy is my friend” pervaded an insecure regional environment. This caused the pernicious logic of the security dilemma to take hold and facilitated the spread of alliance networks throughout Africa." READ MORE

Towards an “Islamic Republic of Mali?” Alex Thurston, Fletcher Forum of World Affairs, Summer 2013, var. pages. "Post-war Mali will not likely be an “Islamic State” in the sense of a state where micro-policies are explicitly based on specific references to Islamic scriptures and traditions. But Islam already has a greater public role than when the war began. As Mali emerges from conflict and re-imagines its political system, Malian politicians and outside partners hoping to restore an idealized “status quo ante” may have to acknowledge the increasingly powerful influences Muslim activists and movements wield in Malian society and politics."


The Global Elite’s Favorite Strongman.  Jeffrey Gettleman, The New York Times Magazine, September 4, 2013, var. pages. "Paul Kagame is an international hero for reforming Rwanda. But cleaning up a country doesn’t come without moral hazards." READ MORE

Petro-Piracy: Oil and Troubled Waters. Martin N. Murphy, Orbis, Summer 2013, pp. 424-437. West Africa piracy is the most profitable in the world. Well-organized gangs steal refined oil in contrast to Somali pirates who hold crews and ships for ransom. Like piracy elsewhere, the origins and potential solutions to West African piracy are found ashore—largely in Nigeria. This article argues that oil states in the developing world are shielded from the domestic and international pressures that can bring down their non-oil neighbors. The current international system which makes international recognition, not internal legitimacy or functionality, the key to state authority works to their benefit. It encourages those parts which are valuable to industrialized powers—and to the domestic elites who facilitate and benefit from international legitimization—to function well enough for resource extraction to continue. The security of the state generally matters less than the security of key enclaves— including ships and offshore platforms—which support elite interests. READ MORE

Africa's Long Spring. Steve McDonald, Wilson Quarterly, Winter 2013, pp. 70-80. "The article discusses democratization in Africa. Particular focus is given to developments following the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991. According to the author, local and international resistance to government corruption and electoral fraud has increased. It is suggested that increased economic opportunities and technology have contributed to popular support for democracy and to the resilience of democratic institutions. The governments of Mali and Senegal are also discussed." READ MORE

Making the Most of Africa’s Growth. Luc Christiaensen and Shantayanan Devarajan, Current History, May 2013, pp. 181-187. "Direct dividend transfer programs are promising as an additional instrument to reduce inequality and increase the poverty-reducing powers of economic growth in resource-rich countries."

Will Rwanda End Its Meddling in Congo? Thomas Turner, Current History, May 2013, pp. 188-194. "[T]he arrest of Ntaganda and his trial should serve as reminders to the Rwandan authorities that their interference in DRC is no longer acceptable, if it ever was." READ MORE

Perspective: Millennium Goals Miss Africa’s Progress. Charles Kenny, Current History, May 2013, pp. 195-197. "The international community has hailed impressive strides toward the United Nations’ Millennium Development Goals, but Africa lags because of a late start, despite its more recent successes. Will the next set of goals avoid arbitrary and unrealistic targets?" READ MORE

Africa's Economic Boom. Shantayanan Devarajan, Wolfgang Fengler, Foreign Affairs, May/June 2013, pp. 68-81.  Talk to experts, academics, or businesspeople about the economies of sub-Saharan Africa and you are likely to hear one of two narratives. The first is optimistic: Africa's moment is just around the corner, or has already arrived. Reasons for hope abound. Despite the global economic crisis, the region's GDP has grown rapidly, averaging almost five percent a year since 2000, and is expected to rise even faster in the years ahead. Many countries, not just the resource-rich ones, have participated in the boom: indeed, 20 states in sub-Saharan Africa that do not produce oil managed average GDP growth rates of four percent or higher between 1998 and 2008. Meanwhile, the region has begun attracting serious amounts of private capital; at $50 billion a year, such flows now exceed foreign aid. READ MORE

Al Qaeda in Africa: The Creeping Menace to Sub-Sahara's 500 Million Muslims. Herman J. Cohen, American Foreign Policy Interests, Spring 2013, pp. 63-69. "Since 2005, Al Qaeda has co-opted as franchises three armed and violent African Islamist movements that had established footholds in both East and West Africa. These movements have been able to exploit anarchy, instability, hopeless poverty, corruption, and ethnic exclusion to impose medieval Islamic governance that sub-Saharan Africans reject but cannot defeat without outside help. The countries currently directly affected are Somalia, Mali, and Nigeria. African governments understand the dangers to their sovereignty presented by Al Qaeda affiliates and have demonstrated determination to do whatever is necessary to stamp them out. All African governments welcome American assistance in their resistance to Islamist extremism, but the United States needs to be careful about keeping its military footprint in Africa as small as possible." READ MORE

A Surprising Little War: First Lessons of Mali. François Heisbourg, Survival, April 2013, pp. 7-18. "The war in Mali broke out on 11 January 2013 in the form of an out-of-theblue French offensive against two armed columns heading towards Bamako, the country's capital. During the following weeks, a brigade-sized French force, accompanied by a similar number of soldiers from West African countries, reclaimed an area the size of Texas from jihadist groups, which in spring 2012 proclaimed to have set up an independent territory called Azawad in the northern 60% of Mali. Although the war in Mali was not a blitzkrieg, as claimed by some, in some ways it can be considered a harbinger of postmodern conflict.The war may yet slide into a strategic dead end reminiscent of Iraq and Afghanistan, but such a fate is not preordained." READ MORE

Climate Change and Insecurity: Mapping Vulnerability in Africa. Joshua W. Busby, Todd G. Smith, Kaiba L. White, Shawn M. Strange, International Security, Spring 2013, pp. 132-172. [...] Which parts of Africa are most vulnerable to the security consequences of climate change? The challenges posed by climate change are not uniformly distributed within the continent. To identify areas of security vulnerability and to prioritize limited resources, one cannot say “Ethiopia is vulnerable” without explaining which parts of Ethiopia are particularly vulnerable and why. Recognizing where physical exposure to climate change conjoins with other dimensions of vulnerability is an important area for research with significant policy relevance. With information on which parts of the continent are most vulnerable to climate change, Africans can prioritize their scarce resources, and the international community can better target adaptation assistance. Climate vulnerability studies are becoming increasingly important as countries recognize that the findings could have significant implications for resource allocation. READ MORE

Own the Goals. John W. McArthur. Foreign Affairs, March/April 2013, var. pages. "Since their inception in 2000, The Millennium Development Goals have revolutionized the global aid business, using specific targets to help mobilize and guide development efforts. They have encouraged world leaders to tackle multiple dimensions of poverty simultaneously and provided a standard for judging performance. As their 2015 expiration looms, the time has come to bank those successes and focus on what comes next." READ MORE

Anatomy: African Terrorism. Carlo Davis, World Policy Journal, Winter 2012/2013, var. pages. “Nigeria is under relentless attack from Boko Haram, a homegrown extremist militia. World Policy Journal outlines the terrorist organization’s support networks, exposing what’s needed to end Boko Haram’s brutal campaign to impose sharia law on Africa’s most populous nation.” READ MORE

From Massacres to Miracles: A Conversation with Paul Kagame, World Policy Journal, Winter 2012/2013, var. pages.  “Rwanda’s president, Paul Kagame, sits down with World Policy Journal and denies any wrongdoing in the neighboring Democratic Republic of Congo, despite mounting evidence of Rwandan involvement. He spells out how his country is overcoming the scars of genocide, why Rwanda’s parliament has the highest percentage of women in the world, and how a developing nation can wean itself from foreign aid.” READ MORE

Turkey Shocks Africa. Julia Harte, World Policy Journal, Winter 2012/2013, var. pages. “Why do Somalis name roads and babies after Turkey’s prime minister? No country had succeeded in helping Somalia until Turkey came along, writes Julia Harte. With its doctrine of “virtuous power,” Turkey is proving that a strategy of personal engagement—including scholarships, business-to-business contacts, and high-level political visits—can be an effective aid model. Somalia also provides Turkey a toehold in Africa, setting up the onetime heart of the Ottoman Empire to be a future player in the region.” READ MORE

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