Where Will Africa Figure In Second Term?

Mali Demonstrates Need For Greater US Involvement In Africa
Most Americans probably have heard of Timbuktu, but likely are unaware of where the city lies on a map. Members of Congress may have a better sense of the demographics of Africa, but few have viewed it as a national security priority. That must change, a former senator says.

Not only does US foreign policy need to recognize its importance, argues former Wisconsin Senator Russ Feingold, the “US must also adopt a new way of thinking, not only about the nature of the terrorist threat, but how our country relates with others.”

“Preventing attacks on our soil and against Americans all over the world demands that we pay attention to developments in Mali, Libya, Algeria, Egypt, Nigeria, Sudan and other key – sometimes volatile – countries in northern Africa. And there are many other nations and regions that could threaten our security,” Feingold writes in the Christian Science Monitor.

Foreign Policy Will Need To Be More Realistic
Of course, the US has been involved in Africa, including Mali, for some time

“Because of this myth of the great Malian democracy, nobody focused on the necessity of training Mali on the rule of law, respect for human rights, and respect for civilian authority,” J. Peter Pham, director of the Washington-based Atlantic Council’s Africa Center tells Deutsche Welle.

Focus In Next Four Years Likely To Be Economic
Pham argues that US involvement in Africa likely will increase in the next four years, but primarily for reasons unrelated to national security. Instead, he says in an article on allAfrica.com, the driver will be economics.

Rather, the focus will be economic with a strengthening of trade ties, building “public-private partnerships, with an emphasis on the latter” and on other initiatives that do not require a great increase in spending, which is politically unpalatable in today’s environment.

“Add to this calculus the recognition that there can be no fixing the sluggish American economy without bolstering trade and, in this respect, Africa, home of six of the world’s fastest growing economies over the last decade, beckons with its growing middle class and markets which have been delivering double-digit annual returns,” Pham adds.




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