Editor’s Note: December 14, 2018
Washington is going backwards in Africa
John Bolton, U.S. president Donald Trump’s hawkish national security advisor, on Thursday revealed details of the administration’s new Africa policy.
It has little to do with Africa.
While claiming to prioritize economic ties with the continent the focus is on countering the “great power competitors” of China and Russia, whose “predatory practices” in Africa are undermining its independence and growth, while posing a “significant threat to U.S. national security interests.”Along with countering the “proliferation of Radical Islamic Terrorism”, this constitutes the crux of the policy.
Washington’s new $60bn development budget – which matches an investment pledge by China – is to be used solely to advance US interests in Africa, with governments facing a good versus bad alignment choice in terms of development partners.
The language is alarmingly out of step with realities in Africa, where multilateralism is the focus.
The inclusion of Russia – a marginal actor – as a “great power” shows a lack of understanding of the continent’s multi-faceted external affairs.
It makes one wonder if Bolton has ever been to Africa. If so he should know that trade, investment and soft power are the preferred tools of engagement these days – not Cold War era isolationism.
This ‘new’ policy is a step backwards.
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