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Research Report

A Measured US Strategy for the New Africa

J. Peter Pham
Foreword by James L. Jones
Copyright Date: Dec. 1, 2016
Published by: Atlantic Council
Pages: 45
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Table of Contents

  1. (pp. i-ii)
    James L. Jones Jr.

    Turmoil in traditional geopolitical hotspots—Europe, Russia, the Levant, and Asia—has distracted the United States from the numerous opportunities and challenges across the Atlantic in Africa. Over the last decade, Africa has celebrated economic growth and new levels of political and economic engagement with the United States. But the continent faces many challenges to its continued economic development, security, and governance. In this latest Atlantic Council Strategy Paper, Atlantic Council Vice President and Africa Center Director Dr. J. Peter Pham persuasively argues that the United States needs to modernize its relations with a changing Africa to best engage a...

  2. (pp. 1-6)

    Although the episodes have largely receded from the nation’s historical consciousness, Africa played a formative role in the development of the nascent foreign policy of the early American republic. In 1777, Morocco’s Sultan Mohammed III was the first foreign sovereign to recognize the independence of the thirteen former British colonies. The subsequent 1786 Treaty of Peace and Friendship—signed on behalf of the United States by two future presidents, John Adams and Thomas Jefferson—is still in force more than two centuries later (with additional security and commercial protocols dating from 1836), making the pact the United States’ longest unbroken...

  3. (pp. 7-14)

    With a few notable exceptions—including Egypt, with its millennial memories stretching back to the dawn of human civilization; Ethiopia, which, thanks to the Emperor Menelik II’s defeat of an invading Italian army at the Battle of Adwa in 1896, was the only African country to preserve its independence during the great scramble for the continent; and Morocco, with its royal dynasty whose presence in the country harks back to the thirteenth century and whose suzerainty dates to the seventeenth century—in most of Africa, the state is the result of European colonialism. Consequently, the challenge for most African states...

  4. (pp. 15-24)

    If “Africa is more important than ever to the security and prosperity of the international community, and to the United States in particular,” as President Obama affirmed in his administration’s 2012 policy guidance on Sub-Saharan Africa—a perspective, it is worth noting, that is the subject of rare agreement between the 2016 platforms of both the Democratic and Republican Parties—then the United States must engage the states and peoples of the continent, as well as the aspirations they nurture and the challenges they face, as that document acknowledged: 36

    The United States will partner with…African countries to pursue the...

  5. (pp. 25-27)

    Implementing this strategy for more robust and effective US engagement with the states and people of Africa—focusing on the outlined objectives of prosperity, security, and good governance—will require not just better coordination and integration of institutions and resources already existent within the United States’ diplomatic and national security toolkit, but careful investment in the cultivation of new ones that can contribute to a truly holistic approach to relations with a dynamic and increasingly important region of the globe.

    While Africa has hardly registered in the 2016 US presidential campaign—Africa did not come up at all during the...

  6. (pp. 29-29)

    In its 2015 National Security Strategy, the Obama administration rightly acknowledged the changing dynamic in America’s relationship with Africa: “For decades, American engagement with Africa was defined by aid to help Africans reduce insecurity, famine, and disease. In contrast, the partnerships we are forging today, and will expand in the coming years, aim to build upon the aspirations of Africans.”62 Today’s US engagement with Africa has evolved significantly from those of past times, and future objectives must include achieving economic prosperity and development, security, and good governance for Africa’s fifty-four nations—not only because US citizens and businesses hope to...