In December last year the US National Security Advisor, John Bolton, gave a speech at the Heritage Foundation in Washington DC, in which he outlined the Trump administration's new Africa strategy.
US National Security Advisor John Bolton sees China as a threat to Washington in Africa. EPA-EFE/Shawn Thew
According to Bolton, the US now faces “great power competitors” – namely Russia and China. In his view [they both]
are rapidly expanding their financial and political influence across Africa… to gain a competitive advantage over the United States
Bolton’s portrayal of great power competition sounded like the Cold War era when the US and the communist powers, led by the Soviet Union, fought for influence over the new states emerging from colonialism across sub Saharan Africa.
At the end of the Cold War, the US withdrew almost completely from Africa. In the 1990s, Washington distanced itself from an area of the world in which it no longer saw any vital interests
But in the 21st century there has been a significant turnaround in US policy. What’s emerged is a return to seeing sub-Saharan Africa as a site of US geopolitical and commercial interests.
This reversal is based on three factors. The first is the increasing significance of new African oil supplies. The second is the alleged presence of terrorists in the “large uncontrolled, ungoverned areas” of sub-Saharan Africa. And the third is the emergence of middle class African consumers as a potential new market for US exports.
a number of frontier oil provinces that may become hot exploration areas during the coming decade.
These included São Tomé and Principe, Gambia, Liberia, Togo, Benin and Niger.
Washington launched a programme to improve transparency in the oil sectors of the major African producers to make these countries
better hosts to the very large investments needed to develop energy resources and make more reliable contributions to our own energy security.
Energy security considerations led to more US military activity in the Gulf of Guinea. In 2004, Assistant Secretary of State for Africa, Charles Snyder, called for a West African coastal security programme because
a lot of this new oil is actually offshore. There is no one to protect it, unless we build up African coastal fleets.
This led to the launch of the US Navy’s Africa Partnership Station in 2007 to help Gulf of Guinea states secure the region from security threats at sea.
To prevent this, the Bush and Obama administrations established a series of programmes designed to strengthen border security and build internal security. A number of initiatives were launched in a bid to build security capacity in African states thought, by Washington, to be vulnerable to penetration by terrorists.
The expanding US military presence in Africa was symbolised by the establishment in 2007 of a new US military command structure, Africa Command(AFRICOM). It took charge of all US military activity on the continent, including the bombing of Somalia.
Finally, US interest in Africa has been driven in recent years by commercial considerations. In April 2012, the Assistant US Trade Representative, Florizelle Liser, told Congress that sub-Saharan Africa contained
many of the fastest growing economies in the world with rapidly growing middle class consumers who were “increasingly demanding high quality US products.
Commercial opportunities in Africa were also at the heart of the first ever US-Africa Leaders Summit in 2014. This saw the launch of the Doing Business in Africa campaign.
The Trump administration’s expansion of the bombing of Somalia, its continuation of Bush and Obama era counterterrorism programmes, and its own new strategy for Africa suggest that policymakers continue to view the continent through a geopolitical lens.
The particular twist put on this by Trump is his emphasis on the competition the US faces from China - but this is hard to imagine given that China has just one military base in Africa.
The Conversation Africa The Conversation Africa is an independent source of news and views from the academic and research community. Its aim is to promote better understanding of current affairs and complex issues, and allow for a better quality of public discourse and conversation. Go to: https://theconversation.com/africa
LEGAL DISCLAIMER: This Message Board accepts no liability of legal consequences that arise from the Message Boards (e.g. defamation, slander, or other such crimes). All posted messages are the sole property of their respective authors. The maintainer does retain the right to remove any message posts for whatever reasons. People that post messages to this forum are not to libel/slander nor in any other way depict a company, entity, individual(s), or service in a false light; should they do so, the legal consequences are theirs alone. Bizcommunity.com will disclose authors' IP addresses to authorities if compelled to do so by a court of law.