Strategic Context of Sub-Saharan Africa Essay

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Strategic Context of Sub-Saharan Africa

In response to the political administration of United States, interest in Africa changes. It is either decreased or increased. Cuba, China, France and Soviet Union are among those countries that have been influences for decades by the African continent which had pulled attraction of many towards itself. Africa has also been assisted by an economically powerful country i.e. United States. This continent had been able to gather a large number of consumers that were around 600 million. But this potential for the economic investment and growth was slowed down because of the instability. Another reason for this was the increase in the rate of migration (AERC, 2010).

Because of the foreign policy, Africa and United States were not able to maintain a close relationship as cold war came to an end. The strategy that had been used by United States was to make efforts to prevent communism from spreading. This was to work as the groundwork for U.S. interests on the African affairs. After this was achieved by United States, the relationship with Africa was not very good. U.S. did not showed much interest for issues such as economic development, establishment of the government etc. which was being faced by Africa (AERC, 2010).

The changes were also made in USA's strategy as communism and Soviet Union declined. These changes were the result of many of the social issues including military and political corruption and civil unrest making in hard for the region to remain stable. Africa being an underdeveloped continent needs assistance. United States were considered to be a leading nation with the capability of providing assistance. The unstable situation of Africa was an opportunity for the other countries to interfere in the important affairs of this continent. United States was not showing much concern towards the declining situation of Africa since the event of Post Cold War. The major question regarding U.S. policy towards Africa was in its foreign policy i.e. Is America committed towards Africa's Future or is American foreign policy towards that continent-- A Mirage? This issue requires a comprehensive analysis. No matter what U.S. policy is, the criteria should be defined well so that the priorities could be established and secondly it should be established on the basis of the interests of U.S. (Cumbo, 2003).

Current Situation in Africa

The major issues that have become a challenge for the African countries are poor governance, widespread diseases, debt and poverty. If one country of Africa is facing problems in economic growth, societal interests or the political stability, the other countries are also influenced by this. The average growth of population in Africa is 2.6% and the economic growth is slower than this growth of population. Moreover, a large population of Africa approximately 25 million people is also suffering from AIDS/HIV. This means that among the total infected people in the worldwide i.e. 36 million, 70% of them are in Africa. Terrorism and poverty also adds urgency to this rising population. This prevents the countries of Africa to get developed and now 34 countries are ranked as the least developed nations of the world. In the year 1996 there were just 27 countries that were ranked as least developed (Paez et al., 2010).

Ways in which Africa can be developed changes with the years. All countries of Africa are not the same. Such countries do exist which are wealthy. They can provide a better future to Africa. Other countries are not much rich. Currently they are poor and they are expected to remain the same in the future years. These countries are inaccessible. They may not be able to play a vital role in contributing to the development of Africa. All the five regions of Africa have enough significance when considering its trading, economic development and the population. The policymakers of U.S. have recorded fewer resources compared to the actual resources of the continent. The status of U.S. decreases when its interference in Africa decreases and the status increases and they become more important when they interfere more (Paez et al., 2010).

Africa's Area of Significance

Social Significance to the U.S.

In Central along with Southern Africa only, 25-27 million people are carrying HIV disease. This statistic is of major concern to the United States of America as it has many strategic interests in places like Nigeria (a major oil supplier to the United States of America), Ethiopia, South and Central Africa. It is in the interest of the Americans that a stable, healthy workforce is available in the aforementioned areas and HIV / AIDS has all the potential to hinder this goal and more importantly to the development of the countries themselves. Most African nations lack basic health facilities and the average life expectancy is just above thirty years. In such conditions it is foolhardy to expect these countries to be able to maintain a sizeable workforce and consequently these countries will not be able to compete internationally, at all. From this it follows that HIV / AIDS is a social/medical issue of such proportions that it is bound to become an economic issue very soon (AUC, 2006).

Economic Significance to the U.S.

It is important to understand that the United States of America does not positively engage countries without any interests of its own. If a country has little resources and little opportunities for business, it becomes a bad 'business decision' to engage that particular country. According to this new policy of "trade for aid," instead of providing the traditional aid, America will provide trade opportunities. This is beneficial for both, the countries receiving the aid and the U.S. As this allows the African states to build production capacity and create jobs while the U.S. gets at least some minimal level of return. This form of economic interaction has the potential to change the face of African economics. At present Africa only makes up for 4% of the total imports and exports in the world while in the United States only 2% of trade ($22.5 billion in 1997) is with Africa. Even most (about two thirds) of this is made up of oil and other petroleum products from countries like Angola, Gabon and Nigeria (ICTSD, 2010).

Political Significance to the U.S.

During the Cold War, the U.S.S.R. As well as America, in an effort to win allies, shored up support in Africa consequently dividing it into camps. This drive to 'secure' allies also meant that corrupt, despotic, undemocratic and oppressive regimes were often installed and tolerated by both sides. They were pitted against each other for the interests of their respective camps. With the end of the Cold War and the superpower rivalry that went with it, the world let Africa out in the cold. This was mainly because Russia did not have the financial means to support all of its allies and the United States simply had no need to support these African states against Russia. All the governments that previously had backing of their respective superpower now were fighting each other in a game of political and military supremacy. This power struggle has brought the African continent to the brink of destruction. There is very little rule of law and dictators and warlords commit atrocities all across the land. There is little or no accountability and human life is very cheap. In the recent decades major non-African powers have been trying to curb this rampant disorder in Africa by trying to enforce political reforms but these actions have had little or no effect on the daily lives of the African people in general (African Union, 2010).

According to African Union (2010), Africa passed through a democratic transformation in the 1990s. During the time period of 1990-1995, out of 47 nations situated in Sub-Saharan Africa, almost 38 states held elections on national level among various parties of Africa. In the same states, open elections were also held. As a result of which out of those 47, 25 states have developed a lot in democratic field. It shows as if the positive improvements have found their way into it but it can be just a temporary glance of success only. As a matter of fact, corruption is still among the political structure and politicians of the state. This democratic evolution is the result of the fact of getting assistance from foreign countries. Corrupted politicians are still present among the African nations that are not at all trust worthy.

America is having great deal of interest in Africa. In order to understand the reason for this, one must look for the real meaning of "national interest," since it is explained thoroughly in the foreign policy of United States of America. It has been seen that national interests have always been considered of high importance in the foreign policies and national goals of all states as mentioned by statesmen, writers and military planners. It is stated in the constitution of America that a President has to look for the determination and achievement of…[continue]

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