21 Pages

3U.S.–Africa security relations in the twenty-first century: Trends and implications


Historically, the U.S. has always measured its relations with Africa on the extent to which such a relationship advances America’s economic and geostrategic interests. From the perspective of the U.S. foreign policy establishment, there are two Africas-the North African Caucasians and Sub-Saharan(SSA) or Black Africa. Strategically, the bifurcation of Africa into “North African Caucasians” that include all of light skinned African countries adjacent to the Arab Middle Eastern countries and SSA is consistent with the United States’ geoeconomic, geostrategic, and humanitarian approaches to the continent. In Sub-Saharan African states, the focus of the U.S. tends to privilege the strategic economic resources it needs from the region over bilateral and multilateral humanitarian assistance to SSA. But the focus of the U.S. on the North African region has consistently

privileged engagement with Europe with specific attention to U.S. and her NATO allies’ military/security interests, as well as, for international maritime purposes. Strategically, and some would argue racially, the U.S.’s foreign policy structure classifies North Africans as Caucasians and are therefore coupled with the Middle East Bureau in the State Department with focused attention on America’s geostrategic and economic interests in Europe and the Middle East. The central argument in the chapter is that the U.S.’s policy toward SSA in

the twenty-first century is indeed a new and measurable strategic effort to engage SSA similar to other regions that the U.S. has considered significant to its national security. In that respect, one gauge of the seriousness with which the U.S. is willing to work in partnership with SSA societies and governments will be if indeed, American troops are actually deployed in conflict situations in the continent. Except for the botched mission in Somalia in the early 1990s, U.S. engagement in Africa has always been by remote control rather than risk the lives of its citizens. The security trends in the twenty-first century, as specified in the fourth section of the chapter, indeed call for such collaboration if the ungoverned spaces across Africa are not to be used by non-state actors to plot harm against innocent citizens at home and abroad.