A little under ten years ago, I wrote and circulated a little paper whilst working on John Kerry’s Presidential campaign (2004), positing that the US would need to engage with Africa on a different level than it had previously. All this was set within the context of the War on Terror and the Axis of Evil (yeah, that’s how long ago it was!), but also based on the fact that China was keen to accelerate its process of investment in the continent. I wasn’t the first to argue these points, and loads of academics had advised the campaign to stake out its policy positions as early as possible, before President Bush’s re-election campaign could define us.
So, fast-forward to 2014 and as a journalist friend based in the region put it so very eloquently:
“The entire North Africa region now essentially serves as the biggest arms depot in the world, and the US government can’t even find a partner-country to host AFRICOM, the administrative headquarters responsible for coordinating U.S. military relations with 53 African countries.”
The Summit is a great initiative by the Obama administration — it makes for good electoral politics, and also good foreign policy.