Foreign Policy Op-ed: The Africa Surprise

From Enough blogs Fri Nov 9 2012, 22:12:41

This piece originally appeared on Foreign Policy.

Barack Obama's victory over Mitt Romney could have significant implications for America's approach to countries ranging from China to Russia. But U.S. policy toward Africa was unlikely to shift dramatically no matter who was elected president this week -- a remarkable fact considering that nearly every foreign policy issue is cannon fodder for partisan battles these days.

Over the last two decades, successive administrations and congressional leaders have, for the most part, striven to ensure that U.S. policy toward Africa is formulated on a bipartisan basis. This is in part because astute policy leaders have concluded that political bickering could threaten the tenuous interest the African continent generates in most of official Washington. But Africa's well-publicized cases of famine, genocide, and civil conflict have also solidified an esprit de corps among a dedicated minority of elected officials -- and their partners in think tanks, academic institutions, and non-governmental organizations -- who have resolved to hang together on all things African in order to enhance policy effectiveness. Senators John Kerry (D-MA) and Richard Lugar (R-IN), for example, joined forces to support Obama's efforts to achieve a peaceful independence referendum for South Sudan.

The bipartisan agenda is a largely positive one that seeks to build on Africa's emergence as a rapidly growing actor in the global economy, a major contributor to peacekeeping and peacemaking, a vibrant source of cultural innovation, and a hub of civil society change agents committed to shaping a better future for the continent.

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