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The recent visit of President Obama to Africa particularly in Ghana and how he was received in that country is a reflection of the United States’ current foreign relations to Africa. Apparently, the U. S. foreign relation with Africa under the Obama administration is reflected in the following words spoken by the president before the Parliament in Accra, Ghana’s capital. Quoting the President’s word, Peter Baker puts it, “…But I can promise you this: America will be with you every step of the way, as a partner, as friend” (Baker).
The US foreign policy as outlined in the president’s message was that the American support to African development efforts is dependent on how Africa takes it responsibility for its own problems. This is clearly depicted in the President’s words as cited by Baker, “We must start from the simple premise that Africa’s future is up to Africans” (Baker). Obama emphasized that the US support on Africa is primarily because of a functioning democracy and honest governance as he warned that “No country is going to create wealth if its leaders exploit the economy to enrich themselves, or police can be bought off by drug traffickers.
” Furthermore, he said “No business wants to invest in a place where the government skims 20 percent off the top, or the head the head of the port authority is corrupt. No person wants to live in a society where the rule of law gives way to the rule of brutality and bribery” (Baker). Citing the statement of Representative Donald Payne, head of the House sub-committee on Africa, Baker points out that the Obama foreign policy, as Payne predicted, will likely to “concentrate on things that would prevent terror like higher education” rather than on the U.
S. war on terror (Gettleman) Africa has always been important in the United States’ foreign policy in view of the former USSR’s interests in the Red Sea through which oil flawed to the Red Sea from the Middle East. This importance is reflected in Alan Dobson and Steve Marsh assertion that during the Reagan administration, “His reinvigoration of the cold war caused him …more than any other Cold War US President to Africa in colors of red versus the star-spangled banner rather than the black versus white” (Dobson & Marsh 93).
The issue behind the Cold War between the United States and USSR relating to the interest of these two world powers has generated the importance of Africa in the US foreign policy not in an effort to counter the threat of communism in the region, through spreading promoting the blessings democracy in this former slave colony. Apparently, the Carter period sees domestic turmoil as caused by the communist adventurism and implemented a policy of “bringing about democracy” in Africa” (Adar).
Compared to these previous foreign policies, although the Obama government embarked on preventive similar measures, the circumstances demanding for such concerns were a bit different. The situation confronting Africa during the Cold War period was critical because of the threat of communism to reign over the continent, while the situation in Africa confronting the Obama administration is the existence of evils in our world.
Baker noted that one evil in Africa that Obama came to fight “is pernicious mix of greed, famine, and war that has kept Africa down” (Baker). The U. S. foreign relation to Africa during the Cold War era viewed democracy as essential component of the US foreign involvement in Africa. According to Korwa Adar, both the Reagan and Bush Sr. ’s administration viewed “the issue of democracy and human rights” (Adar, par. 14) as the main agenda in their foreign relation’s policy with Africa.
Although the Obama administration also emphasized on the role of ‘functioning democracy’ in his foreign relation policy with Africa, the Obama administration stressed on the issues of corruption and tyranny in the government as the main issues held by the government as primary responsibility of the government to resolve, whereas, both the Reagan and Bush Sr. administration pointed out the human rights violation and the containment of communism as their main agenda in their foreign policy.
Regarding the Clinton administration, Adar pointed out that the Bush administration’s efforts on the issue of human rights and democracy “were carried on by President Clinton” (Adar par. 17). Adar argued that even though the US had no foreign policy towards Africa prior to Clinton presidency, the existing policy during that time was to provide support to leaders “on the basis of anti-communist or anti-apartheid rhetoric more than their actions…” (Adar, par. 16). The Clinton administration strengthened its commitment as part of his foreign policy, its commitment to human rights.
Adar cited that in response to violence and killings of innocent people by the Abacha regime in Nigeria, Clinton cutoff $450, 000 in the US aid in military training and $11 million in grants. In comparison, although the Obama government is also dealing with insurgencies, as Representative Payne earlier cited, the Obama government policy to be implemented in Africa will not likely be about the ‘US fight on the war on terror’, but it will be on preventing the breeding of terrorist and terrorism through providing opportunity of having higher education.
Thus, the Obama government foreign policy will likely to yield better results than the previous governments. Obviously, the big difference was that his ethnic origin with Africa placed his foreign policy towards Africa make all the difference because it is based not only shared political ends, but on his shared heritage with Africa. Work Cited Adar, Korwa G. “The Wilsonian Conception of Democracy and Human Rights: A Retrospective and Prospective. ” African Studies Quarterly: The Online Journal for African Studies. Date Retrieved: July 14, 2009.
http://web. africa. ufl. edu/asq/v2/v2i2a3. htm Baker, Peter. “Obama Delivers Call for Change to a Rapt Africa. ” July 11, 2009. The New York Times. July 14, 2009. http://www. nytimes. com/2009/07/12/world/africa/12prexy. html? em Dobson, Alan P. $ Marsh, S. US Foreign Policy Since 1945. New York: Routledge 2001 Gettleman, Jeffrey. “Obama in Africa: Welcome Back, Son. Now Don’t Forget Us. ” July 11, 2009. The New York Times. July 14, 2009. http://www. nytimes. com/2009/07/12/weekinreview/12gettleman. html? ref=africa