Africa: Thinking Regionally, 04/22/96

Africa: Thinking Regionally, 04/22/96

Africa: Thinking Regionally, 1
Date Distributed (ymd): 960422

APIC Background Paper 005 (March 1996)
Thinking Regionally:
Priorities for U.S. Policy Toward Africa

by Salih Booker

Recent Congressional action to significantly cut aid to Africa is only one sign among many of a trend to reduce U.S. involvement on the continent. How much further Africa is marginalized in the U.S. will ultimately depend on the ability of Africa's multiple constituencies to reverse this trend. Nevertheless, events on the continent are likely to compel a greater commitment of resources than U.S. policymakers currently contemplate. And engagement at any level needs to be based on clear identification of U.S. interests in Africa and well-defined criteria for establishing priorities.

This paper suggests a framework to assure the promotion of U.S. interests in all five regions of the African continent, and of three important goals shared by Africans and Americans alike.

Although conventional wisdom currently tends to dismiss Africa's importance for the U.S., each one of Africa's five regions is significant enough in terms of population, potential economic development, impact on global issues and even current trade ties to warrant sustained policy attention. Economic, strategic, political, and societal interests, intertwined within any one African country, are also easily influenced by events across porous borders. African policy- makers are increasingly realizing the need to take this regional dimension into account. U.S. policy should also do so.

Negative goals such as Cold War rivalry no longer define the U.S. interest. It is in the U.S. interest that, within each African region, as elsewhere in the world, countries and peoples should be able to advance the common goals of achieving security, democracy and development. While the paths to these objectives may differ, they are inseparable. Economic progress cannot be isolated from the needs for security and expansion of democratic rights.

U.S. involvement in averting crises and building a sustainable future in each of Africa's regions should not be dismissed as "social work." It is a genuine national interest because of the need for the U.S. to establish a responsible role as a leading participant in the new post-Cold War international community. It is also justified on the grounds of actual or potential economic partnerships in each region. A downward spiral of chaos in any one of these large regions, moreover, would inevitably have costly fallout for the developed countries of the North Atlantic, in the form of refugees, drug traffic, the spread of disease and rising costs for humanitarian aid.

Rational strategies to achieve these goals cannot be designed purely in terms of bilateral relations with selected countries. At the same time, it is not feasible to give equal weight to U.S. relations with each African country. This paper singles out five African nations as focus countries where the U.S. must be consistently involved: South Africa in Southern Africa; Nigeria in West Africa; Zaire in Central Africa; Kenya in East Africa; and Algeria in North Africa.(1)

[Note: for a map defining the regions used here, and charts comparing regions and focus countries with selected countries and regions outside Africa, see the typeset version of this paper -- order information below.]

Giving priority to these countries should not be confused with making unconditional alliances with their ruling elites, with seeking to build them up as regional hegemonic powers, or with granting them automatic first-call in the queue for aid dollars. The idea of 'focus countries' suggested here should be sharply distinguished from the similar-sounding concept of 'pivotal states,' which designates regional powers for virtually exclusive attention within a region, with the assumption that they will lead their neighbors. Rather, U.S. policy towards each of these key countries must encompass the realities of each region and encourage constructive dialogue and collective problem-solving among neighbors.

We also must recognize that the U.S. has special historical responsibilities toward a select number of other countries--Liberia, Angola, Somalia, and Sudan--that also warrant particular attention.(2) The policy approaches to these countries also will be most effective if integrated into policies toward their respective regions. So will the responses to crises forced on the international agenda by their horrendous scale or their momentary passage through the global media spotlight. Likewise, aid programs to "success cases" in large or small countries need to be viewed through the regional prism.

Sustained policy attention to certain countries should always be placed within the respective regional context. Thus there should be a Southern Africa policy while acknowledging that South Africa is a priority within the region, and a West African policy that recognizes Nigeria's centrality to U.S. concerns in that region. What happens in Zaire, still saddled with the dictator installed with U.S. assistance in America's first major Cold War adventure in Africa, will have profound effects on the prospects for its neighbors. Although their regional weight is less overwhelming, Kenya and Algeria will also have major impacts on their respective regions.

This brief paper does not claim to present a fully elaborated case for this approach, which would involve more detailed discussion of policy for each distinct region. The aim here is rather to offer an initial framework to help answer the questions of *where* the U.S. should be most engaged in Africa, and *on what issues*. Even given a consensus on geographical and program priorities, there will remain the debates over what methods to employ and which agencies should have policy leadership and managerial responsibilities. Overshadowing all of this is the specter of diminished resources. But such immediate questions should not distract us from thinking strategically about what are, in fact, significant and growing American interests in Africa.

Deciding Where to Focus

As budget constraints force reductions in embassy and aid personnel, including the closure of some country programs, making decisions about where to focus is inevitable. Yet the grounds for making these decisions are not self-evident. One approach is to concentrate on "success" cases, those countries thought most likely to make it in terms of criteria defined by U.S. officials, assuming that their success will set an example and positively influence the decision-making and behavior of their neighbors. This perspective is often accompanied by the corollary argument that the U.S. should simply opt out of involvement in cases involving too much risk of failure. Since, in Africa, this is often taken to mean most countries, the obvious consequence would be to focus only on the least needy.

At the extreme, some commentators suggest that in Sub-Saharan Africa only South Africa warrants being considered a "pivotal state."(3) Yet together the countries of Sub-Saharan Africa, *excluding South Africa*, account for more total trade with the U.S. than all of Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union combined.(4)

The framework presented here is different. The point is not to limit U.S. perspectives exclusively to bilateral relations with certain states. Rather it is to find cost-effective ways for the U.S. to pursue its interests for each region as a whole, beginning with consistent involvement with key regional actors.

Focus Countries
I have designated South Africa, Zaire, Nigeria, Algeria and Kenya as five countries too important not to be involved in. Each meets most or all of the following criteria:
(1) they are large countries with large populations;
(2) they boast the strongest and most industrialized economies
in their respective regions;
(3) they are presently among the largest trading partners for
the U.S. in Africa;
(4) the U.S. has diverse and longstanding interests in them
(economic, political, societal and security);
(5) they are potential economic and political powerhouses of
their respective regions;
These countries are all key actors within their respective regions, whose cooperation will be invaluable to resolving a wide range of problems. They are likely to be either forces for regional security or sources of regional instability. Finally, there are domestic constituencies in the U.S. concerned with policy toward each of these countries that can help build and sustain public support for new U.S. initiatives.

Together, these five focus countries provide nearly 60% of all U.S. imports from the African continent, and comprise the markets for 75% of total U.S. exports to Africa.(5) The total population of these five countries, nearly 250 million, comes to almost half the population of the entire continent.(6)

The potential for positive (or negative) influence that these focus countries have within their own regions and elsewhere on the continent is illustrated, to give only a few examples, by Nigeria's leading role in the West African peacekeeping force in Liberia, the South African role in promoting political settlements of conflicts in Mozambique and Lesotho, and Zaire's role in alternately accepting, expelling, or arming refugees from the Rwandan conflict. Nigeria largely determined who would be the new head of the African Development Bank (in opposition to the U.S.-supported candidate). Allgeria still has important influence with the Polisario Front of the Western Sahara, whose independence struggle against Morocco--the traditional ally of the U.S. in the Mahgreb--represents the continent's remaining unresolved colonial conflict. And South Africa's current increasingly active foreign policy on Nigeria is a new example of the potential for African powers to influence international policies toward other African states.

Each focus country--and its role within its region--is unique, and U.S. relations with each one will be different. It is now possible to conceive of a U.S.-South Africa policy that considers Pretoria an ally with whom the U.S. can work on a host of issues. Both government-to-government and people-to- people ties are growing rapidly and, tentatively, the two countries share broad policy objectives in South Africa itself and throughout the region. South Africa is the second largest trading partner for the U.S. in Africa, and there is a positive trade balance. With $4.2 billion of trade with the U.S. in 1994, South Africa is a more important trading partner than all of Eastern Europe combined.

In Zaire, in contrast, it is neither possible nor desirable to treat the government as an ally. The U.S. approach there will require a more creative and energetic combination of collaboration with the government on specific matters of mutual concern (e.g. Rwandan refugees, the Ebola virus outbreak), increasing pressure for measurable democratization and the observance of human rights, and strengthening ties with democratic forces.

Economic relations with Zaire are limited and have been diminishing in recent years. Given the country's vast natural wealth, however, its future as an important emerging market should not be discounted solely because of the near chaotic current state of affairs. Indeed, the past U.S. "investments" of over $1.3 billion in grants and loans to Zaire should not be written off so cynically. The country continues to face a national political crisis, and only a democratic resolution of it can unlock the country's enormous but long-blocked potential. It is in the U.S. interest to help achieve such an outcome, and in doing so, to overcome one of its worst policy legacies in Africa.

In Nigeria and Kenya similar approaches will be required, at least in the short term. In both countries the U.S. has considerable economic interests. Nigeria is the largest trading partner of the U.S. in Africa and the third largest U.S. oil supplier after Saudi Arabia and Venezuela. Importing some $4.4 billion in Nigerian oil, petroleum and petroleum products, and exporting only $509 million in goods, the U.S. ran a trade deficit of nearly $4 billion with Nigeria in 1994 which accounted for most of the total $5 billion trade deficit with the African continent.

U.S. policy toward Nigeria cannot fail to recognize the centrality of successful democratization to the country's prospects for security or for development. Thus despite the significance of U.S. trade with Nigeria, U.S. long-term interests require re-prioritization of elements in current U.S.-Nigerian relations. The fate of Nigeria's democracy movement holds significant import for the evolution of democratic political systems in other countries in West Africa, and across the continent more generally. The rising calls in the U.S. and internationally for sanctions including an oil embargo against Nigeria will have to be taken seriously sooner or later. Washington will find it difficult to adopt a different standard toward Nigeria than that applied to South Africa, which involved the successful implementation of a comprehensive sanctions policy during the latter 1980s. Similarly, combining sanctions with significant investments in supporting the growth of democratic civic forces makes just as much sense in Nigeria as it did in South Africa.

Likewise, a revitalization of U.S. support for democratization in Kenya is crucial to avoid that country's slippage into a violent ethno-regional crisis, and to provide a positive example of the economic benefits that can accrue from democratic governance. In addition to its economic interests in Kenya, the U.S. still depends on access to Kenyan ports and airfields for various military planning scenarios involving the projection of U.S. force into the Gulf as well in East Africa itself. This should lend some urgency to U.S. efforts to support democratic reform and state observation of human rights in Kenya. Contrary to the conventional wisdom of the Cold War era, the U.S. cannot afford to elevate basing rights over human rights. Kenya is also a potentially important "hub" around which regional economic development can be built as well as greater economic cooperation between the countries in the Economic Community of Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA).

In Algeria the complicated challenge of "mainstreaming" Islamic fundamentalism into a new democratic system is a problem with important regional implications across North Africa, in parts of West and East Africa, and in Western Europe as well. Algeria is also the fourth largest trading partner of the U.S. in Africa with total trade of $2.9 billion. Altogether, the countries of North Africa represent some $7.3 billion in trade for the U.S. The dual threats of radical religious fundamentalism and the anti-democratic authoritarianism of governments in most North African states require a strong policy response if the U.S. is to help increase the chances for sustainable democracy and decrease the chances for conflict in this vital region.

There is a need to find rapid ways of pressing forward on human rights and democratization issues, in part because they deserve urgent attention in themselves. This is also imperative because to fail to do so may jeopardize the ability of the U.S. to promote solutions to larger regional problems.

Historical Obligations

In addition to the focus countries identified above, U.S. policymakers should publicly accept greater responsibility for this country's "unfinished business" on the continent. The U.S. should acknowledge that many of its Cold War policies-- which shaped U.S. relations with Africa from the era of independence until this decade--have done considerable damage in a number of key African states. We should feel a national obligation to help the people and governments of these countries to recover from the devastation that superpower rivalry inflicted upon them, and helped them to inflict upon themselves.

This is not a matter of pleading guilty and feeling remorse for past deeds. As appropriate as that might be, it would do very little for Africa. More constructively, the U.S. must commit itself to sharing the burdens of reconstruction and reconciliation in order to promote a new international order which fosters accountability for state actions and the international rule of law. We should be particularly concerned about intractable cases of civil strife where past U.S. policy arguably bears substantial responsibility for that result and where external assistance is required to increase the chances of resolution. Among these cases are Somalia, Liberia, Sudan, Zaire and Angola. The U.S. should not simply walk away from involvement with countries that were former allies, client states or, as in Angola, the target of attack by American military proxies.

(continued in part 2)

(1)While Egypt is obviously considered the top priority in North Africa by U.S. policymakers -- and receives more in US assistance than all the rest of Africa combined -- it is primarily viewed as a key actor in the strategic Middle East. By choosing Algeria as a focus country, policymakers would need to reorient their thinking and develop policies more sensitive to the African context rather than only a Middle Eastern one.

(2) These are in addition to focus countries Zaire and Kenya, where the criterion of US historical obligations also applies.

(3) See Robert Chase, Emily Hill and Paul Kennedy, "Pivotal States and U.S. Strategy," Foreign Affairs (January/February 1996), 33-51. The authors also include Egypt and Algeria among African countries on their list of pivotal states around the world.

(4) Source: Bureau of the Census, Foreign Trade Division, 1994 data. These and additional comparisons compiled in APIC, The U.S. and Africa's Trade: Issue Brief (Background Paper 004), November 1995.

Africa: Thinking Regionally, 2
Date Distributed (ymd): 960422

APIC Background Paper 005 (March 1996)
Thinking Regionally:
Priorities for U.S. Policy Toward Africa

by Salih Booker
(continued from part 1)

Historical Obligations (cont.)

One reason is that justice in international relations is important in its own right. Unaddressed injustices are likely to fester and weaken any new international order based on rules and ideals. There is also considerable domestic support for the idea that the U.S. should be morally and fiscally responsible for its international behavior. But there is little public recognition of the negative role the U.S. played in some of these cases. Acknowledgement of past mistakes can be useful in sending signals to dictators, demagogues and other human rights abusers that the U.S. is really committed to a new post-Cold War vision. It can also raise visibility of these issues for a public generally unaware of the past.

Current involvement in such issues is warranted as well because America needs to demonstrate the durability of its commitments, and the coherence and predictability of its international behavior. Because our actions abroad frequently have a major impact on entirely different regions (e.g. U.S. intervention in Somalia is still a major influence on U.S. policies toward Haiti and Bosnia), we must be careful to avoid ad-hoc short-term responses to problems for which we share longer-term responsibilities. If the U.S. abandons the people of those countries in Africa where it was most heavily involved during the Cold War, it would demonstrate that the U.S., only concerned with short-term American geostrategic interests, is not a reliable partner. Finally, the U.S. continues to have significant 'practical' interests in many of these same countries (e.g. strategic minerals, oil, and access to ports and bases). Taken together, these elements provide ample justification for re-engaging in our "lost legacies" in Africa.

Regional Perspectives

The five focus countries and six "historical responsibility" countries add up to nine, with Zaire and Kenya in both categories. This list is not the same, nor should it necessarily be the same, as those countries currently highest on the agenda for aid programs, for commercial missions, or for crisis response. Those priorities may change more quickly, and should be regularly evaluated on more particularized criteria: the quality of aid programs, the governance capacity of a particular host country, prospects for exports or investments, or the need for response to immediate crises, such as those in Rwanda and Burundi. But such programs should be shaped in the context of a longer-term regionally informed policy framework.

Thus it is essential to take stock of existing U.S. interests throughout each region and understand how they are inter-related. For example, peace and security in Angola and Mozambique, and economic policy reforms in Zimbabwe and Zambia, are all critical for the development of a Southern African economic community. Already in 1994, U.S. trade with the 11 countries of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) totaled over $7 billion, about the same level as with all of the former Soviet Union. Future political and economic progress in this region--including the capacity to attract foreign investment--will depend not only on domestic developments in South Africa, but on the success of regional institutions in dealing with complex and potentially divisive cross-border issues.

In West Africa, although U.S. interests in Nigeria are clearly preminent, a resolution of the wars in Liberia and Sierra Leone will have a direct bearing on the prospects for prosperity or suffering throughout the region. Any policy toward Nigeria focussed on internal reforms must also consider Nigeria's role in the region. In turn, the course of Nigeria's internal struggle for democracy has enormous implications for the legitimacy of its actions in the region. And the results of Ghana's continuing commitment to western economic policy prescriptions are likely to influence the choice of economic policies pursued by its neighbors.

In Central and East Africa, the enormous number of refugees and the continuing conflicts in Rwanda, Burundi and Sudan are straining intra-African relations, and draining local and international resources. Other countries in the region cannot possibly isolate themselves from their effects. In North Africa, the US approach to the confrontation in Algeria must be shaped with an awareness of the parallel but distinct issues of governance in other North African states.

By considering South Africa, Nigeria, Algeria and Kenya within their regional contexts rather than simply in bilateral terms, one can better promote stronger regional economies that will begin to benefit the poorest among them as well as their larger partners. The same pertains to Central Africa, though the prospects for an emerging regional market there depends disproportionately upon a new start in Zaire.

Despite the unevenness of efforts and the mixed results to date, African states have consistently endorsed the goals of regional development and economic integration as crucial to their overall development efforts. Implementing such programs in practice requires confronting many complex negotiations and potential conflicts of national, bureaucratic or commercial interests. But supporting regional economic integration, as is coming to be widely recognized, is in the U.S. interest, since it should help develop larger markets that can better attract U.S. direct investments and exports. The U.S. should develop strategies to promote such integration, while remaining sensitive to the dangers of unsustainable imbalances among countries within a region.

The interplay between bilateral relations with focus countries and wider regional concerns will be different, depending on the region and on the issues at stake. But the framework outlined here gives the option of sharpening the focus without writing off non-focus countries. A regional approach would permit the U.S. to remain engaged with the whole of the African continent, while increasing its capacity to promote the objectives it shares with most of its African partners. The alternative of 'selective engagement' only with 'pivotal states' or 'success stories,' in contrast, would tend to ignore the deeper interdependence which exists across the continent.

Priority Issues: Security, Democracy and Development

The criteria above serve to set priorities for where in Africa the U.S. should be most involved. Determining which substantive goals should constitute priorities for U.S. policy attention is in many ways easier, despite the complexity of determining how best to achieve those goals. The post-Cold War period has, thus far, been marked by a striking unanimity between African states and the U.S. on priority objectives and even on many of the methods to pursue such objectives. For more than six years now, the African priorities of security, democratization and economic development have been embraced by American policymakers. Indeed, the Administration's vision for U.S. foreign policy, focused on the expansion of democracy and the growth of market economies, could have been inspired by the changes taking place in Africa.

Given this vision, it's surprising that there isn't more focus on Africa, the region of the world with the most emerging democracies and the greatest number of countries undertaking economic reforms. This discrepancy is very telling about American indifference to Africa. It suggests that there is a problem in the political culture of this country which allows policymakers to calculate U.S. interests elsewhere in the world using one set of criteria, while neglecting interests in Africa that meet the same criteria.

Africans are pursuing strategies to establish institutions and processes through which they can collectively promote conflict resolution and prevention, and generally promote stability. In most countries, some form of democratization is underway, albeit haltingly in some cases. The recent disappointing lull in the pace of democratization only underscores the need for more timely and significant support. Democratization offers the only hope of creating and sustaining internal and then regional security and stability, and of legitimizing the process of economic reform which is critical to these countries' long-term development. Despite an adverse global environment, African countries are continuing to pursue major restructuring of their economies. But they are also recognizing the need to increase investments in human resource development, and for greater public participation in development efforts as well as development policy deliberations.

While the U.S. cannot and should not be involved to the same extent everywhere, it must be concerned with the overall progress of all three goals throughout the African continent and take timely action to encourage the most promising African initiatives. Advance towards one goal does not automatically result in progress on the others. In general, however, they are mutually reinforcing, and successes on one front help to improve the chances for advancing on the others.

There is also a need, however, to set priorities among the three broad goals of security, democracy and development. Without security neither of the other two policy priorities can be realized. Security, especially the end to current armed conflicts, must therefore be the first preoccupation of U.S. policy toward each of the five regions. To prevent a return to war where agreements have been reached and to prevent religious, ethnic, or political intolerance from leading to war, democratic institutions will need continuing support in democratizing states.

The details of policy on each of these issues are beyond the scope of this paper. But, for each one, a regional perspective is indispensable to making choices that can have the most effect not only in one country but on advancing these goals for the continent as a whole.


The regional dimension of security issues is vividly demonstrated in human terms by the flow of refugees across borders, so that the destructive effects of an internal conflict almost always extend far beyond the borders of one country. In the most dramatic case, even without the humanitarian demand for international involvement in the aftermath of genocide in Rwanda, and the threat of new escalation of violence in Burundi and Rwanda, it should be impossible to ignore the impact of these crises on neighboring countries in both Central and East Africa, including the two focus countries of Zaire and Kenya. Renewal of violence in Angola would threaten stability and the prospects for economic advance in both Southern and Central Africa. The precarious peace settlement in Liberia is of wider concern not only because of US historical responsibilities there, but because of the destabilizing effect of refugees on other West African states, the expansion of illegal arms trading, and the example of continued reliance on violence unchecked by civilian control.

Increasingly, political and economic refugees are finding their way to South Africa, not only from its immediate neighbors but from other regions of Africa. The issue of illegal immigration is becoming the subject of heated debate within South Africa. South Africa's own chances of success as a new democracy and a new emerging market cannot be separated from the prospects of other African countries.

The U.S. cannot avoid responsibility for involvement in conflict resolution efforts where the U.S. has a regional concentration of interests and where the focus country in the region is affected or directly involved in the conflict. The precise mix of bilateral and multilateral engagement that involvement should take is debatable. But it is shortsighted to opt out of sustained efforts, while waiting for disaster to become so overwhelming that costly emergency relief is the only option.

There can be no guarantee of success in resolving intractable conflicts. As it deals with current crises, the U.S. should be concerned first of all with building stronger African multilateral institutions to assist in the future. It must also maintain support for UN peacekeeping efforts, striving to improve their effectiveness. Finally, the U.S. should promote reductions in the arms trade that helps to devastate Africa and rethink our own security assistance programs in Africa, no matter how small.


In many cases the threats to regional security and stability come in the form of repressive regimes which refuse to accept greater democracy within their political systems. The struggle for democracy and human rights in the focus countries is of particularly critical importance for other countries, both by the demonstration effect and, at times, by direct positive or negative involvement.

That is one reason why, as is generally recognized, the success of democratization in South Africa should be a fundamental ongoing goal of US foreign policy. But the state of democracy and human rights in the other four focus countries should also be high on the agenda. Among the four, Algeria, Zaire, and Nigeria are currently in the throes of enormous internal political struggles, all involving significant human rights abuses. In each case, the attainment of a democratic system of governance would positively influence the other countries of the region and help lay the groundwork for accelerated regional economic integration. In Kenya, the democracy movement has suffered severe setbacks owing both to its own disunity and the government's continuing political repression. Nevertheless, democratization is crucial to Kenya's future and the future of the East Africa region.

In each region, it will be necessary also to identify where the U.S. can best make a critical contribution to helping the smaller countries consolidate the democratic changes most of them have embarked upon. The variations of what would be appropriate in the many different cases are too numerous to detail here. Suffice it to say that with limited resources we will need to be creative, and better at coordinating with other donors, host governments and non-governmental organizations.


There are many substantive issues concerning U.S. development policy, involving the size and the focus of the development assistance budget, the impact of policies on trade and debt, and the substance of the macroeconomic advice offered to African countries by the U.S. and multilateral agencies in which the U.S. has a prominent voice.

Shrinking resources clearly imply a need to focus. But the concerns should go beyond choosing which country programs should be maintained and which shut down. A regional perspective, including the five focus countries, should also highlight investment in programs that develop the African human resources needed to solve Africa's own problems, and that help create larger regional markets better able to sustain economic growth and attract U.S. investment and trade. Promoting human resource development through greater investments in health and education, as well as increasing support for participatory development programs at the community level, should be priorities within each country program.

A strategic approach to African development, however, requires explicit discussion of the combined impact not only of aid but also of trade, debt and different variants of structural adjustment policies. And it requires consideration of the regional impact of developments within any one country. The U.S. can most usefully shape its own policies on these complex topics only if it is willing to engage actively in dialogue on these issues within African and multilateral contexts, including but not limited to the clubs of Western donors that coordinate policy towards particular African countries. Once a clearer understanding is gained of how best to promote regional economic development and infrastructure, the U.S. must also be prepared to increase its level of assistance.


With the decline of the strategic significance of Africa in Cold War terms, and the relatively small U.S. economic ties with Africa, too many observers are prepared to state--quite emphatically--that the U.S. has no significant interests in Africa, and that this is unlikely to change in the near future. Such thinking disregards moral imperatives for involvement in Africa that are often just as compelling as economic or national security arguments. In doing so, it ignores the ancestral ties of some 25 million African Americans who have significant and growing investments-- political, social, cultural, emotional, psychological and economic--in Africa's future.

It also reflects the absence of a strategic vision to replace the Cold War scenario. There is a failure to see Africa as a whole, a continent with existing economic ties to the U.S. already greater than those with the former Soviet Union. It is true that much of Africa is now handicapped by conflict, poverty or repressive governments. Each of Africa's major regions, however, with populations ranging from 80 million to almost 200 million (see chart), has the potential for significantly increasing mutually profitable ties with the United States, in the economic arena as well as in cultural and political ties.

A new policy perspective must build a new vision for involvement. There are multiple constituencies for Africa in the U.S., concerned about a variety of countries and issues, that together can offer significant support for U.S. engagement in Africa. This regional framework is offered as one component of such a vision, which can hopefully enhance our collective effectiveness in promoting positive change in Africa and U.S.-African relations. -- Salih Booker

Salih Booker is the Fellow for Africa at the Council on Foreign Relations, and Senior Advisor to the Vice President for Diversity in International Affairs Programs. An earlier version of this paper was presented to a meeting of the Council on Foreign Relations held in Washington, D.C. (June 16, 1995) to discuss criteria for setting priorities in U.S. policy toward Africa.

(5)Source: US Department of Commerce, 1994.

(6)Source: UNDP, Human Development Report 1994.

Copies of the typeset version of this background paper, which also includes a map and charts of regions and focus countries, are available at $2 each, $1.60 each for 20 or more. Add 15% for postage and handling. Send your order to APIC at the address below. For more information on publication orders send an e-mail message to

Message-Id: <> From: "APIC" <> Date: Mon, 22 Apr 1996 21:52:42 -0500 Subject: Africa: Thinking Regionally, 1,2

Editor: Ali B. Ali-Dinar

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