Obama to Africa: Tough Love or Tough Luck?

Africans are wading knee-deep in world financial institutions and leaders advising "good governance," "transparency," "accountability," and the ever-elusive "democracy." We did not need to hear these catchphrases that laced Obama’s Ghana speech. They are so benign that even Africa’s dictators, such as Kenya’s former dictator Daniel Arap Moi, promised them with each stolen election.

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Obama Visits Africa’s ‘Oil Gulf’

Oil was discovered in Ghana just in 2007. A wide swath of the Atlantic’s Western shores, the area stretching from Morocco to Angola is becoming Africa’s “Oil Gulf.” Oil-producing countries in Africa, including those in the oil-rich Gulf of Guinea, now provide 24% of U.S. oil imports. Africa has outstripped the Middle East as an oil supplier to America. Increasingly, Africa’s oil is being produced offshore.

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What Obama Should Say in Ghana

Editor’s Note: FPIF and a coalition of organizations recently held a press briefing on Obama’s visit to Ghana. You can read the press booklet here.

That there is a carnival spirit in Accra, Ghana, ahead of President Barack Obama’s visit to this small West African country is to be expected. In March 1998, amidst low approval ratings and sex scandals, the Clintons took Accra by storm. Bill Clinton was mobbed like a rock star and later draped in colorful Ghanaian kente cloths. He preached hope for Africa and offered aid, but also apologized for America standing by as hundreds of thousands were slaughtered in the Rwandan genocide. A decade later, President George W. Bush, suffering dismal approval ratings and waging an illegal and murderous war in Iraq, rolled into town. He was received a hero, a savior of Africa from diseases. He danced and was feted. He preached freedom and democracy and promised to increase assistance for HIV/AIDS and malaria, while denying that there was an aggressive American agenda to militarize the continent to secure strategic access to its oil resources.

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Straight Talk: Revealing the Real U.S.-Africa Policy

Editor’s Note: A press booklet, created by a coalition of organizations, on recommendations for U.S.-Africa policy can be found here.

It’s time for some straight talk on U.S. foreign policy as it relates to Africa. While Obama administration officials and the U.S. African Command (AFRICOM) representatives insist that U.S. foreign policy towards Africa isn’t being militarized, the evidence seems to suggest otherwise. While Africans condemned U.S. military policy in Africa under the Bush administration, the Obama administration has not only mirrored Bush’s approach, but has in fact enhanced it. President George W. Bush established Africa as a foreign policy priority in 2003, when he announced that 25% of oil imported to the United States should come from Africa. Like the Cold War, the Global War on Terror establishes a rationale for bolstering U.S. military presence and support in Africa. Yet official pronouncement of U.S. policy is routinely presented as if neither of these two developments occurred. Unfortunately, the more evasive we are about our intentions on the continent, the more we invite not only skepticism, but even resistance.

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