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By David A. Andelman
NEW YORK—America has had and seems likely to maintain, whichever President is elected by voters, a single-minded perception of Africa as a locus of unrest and upheaval rather than as an opportunity to embrace a region of rapid, indeed unparalleled development and promise. There has been little talk of Africa during this long American political campaign—beyond the fixation on the role of terrorist cells in a handful of nations and failed responses to revolution and violence.
One of President Barack Obama’s principal African initiatives—indeed the one of which he seems perhaps most proud—is the support of AFRICOM, the United States Africa Command, one of nine unified combat commands of the U.S. armed forces and the first uniquely dedicated to Africa. Ironically based in Stuttgart, Germany, it directs U.S. military operations and relations with 53 African nations and happens to be the only direct American relationship that covers the entire continent. It also reflects a singularly American preoccupation with the continent as a source of unrest and instability—a new locus of international terrorism—rather than any positive, creative response to the powerful forces for good, as well as ill, that are currently sweeping the continent.
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David A. Andelman Is the Editor of World Policy Journal and a former New York Times and CBS News correspondent.
[Photo courtesy of Lenidabe]