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Although President Obama will be plenty busy during the remainder of his first term working with Congress to avoid the fiscal cliff, he need not wait until the start of his second term to further his vision for making US policy more supportive of global poverty reduction.
Precisely as Africa is rising on the radar screens of investors and security types, it seems to be falling off the US foreign policy map. With the exception of Governor Romney’s mention of Mali (twice!) in the third debate, Africa hardly featured at all. That’s a shame, since Africa is both a growing opportunity and will become a greater threat if neglected. I’ve been deeply disappointed to see the United States reduce its engagement with the continent under the current administration, losing ground on the progress made under Presidents Clinton and Bush. Regardless of who wins on November 6, the scope for doing better—and more without more money—is obvious.
The following originally appeared on October 1 as “Missing in Africa” on ForeignAffairs.com.
Last week, the leaders of the Group of 8 pledged 20 billion dollars in agricultural aid, with the purpose of boosting agricultural productivity -- especially in Africa. But will $20 billion over a three-year period help to feed many of the 1.02 billion people on earth who suffer from food insecurity?
Based on the testimony of USTR-designate Ron Kirk this week before the Senate Finance Committee - brief though it was - the Obama Administration is moving in an entirely different direction than we have seen over the last eight years. The concept of a "progressive trade agenda for America," though as yet undefined, certainly suggests that the administration will be looking at the global economy from a very different perspective.
In the 2004 State of the Union address, President Bush set out for the American people, indeed for the world, his vision of "A Nation with a Mission." Last year, President Bush announced in his State of Union address a new $15 billion initiative to fight the HIV/AIDS pandemic in Africa and the Caribbean. This year, there was no mention of the U.S. role in fostering prosperity in the world's poor countries. Despite dedicating a large portion of his address to foreign policy, President Bush’s focus on the international arena was too narrow.