Former China-correspondent Howard French wonders what the US is fighting for in Africa in The Atlantic, responding to a Washington Post article. “If Washington really wants to promote African democracy, why is it partnering with the continent’s autocrats to create military spy programs?”
The Africa of our day-to-day coverage is dominated, in other words, by vivid splashes of color, by scene and emotion, and it is largely bereft of form or of pattern, and of politics and ideas that could help connect one development to another or connect the whole to the rest of the world. Some of this may be changing slowly with the recent sharp rise of China’s profile throughout the continent, which has drawn a belated response from a United States suddenly eager to avoid watching the continent get snatched away from the West, as some fear.
The Post pieces ultimately were as remarkable for what they didn’t say as what they did, though. And in this regard, they highlight the need for the media to hold the actions of the Unites States up against its rhetoric, much as it is wont to do with regard to China, whose rote-like discourse on Africa emphasizes terms like “win-win,” and “non-interference.”…
If Washington wishes to be taken seriously by Africans it has as much work to do as China in squaring words and deeds. Yesterday, the White House said its new policy commits the United States to advance democracy by strengthening institutions at every level, supporting and building upon the aspirations throughout the continent for more open and accountable governance, promoting human rights and the rule of law, and challenging leaders whose actions threaten the credibility of democratic processes.