Our Strategic Interest in Africa

Earlier this year presidential candidate George W. Bush told Sam Donaldson on ABC's This Week Sunday morning show that Africa is not in the strategic interest of the United States. Europe is, so is Asia, as are our neighbors Canada and Mexico. But Africa isn't. When pressed what he, as president, would do in the face of

another genocidal massacre such as happened in Rwanda, Bush said he would let people in the region handle it. That's what happened last time.

Now we see Bill Clinton being reticent for the United States to become very involved in resolving the current bloodbath in Sierra Leone, despite having once apologized for allowing genocide in Rwanda. Apparently, Africa is still not in our strategic interest.

In what Eugene and Jackie Rivers call a "sexual holocaust" in this issue's cover story, an unprecedented epidemic of AIDS now threatens life as we know it in sub-Saharan Africa. Eugene has done much to alert the U.S. public to this crisis in the last several months, and our country is finally starting to pay attention.

The Clinton administration recently designated AIDS as a threat to U.S. national security, pledging new initiatives in funding and education to combat the disease. White House officials said that the AIDS epidemic has become such a global catastrophe that it threatens to destabilize foreign governments, exacerbate ethnic and political rivalries, and upset developing economies.

An interagency working group has been established in the White House to develop a package of new Africa-related programs to be submitted to the president. Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott recently commented on a television news show, "I guess this is just the president trying to make an appeal to, you know, certain groups. I don't view that as a national security threat, not to our national security interests."

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Sojourners Magazine July-August 2000
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