National Security Advisor, John Bolton spoke at the Heritage Institute yesterday and laid out the United States new agenda for Africa. An agenda that is rooted in President Trump’s America First policy. Bolton made it clear the US would prioritize the interests of American citizens heavily. He laid out three primary focuses of this new African agenda.
Bolton stated the first priority would be “advancing U.S. trade and commercial ties with nations across the region to the benefit of both the United States and Africa.” The United States will secure national security interests in the region. Bolton made it clear the US would compete economically with China and Russia in the region.
Bolton mentioned China “15 times” during the speech according to VOAnews. China was the focus of a major portion of the speech. Bolton challenged China’s involvement in the region, stating “In Africa, we are already seeing the disturbing effects of China’s quest to obtain more political, economic, and military power.” Citing Zambia’s “10 billion dollar debt” to China, and how China is going to take over Zambia’s national power and utility company in order to pay off the debt owed to them.
Bolton took a strong stance on Beijing, ““China uses bribes, opaque agreements, and the strategic use of debt to hold states in Africa captive to Beijing’s wishes and demands.” He continued, “Its investment ventures are riddled with corruption, and do not meet the same environmental or ethical standards as U.S. developmental programs.” He cited concerns over Djibouti, with China building a military base only miles from American base Camp Lemonnier. Also attacking China for allegedly using laser beams on American pilots on “ten separate occasions”. He also claimed two US pilots obtained eye injuries due to the laser beam attacks.
Bolton continued on to assert that Russia was also involved in corrupt dealings in the region. He affirmed “It [Russia] continues to sell arms and energy in exchange for votes at the United Nations—votes that keep strongmen in power, undermine peace and security, and run counter to the best interests of the African people.” Russia has been accused of strong arm tactics before. Reuters reported after the UN vote on Ukraine several diplomats told them “it was clear to the recipients of the warnings [from Russia] not to support the resolution that retaliatory measures could include steps such as expelling migrant workers from Russia, halting natural gas supplies or banning certain imports to Russia to cause economic harm.”
Bolton’s second pillar for America’s new African policy is the war on radical Islamic terrorism. He stated, “In recent years, ISIS, al-Qaida, and other terrorists operating in Africa have increased the lethality of their attacks, expanded into new areas, and repeatedly targeted U.S. citizens and interests.” He referenced the rise of terror organization JNIM, Jama’at Nusrat al-Islam wal-Muslimin in Mali.
Bolton also brought up how ISIS affiliates in Libya are recruiting new terrorists and plotting attacks against the US. Counter-extremism reported “ISIS was officially established in Libya in November 2014. Since then, the group has become the most powerful ISIS affiliate outside of Syria and Iraq as well as the most powerful extremist group operating in Libya.” South Sudan’s civil war was also a point of emphasis for Bolton. As Bolton asserted “In South Sudan, an ongoing civil war has ravaged a young nation, displaced millions, and led to the deaths of hundreds of thousands of people.” Allowing the displacement of millions and allowing this type of carnage comes with a cost.
Bolton cited the US has spent “approximately $3.76 billion dollars in humanitarian aid to South Sudan and refugees in neighboring countries.” Cost was a major point of concern for Bolton as he stated the US in 2016 spent “8.6 billion dollars” on African aid as a whole. Which is contradictory to Trump’s America First Policy which seeks to reduce unnecessary foreign aid.
The third and final pillar of Bolton’s new African plan is ensuring all US aid to Africa is used efficiently and used to promote “peace, stability, independence, and prosperity in the region.” In order to promote prosperity across the region the Trump administration has developed an initiative called “Prosper Africa” designed to improve the business climate of Africa and grow their middle class.
Another element of this third pillar will be encouraging African leaders to choose high-quality, transparent, inclusive, and sustainable foreign investment projects, including those from the United States.” The United States will seek to improve the economic conditions in
Africa in order to bolster struggling economies across the continent.
Bolton also asserted the United States will pursue “fair and reciprocal” trade deals across the region. This comes as no surprise considering the trade policies that President Trump ran on. ‘Free and fair’ trade is a top priority of the Trump administration. Bolton stated “Our new economic initiatives in Africa will help support American jobs and expand market access for U.S. exports, while promoting sustainable growth in African countries.”
The new American strategy in Africa is designed to promote economic prosperity in the region, fight radical Islamic terror and counter the “Predatory” actions of China and Russia. National Security Adviser John Bolton finished his speech stating “Under our new Africa Strategy, we will expand economic ties on the basis of mutual respect.
We will help African nations take control of their own economic destinies and their own security needs. And, we will ensure that all U.S. foreign assistance in the region gets results for the American people.”Tensions continue to rise with China and Russia as the United States now sets its sights on more influence over Africa.