9th July 2015
President Obama is due to visit Kenya and Ethiopia later in July
2015. While the media all over goes crazy celebrating this visit, it is
certain that it raises more questions than answers. Fundamentally the
question remains, will Obama’s visit change the peripheral place of
Africa in the US foreign policy? My conclusion is No, it will not.
Obama’s foreign policy has been characterized by a focus on Asia not
Africa as an engine for global economic growth. He has placed a major
focus on the long term US foreign policy concerns in checking the rise
of China economically and militarily and Russia as it impacts NATO
(western Europe) and the former Soviet republics. Little emphasis has
been placed on Africa.
That being as it is, Kenyans and Ethiopians need to remember that
President Obama is visiting their countries to advance US and not Kenyan
or Ethiopian interests. His job as president is to do what is best for
the United States. In saying this, rather than Kenyan and Ethiopian
leaders celebrating a potential photo opportunity with the US president,
maybe they should be thinking seriously about what their foreign policy
interests vis-à-vis America are. Specifically assessing this visit will
best serve those interests. So, sorry to spoil the party! If Obama’s
visit does not fundamentally change the peripheral place of Africa
within America’s foreign policy framework, it will be more of a
hullabaloo about nothing.