In This Review

Rising U.S. Stakes in Africa: Seven Proposals to Strengthen U.S.-Africa Policy
Rising U.S. Stakes in Africa: Seven Proposals to Strengthen U.S.-Africa Policy
By Africa Policy Advisory Panel
Center for Strategic and International Studies, 2004, 180 pp
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On the Brink: Weak States and U.S. National Security: A Report of the Commission for Weak States and U.S. National Security
On the Brink: Weak States and U.S. National Security: A Report of the Commission for Weak States and U.S. National Security
By Jeremy M. Weinstein, John Edward Porter, and Stuart E. Eizen
Center for Global Development, 2004, 79 pp
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These two volumes provide an excellent introduction to the mindset on Africa in Washington in mid-2004. Congress agreed to fund an Africa policy advisory group in 2003 to advise the State Department on the region. Rising U.S. Stakes constitutes the panel's first public output. In a nonpartisan, informative manner, the seven chapters each present a key issue area: U.S. oil imports from West Africa, developing the region's capital markets, the Sudan crisis, the environment, terrorism, peacekeeping operations, and the HIV/AIDS crisis. They emphasize the need for more U.S. resources and leadership to address critical problems. The region's economic development is not a primary concern of the policy group, and Africans will perhaps note with some disappointment that the region's international debt is left unmentioned, as are trade issues and U.S. protectionism.

The report by the Center for Global Development is not specific to Africa, but many of the small, unstable, low-income countries with which it is concerned are located there. Its main argument, in contrast to the advisory panel's report, is that these states, left to themselves, represent serious security threats to the United States. Addressing their complex socio-economic problems, which the report summarizes with remarkable concision, should thus constitute an urgent priority for Washington. The commission argues for several sensible policy reforms, including the creation of a cabinet-level agency to promote economic development and governance reforms in such states.