RealNews

New Threats and Opportunities Redefine U.S. Interests in Africa

President Bush will leave Monday night for a five-nation tour of Africa, turning to a continent that his administration increasingly sees as a source of both threats and opportunities and no longer one that can be left at the bottom of the foreign policy to-do list. The official focus of the five-day trip — which was originally scheduled for January but was postponed as the president prepared for war with Iraq — is on fighting poverty and disease and promoting democracy. But it has taken on a new cast in recent weeks as Mr. Bush has assertively called for changes of government in Zimbabwe and Liberia and moved to the brink of sending American troops to Liberia as peacekeepers. In his first trip to sub-Saharan Africa as president, Mr. Bush will visit Senegal, South Africa, Botswana, Uganda and Nigeria before returning home on Saturday. Each of those countries is an economic or political success by African standards, and Mr. Bush’s presence is intended both to celebrate their progress and to encourage other African nations to continue the struggle toward free elections and free markets. His trip comes at a time when Africa is looming larger in calculations of American interests. In the wake of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, the United States is eager to keep poor nations with shaky governments from becoming breeding grounds and safe harbors for terrorists. Full Story

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