May 16, 2017
African Security Futures: Threats, Partnerships, and International Engagement for the New U.S. Administration
Several months into the new Administration, attention throughout the corridors of Washington is understandably focused on the foreign policy priorities that will define the government’s early legacy, from Syria and Iraq to the Korean Peninsula and the South China Sea. Amid the urgency of these pressing national security issues, challenges on the African continent are unlikely to enjoy the same emphasis—throughout the 2016 presidential campaign, no candidate articulated an Africa policy, and the presidential transition team did not emphasize the region among its priorities. Despite this initial lack of focus, however, Africa’s emerging geopolitical influence and increasingly transnational threats will demand significant attention. This article highlights three key aspects of the African security landscape that will become more dynamic and complex during the next four years and beyond and have far-reaching impacts on U.S. policy: the nature of near- and long-term security threats; the trajectory of African partners; and the diverse group of external actors poised to increase engagement. Throughout, I argue that a modestly-resourced but proactive and partnership-based approach would allow policymakers to temper the challenges and take advantage of the opportunities that will be presented.