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A nation must think before it acts.
Candidate George Bush’s claim that Africa ‘‘doesn’t fit into the national strategic interest’’ has been betrayed by President Bush’s surprising involvement with the continent. In addition to his own July 2003 tour of five African states, almost half of the cabinet have paid official visits to the continent, and President Bush has met with more African heads-of-state than any previous president. He has also provided funds to improve the solvency of the African Development Bank and pledged to increase overall development assistance by as much as $5 billion annually, with much of the aid targeted to Africa.
Many observers see oil as a significant catalyst of President Bush’s warming to Africa. With a still-weak global economy, erratic energy prices, and its continued commitment in Iraq, Washington is interested in Africa’s— and particularly West Africa’s—oil potential. Western oil firms discovered the attractions of Africa a decade ago, after many of the region’s tensions were reduced with the end of the Cold War. New oil producers have since arisen throughout West Africa, and Western investors have spent billions of dollars to improve the capacity of established exporters such as Nigeria and Angola and newer producers throughout the Gulf of Guinea. These investments represent a potentially major change in the future of global oil supplies.
Quiet discussions have begun regarding another aspect of expanding U.S. interests in Africa: the establishment of an Atlantic Military Command in the Gulf of Guinea…