U.S. after Iraq: Africa as Strategic Priority

I mentioned in my first post back from vacation that the U.S. should be focusing its foreign policy attention on Africa in the "post-Iraq" era. The reasons why remained inchoate and intuitive, untilNikolas Gvosdev, in his WPR column today, helped me bring them into focus when he wrote:

Beyond Latin America, the [U.S. should] explore ways to bind Western and Southern Africa closer to the United States. . . . Washington should pay more attention to surrounding the United States with a "ring of friends" to its south, rather than thinking of our security as guaranteed by the oceans to our east and west.

Similar to my return from vacation two summers ago, I find the overwhelming and disproportionate U.S. security commitment to the Middle East bewildering and depressing. I understand the energy implications, as well as the security relationship with Israel, as abiding cornerstones of U.S. foreign policy over the past half-century. And I'm under no illusion that the U.S. will diminish its role there once the Iraq and Afghanistan wars draw down. If anything, the Iran "threat" could lead to an even more pernicious, because less noticeable and more permanent, U.S. military presence in the region, in terms of missile defense umbrellas, military trainers and basing arrangements.

But I still feel like tamping down the Middle East's unresolved tensions, which are many and diverse, and trying to hold together its widening faultlines is a fool's errand and a net loss of resources, like trying to keep the paint on a house that's been eaten away from the inside by termites.

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