Good Governance: Africa's Gordian Knot
ARMY WAR COLL CARLISLE BARRACKS PA
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This paper examines the broad U.S. National Security Objective of Promoting Democracy in the context of Sub-Saharan Africa. Forty-eight independent nations make up the region of Sub Saharan Africa. Within this region there are over 700 ethnic groups with almost as many different dialects. With this vast diversity in the region, promoting democracy faces a myriad of challenges. The U.S. National Security Strategy defines three classes of national interests vital, important, and humanitarian. Using the definitions found in the NSS, it is unlikely that any U.S. interests in Sub-Saharan Africa would be considered vital. While this Cold War paradigm of prioritizing interests was useful during the era of the U.S. and Soviet competition, the global challenges the U.S. faces in the 21st Century are much more diverse and dynamic. U.S. national interests would be better served if viewed within a broad strategic context in which regional instability is a threat to our security and national well-being. Within this framework, democracy and good governance in Sub-Saharan Africa emerge as a vital U.S. regional interest. While most Africans desire democratic government, the challenges to establishing and maintaining democracy in the Sub-Saharan region run deep. Tribal culture, regional conflicts, humanitarian crises, and the legacy of colonialism are all sources of instability presenting challenges to African democracy. Understanding these challenges is the first step toward framing an effective U.S. regional policy.
- Government and Political Science