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Soft Power and Smart Power in Africa

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Compare recent polling data from the Pew Global Attitudes Survey and you will find anti-Americanism is extensive, as it has been for the past 5 years. The once favorable image of the United States has declined in most parts of the world since 2002. A positive opinion of the United States is increasingly hard to find in Germany, Spain, and France. In the Muslim world, negative viewpoints run rampant. Only 9 of Turks and 15 of Pakistanis held a positive view of the United States in 2007. While numbers are generally better when the poll asked for opinions about Americans, the United States Government USG had clearly not made friends since the decision to invade Iraq. It is reasonable then to wonder if the United States is pursuing policies and programs that have enhanced its world standing and improved upon what Joseph Nye calls soft power Many scholars, citizens, and statement, looking at the Iraq War, would state emphatically NO, that power has been squandered Strangely enough, one region of the world stands in stark contrast to Pews numbers. Africans still view the United States in a positive light. In fact, nine of the eleven states with the most positive opinions of America were from sub-Saharan Africa. Why are these numbers different Has the United States pursued better programs on the African continent that bolstered them Has America created greater soft power reserves in Africa More importantly, can these reserves continue In trying to answer some of these question, this paper will explore the exercise of American soft power in Africa by analyzing four recent flagship programs of the USG as it engages Africa the African Growth and Opportunity Act AGOA to bolster trade the Presidents Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief PEPFAR that seeks to curb this devastating disease the Millennium Challenge Corporation MCC which offers a new approach to development and U.S. Africa Command AFRICOM as a new means for military engagement.

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  • Government and Political Science

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