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U.S. unveils America First-centered Africa strategy

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U.S. National Security Adviser John Bolton on Thursday rolled out the Trump administration’s new Africa strategy, threatening to put an end to U.S. support for UN peacekeeping missions in the continent.

Bolton said the new strategy, approved by U.S. President Donald Trump, will be executed “immediately.”

BOOSTING BUSINESS

While explaining the content of the strategy in a speech at the Heritage Foundation, a think tank, Bolton noted that Washington seeks to expand commercial ties with African nations across the region, combat terrorism and ensure that U.S. aid is used “efficiently and effectively.”

The U.S. No 1. priority will be to develop its economic ties with the region to facilitate American-African business ties and protect U.S. national security interests, he said in prepared remarks.

While announcing an initiative called “Prosper Africa,” Bolton urged African nations to choose “high-quality, transparent, inclusive, and sustainable foreign investment projects, including those from the United States.”

However, he did mention that the initiative might need “additional legislative authority” but failed to specify details such as its decision making and target countries.

He said he expected the details of the initiative to roll out after Trump’s first overseas travel in 2019.

ENDING “INDISCRIMINATE ASSISTANCE”

Bolton said that Washington while implementing the strategy, would “reevaluate” U.S. foreign assistance to the region and around the globe so as to ensure the aid could get satisfactory results for the American people.

“The United States will no longer provide indiscriminate assistance across the entire continent,” he noted. “Countries that repeatedly vote against the United States in international forums, or take action counter to U.S. interests, should not receive generous American foreign aid.”

“We will make certain that ALL aid to the region – whether for security, humanitarian, or development needs – advances U.S. interests,” he said.

Bolton, a widely known critic for multilateral institutions like the United Nations, also said that Washington would seek to “streamline, reconfigure or terminate” the UN peacekeeping missions unless they “facilitate lasting peace.”

Washington will reevaluate its support for UN peacekeeping missions rather than providing legitimacy to missions that give large payouts to disqualified countries, Bolton said, adding that the U.S. review of its foreign aid is very near completion.

It’s time for African governments to take the lead themselves in peacekeeping operations, he said.

AMERICA FIRST

Bolton, throughout the speech, has stroked a hostile and competitive tone against countries like Russia and China.

Calling the two countries’ commercial cooperation with African nations “predatory practices,” Bolton asserted that they “stunt economic growth in Africa; threaten the financial independence of African nations; inhibit opportunities for U.S. investment; interfere with U.S. military operations; and pose a significant threat to U.S. national security interests.”

After the speech that trumpeted the “America First” note, a signature philosophy of the Trump administration, Bolton tweeted that the strategy reflects “the core tenets” of Trump’s foreign policy doctrine.

Trump was once quoted by U.S. lawmakers as calling African countries “shitholes” when discussing immigration issue.

But Bolton defended Trump by saying that his “transactional history” should be a good sign for Africa.

Paul Mcleary, an analyst, tweeted after the speech that “Bolton issues a direct threat against African countries who don’t adhere to U.S. policy goals.”

Julian Hattem, another observer of Africa, noted that “from what I can tell, Trump’s (read: Bolton’s) strategy for Africa seems to be a 10-years-too-late and entirely rhetorical/unfunded recognition of ‘oh shit! China and Russia are beating us!'”

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