African Conflicts and U.S. Diplomacy

Roles and Choices

The Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) and the American Academy of Diplomacy (AAD) cohosted a conference on October 29, 2009, to examine the role of diplomacy in U.S. relations with Africa. Discussions were grounded in the belief that as U.S. interests and engagement in Africa expand, U.S. diplomatic capacities must expand accordingly. The need to effectively manage multiple strands of U.S. investments in security, development, and conflict mitigation and management has become more complex and more important. The United States faces a far more competitive environment in Africa than in previous decades, with “emerging powers”—most notably China, India, Brazil, and a number of smaller Asian states—making major political and economic plays, and with regional organizations, transnational influences, and African civil societies asserting themselves more and more in national affairs. At the same time, the United States faces continuing constraints in diplomatic resources and personnel. In this context, the United States will need to identify how best to use its influence in Africa, which policy areas and places it should prioritize, and how to balance effectively the use of diplomatic, military, and developmental tools. This report summarizes the conference discussions.

Richard Downie