A smart power approach to Africa on the part of the new Obama administration demands investment in “institutions of countervailing power”, including legislatures, civil society and media – and shift from the “uncritical embrace of autocrats,” according to a new report from the Center for Strategic and International Studies.
The Bush administration’s massive commitments on HIV/AIDS and malaria were laudable, note Jennifer Cooke and J. Stephen Morrison, but emerged at a time when U.S. investments in basic development and democracy promotion in Africa were static, prompting demands calls for renewed commitments in these areas. They argue for “reprioritizing democracy”, and reinvigorating governance and accountability through “partnerships with participatory, capable, and accountable African governments”:
Reprioritizing democracy will require a rebalancing of the U.S. approach, particularly with strategic partners or individual leaders who have enjoyed U.S. support. It will require a comprehensive approach towards energy security that shifts from a predominant emphasis on oil to one that integrates governance, transparency, and anti-corruption measures. It will require a counterterrorism and security approach that adequately acknowledges and supports the centrality of participatory government and human rights. It will require sustained investments in institutions of countervailing power: namely, parliaments, civil society and media. And it will require a move away from the uncritical embrace of autocrats.
- The Third Wave of democratization in Africa is largely over.
- The principal challenge is how to consolidate rather than spread democracy.
- Viable partners are essential because democratization is an internally driven process.
- Aspiring democracies and key anchor states such as Kenya, Mali, Senegal and Zambia, should be targeted for democratic consolidation.
- Future democratization rests on strengthening viable institutions of countervailing power, including electoral systems, national legislatures, the judiciary, local government, civil society, and the press.
- An improved program of democracy promotion should include a continuation of the
- The Millennium Challenge Corporation and Millennium Challenge Compacts compacts, “arguably the most innovative and useful legacy” of the Bush administration’s approach to democracy promotion.
- Smarter democracy assistance requires the rehabilitation of the Office for Democracy and Governance at USAID, an end to the “hollowing out” of USAID generally, and a reassessment and possible reversal of the merger of USAID into the State Department:
While some argue that democracy promotion is pursued most effectively where there is an explicit recognition that this is an area of development assistance that requires greater integration into U.S. foreign policy, the experience and results of the past eight years suggest that this may not be true.