The burgeoning attention to African International Relations (IR) can be seen as a part of the overdue interest in global IR, while also serving to balance IR's current obsession with Asia and especially with east Asia. Within this trend, Lola Raich's monograph takes a novel approach, as it does not focus on, for example, African agency in sustainable development or on South–South cooperation. Rather, it discusses northern policies on African security or, more candidly, trans-Atlantic security via Africa. This subject is made all the more salient by the supposed cross-Mediterranean human ‘invasion’ of the last number of years. Sadly, while its topic might not be traditional, Africa in 21st century US and EU agendas does not approach it in a comprehensive manner, as non-state actors, non-traditional security threats and private security are not extensively discussed: the volume remains very state-centric. The strength of Raich's work lies in its comparative analysis of the European Union's and the United States' post-Cold War formal security responses to Africa. The latter founded the US Africa Command (AFRICOM) in 2007 and the former launched, at the Africa–EU Summit of the same year, the Joint Africa–EU Strategy (JAES). The JAES later also largely defined the African Peace and Security Architecture (APSA) for which it provided the funding. Strangely, in discussing the US and EU approaches to African security, the book does not recognize the relative compatibility of EU and African Union (AU) approaches, in contrast to the more unilateral hard power of the United States. This is despite Raich's observation that the continent has undergone a paradigm shift towards human security (pp. 28–40) based on soft power (pp. 31–40). Though the US' African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) and the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) were relatively successful, it is clear that US efforts lack the continuous and informed civil society interaction which for the EU is secured by, among others, the European Centre for Development Policy Management (ECDPM). In highlighting the importance of civil society, Raich does, however, fail to recognize the growing influence of Africa's diasporas on the foreign policies of both the US and the EU. It is also worth noting that Africa in 21st century US and EU agendas overlooks gender. Moreover, the nationalist and protectionist directions in which both the United Kingdom and the United States are heading—due to the premiership of Theresa May and the Donald Trump presidency, respectively—have since undermined both countries' interests in Africa. Simultaneous with this withdrawal of the US and the UK, new actors are increasing their influence in the African continent. Raich highlights the involvement of a number of these, including China (pp. 156–7) and India, but could pay more attention to South Korea and Turkey, as well as to non-state actors such as the Sovereign Wealth and Pension Funds, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and (especially Islamic) faith-based organizations. Raich also argues that ‘environmental degradation and climate change are the next major challengers for SSA [Sub-Saharan Africa]’ (p. 48). As Africa appears to be significantly more affected by global warming than most continents, many of the already existing concerns will exponentially grow; the pressure on the water–energy–food nexus will especially intensify. This will significantly influence the nature of the US's and the EU's approaches to Africa and will lead to novel foreign policy challenges as well as to pressures from new actors and coalitions. Although Raich's book does not provide the reader with a comprehensive analysis, it does begin to outline US and EU agendas with regard to the African continent. It would have benefited from a comprehensive index—though the book does offer seven pages of acronyms as well as 50 pages of references, allowing readers to delve deeper into the discussion that Raich started on the manner in which the EU and the US are approaching Africa. © The Author(s) 2018. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of The Royal Institute of International Affairs. All rights reserved. For permissions, please e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.
International Affairs – Oxford University Press
Published: Mar 1, 2018
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