U.S.-Madagascar relations

U.S. relations with Madagascar (or the Malagasy government) predated French colonial rule. In the mid 1800s, the two countries concluded a commercial convention where they signed a treaty of commerce and navigation and later signed a treaty of peace, friendship and commerce in 1881 (1) (2). These treaties established economic relations between the two countries, which differed from the French’s desire to politically and socially dominate the Malagasy people. The treaties set boundaries intended to secure Malagasy sovereignty, but allowed the U.S. to pursue commercial interests within the country and its surrounding waters.

The U.S. recognized Malagasy independence from the French in 1960 and elevated the existing consulate status into an embassy. Friendly relations with the U.S. suffered in the 1970s due to the expulsion of the American ambassador from the country, closing of a NASA tracking station, as well as the nationalization of two U.S. oil companies (3). These actions taken by the government resulted from the burgeoning allegiance between the Malagasy government and the USSR. When Didier Ratsiraka was elected president in 1975, he started to establish a socialist system in response to public’s qualms against the influence of Western-capitalist interests in Madagascar (as part of the Malagasy experience during Philibert Tsiranana’s French supported administration). This illustrates the constraints on economic freedom placed on poorer countries by larger western nations and how these limitations can be counterproductive for both parties.

Due to economic policy failure, the decline in power of the eastern block, and lack of capital flow (as a result of strained ties between the U.S.), Ratsiraka reverted (was pressured to) away from pursuing socialist policies to ones more acceptable by the U.S., World Bank, and International Monetary Fund (IMF) as a means for the country to receive foreign aid.

Madagascar’s economy is largely supported by foreign aid and the two largest donors have been the U.S. and France. When the U.S. launched its new supplementary aid program, the Millennium Challenge Account (MCC), in 2004, Madagascar had eagerly been the first country to sign up. This program is designed to “advance American values by delivering development assistance that promotes sound policy reforms, create new opportunities for economic growth, and share learning that makes the discipline of development effective and results-focused.” (4)

The MCC pledged $11o M. to assist the Malagasy rural population in transitioning form agriculture to a market economy. The initiative to participate in this challenge was taken by President Marc Ravalomanana (3rd republic) who sought to improve the economic conditions of the Malagasy people from a systemic level. U.S. and general Western relations with Madagascar had significantly improved under the Ravalomanana administration. As a successful, self-made millionaire, Ravalomanana embodied the idea of an American success story. Having been a student in Sweden and Germany, Ravalomanana’s background influenced his pro-western policies. This led to better ties with the U.S.

The Millennium Challenge Account espoused a set of initiatives that would better solve the global poverty issue in comparison to the existing aid policies and programs. However, this program sets out to “advance American values” which further reinforces the idea of limited economic freedom placed by larger and more developed Western-capitalist countries on the global south. Rather than accepting aid under the conditions and suggested projects of the U.S., Ravalomanana used this program to reform the structures of inequality within Madagascar by consulting the most impoverished groups. (5)

After the 2009 coup that resulted in the expulsion of Ravalomanana, the U.S. and other international agencies placed economic sanctions and suspended direct aid to the government. The coup was seen as a set back to the country’s move towards a real democracy which conflicts with Western ideals. The sanctions placed led to a lack in capital flow, which harmed the economic growth progress made during the Ravalomanana administration. While the U.S. did not give aid directly to the government, it helped in providing health and food securities through NGOs. (6) While the intent to provide for the Malagasy public was there, these actions taken by the U.S. is a form of amelioration that exists with the work of the nonprofit sector. The U.S. saw that the problem was the Malagasy government yet it chose to view at the public’s problem as individual deficiencies rather than a systemic structure that guarantees some people these deficiencies. By ameliorating the worst aspects of these problems, nonprofits/NGOs are lessening the pressure for governments from reforming the systems that denies the people their basic rights. The sanctions and provisional aid policies taken by the U.S. during this period helped to facilitate this (government inefficiency).



(1) U.S. State Department, “A Guide to the United States’ History of Recognition, Diplomatic and Consular Relations, by Country, since 1776: Madagascar.” http://history.state.gov/countries/madagascar

(2)Snow, Freeman. 1894. Treaties and Topics in American Diplomacy. Boston Book Company

(3)(6) U.S. State Department, “U.S. Relations with Madagascar.” http://www.state.gov/r/pa/ei/bgn/5460.htm

(4) The Millennium Challenge Corporation. https://www.mcc.gov/about

(5) Africa Renewal. “Focusing Aid on Africa’s Own Priority.” http://www.un.org/africarenewal/magazine/july-2005/focusing-aid-africa%E2%80%99s-own-priorities


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US-Ghana Relationship: Model Case? Donor-recipient Relationship?


As the first independent country in Sub-Saharan region, Ghana has been an important African actor in the international relations in various aspects. Here, I will discuss not only the US-Ghana relationship and its importance from both American and Ghanaian viewpoints, but also the effect of the relationship on other states.

US-Ghana Relationship from American Viewpoint

To summarize, the United States wants Ghana to be a model case for other African states and developing states in the world. But why does the U.S. choose Ghana, despite the fact that its GDP growth rate is declining recently (+4.2% in 2014)? (1)

This is because of Ghana’s good governance (i.e. political stability). In CRS Report for Congress, Nicolas Cook analyzed the President Obama’s visit to Ghana in 2009 as following:

President Obama’s trip to Ghana is meant to signal his particular interest “in emphasizing themes of governance—the importance of governance for making development progress [and…] for stability” in Africa and the broader developing world. (2)

In the near future, by using the successful US-Ghana relationship, the United States wants to promote the importance of political stability and democracy to other states with political issues. In fact, Ghana was chosen as the first four states of President Obama’s Partnership for Growth (PfG) initiative, which gives Ghana a broad range of developmental support, from agricultural assistance to governing support. (3)

The US-Ghana economic relationship reflects this ‘model case’ idea well. According to the article in U.S. Department of Energy, the United States expects Ghana to be a “next generation of emerging markets (3).” Therefore, in addition to the normal trading, the U.S. is currently conducting a program (USAID) that focuses on “boosting agricultural marketing and export potential, small business capacity building, and market liberalization reforms (2).” Overall for Americans, the US-Ghana relationship has its value in the ‘future’ potential of Ghana to be a model case for other states and to have a large market.

US-Ghana Relationship from Ghanaian Viewpoint

From Ghanaian perspective, the recent US-Ghana relationship has been seen positively. The survey conducted by Pew Research Center in 2015 showed that 89% of Ghanaian people expressed positive feeling toward the United States, which was the highest percentage among all African states selected. (4) In addition, Dr. Papa Kwesi Ndoum once remarked that the US-Ghana relationship had had the great “historic weight (5).”

However, there is also a concern among some Ghanaians. In the same speech, Dr. Ndoum also warned:

Ghana must strive to develop a mutually beneficial relationship with the USA and move away from the current donor-recipient formation. (5)

Although the U.S. support to various areas in Ghana is welcomed, it also has the danger that the United States acquires too much power over Ghana’s decision making process. For Ghanaians, this should be avoided, especially because Ghana is now on the process of complete decolonization.

However, it is hard to say that this goal is close to be achieved. The main trading goods from Ghana to the United States are all raw materials (Cocoa, oil, wood, rubber, etc.), while the ones from the United States to Ghana are highly advanced (Vehicles, machinery etc.). This ‘unequal split of work’ would be a great obstacle for Ghana to form the ‘true bilateral relationship’ with the United States. (6)


(1) U.S. Department of State “U.S. Relations with Ghana”


(2) Congress Report by Nicolas Cook “Ghana: Background and U.S. Relations”


(3) U.S. Department of Energy “United States Announces New Bilateral Partnership with Ghana”


(4) Pew Research Center “America’s Global Image”


(5) Modern Ghana “Ghana U.S. Relations”


(6) Office of the United States Trade Representative “Resource Center: Ghana”


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The US and Ethiopia

The United States’ relationship with Ethiopia began around 100 years ago, and it has been said on more than one occasion that the two countries are like an old married couple: they’ve had their differences over the years, but they’ve stuck together. Over the past century, the alliance has been generally positive, and one issue seems to maintain this tie today: the global war on terrorism.

In 1957, US Vice President Richard Nixon called Ethiopia “one of the United States’ most stalwart and consistent allies.” This quote is indicative of the type of relationship they’ve enjoyed through the years. Both nations’ interests coincide with one another, making the partnership a positive and relatively easygoing one. Its first major obstacle was Megistu’s Derg. This was the first time the United States refused military aid to Ethiopia, but even then still provided humanitarian disaster and emergency relief. Following the overthrow of the Derg, both countries resumed their positive relationship.

The present-day issue that plagues these two nations is the war on terrorism. It’s no secret that Ethiopia has a pretty poor human rights record. The party in power (EPRDF), and its leader, the prime minister, do not allow freedom of expression, and continually intimidate its journalists and opposing parties from demonstrating any criticism or disapproval of the government. US President Obama has stated, in his U.S. Strategy in Sub-Saharan Africa, “Our message to those who would derail the democratic process is clear and unequivocal: the United States will not stand idly by when actors threaten legitimately elected governments or manipulate the fairness and integrity of democratic processes…” These words would suggest a desire for action on the part of the US to ameliorate the political culture of Ethiopia, to ensure a fair and transparent government is in charge. However, this is not the case. The United States is almost turning a blind eye to the human rights violations because of the benefits of having Ethiopia as an ally in the war on terrorism. Ethiopia is a strategic location for the US in terms of fighting terrorism. The Horn of Africa, in this case meaning Somalia, is riddled with terrorism in the form of al-Shabaab and al-Qaeda. Both the US and Ethiopia agree that addressing the threat of terrorism in Somalia is in their best interests, and so work together to gain intelligence and seek to eradicate this threat. To be fair, the threats that these terror groups pose is very real, and should absolutely be addressed. It is uncertain, however, if this should mean that Ethiopian leaders can get away with their undemocratic practices.

The relationship between the two countries is unlikely to change in the near future. The US is currently Ethiopia’s largest donor, and will probably continue its foreign aid as is. The African Union, which continues to represent a beacon of hope for the continent, is established in Ethiopia. The country also has a rich history in religion, specifically Christianity and Judaism – something that Westerners seem to connect to. It is possible that the idea of what Ethiopia is – an uncolonized leader of Africa – will outshine its current transgressions.





The White House. 2012. U.S. Strategy Toward Sub-Saharan Africa

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US-Namibia Relations


In general, the US has not had much involvement in the history of Namibia. The history of relations between the two countries is directly linked to South Africa’s relationship with the US, since Namibia was occupied by South Africa from 1915 until Namibia’s independence in 1990. Early relations between Namibia and the US were generally hostile due to the US’s support of the apartheid regime, which also had control over Namibia. Namibian groups opposing apartheid, most prominently SWAPO (South West Africa People’s Organization), then turned to other forces for support, mainly the Soviet Union. This led to it being labeled as a Marxist group and for it to lose some support of the US. Despite this, the US, in conjunction with the UN, was involved in some efforts of relinquishing South Africa’s occupation of Namibia.

Despite SWAPO’s occasional interactions with Soviet forces, Cold War politics did not play a large role in Namibia-US relations, mainly because Namibia wasn’t considered a major strategic area (probably due to its size – only 2 million people). Namibia, however, was able to take advantage of this by developing friendly relations and receiving aid from both sides of the Cold War. Until today, Namibia maintains friendly relations with Western countries such as the US as well as with Russia and China.

After apartheid, relations between the two countries have been completely positive. Consistent with US values, Namibia’s government has been a stable democracy since independence, and due to this, the US has supported Namibia through a variety of aid programs. Most recently, the US has committed a significant amount of money to battling the HIV/AIDS crisis. In addition, the two countries have economic bonds through US investments in Namibian natural resources, most prominently uranium and diamonds, which the US imports.

Despite the economic links and generous aid, Namibia, resembling other countries in the region such as South Africa and Zimbabwe, has often critiqued what they feel is US imperialism, and there is a general feeling of suspicion when discussing US involvement in Namibia. However, these anti-imperialist statements are generally vague and have not led to any concrete actions.

Today, the majority of political communication between the two nations occurs through international organizations such as the UN, WTO and IMF. The US has not needed to directly intervene in Namibian political or security affairs since independence, mainly because it has never needed to. In addition, Namibia is a member of the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC), which is the channel it uses to make many large economic policy decisions in relation to the US. The US is not one of Namibia’s main trading partners – instead, most of Namibia’s trade is with other countries that are members of SADC, as well as with European countries (primarily Switzerland) and China. It will be interesting to see how rapidly increasing Chinese involvement in Namibia will influence relations between Namibia and the US.





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US and Equatoguinean Relations

The United States’ diplomatic relations with Equatorial Guinea date back to Equatorial Guinea’s push for independence from Spain in the late 1960s.  Alongside the majority of the UN, the United States also was in favor of the Spanish government giving into the Movimiento de Union de la Guinea Ecuatorial (MUNGE) nationalist movement that had emerged in Equatorial Guinea beginning in 1963.  By 1968, Equatorial Guinea had secured independence and the US was quick to recognize them as a new nation, showing their support for the creation of the new state.  Equatorial Guinean relations have remained quite solid since independence, with two incidences proving to be the only breaks in their 47 years of diplomatic relations together.  The reason behind the US interest in Equatorial Guinea stems from the investment interest of both American companies and the United States government.  For the US, Equatorial Guinea was a relatively safe newly independent nation to partner with due to the fact that at the time of independence Equatorial Guinea had one of the highest GDP per capita incomes and literacy rates in the newly post colonial Africa.  This interest increased exponentially in 1996 when offshore oil drilling began in Equatorial Guinea, as the US found it important to remain close relations with President Obiang to protect both their own oil agenda and the large presence of American oil companies drilling in the country.

Although the 47 year relationship between the  United States and Equatorial Guinea has been both constructive and stable for the most part, two major incidences sparks diplomatic tensions between the two nations.  The first of these tensions came in 1976 when President Nguema broke off connections with the west and Spain in favor of trading with the Soviet bloc.  For Nguema, the Soviets provided a steady supply of fish for his people, while the Chinese and Cubans provided both military and technical assistance to Equatorial Guinea, in return for the instillment of a Soviet naval base on the island of Bioko and access to the rich Equatoguinean fisheries.  During this time period, the US removed their ambassador from Equatorial Guinea and suspended diplomatic relations with the nation due to their close relations with the Soviet bloc.  These relations only remained suspended for about 3 years as President Nguema was soon overthrown by his nephew Teodoro Obiang Nguema.  With Obiang in power, the United States reopened diplomatic relations reestablished between the two nations without issue for nearly 30 years until in 1995 the United States again suspended relations this time for their issue with human rights violations taking place under Obiang’s rule. The discover of oil only a year later caused the US to resume limited diplomatic relations with Equatorial Guinea, simply economic relations, and by 2006 the US reopened its Malabo embassy out of increased political and economic interest in Equatorial Guinea.

Overall economic interests of the United States have pushed their persistent diplomatic interest in the tiny nation of Equatorial Guinea.  Currently, the US has over $10 billion in direct investment into Equatorial Guinea, their fourth largest direct investment in Sub-Saharan Africa.  In addition, the US pushes for an increase in human rights for Equatorial Guinean citizens, and has put into place a policy of constructive engagement in Equatorial Guinea since 2005.  Equatorial Guinea rely on US direct investment, as with this investment President Obiang is able to keep his overreaching rule of Equatorial Guinea with little to no strong opposition due to the neo-patrimonialism that is enabled through this direct investment.








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US-Rwanda relations: another example of contradiction and hypocrisy in US foreign policy

Following the Rwandan genocide in the early 90’s, during which time the U.S. suspended any diplomatic ties with Rwanda, the U.S. reestablished bilateral relations with this small, resource-rich country strategically located in the Great Lakes Region of east Africa. Today, the U.S considers Rwanda an important ally for peacekeeping missions in eastern Africa (particularly in neighboring DRC) and provides financial support and training to Rwanda’s military to further these efforts. Along with Uganda and Tanzania, Rwanda is one of six countries included in the African Peacekeeping Rapid Response Partnership (APRRP), to which the U.S. invests $110 million per year “to build the capacity of African militaries to rapidly deploy peacekeepers in response to emerging conflict” (Factsheet: US Peacekeeping in Africa).

USAID plays a significant role in U.S.-Rwanda relations, including programs “focused on post-conflict reconstruction—from rebuilding justice and health systems, to reconstructing physical infrastructure and creating an agricultural extension system” (History of USAID/Rwanda). Assistance has increased over the past fifteen years to include education, nutrition, and malaria and HIV/AIDS prevention programs.

According to the State Department website, “The United States supports Rwandan efforts to increase democratic participation, enhance respect for civil and political rights, and improve the quality and learning outcomes of basic education. Rwanda is one of the world’s poorest countries, but it has made progress in developing national and local government institutions, maintaining security, promoting reconciliation, and strengthening the justice system.” Unfortunately, these democratic advances have slid backwards in recent years as President Kagame increasingly thwarts potential opposition parties and places restrictions on free press. The U.S. has publically criticized Kagame and his government for these and other authoritarian tactics, including the increasing number of disappearances of opposition group leaders and reporters (“US criticizes Rwanda over disappearances, press freedom” June 2014). A recent report by the United States Institute of Peace (USIP) has also noted “worrying trends towards electoral authoritarianism and political fragmentation” in the Great Lakes region. The U.S. has also condemned discussions of an amendment to the Rwandan constitution that would allow incumbent president Kagame to run for a third term in 2017, overruling the prior two-term term limit (“Rwanda court agrees to hear case to block president’s third term,” Sept 2015).

Despite the acknowledgement and public denouncements of these authoritarian trends, however, the U.S. has not significantly reduced or placed conditionality terms on its financial and military support in Rwanda. The U.S.’s foreign policy towards Rwanda reflect the widespread, general hypocrisy of U.S.’s involvement in Africa that many scholars and critics we have read have pointed to. Although the U.S. claims to support democracy promotion and strengthening in Africa (“Strengthen Democratic Institutions” is the first “pillar” of U.S. strategy towards sub-Saharan Africa), this is evidently not a priority in practice. In Rwanda, the U.S. has favored regional stability, particularly in the DRC, at the expense of furthering efforts to consolidate and deepen democracy.

Georges Nzongola-Ntalaja highlights the U.S.’s complicity (and even collaboration) in Rwanda and Uganda’s plundering of natural resources in the DRC since they are necessary allies in maintaining peace in Sudan and Darfur, which have harbored terrorist groups in the past. The continued support for Rwanda (and other countries in the Great Lakes region) despite their track records of electoral authoritarianism and illegal resource looting “[has] sent a clear message … that democracy is the least of [the U.S.’s] concerns” (Nzongola-Ntalaja, 189).


Factsheet: US Support for Peacekeeping in Africa: https://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2014/08/06/fact-sheet-us-support-peacekeeping-africa

History of USAID/Rwanda: https://www.usaid.gov/history-usaidrwanda

“U.S. urges probe over corpses found in Rwanda-Burundi border lake” Reuters Africa, Sept 2014: http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/09/25/burundi-bodies-rwanda-idUSL2N0RQ14L20140925

“US criticizes Rwanda over disappearances, free speech” Reuters Africa, June 2014: http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/06/04/rwanda-usa-idUSL1N0OL14V20140604

“US tells Rwanda to stop support for M23 rebels in Congo” Reuters Africa, July 2013: http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/07/23/us-congo-democratic-un-idUSBRE96M10P20130723

“Rwanda court agrees to hear case to block president’s third term” Reuters Africa, September 2015: http://www.reuters.com/article/2015/09/09/us-rwanda-president-idUSKCN0R917R20150909

US State Department, “US Relations with Rwanda”:  http://www.state.gov/r/pa/ei/bgn/2861.htm

US Africom: http://www.africom.mil/africa/east-africa/republic-of-rwanda

USIP Special Report “Political Trends in the African Great Lakes Region,” June 2011: http://www.usip.org/sites/default/files/Political_Trends_Great_Lakes.pdf


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United States & South African Relations

The United States foreign policy on the African continent is heavily dependent on its relationship with South Africa. To further America’s diplomatic interests in Africa, it is crucial to have a strong relationship with perhaps the most dominant economic force in Africa: South Africa. Much of the United States foreign relations (both contemporarily and historically) focus on American economic support of South Africa.

In 2008 alone, South Africa was a recipient of $574 million in United States foreign aid. Along with direct foreign aid, programs such as the African Growth and Opportunity Act have brought upwards of 150,000 jobs into South Africa. These jobs are in factories that export goods (cars) to the United States. The United States has a clear commitment to the economic wellbeing of South Africa. Controversially, this support extends back to the dark history of South Africa’s racist apartheid government.

While the apartheid system was in place in South Africa, all American administrators openly condemned it. However, despite these words, America continued to send massive amounts of aid to South Africa. According to the Country Studies book series in the Library of Congress, the continued financial support during apartheid was due to the fear that economic sanctions would only hurt the people they intended to help. In other words, American leaders did not think that sanctions would hurt the government/force them to change their policies. Instead, only the oppressed South Africans would be harmed. Another possible explanation is that the United States favored apartheid rule (and its relative stability) over the possible fall to communism and the Soviet Union. Nonetheless, it is an embarrassment for the history of America-South African relations that such significant funds were sent to the racist rulers of apartheid South Africa.

Another embarrassing note is that Nelson Mandela remained on the United States’ terrorist watch list all the way until 2008. Although Mandela is widely heralded as an international hero and figure for racial equality, the United States hasn’t always supported the late Mandela. When Congress voted to recognize the ANC and demand Mandela’s release from prison in 1986, President Reagan attempted a veto. Nonetheless, the United States played a key role (financially, and logistically) in ensuring the conduction of democratic elections in 1994.

Under the rule of President Thabo Mbeki, South Africa’s relationship with the US wasn’t always strong. Mbeki’s shocking denial of AIDS directly contrasted with George W. Bush’s “President’s Emergency Plan for Aid’s Relief”. Furthermore, Mbeki was strongly against America’s involvement in Afghanistan and Iraq. However, since these disagreements, both Bush and Mbeki have left power. Today, President Obama and Jacob Zuma maintain a strong relationship. The United States and South Africa under Obama and Zuma have established a relationship that nears that of Clinton and Mandela’s.




van de Walle, Nicolas. 2008. “US Policy Towards Africa: The Bush Legacy and the Obama Administration.” African Affairs.

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Countries: The DRC and US Foreign Relations

The United States has partnered with the United Nations to spearhead bilateral efforts to improve security, democracy, and social benefits within the Democratic Republic of Congo. On the surface, the diplomatic intentions of the United States appear to mirror the goals of the DRC to promote democracy and eradicate human rights violations and mineral exploitation. Since Congolese independence in 1960, the United States has partnered with the UN to provide millions of dollars in aid and military assistance to solve the root causes of conflict in the region. Furthermore, multiple bilateral agreements between the United States and the DRC have come into effect over the past few decades. However, complex ties between the United States, the DRC, and neighbors Uganda and Rwanda have prevented enduring improvements in the DRC. As Nzongola-Ntalaja reveals in his piece, the DRC is an example of general American hypocrisy towards Africa and its nations.

On their website, the US State Department provides a report on the history of bilateral arrangements between the United States and the DRC. The report identifies the stability and security of the region is dependent on peace in the DRC (US State Department Website, paraphrase). This statement alone reveals the ultimate intentions of US diplomacy in the DRC, regional stability. The report goes on to list a number of initiatives the US has pursued to protect citizens, strengthen governance and the rule of law; increase food security, agricultural productivity, and access to credit; and support economic growth, social benefits, and access to healthcare and education. Many of these points have been discusses in previous journal entries as prominent issues contributing to the failed state in the DRC. Another report conducted by the Congressional Research Service lists the great amount of monetary support the United States has given to the DRC to solve these issues. Unfortunately, the United States has yet to act upon the human rights violations and mineral exploitation of Rwanda and Uganda in the DRC.

In 2006 Bush signed the “Democratic Republic of the Cong Relief, Security, and Democracy Promotion Act”, but little progress has been made to improve democracy, human rights, or mineral exploitation and the Eastern region of the DRC remains a mess. Additionally, President Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton created legislation that monitored foreign involvement in Congolese natural resources. Under these provisions, the United States is required to interfere when any external actors participates in the internal affairs of the DRC and since independence, Rwanda and Uganda have been the two largest contributors to the political, economic, and social failures of the DRC. However, Obama has not imposed any sort of sanctions on these two perpetrators because both are key allies to the United States in the War on Terror. As a result, the weak state of the DRC is left to fight for themselves against rebel groups and external actors. While relations between the United States and the DRC appear strong on paper, further evidence reveals a failure for the United States to solve key domestic concerns.

Works Cited:


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Algerian-U.S. Relations

In the present day, the United States and Algeria have strong ties and engage in various forms of cooperation, particularly in the areas of trade and military aide.  The U.S. is one of Algeria’s top trading partners, while Algeria stands as a top trading partner and strategic ally for the US in the Middle East and North African region.

In fact, the US has had a relationship of one kind or another with Algeria since 1783, when the State of Algiers, formally a semi-autonomous province of the Ottoman Empire, was one of the earliest states to recognize the young US.  However, relations quickly grew icy, as US merchant ships trading in the Mediterranean were no longer covered by the British tribute, a sum demanded by privateering state like Algiers for free and peaceful passage in the region.  By the early 1790s, pirates from Algiers were raiding American merchant ships as well as capturing and enslaving the crews.  Piracy became a central source of conflict between the US and Algiers until 1815, after the second of the two Barbary Wars over that very issue.  The US, along with European partners, combined military and, with the end of the conflict, diplomatic pressure on Algiers, who repaid the ransom for captured crews; further, the US had already begun appropriating money for battleships to counter Barbary piracy and protect merchants.  In 1816, deprived of its primary source of wealth, the privateer state was in decline in Algiers and, in 1830 was conquered and colonized by the French in 1830, along with the other Barbary states.  From that time until Algeria’s independence, for all intents and purposes, any foreign relations the US maintained with Algeria were indirect and facilitated by the French state.

In more recent times, in the aftermath of World War II, John F. Kennedy spoke out in support of the Algerian independence movement while the French colonials still ruled.  In a sense, the Algerian state returned the favor in 1979, when they lent their diplomatic support to help free the Americans captured in the Iranian Hostage Crisis; in 1981, an Algerian-led mediation secured the freedom of the hostages.

In the present-day, the US and Algeria have strong trade and security relationships.  As of 2006, US direct investment in Algeria totalled $5.3 billion, mostly in the US and western-dominated oil production.  The US security relationship with Algeria has become a crucial part of the US relationship with Algeria, particularly since September 11, 2001.  The two countries have shared intelligence, as the Algeria aids the US as an ally against Islamic extremism in the Arab world and the US, in turn, sells Algeria arms and helps train its military.

The Algerian relationship with the US is, in many ways, characteristic of American allies in the Arab-Islamic world.  Algeria, like Saudia Arabia, is a relatively oppressive regime, whose citizens have few civil liberties or democratic rights.  Like these other regimes, the character of their oppression has a distinctly Islamic character.  However, unlike much of fundamentalist Islamic groups, especially active since the Arab Spring in 2011, these regimes are very secure, strong states, funded in great measure by lucrative oil exports.




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US and Libya: Points of Cooperation and Rivalry

The United States and Libya have had a rather interesting past. Beginning with Libyan independence, the US supported King Idris and his rather authoritarian regime. Idris did not nationalize his oil, unlike Mossadeq of Iran, allowing for easier and cheaper US access to the resource.  Despite human rights violations and obvious corruption within the government, the United States supported the Libyan monarchy.

When Gaddhafi and his socialist group overthrew Idris’ regime, the United States shifted its attitude toward Libya. Tension grew strong when Gaddhafi nationalized Libyan oil, diminishing supply to the US. In fact, export of all goods to the US was cut under Gaddhafi. He believed that the United States represented greed, gluttony, corruption, materialism and moral abandon.

In response to this limit on exports, the United States decided to cut all direct trade with Libya in 1986. Fury grew after the 1986 Berlin discotheque bombing perpetrated by the Libyan secret service, killing two American soldiers. At this point in history, the US government and citizens alike viewed Gaddhafi as a villainous threat to American safety. In retaliation to the Berlin bombings, the US military launched an air strike between Tripoli and Benghazi. 15 people died as a result of this display of dominance, even Gaddhafi’s daughter.

As terrorism spread throughout the early 90’s, the US government looked to Libya as a prime suspect of mass violence. After the bombing of Pan-Am flight 103, the US encouraged the UN to press international charges against Libyan forces. Libya denied these charges, and it was not until 2003 that the regime accepted the legitimacy of its crimes.

2003 marked a turning point in United States-Libya relations. Gaddhafi signed documents prohibiting his use of chemical weaponry and atomic energy. His cooperation with the US and international community led to the opening of the trade gates between America and Libya. The country was even lost its title as a state sponsor of terrorism.

Gaddhafi’s behavior during the Libyan Civil War of 2011 generated yet another change in the attitude of the US towards Libya. His use of mustard gas and general excessive force to repress the civilian uprisings was seen as a humanitarian disgrace. The United States supported the rebellion by directly fighting Libyan air forces. The civil war was ultimately victorious. Gadhaffi was punished through the collapse of his regime and loss of his life.

Now, the United States supports the Libyan people through humanitarian aid. The firebombing at Benghazi in 2012 killing four US officials symbolized Libyan distaste for Americans in their country. The US recognizes Libya as being radically unstable. Travelling to Libya today as an American citizen is a difficult process for this reason. As local militant groups battle for control over the country, the US has not cut oil trade with Libya. It has increased its policing of the industry to keep political interests and violence separate from access to this resource.

Modern Libya-US relations are strictly economical and humanitarian, with US certainly dominating in power. These two nations may have a more cooperative, mutually beneficial future, but complete warmth between the US and Libya is impossible to achieve right now.

US Department of State: Libya http://www.state.gov/r/pa/ei/bgn/5425.htm

After a 37 Year Embargo, the US arrives to do Business in Libya http://content.time.com/time/world/article/0,8599,1967079,00.html

Libya-US Relations https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Libya%E2%80%93United_States_relations

History of US Libya Relations http://www.truth-out.org/news/item/2:history-of-uslibya-relations-indicates-us-must-tread-carefully-as-uprising-continues




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