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In Africa, Beyond Humanitarianism

Authors: Princeton N. Lyman, and Patricia Lee Dorff, Editorial Director
August 9, 2007
The Washington Post


Africa has risen steadily in importance to the United States in recent years. Traditionally, Africa has been thought of primarily as an object of humanitarian concern. That perception has been highlighted by popular figures, such as Bono, Bob Geldof, George Clooney and others, focusing public attention on Africa ’s poverty, conflicts and major diseases. Africa has further captured worldwide attention due to the conflict in Darfur . Because the United States has judged the Sudanese government’s campaign in the region to be genocide, the conflict has taken on enormous moral importance.

But Africa has other reasons, beyond these critical humanitarian issues, to command America’s attention. Africa is currently the scene of major competition for access to its natural resources. China, India, Malaysia, South Korea, Brazil and other countries with rapidly growing economies are turning to Africa for oil, minerals, timber and other resources. China in particular has led in this competition with significant amounts of aid along with financial backing for hundreds of Chinese companies to invest in Africa.

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