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Gallup: Opinion Briefing: Achieving Gains in Africa

Author: Bob Tortora
January 19, 2009

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Issue at Hand: While U.S. leadership enjoys relatively high approval ratings in Africa, Democrats have signaled that Barack Obama will place a greater emphasis on Africa than his predecessor. The Obama administration has the opportunity to further engage the world's poorest continent politically, economically, and diplomatically. It also has a clear interest in ensuring the stability of Africa's nation states in terms of global security and preventing the spread of terrorism.

Obama's Stance: At her confirmation hearing, Secretary of State Designate Hillary Clinton said, "In Africa, the foreign policy objectives of the Obama administration are rooted in security, political, economic, and humanitarian interests, including combating al-Qaeda's efforts to seek safe havens in failed states in the Horn of Africa, helping African nations to conserve their natural resources and reaping fair benefits from them, stopping war in Congo, ending autocracy in Zimbabwe and human devastation in Darfur. But we also intend to support the African democracies like South Africa and Ghana, which just had its second change of power in democratic election. We must work hard with our African friends to reach the Millennium Development Goals in health education and economic opportunity." Clinton made a clear point to emphasize that the Obama administration will take "a 'bottom-up' approach to ensuring that America remains a positive force in the world." A "'bottom-up' approach" suggests that U.S. policy decisions might be informed by what sub-Saharan Africans say are the shortcomings, beyond health issues, in their countries.

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