The spark for my research occurred last year as I completed course work for my numerous classes at the Coast Guard Academy. I had the opportunity to travel to multiple conferences last year and explore my thoughts on the U.S. involvement in Africa, particularly in the Gulf of Guinea. I ran into the overwhelming theme that the U.S. has accepted mediocrity in the countries, which it seeks to develop for numerous reasons. It seemed to me as though there was the need for a major change in the way the U.S. conducts itself in the post-colonial development nexus.
Perhaps the U.S. has been far too concerned with being labeled a neo-colonialist in a period of rampant anti-colonialism in Sub-Saharan Africa. It made me want to look into what the U.S. could meaningfully accomplish in Sub-Saharan Africa. There is no doubt that colonialism destroyed much of what the African continent had to offer the world. However, there is evidence that within government that direct involvement by Western countries provided stable governance where economic development could occur. While I am certainly not advocating the U.S. colonize parts of Africa, I will explore the idea of the U.S. taking a far more active role in development and government reform, something the State Department is currently very weary about. The most important part of this study will be discovering how to balance increased U.S. engagement with local empowerment in the region, while ensuring accountability and effectiveness.
This idea has become particularly relevant and exciting due to emerging security threats in Sub-Saharan Africa, especially in Gulf of Guinea states such as Nigeria, Liberia and Senegal. Governmental reform and anti-corruption efforts are currently some of the largest barriers to development, and thus physical security, something the U.S. needs to take very seriously. For example, Al-Qaeda has already begun to operate in Nigeria.
Through a case study of revisionist history on colonialism and its benefits in Africa regarding stable governance and regional stability, as well as a case study on current British and Chinese development and anti-corruption efforts in the Gulf of Guinea region, I will seek to provide a forward looking, strategic policy for U.S. intervention, particularly with state governments, in the Gulf of Guinea region to ensure not only U.S. security abroad and at home, as well as stability for the African people.
I believe my greatest challenge will be uncovering the benefits of the European colonization of Africa and the governmental reform they accomplished. The second step will then be applying the current U.S. policy matrix to increased involvement, while making that involvement locally owned. On this note, I have researched the benefits of colonialism in the past, and have also completed extensive research on U.S. foreign policy in the Gulf of Guinea, something that should aid me greatly on my exploration of this exciting topic.