It’s only right to open my first post on this blog by saying how excited I am to be a part of the Presidential Fellows Program this year. Based on all I’ve heard about the program from past participants and all I’ve read about the CSPC, I think it’s going to be a great year.
My project has its roots in much of the overseas work I’ve done over the past year, in and out of the classroom. In 2012 I’ve spent a semester studying leadership at Oxford University, two months in London working for an international aid NGO run by a member of the House of Lords, and several weeks in sub-Saharan Africa working in humanitarian relief. It has been an amazing year and has introduced me to a number of new fields, places, and interests.
One of the greatest opportunities this fellowship affords me is an excuse to devote some significant time to tying all these interests together and connecting the dots between leadership, the American Presidency, and sub-Saharan Africa. I will start by exploring the relevancy of sub-Saharan Africa to the United States, identifying foundational US strategic interests in the region, and thoroughly evaluating the advantages and disadvantages of our current policy approach. I will then bring in my interest in leadership by exploring the idea of power in terms of foreign policy and by looking at how, specifically, the President of the United States can best use hard and soft power—or, “smart power”—not only to protect and further US interests in the region, but also to aid and assist sub-Saharan Africa as it continues to grow, change, and develop.
Although much has been written in the past on sub-Saharan Africa, the United States, and the nature of their relationship, it is still an historically under-appreciated area in American political discourse and research. Additionally, since the work which has been produced has been generally episodic, I will use my thesis to encourage a more constant, sustained effort from scholars and government officials to address sub-Saharan Africa and its strategic importance to the United States. Mechanically speaking, I will be relying on in-depth qualitative analysis in my writing, and look forward to critically engaging a diverse body of material for the project, including government documents, historical analyses, policy reports, assessments and reports from international organizations and NGOs, interviews with relevant experts and officials, etc.
I’m excited about my project, and will look forward to hearing more about all the others. Good luck; see you all in November!
Franklin McGuire, Jr.
The Citadel, The Military College of South Carolina