Publication Date

Fall 2006


This paper examines how West Africa is positioned within the contemporary discourse of U.S. foreign policy. It is suggested that as a locus of U.S. foreign policy concern, West Africa is primarily conceptualized as: a resource supplier, a potential terrorist base, and an area in which grave abuses of basic rights are widespread. However, the writer argues that these areas do not independently merit significant normative importance in U.S. foreign policy terms. It is suggested that the U.S. approach accurately reflects its foreign policy agenda which is primarily geared towards protecting Middle Eastern oil supplies, combating anti-American aggressive failed states and fighting fundamentalist Islamic terrorism. What little U.S. foreign policy interest there is in West Africa is thus "terrorcentric," that is, it is presented in the context of combating fundamentalist Islamic terrorism. This paucity of foreign policy interest is likely to remain the case throughout the Bush administration in the probable absence of any "external shock" clearly linked to the region.