Student Research

US Diplomatic Power Projection in Africa: A Review of Its Effectiveness and a Comparison with Chinese Strategy

A capstone project submitted to the faculty of the California Maritime Academy in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Bachelor of Arts in Global Studies and Maritime Affairs.

The African continent is proving to the next up-and-coming region in the world. Coming out of the Post-Cold War era, the United States is seeking a new global strategy. The strategy of containment, while effective against the spread of communism, is difficult to reapply in such a dynamic and changing global atmosphere. In order to remain competitive in Africa, the United States must fundamentally change its approach to power projection. Power projection is the use of hard power, such as military might, and soft power, economic policies and treaties, to achieve international goals. The United States successfully uses its military capabilities to project power; delivering unparalleled swift operational responses to global threats. Beyond military might, the greatest tool for power projection in Africa that the United States can use is USAID. Promoting regional stability and food security is a necessary function of USAID programs. To achieve the best results, these programs must be temporary, and geared towards to increasing national security for the United States. China’s success in the implementation of its 21st century Maritime Silk Road lies in the development of economic partnerships in East Africa. The United States has much to learn by observing the Chinese model of power projection, which has so far proven very successful. The United States must determine its position as a global or regional power in order to develop the best diplomatic power projection strategies in Africa.

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