James Jay Carafano
The world’s largest aircraft carrier USS Gerald R. Ford (CVN 78), the Italian navy light aircraft carrier ITS Giuseppe Garibaldi (C 551) and other NATO members participate in NATO exercise Neptune Strike, a multiyear effort focused on harmonizing U.S. and NATO planning teams to transfer command and control of Allied naval and amphibious forces to STRIKFORNATO, in order to provide assurance, deterrence, and collective defense for the Alliance. (U.S. Navy photo by Malachi Lakey)
Much of the transatlantic community’s attention is now focused on the war against Ukraine. That’s understandable. Strategic vision, however, ought to address opportunities, not just challenges. And no space offers as much potential return on investment as the Mediterranean and the surrounding regions of North, East, and West Africa.
To be successful, however, Western outreach must be coordinated. Disparate efforts deliver less than their sum. The effectiveness of Western aid programs has been hit and miss. PEPFAR, for instance, helped stem the global HIV/AIDS epidemic. Food production, on the other hand, isn’t keeping pace with Africa’s growing needs. Mere assistance won’t close that gap. Nor are they a match for China’s insidious Belt-and-Road incursions, which have made heavy inroads in Africa, undermining governance, fueling corruption, insecurity, and inequality, and leaving many nations effectively in thrall to Beijing.
In some cases, competing Western policies are making things worse. Green transition initiatives are impoverishing people already starved for abundant, reliable, and affordable electricity. Attempts to export woke cultural imperialism have proved upsetting and counterproductive. What is required are both better initiatives and taking advantage of the scale that a cooperative effort of the transatlantic community and like-minded partners in the Middle East and the Indo-Pacific (such as India, Japan, South Korea, and Taiwan) can bring to bear, overmatching the malicious influence of Beijing and Moscow.