When President Barack Obama hosted his US-Africa Summit in August 2014, my roundups in AfricaFocus Bulletin featured critical analysis of the likely outcome and the issues that were likely to be ignored, as well as alternate viewpoints by civil society groups.
I doubt that such detailed critiques of the Biden summit last November are particularly useful. Most AfricaFocus readers will already be very aware of the dubious value of summits that prioritize photo-ops and promises over meetings that have real-world outcomes. In the current political environment in Washington, it is clear that presidential promises are largely worthless. They are most often doomed in advance by the low probability of congressional approval or bureaucratic follow-up.
[For those who want to check it out themselves, I did compile a spreadsheet of some of the coverage of the event.]
Mainstream U.S. priorities are better measured by more substantive indicators, for example, the allocation of attention of mainstream media or of actual money dispersed despite congressional or bureaucratic obstacles.
In coverage by mainstream Western media, white Ukrainian lives in practical terms matter countless times more to U.S. opinion leaders than lives in Africa and the Middle East. And the budgets spent on expanding the already overwhelming U.S. military footprint in every corner of the globe demonstrate that geopolitical rivalries and military contractors trump public goods either domestic or international, much less those most needed by Africans in Africa or in the diaspora.
Even more important than the marginalization of Africa-specific needs is the failure to pay attention to spokespersons from the Global South who have taken the lead in addressing today's global issues. Visionary voices such as that of Prime Minister Mia Mottley of Barbados find little or no echo in the corridors of official Washington.
In AfricaFocus Bulletin over the past three years, I have given primary attention to such global issues and how they are framed, while giving much less coverage to news or analysis of specific African countries. And I have published the Bulletin less frequently and given higher priority to editing and writing for other projects and media outlets.
One reason, of course, is simply age and the fact that I have now been publishing this Bulletin (or one of its predecessors) since 1995. In 2023, I plan to continue to share occasional notes highlighting links that I think might be of interest to subscribers. I expect that most notes will be much shorter than this one, but not as short as social media posts on Twitter or Facebook. And instead of including excerpts, I will link to material made available on Google drive.
For the first quarter of 2023, I will continue sending these out by email using Mailchimp, as well as archiving them on the web. But I will also be exploring a transition to making Substack my primary hub for sharing thoughts or links with AfricaFocus readers. I follow quite a few blogs online, and I find that more and more of the authors I most respect (Cathy Sunshine, for the quality of her writing, and Branko Milanovic, for the range of his insights on global issues) host their blogs there. Tomas Pueyo, another author on Substack, explains why it is more author-friendly than other platforms.
As a sample of one kind of content that I will be sharing, you can find two articles from the January 14 issue of The Continent highlighting the historical significance of the small country of Barbados, to pair with the AfricaFocus from November on the current global leadership of Prime Minister Mia Mottley.
William Minter, Editor, AfricaFocus
P. S. In addition to AfricaFocus, I plan to dedicate much of my time to preparing my research files to contribute to the John Hope Franklin Research Center at Duke University and to the Moorland-Spingarn Research Center at Howard University, as well as to ensure that relevant books that I own are digitized to share access with research libraries in Mozambique, Angola, and other countries. My time to do this is free, but I welcome donations (as of now not yet tax-deductible) for other expenses to make that possible. These can be made most conveniently through the AfricaFocus Paypal link or through a Zelle payment to firstname.lastname@example.org.
AfricaFocus Bulletin is an independent electronic publication providing reposted commentary and analysis on African issues, with a particular focus on U.S. and international policies. AfricaFocus Bulletin is edited by William Minter. For an archive of previous Bulletins, see http://www.africafocus.org,
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