The Dept. of State, today on their blog posted an article “More and More Americans Speak Out on Africa” implying that Africa may become somewhat of a priority on America’s foreign policy agenda because in addition to policy makers and churches, Hollywood celebrities and citizens are starting to pay attention to Africa.
It’s easy enough to say that the president makes foreign policy; we at State naturally tend to take this position, since we work directly for the president. Yet, the Constitution itself doesn’t say exactly that. Congress has a role; most important, it has the power of the purse. No program, including the very salaries of ambassadors, can continue without funding controlled by the Congress.
And who does Congress listen to? The voters, naturally. And thus any group or individual who might influence the voters. Until recently, scholars tended to categorize the role of citizens in foreign policy as “special interests” or “lobbies”. There was the “China” lobby in the 1950s and 60s, which supported Taiwan. Now we have the “Cuba” and “Israel” lobbies. And we are witnessing the rise of an “Africa” lobby.
Overall the article is quite optimistic about US action towards African strife, which is in contrast to Condeleeza Rice’s remarks on Meet The Press on Dec 21st in which she cites her inability to do anything in Darfur as her biggest regret. All this despite the awareness and rallying of the American people. Read the post in its entirety here.