Both continuity and change capture the evolving role of the Clinton White House in the formulation and implementation of U.S. foreign policy toward Africa. Elements of continuity are reflected in a familiar pattern of relationships between the White House and the principal foreign policy bureaucracies, most notably the U.S. State Department, the U.S. Department of Defense (Pentagon), the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), and more recently the U.S. Department of Commerce. As cogently argued in Peter J. Schraeder’s analysis of U.S. foreign policy toward Africa during the Cold War era, the White House has tended to take charge of U.S. African policies only in those relatively rare situations perceived as crises by the president and his closest advisors. In other, more routine situations—the hallmark of the myriad of U.S. African relations—the main foreign policy bureaucracies have been at the forefront of policy formulation, and “bureaucratic dominance” of the policymaking process has prevailed. Much the same pattern is visible in the Clinton administration, with the exception of President Clinton’s trip to Africa in 1998. Until that time, events in Somalia in 1993 served as the only true African crisis of the administration that was capable of focusing the ongoing attention of President Clinton and his closest advisors. Given that the United States is now disengaged from most African crises, Africa has remained a “backwater” for the White House and the wider foreign policymaking establishment.
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