In 2005, as a US senator from Wisconsin and ranking member of the African Affairs Subcommittee of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, I visited Mali and wrote about my visit in this publication. At the time, I wrote that, “if we want a less threatening future, we Americans need to get in the game, increase our diplomatic presence, listen to the people on the ground, and combine widespread, quick-impact development projects with long-term investments in fighting corruption and promoting the rule of law.”
The Obama administration has certainly done a better job of reaching out to this region, and has a much better appreciation of the transnational nature of the terrorist threat, particularly in Africa. Regrettably, Washington is still struggling to free itself from the flawed policies that continue to undermine a more flexible and informed approach in our fight against that terrorist threat. The US should be even more engaged in Africa than we are now.