The United States of America's post-1990 foreign policy towards West Africa: the case study of Ghana

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Peer-Reviewed Research
  • SDG 17
  • SDG 16
  • Abstract:

    This explorative study uses Ghana as a test case to critique the post-Cold War foreign policy of the United States of America (hereafter referred to as the US) towards West Africa. It does this by contemporaneously locating the US relationship with Ghana within a historical and regional context. History is crucial in this regard, because the past provides a sound basis for understanding the present and the future. To add, in International Politics, theory holds sway and history is used as a laboratory. In this article, the researchers propose Afrocentricity as an alternative theoretical paradigm crucial in understanding US foreign policy towards Africa in general. As shall be seen, such a paradigm remains critical in highlighting the peculiarity of the US relationship with Ghana. It is envisaged that a deeper understanding of the US foreign policy towards Ghana is achievable when its analysis and interpretation is located within a broader regional (West Africa) and continental (Africa) context. The two central questions that are grappled with in this article are: (i) Why does the US view Ghana as an indispensable political ally in West Africa? (ii) To what extent did Barack Obama’s presidency alter the US’s foreign policy towards Ghana, West Africa and Africa? To realise the purpose of this study, the researchers rely methodologically on interdisciplinary critical discourse and conversations in their widest form. The critical analysis for this article concludes that the agenda for democratic consolidation and access to oil resources feature as the key drivers of the US foreign policy towards Ghana and West Africa at large. While the US’s role in the democratisation of Ghana and other African states is observable, it can be argued that this principle has been merely used as a tool for international morality to justify American imperialism. Oil in West Africa’s Ghana is important for the US, both as an economic resource and a strategic energy source during wartime periods. Overall, the “differential” foreign policy towards individual African states is also a significant observation, which dispels the myth of a universal US foreign policy framework.