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Building the U.S. Strategic Relationship with African Nations
October 07

Building the U.S. Strategic Relationship with African Nations


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03:00 pm 04:15 pm

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Africa is the fastest-growing continent of the 21st Century, and yet U.S. foreign policy has long ignored the region. As another election approaches, the American Security Project will take a broad look at the diplomatic and security challenges across Africa. The conversation will focus on the economic opportunities, military options, and use of soft power throughout the continent.

Join General Waldhauser, USMC (Ret.), the former Commander of USAFRICOM and Congressman Adam Smith, Chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, for a conversation with ASP Board Member Matthew Bergman about the strategic challenges and opportunities presented across Africa. Following General Waldhauser’s and Congressman Smith’s discussion, a panel of experts- Ambassador Johnnie Carson, Lauren Blanchard, and ASP Board Member Matthew Bergman- will discuss the current geopolitical and security dynamics of the U.S. relationship with East African nations.

About the Speakers

Gen. Thomas D. Waldhauser, USMC (Ret.) was the fourth Commander of the United States Africa Command. In this capacity, General Waldhauser was responsible for building defense capabilities, responding to crises, deterring and defeating transnational threats in order to advance U.S. national interests and promote regional security, stability, and prosperity, all in concert with interagency and international partners.

He has served as an infantry officer at all levels in the U.S. Marine Corps, including command of the 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit (Special Operations Capable) during combat operations in Afghanistan and Iraq. His General Officer commands included the Marine Corps Warfighting Laboratory, 1st Marine Division, I Marine Expeditionary Force, and Commander, Marine Corps Forces Central Command.

General Waldhauser’s flag officer Joint assignments included Chief of Staff, U.S. Special Operations Command, Senior Military Assistant to the Secretary of Defense, Joint Staff Director of Operations J3 (Acting), and Joint Staff Director for Joint Force Development J7.

Congressman Adam Smith is currently the U.S. Representative for Washingtons’ 9th congressional district. Congressman Smith was elected to the district in 1996.

Before serving as Chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, Adam formerly chaired the Subcommittee on Air and Land Forces (ALF), the Terrorism, Unconventional Threats and Capabilities subcommittee, and has also previously served on the House Foreign Affairs Committee and the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence.

Ambassador Johnnie Carson was the former Assistant Secretary of State for the Bureau of African Affairs (2009-2013). Prior to this he was the National Intelligence Officer for Africa at the National Intelligence Council, after serving as the Senior Vice President of the National Defense University in Washington, D.C. (2003-2006).

Carson’s 37-year foreign service career includes ambassadorships to Kenya (1999-2003), Zimbabwe (1995-1997), and Uganda (1991-1994); and Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for the Bureau of African Affairs (1997-1999). Earlier in his career he had assignments in Portugal (1982-1986), Botswana (1986-1990), Mozambique (1975-1978), and Nigeria (1969-1971). He has also served as desk officer in the Africa section at State’s Bureau of Intelligence and Research (1971-1974); Staff Officer for the Secretary of State (1978-1979), and Staff Director for the Africa Subcommittee of the U.S. House of Representatives (1979-1982).

Before joining the Foreign Service, Ambassador Carson was a Peace Corps volunteer in Tanzania from 1965-1968.

Lauren Ploch Blanchard is a Specialist in African Affairs with the Congressional Research Service (CRS), where she provides nonpartisan analysis on African political, military and diplomatic affairs, and on U.S. policy in the region, to Members of Congress, congressional committees, and congressional staff.

Prior to joining CRS, she managed democracy support initiatives in East and Southern Africa, where she coordinated governance programs funded by USAID, the State Department, and the National Endowment for Democracy. During that time, she supervised and conducted training on political party and coalition strengthening, parliamentary support, civil society capacity building, women’s leadership development, and public opinion research. She also consulted on constitutional reform efforts in Kenya and the development of democratic institutions in Southern Sudan. Previously, Lauren served as Legislative Assistant in the United States Senate.

Matthew Bergman is an attorney, philanthropist and entrepreneur based in Seattle.

Bergman has been active in politics at the state and national level for 40 years.  As a disciple of Henry (“Scoop”) Jackson, he worked to promote a close US-Israel relationship and mobilize American political support for the Solidarity movement in Poland, black trade unions in South Africa and anti-totalitarian forces in the developing world.  After establishing his law practice, Bergman led the Bradley, Kerry and Obama primary campaigns in Washington State and served as delegate to the Democratic Conventions in 2000, 2004 and 2008.

Bergman has maintained a keen interest in international politics, military strategy and third world development. In 2008, he founded the Masai Children’s Initiative which established two girl’s schools in remote Maasai communities in Southern Kenya.  The program included solar powered computer labs, clean drinking water, school feeding programs and cultural programs that served 350 girls and surrounding community.

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