Obama's goal in Africa: Counter China

Story highlights

  • President Obama is visiting Africa after years of little U.S. engagement with continent
  • Peter Bergen: China took advantage of the opportunity to vastly expand trade
  • He says Obama is seeking to counter China, show that U.S. is open for business
  • Some African economies are growing very fast, and there are forecasts for more growth
There is a one-word subtext to President Obama's trip to Africa: China.
After 9/11, the United States became embroiled in more than a decade of wars in Asia and the Middle East. As a result, U.S. engagement in Latin America and Africa largely atrophied.
Meanwhile, China saw an opportunity. China has now displaced the United States as the largest trading partners of two key Latin American countries, Brazil and Chile.
China's economic rise is particularly marked in Africa; it quietly surpassed the United States as the continent's largest trading partner four years ago.