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Arms for Africa?

Courtesy Reuters

THE lengthening procession of new African states making their debut on the world scene must soon confront American policy-makers with still another difficult problem--the question of whether to grant them military assistance. It is all but inevitable that these countries will insist on exercising the fundamental right and responsibility of sovereign nations to raise and maintain military forces for self-defense. It is equally certain that the creation of national military establishments will impose burdens which their underdeveloped economies and unstable political structures are ill-prepared to sustain. It is also certain that the emergent states will seek to share these burdens and will look in many directions for military assistance--to the former metropoles, to the United States, to the Communist bloc.

If these premises are correct, what are the principal considerations which must be accommodated in the formulation of U.S. policy with regard to military assistance programs in Africa?

The relationships between Western European powers and their African colonies are being drastically transformed as a result of the political revolution sweeping the African continent. The conflict which this has engendered has presented the United States with one of its most serious foreign policy dilemmas; and the horns are likely to be sharpened as the former colonies turn to the United States for military assistance.

In North Africa the Algerian rebellion continues to agitate France's relationships with her two former protectorates. In Sub-Sahara Africa, where France is engaged in a last urgent effort to hold together her remaining African territories in a new French Community, the very presence of the secessionist state of Guinea represents a constant threat to the cohesiveness of the new Community. It is a foregone conclusion that the provision of American military assistance to these new African states would meet with sharp French disapproval. France would view such assistance as an attempt by the United States to displace her influence or undercut her policies in the area--as she did when the United States proposed to provide limited quantities

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