Courtesy Reuters

Lost Goals in Africa

United STATES policy in Africa has lost much of its credibility for a large part of the African continent. We have held out hope for more than we have, in the event, been able or willing to deliver. Often the promise of brave words was extravagant and unwise; but what is noticed is that it has not been matched by congruent acts. We have seemed to say one thing and do another. For example, to most of Africa the unqualified and warmly welcomed pronouncement of the U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs- "The United States stands for self-determination in Africa"-appears to have been disregarded, even repudiated, in practice, with respect to what in African eyes is the acid test of our bona fides, the "white redoubts" in southern Africa. Again, in promising major and growing American aid for a "decade of development" we declared it to be "a primary necessity, opportunity and responsibility of the United States" to help make "a historic demonstration that economic growth and political democracy can go hand in hand" in building "free, stable, and self-reliant countries." This hope has now been substantially dissipated by the evolution of the U.S. aid syndrome in Africa-initial good intentions, objective standards, policies of rewarding merit, yielding to the pressures of the moment, the putting out of fires, the special concern for "bad boys," "problem children" and the crisis-prone, the needs of "containment," the special interest of allies, the U.S. dollar drain, etc.

So too, our promise of uncritical support for African aspirations and goals- as if all of Africa shared the same set of aspirations and goals: "What we want for Africa," said the Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs, "is what the Africans want for themselves." Its naïveté was exposed when it came up against the shattering realities of African diversity and division in the renewed Congo crisis. The inability of the Organization of African Unity to cope with the crisis

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