Courtesy Reuters

Africa: U.S. Policy Eclipse

The third year of the Carter Administration saw a quiet but marked change in the tone of American diplomacy toward Africa, with a waning of its "activist" role in the search for negotiated settlements to the racially explosive issues of southern Africa. Administration initiatives in the region continued to run up against the limits of American power to shape events there-an underlying reality which had begun to emerge in the previous year. In addition, the conservative mood sweeping across the United States was beginning to have its own impact on American official thinking about Africa. A congressional shift to the right coupled with President Carter's own growing preoccupation with Soviet expansionism served to revive the globalist approach former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger had taken toward the continent. Kissinger himself was by mid-year publicly assailing the Carter Administration for leaning too far toward Africa's "ideological radicals" and thereby impaling the United States on "the horns of a dilemma where our rhetoric is out of step with our capabilities; our stated objectives out of tune with our public opinion."1

The main question as the year ended was whether the architects and proponents of the Carter Africa policy, including Secretary of State Cyrus Vance and former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Andrew Young,2 were losing out to the "globalists," led by National Security Adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski, who emphasized the centrality of U.S.-Soviet competition in regional affairs. Since mid-1978, the State Department "Africanists," and even President Carter himself, had found themselves fighting on the defensive in their effort to align American interests more closely with black Africa than with the "pro-Western," white-dominated regimes of southern Africa. Since the Administration's Africa policy had explicitly rejected a cold war competition in Africa, and took majority rule as its central tenet, a return to the globalist approach would represent a fundamental shift, with possibly widespread negative repercussions in black Africa.

Administration moves late in the year to supply counterinsurgency arms to Morocco and

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