Free At Last? U.S. Policy Toward Africa And The End Of The Cold War

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Free At Last? U.S. Policy Toward Africa And The End Of The Cold War

By Michael Clough
Council on Foreign Relations Press, 1992
143 pp. $14.95
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This study is a timely primer on U.S. policies in Africa, offering a succinct and critical analysis of past policy choices, plus a set of recommendations that should generate constructive debate. Clough, the senior Africanist at the Council on Foreign Relations, argues that Africa's increasing geopolitical insignificance and its poor economic prospects will render it even more marginal to American interests in the future unless two things occur. First, U.S. global interests in the post-Cold War world need to be radically redefined to give priority to promoting democracy and economic development. Second, the constituencies for Africa within the United States need to be strengthened so that effective political pressures for aid to Africa can be brought to bear-mainly through Congress-on an executive branch likely to remain inert in the absence of strong domestic opinion. Clough believes that public interest lobbies for international human rights, development, environmental protection, women's welfare and humanitarian relief may gain political momentum in the 1990s. Some readers will probably feel that his stress on political realism places too little emphasis on the responsibility of the American government to promote development in the world's poorest region, with or without the support of public opinion. While the book properly castigates the "dismal" record of U.S. support for African dictators, it makes no mention of the modest but generally positive record of American bilateral development assistance.