In This Review

United States Foreign Policy Toward Africa: Incrementalism, Crisis, and Change
United States Foreign Policy Toward Africa: Incrementalism, Crisis, and Change
By Peter J. Schraeder
Cambridge University Press, 1994, 347 pp

To most Americans, Africa is remote, inconsequential, and confusing. "So many countries," as one diplomat put it, "so many wars." How can American relations with Africa be made intelligible to those who want to understand? This first-rate book is aimed at both an academic audience and African readers trying to make sense of American diplomacy. Schraeder explains the institutions of U.S. policymaking and the types of bureaucratic and political behavior associated with each. Then he posits that there are three recurring patterns of interplay between African events and American policy formulation. Most of the book is then devoted to exemplifying these patterns in three detailed cases that span the post-World War II period: Ethiopia/Somalia ("routine situations and bureaucratic politics"), Zaire ("crisis situations and presidential politics"), and South Africa ("extended crisis situations and domestic politics"). The author draws on dozens of interviews with foreign service personnel and on many documents from the National Security Archives in developing and adding nuance to his cases. Although little new information is brought to light, the accounts are well presented and effectively illustrate the patterns and processes at the core of the analysis. A final section examines the implications of the end of the Cold War for U.S. policies in Africa. An excellent text for college courses.