In This Review

United States Interests and Policies in Africa: Transition to a New Era
United States Interests and Policies in Africa: Transition to a New Era
Edited by Karl P. Magyar
St. Martin's Press, 2000, 202 pp

This collection of essays offers no new angles of vision, but it does provide a concise historical overview of American foreign policy in Africa from the colonial period up to about 1998. Five regional chapters (on northern, western, central, eastern, and southern Africa) survey the pre-Cold War, Cold War, and post-Cold War eras, emphasizing continuity and change in the definition of U.S. interests in each region. Contrasts between rhetoric and reality are noted, but little space is given to how policies are shaped by domestic constituencies. The editor draws stark conclusions: Barring major unforeseen developments, the marginalization of Africa by American policymakers seems likely to continue, given that U.S. geostrategic interests are minimal outside the northeast corner of the continent, and trade and investment seem unlikely to expand much in the near future. Unless domestic constituencies favoring a more active stance acquire greater weight in shaping priorities, U.S. policy will remain fundamentally reactive, with prodemocracy rhetoric glossing over diminishing political and economic commitment.