FROM THE CONGO TO SOWETO: US Foreign Policy Toward Africa Since 1960 by Henry F. Jackson

FROM THE CONGO TO SOWETO: US Foreign Policy Toward Africa Since 1960

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The dominant theme of this book is US involvement in Africa, from late-Eisenhower to early-Reagan, ""for non-African purposes""--chiefly, rivalry with the USSR. Otherwise the seven sections differ--in mode of approach, nature of content, incisiveness and reliability, and application. Overall, however, much is accomplished. The first two sections offer a descriptive analysis, grounded in top sources, of American ""success"" in stabilizing the Congo under Mobuto (who, as a US ""client,"" then locked the US into his corrupt regime)--and of American inability, because of ""new Third World realities,"" to pull off another Congo in Angola (for one thing, the MPLA's young Marxists had longstanding Cuban ties: ""Cuba did not intervene in response to Moscow""). Both sections stand as first-rate diagnoses of complex events. The third section, however, tries to equate Egypt with the Congo and Angola--to depict Sadat, in his economic and political difficulties, as a failed American ""client."" (We have been told at the outset that Egypt belongs intrinsically with sub-Saharan Africa; rather, the author seems to be fitting his sub-Saharan thesis to Egypt.) The ground for this is a highly speculative assumption that Sadat ousted the Soviets to reintegrate ""Egypt into the Western world market."" Of the extensive writing on Sadat's motives, little backs up this assumption--and nothing here demonstrates Egypt's situation to be more ""African"" than Middle Eastern. There then follows a section, quite different in time-span and tenor (i.e., acritical), on the relationship between American blacks and Africa--apropos of the secondary theme that a major reason for the long US neglect of Africa, and its lack of concern for African interests thereafter, is the ""powerlessness"" of American blacks (by comparison, specifically, with American Jews vis-à-vis Israel). In itself, this material is both a useful (if fragmentary) reprise--from the American Colonization Society through black missionary efforts to Andrew Young--and a notice of current, diverse initiatives. Concluding are three sections of an informational/exhortational nature: on US dependence, now, on African resources (and why, in return, we should up development aid); on US military involvements (and why we should curtail them); on the US-and-South Africa (and why we should adopt a policy of ""voluntary reversals""). Jackson (The F.L.N. in Algeria, 1978, and other writings) clearly knows what he's about, and he writes with dispatch. So: a multi-purpose resource (the Egyptian section aside) and, indeed, the most all-round treatment of the subject available.

Pub Date: March 9th, 1982
Publisher: Morrow