ACAS Issue Working Group: Why Africa Has Fallen Off The Policy Map - And What To Do About It?
by Association of Concerned Africa Scholars
February 19, 1992
Contents: 1. Historically the US has been willing to follow the European lead on Africa. • 2. Disintegration of the former Soviet Union. • 3. The US recession which has led to calls for cuts in foreign assistance programs and calls for a policy of isolationism or, as it is espoused today, "American First." • 4. The release of Nelson Mandela. • 5. Persian Gulf War/New World Order. • 6. Multiculturalism. • 7. The ever-present belief that Africa's problems are insurmountable. • Conclusion • Due to Europe's colonization of and ongoing economic interests in the continent, the U.S. has largely deferred to the Europeans on shaping international policy towards Africa. During the post-WWII and African decolonization era, the U.S. emerged as a superpower in a now bi-polar world and initiated its own programs of support for the newly independent countries. The end of the Cold War has been the primary catalyst for the downgrading of U.S. concern for Africa. The former Soviet Union, as “the enemy,” shaped the U.S. world view after the end of WWII. The U.S. recession is leading many Americans to call for major cuts in U.S. foreign assistance (both development and security). In recent years, sub-Saharan Africa's aid package has increased to $1 billion; those increases, or a cap in the present levels, should be re-directed towards legitimate development and security interests. We should realize that in this ignorance of Africa, activists, particularly scholars, can use the changes in the international arena to the advantage of the continent. When there are decisions that will be made concerning Africa, those in prominent policy positions have little-to-no experience on Africa or the events occurring on the continent. In most cases they rely on think-tanks who have increasingly expanded their programs to include Africa policy specialists. But viewpoints from people who are genuinely concerned about the continent is missing.
Used by permission of several co-chairs of the Association of Concerned Africa Scholars.
Collection: William Minter Southern Africa Papers