Page 65 - Foreign Service Journal - April 2012

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A P R I L 2 0 1 2 / F O R E I G N S E R V I C E J O U R N A L
65
B
OOKS
An Eventful
Half-Century
Fifty Years of U.S. Africa
Policy (Reflections of Assistant
Secretaries for African Affairs
and U.S. Embassy Officials)
Claudia E. Anyaso, editor; XLibris,
2011; $19.95, paperback, 270 pages;
$3.03, Kindle Edition.
R
EVIEWED BY
T
IBOR
P. N
AGY
J
R
.
In
Fifty Years of U.S. Africa Policy
,
retired U.S. Information Agency FSO
Claudia Anyaso has given us an in-
sightful compendium spanning the pe-
riod 1958 to 2009. Notably, all 16
assistant secretaries who have headed
the Bureau of African Affairs since its
inception are represented in its pages.
(Current AF Assistant Secretary John-
nie Carson wrote the foreword.).
Other contributors include five U.S.
ambassadors who have played (and are
still playing, in some cases) key roles in
shaping U.S. policy toward the conti-
nent: Frank Carlucci, Art Tienken, Art
Lewis, Princeton Lyman and Pru-
dence Bushnell.
This compilation will be most useful
to those readers who are not only in-
terested in Africa, but already have
some sense of the continent’s history
since independence and understand
the issues these diverse countries have
been grappling with. But while it is not
meant as an introduction or general
historical survey, it will benefit anyone
interested in Africa.
Though some of the 21 chapters
were written specifically for the book,
others are taken from policy speeches
or the highly personal Foreign Affairs
Oral History Collection of the Associ-
ation for Diplomatic Studies and
Training
(www.adst.org), un
der whose
imprint the volume appears. The mix
of viewpoints and perspectives works
very well, resulting in a highly read-
able, fact-filled chronology that truly
brings the past half-century of African
history alive. As a bonus, it offers re-
vealing glimpses into the lives and ca-
reers of figures ranging from Patrick
Lumumba to Nelson Mandela.
The contributors deftly draw on
their personal experiences to spotlight
the major forces that have shaped
American policy toward the continent
over the period. These include the
struggle for decolonization and inde-
pendence; Africa as a chessboard in
U.S.-Soviet global competition; the
continent’s accelerating political and
economic free fall; the end of aparth-
eid in South Africa; the economic
crunch following the end of the Cold
War and the resulting shift to a focus
on democratization and economic de-
velopment; the management of crises
and conflicts; and the challenges of the
post-9/11 world.
With few exceptions, these reflec-
tions are objective and balanced, ac-
knowledging the failures — both per-
sonal and policy-related — along with
the accomplishments. There are two
overarching themes: Africa has consis-
tently represented the lowest U.S. for-
eign policy priority, both for the White
House and the State Department; and
much of what we did (or did not do)
there has been in the service of other
objectives.
For example, several writers cite
Henry Kissinger’s lack of interest in,
and misunderstanding of, African is-
sues. They note that he only paid lip
service to challenging apartheid and
supported arming Angolan rebel
groups opposed to the Marxist-ori-
ented government that took control in
Luanda after Portugal’s departure.
As for sins of omission, Assistant
Secretary Herman J. Cohen was block-
ed from actively intervening in the
Liberian civil war. And, in perhaps our
most shameful lapse (eloquently de-
scribed by Ambassador Bushnell), the
Anyaso has given us
a highly readable,
fact-filled chronology
that truly brings the
past half-century of
African history alive.