The Skull beneath the Skin: Africa after the Cold War

By Mark Huband | Go to book overview

3
GREAT GAME, DIRTY GAME

The United States and Liberia

Had we been candid about the standards of government in Liberia it would have been very damaging to U.S. interests.... Great powers don't reject their partners just because they smell. 1

Chester Crocker, former U.S. Assistant Secretary
of State for African Affairs

IT WAS AN EARLY EVENING IN FEBRUARY 1993. 2 A Cadillac taxi had swept me into the quaint streets of Georgetown from the bland order of Washington. I was dazed by the normality. Students wandered through the neatly kept grounds of Georgetown University. One had directed me to the university's tall, new, red-brick, multistory block, where classes for highfliers, future diplomats, and potential leaders and policymakers were held in bright rooms with newly varnished desks facing blackboards where the intricacies of American foreign policy were outlined and discussed.

"I don't believe in trust in diplomacy. I look at performance. I never trusted Savimbi," said Chester Crocker, the architect of U.S. Cold War strategy in the sub-Saharan Africa of the 1980s. 3 He had retired from diplomacy when Ronald Reagan left office, his experiments with Africa reduced to diagrams on a faculty blackboard. "But with Liberians one had a quality of dialogue because they really thought of themselves as honorary Americans. This meant that it was very candid—on both sides. During the Cold War, diplomacy with Third World states was something like running a singles bar: They come to New York and go shopping." 4 He never once paused, except

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The Skull beneath the Skin: Africa after the Cold War
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page *
  • Contents v
  • Acknowledgments vii
  • Prologue viii
  • Part One - Empty Promises i
  • 1 - Sell the Silver, Steal the Gold 3
  • 2 - The Skull beneath the Skin 31
  • 3 - Great Game, Dirty Game 57
  • Part Two - The Time of the Soldier 79
  • 4 - Whispers and Screams 81
  • 5 - A City on the Lake 97
  • 6 - Juggling the Juntas 115
  • 7 - The Deadly Harvest 137
  • Part Three - Blood of the Ancestors 159
  • 8 - Myths, Chiefs, and Churches 161
  • 9 - Genocide 184
  • 10 - The Spit of the Toad 217
  • Part Four - New World, Old Order 249
  • 11 - Rogue States and Radicals 253
  • 12 - The Mogadishu Line 277
  • 13 - France, Africa, and a Place Called Fashoda 307
  • Epilogue - The Center Cannot Hold 327
  • Notes 335
  • Bibliography 355
  • Index 361
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