The Skull beneath the Skin: Africa after the Cold War

By Mark Huband | Go to book overview

PART FOUR
New World, Old Order

THE END OF THE COLD WAR in Africa may be the moment at which the African history of Africa is about to begin again. The colonialist legacy has been buried, in particular by the experience of France in Rwanda, while the interventionist Cold War legacy has been buried by the near total disappearance of any importance most of Africa may once have had for the United States. After more than a century, foreign domination and meddling have perhaps now come to an end. Determined to bury their own ghosts, however, the Cold War victors regarded the 1990s as a chance to have one last fling with the continent, under the guise of the "New World Order." The scale of this last burst of activity betrayed the opportunism and ineptitude lying at the heart of the destructive Cold War relationship. For reasons that will remain unspoken until the West steels itself and admits that its relationship with Africa is at heart based on a mixture of vanity, bullying, and ignorance, this final engagement was a disaster, as has been shown by the failure to address the conflict in Sudan, the catastrophe of the U.S.-led intervention in Somalia, and the soul-searching the Rwandan genocide forced upon France.

On the global stage, the end of the Cold War has left the world fractured rather than united. Internal differences within nation states, suppressed during the superpower conflict, inevitably burst into the open when that conflict came to an end. The emptiness of the promises of the Cold War, the one‐ sidedness of the deal the conflict represented, the absence of any kind of peace dividend for those countries that had actually suffered mortal damage,

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