Beyond Constructive Engagement: United States Foreign Policy toward Africa

Beyond Constructive Engagement: United States Foreign Policy toward Africa

Beyond Constructive Engagement: United States Foreign Policy toward Africa

Beyond Constructive Engagement: United States Foreign Policy toward Africa

Excerpt

Africa has been deemed so unimportant by most American leaders that in the 1984 presidential campaign the continent and its manifold problems were all but ignored by the two major candidates for the presidency of the United States. The Reverend Jesse Jackson attempted to engage his rivals for the Democratic Party's nomination in a serious debate about United States foreign policy toward Africa, but failed to do so. During a televised debate on America's foreign policy between Republican incumbent Ronald Reagan and his Democratic challenger Walter Mondale, the President insisted that his administration supported America's friends who were challenged by their enemies and detractors. Former Vice President Walter Mondale did not rise to the challenge, and ignored any reference to Africa in his response, although he had circulated a position paper on African affairs.

The propensity of Americans to ignore the problems of most countries until suddenly forced to intervene militarily or to provide economic relief is now widely admitted. Nevertheless, the lessons have not been learned. Americans heard little about either Korea or Vietnam, and knew even less about those countries, until they found themselves fighting there. Seemingly in vain did former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger subsequently warn that: "By establishing a pattern of response in advance of crisis situations, strategic doctrine permits a power to act pur-

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