The United States and the Horn of Africa: An Analytical Study of Pattern and Process

The United States and the Horn of Africa: An Analytical Study of Pattern and Process

The United States and the Horn of Africa: An Analytical Study of Pattern and Process

The United States and the Horn of Africa: An Analytical Study of Pattern and Process

Synopsis

In this insightful new book, Okbazghi Yohannes examines the role of U.S. foreign policy in the Horn of Africa during & after the Cold War era, offering a comprehensive description of the fundamental policy choices of the United States & the means chosen to achieve American objectives in the region. The book examines the extent to which the American role in the African Horn aided or impeded the emergence of political democracy & the promotion of economic development within the region. Challenging conventional approaches, The United States & the Horn of Africa presents dispassionate analyses & reinterpretations of American regional interests, priorities, options, & consequences from a structuralist perspective.

Excerpt

The Cold War had unleashed powerful ethno-national and economic forces in the African Horn that proved to be uncontrollable. In the past these forces were contained by the combined actions of external and regional actors, and American participation in the containment of these forces was no doubt crucial. America's role in regional politics has obviously continued into the current era, as demonstrated by its involvement in Somali affairs. Whether such action is a reflection of the residue of past obligations or suggests a redefinition of its role in world politics must be thoroughly examined. Dispassionate analyses and reinterpretations of American regional interests, priorities, options, and consequences should enrich the pedagogical coherence of our understanding of the structural relationship between American foreign policy and the politics of the African Horn. This work intends to fill that gap, but first a broad description of the paradigmatic imperative and scope of the work is in order.

Academic tradition suggests that American foreign policy may best be understood in terms of two contradictory orientations: isolationism and internationalism. Both are purportedly rooted in the belief that American values, institutions, experiences, and missions are unique and exceptional. According to this dominant perspective, the crucial difference between the two tendencies is one of means rather than ends. Isolationism contends that the unique character of American virtues, ideals, and institutions would be best preserved by abandoning worldly concerns and leading other states by example. George Washington's now- famous admonition that the United States should stay clear of foreign alliances is believed by isolationists to be the only reliable measure of guidance in the conduct of foreign policy, and this belief has held sway over the American government at various times over the years.

On the other hand, the dominance of internationalism at any particular moment of the nation's history has pulled policy-makers in the opposite direction, as many have opined that the U.S. has a moral obligation to transform the international system through its active participation. This purportedly explains the outward thrust of American foreign policy in the past. Simply stated, whenever the U.S. intervened abroad, its actions were rationalized in terms of the welfare of those affected. At the root of this version of American foreign policy lay . . .

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