Development Strategies in Africa: Current Economic, Socio-Political, and Institutional Trends and Issues

By Aguibou Y. Yansane | Go to book overview

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DAVID ABERNATHY

In terms of Dr. Nolutshungu's very provocative remarks, I thought he made a very important point that applying Cold War categories makes it very difficult for both Africans and for non-Africans to make criticisms of countries or political systems on their side, for fear of being accused of giving support to one's ideological enemies, and makes it very difficult to be candid and have equanimity in one's understanding of different kinds of political systems.

I think with respect to the Cold War, though, we ought to ask, if the Cold War is not just a superpower conflict between the United States and the Soviet Union. To the extent that Africa has remained after the colonial situation very much in the purview of Europe and to the extent that France and Britain play their own foreign policies and are not simply doing what the United States tells them to do, I think one would have to see the special role that Europe plays, that the European countries play, which is not always the same as the role of the United States and which complicates the notion that the Cold War simply plays itself out, that the Cold War powers simply played themselves out in Africa. Europe is there as well.

I would agree that he is correct to stress the objective weakness of the Soviet Union, but it's also important to realize that the United States, given its world view, perhaps had an interest in exaggerating Soviet influence so that it is quite clear that the entry of Cuban troops into Angola was an absolutely formative event for the American right. It was the thing that under Reagan they had to do something to get rid of. So even if the Soviet Union wasn't powerful, if the United States thought it was, and if that helped to derive our policy, in a sense

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