In Foreign Intervention in Africa after the Cold War—interdisciplinary in approach and intended for nonspecialists—Elizabeth Schmidt provides a new framework for thinking about foreign political and military intervention in Africa, its purposes, and its consequences. She focuses on the quarter century following the Cold War (1991–2017), when neighboring states and subregional, regional, and global organizations and networks joined extracontinental powers in support of diverse forces in the war-making and peace-building processes. During this period, two rationales were used to justify intervention: a response to instability, with the corollary of responsibility to protect, and the war on terror.
Often overlooked in discussions of poverty and violence in Africa is the fact that many of the challenges facing the continent today are rooted in colonial political and economic practices, in Cold War alliances, and in attempts by outsiders to influence African political and economic systems during the decolonization and postindependence periods. Although conflicts in Africa emerged from local issues, external political and military interventions altered their dynamics and rendered them more lethal. Foreign Intervention in Africa after the Cold War counters oversimplification and distortions and offers a new continentwide perspective, illuminated by trenchant case studies.
Elizabeth Schmidt is a professor of history at Loyola University Maryland. Her previous books include Foreign Intervention in Africa: From the Cold War to the War on Terror; Cold War and Decolonization in Guinea, 1946–1958; Mobilizing the Masses: Gender, Ethnicity, and Class in the Nationalist Movement in Guinea, 1939–1958; Peasants, Traders, and Wives: Shona Women in the History of Zimbabwe, 1870–1939; and Decoding Corporate Camouflage: U.S. Business Support for Apartheid. More info →
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In September 1958, Guinea claimed its independence, rejecting a constitution that would have relegated it to junior partnership in the French Community. In all the French empire, Guinea was the only territory to vote “No.” Orchestrating the “No” vote was the Guinean branch of the Rassemblement Démocratique Africain (RDA), an alliance of political parties with affiliates in French West and Equatorial Africa and the United Nations trusts of Togo and Cameroon.
“Africa is no more prone to violent conflicts than other regions. Indeed, Africa’s share of the more than 180 million people who died from conflicts and atrocities in the twentieth century is relatively modest.… This is not to underestimate the immense impact of violent conflicts on Africa; it is merely to emphasize the need for more balanced debate and commentary.”
“These two volumes clearly demonstrate the efforts by a wide range of African scholars to explain the roots, routes, regimes and resolution of African conflicts and how to re-build post-conflict societies. They offer sober and serious analyses, eschewing the sensationalism of the western media and the sophistry of some of the scholars in the global North for whom African conflicts are at worst a distraction and at best a confirmation of their pet racist and petty universalist theories.”