Africa: a cold war proxy field?
- Oedipus the King and the vision.
- Hints by he old blind prophet, Tiresias.
- Psychological demise in Miller's Death of a Salesman.
In most discourses about International Relations, Africa is described as a ?victim' of external powers ? namely its former colonisers, the United States and, as far as the Cold War period is concerned, the Soviet Union. For instance, it is said that African wars in the post-colonial era were fueled by the Eastern and Western blocks. Interestingly enough, this framework of analysis is not only used among International Relations experts and students, but also by the Africans themselves. For instance, Sam Kobia, director of the ?Study and Action? Group of the Kenyan Section of the Ecumenical Council of Churches (a non-governmental religious organisation which regroups 120 countries), said in a press conference in August 26th, 1999 that ?Up to the fall of the Berlin Wall, political life on the African continent has been deeply influenced by the Cold War between both superpowers.? In his opinion, Western powers did everything they could to prevent the birth of democracy in Africa, because ?it is easier to control people under a dictatorship?.
[...] However, the aim of this essay was only to prove that the Cold War is not a satisfying explanation pattern of conflict in Africa. One should now wonder how foreign intervention may influence conflicts in post-Cold War Africa. US and European attitude towards Africa has shifted from an all-azimuths struggle against socialist forces, to a policy of promoting Human Rights and democracy. However, this a priori positive change leads us to moral dilemmas : for instance, can we decently stop providing aid to a country facing major threats under the pretence that its government is not democratic as the IMF or the USA have done in the past decade ? [...]
[...] As Charles Zorgbibe reminds us, the early 1960s, the United States displayed little interest in the political fate of Sub-Saharan Africa.? It was only after ?civil war flared up in the former Belgian Congo in 1960? that the USA took action, in this case by assassinating ?Prime Minister Patrice Lumumba, who seemed to be a proxy for Moscow.? Basically, once the USSR or the USA had become ally with a state, the other superpower tried to contain it. This happened in the Horn of Africa and in Angola in the mid-seventies. [...]
[...] II) The forms of intervention The East-West rivalry thus led to a game of realpolitics, in which both the Soviets and the Americans used the same tools of Cold War geopolitics than in Asia or Latin America to promote their interests : containment and counterinsurgency the neglecting of moral issues in the name of raison d'état and active propaganda Containment and counterinsurgency As they could not fight each other directly, superpowers used strategies of containment and counterinsurgency in proxy wars. [...]