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The Superpowers and Africa

The Constraints of a Rivalry, 1960-1990

That Africa—one of the superpowers’ crucial diplomatic and economic battlegrounds—now verges on political developments as dramatic as those of eastern Europe compels us to consider the tremendous influence that East and West have wielded in recent African political development. Drawing from American diplomatic archives, firsthand interviews, and the African and international press, Zaki Laidï presents a historical analysis of how the dialectical relationships of the United States, Soviet Union, and African actors evolved to their present state.

The lapse of European influence in the 1960s left a diplomatic void, which the superpowers rushed to fill. Just as Dien Bien Phû and the Suez crisis thrust Asia and the Near East, respectively, into the diplomatic spotlight, so the Angolan crisis lent a multifaceted cast to Africa’s international relations. The ebb and flow of African crises is now linked to the rhythm of superpower relations, but Laidï is quick to warn that Africa’s internal political circumstances shape the boundaries for external influence and constrain any efforts of the superpowers to exert total control.

Laidï’s provocative study, here in its first English translation, addresses diplomatic strategy, often neglected economic considerations, the growing influence of the Bretton Woods institutions, and the decline of French influence in Africa.

258 pages | 4 maps | 6.00 x 9.00 | © 1990

African Studies

Political Science: Diplomacy, Foreign Policy, and International Relations

Table of Contents

List of Maps and Tables
Abbreviations and Acronyms
Introduction to the American Edition
Introduction to the French Edition
1. The Trial of Decolonization (1960-1964)
2. Africa Marginalized? (1965-1974)
3. The Angolan Crisis
4. The United States: A Reluctant Ally
5. The Soviet Union: Thwarted Plans
6. Conclusion
Select Bibliography

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