African Policy Reversal

July 14, 1978

Report Outline
Recent Changes in U.S. Policy
Foreign Involvement in Africa
U.S. Interests in the Continent
Special Focus

Recent Changes in U.S. Policy

Plan for Pan-African Peacekeeping Force

The Organization of African Unity (OAU) will open its 15th annual meeting in Khartoum, the capital of the Sudan, on July 19. The meeting may be the most critical since the OAU was set up in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, in May 1963. A proposal to create a pan-African peacekeeping force to intervene in African border disputes and forestall foreign intervention is backed by the United States and several of its allies, especially the former French colonies. But countries with close ties to the Soviet bloc have assailed it as a “neocolonial” plot. The OAU's Liberation Committee, in a preliminary meeting June 23 in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, denounced the plan and demanded that “the imperialists, their lackeys and their mercenaries in Africa” keep hands off the continent and let the African nations solve their own problems.

The issue of foreign involvement in Africa was brought to a head in May when 1,300 Belgian paratroopers and 600 French Foreign Legionnaires were flown — in U.S. planes — into Zaire's Shaba (formerly Katanga) province to repel an invasion by Katangese rebels based in Angola. The rebels seized Kolwezi, capital of copper-rich Shaba and held it for several days. The death toll reached at least 855, according to a body count by the International Red Cross, of which more than half were civilians, including 136 Europeans. The Belgian and French troops removed the city's 2,250 European residents and drove the invaders back into Angola. These troops were replaced in early June by a contingent of Moroccans, also airlifted in U.S. planes.

A year earlier, the same Katangese rebels had invaded Shaba, but were stopped short of Kolwezi by French-supported Moroccan and Zairian troops after more than a month and a half of fighting. At that time, U.S. involvement was limited to supplying 18 transport planes to carry supplies for the French operation. The Carter administration was silent on the issue of Cuban or Soviet support for the invaders. In May of this year, however, the administration responded vigorously, both in offering aircraft and supplies, and in denouncing Cuban responsibility for training and arming the Katangese.

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Jul. 14, 1978  African Policy Reversal
Sep. 03, 1976  Africa and the Big Powers
Apr. 04, 1975  Southern Africa in Transition
Dec. 06, 1974  Ethiopia in Turmoil
May 09, 1973  African Nation Building
Feb. 28, 1968  Nigeria at War
Nov. 02, 1966  White Outposts in Southern Africa
Feb. 03, 1965  Congo Dilemma
Aug. 12, 1964  Red Rivalry in Africa
May 22, 1963  Political Turmoil in Southern Africa
Nov. 02, 1960  Tribalism and Nationalism in Africa
Sep. 28, 1960  Education for Africans
Apr. 10, 1959  Power Struggles in Colonial Africa
Aug. 20, 1958  Algerian Conflicts
Apr. 09, 1958  White Supremacy in South Africa
Sep. 11, 1957  Future of Algeria
Apr. 03, 1957  Political Awakening of Black Africa
Sep. 17, 1952  Africa and the West
Feb. 20, 1952  Nationalism in North Africa
Dec. 04, 1942  War Resources in Africa
May 29, 1935  Pre-War and Post-War Imperialism in Africa
BROWSE RELATED TOPICS:
Imperialism, Colonization, and Independence Movements
Peacekeeping
Regional Political Affairs: Africa