Elizabeth SchmidtForeign Intervention in Africa: From the Cold War to the War on Terror

Cambridge University Press, 2013

by Jim Lance on January 21, 2015

Elizabeth Schmidt

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Elizabeth Schmidt‘s Foreign Intervention in Africa: From the Cold War to the War on Terror (Cambridge University Press, 2013) depicts the foreign political and military interventions in Africa during the periods of decolonization (1956-75) and the Cold War (1945-91), as well as the periods of state collapse (1991-2001) and the “global war on terror” (2001-10). In the first two periods, the most significant intervention was intercontinental. The United States, the Soviet Union, China, Cuba and the former colonial powers entangled themselves in numerous African conflicts. During the period of state collapse, the most consequential interventions were intracontinental. African governments, sometimes assisted by powers outside the continent, supported warlords, dictators, and dissident movements in neighboring countries and fought for control of their neighbors’ resources. The global war on terror, like the Cold War, increased the foreign military presence on the African continent and generated external support for repressive governments. In each of these cases, external interests altered the dynamics of internal struggles, escalating local conflicts into larger conflagrations, with devastating effects on African populations. Schmidt’s book is an excellent synthesis of the past 70 years of African history and politics. Her book is provocative, thoughtful and passionate. It is a superb book for students, general readers as well as scholars.

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