Foreign Policy History

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A Perspective on Fifty Years of U.S. Africa Policy: The Nixon Legacy

The article surveys a half century of American policy toward African countries, tracing its origins to the policy advocated in the Dwight D. Eisenhower administration by then Vice President Richard Nixon that the United States should both acknowledge that African nationalism was a positive force and accept that the newly independent countries of the continent would need to focus on economic development. Tracing the evolution of U.S.-Africa interaction over the course of the succeeding ten presidencies, the author discerns a considerable continuity in Washington’s adherence to the twin Nixonian principles that economic development should be the core policy and that respect for African independence and “nationalism” constitutes the foundation of diplomatic relations.