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America’s African shame Susan Williams' 'White Malice' shows how destructive US imperialism was

We're happy to use child labour if it's abroad (Chris Ratcliffe/Bloomberg via Getty Images)


September 1, 2021   7 mins

When Franklin Roosevelt stopped off in The Gambia, it struck him as a rather dismal old British colony. It was January 1943, and FDR was en route to the Casablanca Conference, where the Allies would issue their demand for “unconditional surrender” from the Axis powers. Travelling through the streets of Bathurst  —  now known as Banjul  —  he was appalled at the poverty. “Those people are treated worse than the livestock,” he said in dismay to his son Elliott. “Their cattle live longer!”

The experience hardened his belief that European colonialism was out of date. In August 1941, in discussions on the Atlantic Charter  —  which laid out the Allied goals for a post-WWII order  —  FDR stressed the inclusion of an article on self-determination, much to Winston Churchill’s anxiety. Roosevelt insisted that a precondition for a peaceful world was the development of “backward countries”, but that one-sided colonial trade agreements — like those of the British Empire — were why those countries “are still as backward as they are”.

American leaders have long liked to position themselves as opponents of European colonialism. John F. Kennedy, during the 1960 Presidential election, declared that the US should side with third world nationalist movements. After all, America itself is the product of thirteen colonies emancipating themselves from the British Empire and building a democratic republic. That revolution, which took place 245 years ago, has since been a model for movements worldwide. Vietnam’s nationalist leader Ho Chi Minh, for instance, explicitly invoked the American Declaration of Independence as inspiration.

America, then, claims to stand for a liberal international order composed of independent nations, dedicated to promoting peace, prosperity and freedom. In theory, anyway. In practice, America did not become a benign superpower after the Second World War; it became an empire in its own right. It did not liberate European colonies; it inherited them and made them American.

In Indochina, the US supported the French colonial regime, before replacing it as the occupying force — leading to the original forever war. In the Middle East, the US replaced Britain as well as France as the imperial power ne plus ultra — a project that, as recent front pages graphically demonstrate, hasn’t ended well. But American interventionism in Africa is less widely understood. A revelatory, meticulous new book by Susan Williams — based on declassified documents and new testimony — has done a lot to correct this.

Africa, Williams suggests in White Malice, has long been of “central importance” in the vision of American foreign policy planners. During the second world war, in response to Hitler’s armies conquering most of North Africa, the US built a number of air bases on the continent  — in Liberia, for instance  —  to prevent its enemies using West Africa as a platform to attack the Americas. The OSS (the forerunner to the CIA) established an Africa service with three field bases in Ghana, South Africa and Ethiopia. And the Manhattan Project — the secret program to develop the first nuclear weapons — made the Congo, with all its natural resources, central to American foreign policy.

The Uranium used to create the first atomic bombs originated from the Shinkolobwe mine in the Katanga province in Southern Congo. In 1942, a band of OSS agents were assigned to secure the mine, holding the richest Uranium in the world, to stop it falling into Nazi hands. They were also tasked with covertly transporting the Uranium  —  disguised as “diamonds” —  to the US, via airports in Elizabethville and Leopoldville designed by the Americans to ensure reliable transport. Shinkolobwe’s role in the Manhattan Project, as Williams notes, “was shrouded in secrecy”. Journalists were not allowed any information about the mine — let alone to visit it. It’s name and location was wiped off the map in 1942 and security was akin to a “fortress”, with armed guards patrolling 24/7.

The Congolese miners were hyper-exploited. They were paid terribly, were frequently whipped by overseers and had little protection as they handled high-grade Uranium — which caused many to suffer long term health conditions. In other words, they were no better off than they had been under the Belgian colonisers.

After the war, the withdrawal of European empires left a void. And so most of America’s military bases in Africa remained. Pan-Africanism, on the ascendancy, was influencing civil rights and black radical movements among black Americans. The Soviet enemy was threatening to gain influence over the newly independent African nations. America, Williams writes, had to “recapture Africa”, putting it back into Western hands “by any means necessary”.

The CIA was anxious to get a foothold in these newly independent nations early to contain any possible spread of Communism. In the 1950s, the CIA’s African division developed an elaborate network of front organisations to acquire information and intelligence from across Africa. It funded journals and concerts, and established contacts with journalists, writers and businessmen who would become informants. For instance, Maurice Tempelsman (known for his relationship with Jackie Kennedy), who had big financial interests in Africa, sat on the board of the African-American Institute, a CIA front group. His business associate, George Wittman — whose company operated in a dozen African countries — was recruited into the agency in 1951, and helped produce a massive study of Ghana. The CIA also developed a close relationship with the apartheid regime in South Africa. It was they who informed the South African police as the whereabouts of Nelson Mandela.

Meanwhile American policymakers, like the European colonisers before them, believed that Africans weren’t quite ready for “orderly development” and “progress towards self-determination”. Williams quotes the vice-President Richard Nixon advocating that the US side with the “strong men of Africa”  —  the tyrants, in other words  —  to maintain stability and cultivate military regimes. This would counter the Communist threat. President Eisenhower agreed. Despite grandiloquent rhetoric in support of democracy, then, US foreign policy actively supported anti-democratic movements in Africa.

Because of this, the US was perpetually irritated by the two main heroes of Williams’ book: Kwame Nkrumah, who became the first leader of independent Ghana in 1957, and Patrice Lumumba, the first prime minister of the DRC. Both were huge icons of anti-colonialism. And both were Pan Africanists, who believed in the dream of a united, strong and sovereign African continent  —  one that would be an influential power bloc on the world stage independent of both the West and the Soviet Union.

Nkrumah was initially well-disposed to the US; immediately after Ghana’s independence, relations were relatively “friendly and fruitful”. But by 1960, Accra was promoting an “African centric” foreign policy and Ghana was becoming the HQ for anti-colonial insurgents from all across Africa. With his quest for an atomic reactor, and his close relationship with Lumumba, Nkrumah was now seen as a “subversive”. His “tendency to support extremist elements in neighbouring African countries”, as a State Department document put it, troubled America.

The motivation behind Nkrumah’s nuclear program was the aim to modernise Ghana within a generation. According to Williams, Nkrumah got support from Canada to build a reactor, but US pressure ceased this collaboration, so he decided to appeal to the Soviet Union instead — raising US suspicions. It is worth noting here that the US gave a nuclear reactor to Congo in 1958, when it was still a Belgian colony, and also supplied enriched Uranium to apartheid South Africa for its nuclear program. It seems that, for the US, “a necessary qualification in Africa for access to a reactor”, as Williams notes, “was colonial occupation or white minority rule”. In other words, atomic energy was only appropriate in white hands, not sovereign black hands.

Throughout the 1960s, relations between Accra and Washington would deteriorate. Nkrumah publicly called the US a “neo-colonial” power in a book titled Neo-Colonialism: The Last Stage of Imperialism. He became paranoid and more dictatorial in his rule. The state monopolised the media; critics who “disrespected” the President were jailed. Economic mismanagement was rife; many state-run companies made losses. The cost of living rose dramatically, which led to protests on the streets, and repression in return. Discontent with Nkrumah’s rule within the armed forces produced easy allies for the CIA, who had been flirting with the idea of regime change in Ghana since 1961. In 1966, Nkrumah was overthrown in a military coup indirectly supported by Britain and America, while on an official visit to China. Shortly afterwards, the pro-Western military junta swiftly shut down the Kwembaya atomic reactor.

America’s main gripe against Patrice Lumumba, meanwhile, was his desire to keep Katanga  —  Congo’s richest province, where separatism was building  —  as part of the Congo. The province was the home of lucrative American and Belgian mining companies; Lumumba wanted to nationalise the industry. And so the CIA suspected Lumumba was a secret Communist and in “Soviet pay” — even though ideologically he was a nationalist. His reputation tarnished by these suspicions, Lumumba’s appeal for UN intervention during the Congo crisis of 1960 fell on deaf ears. With Belgian support, Katanga seceded. Around 100,000 people were killed. Lumumba was captured and executed by Katangan separatists in January 1961.

In 1960, as Williams reveals through recently declassified documents, the CIA had officially approved a plan to fund and help organise opposition to Lumumba — with the expressed purpose of overthrowing him and replacing him with a “moderate”, pro-Western strong man. The prime candidate mentioned for this role by CIA Director Allen Dulles was Colonel Mobutu, who organised a coup against Lumumba on later that year, but wouldn’t fully come to power until 1965  —  via another American-backed coup. Williams presents unequivocal evidence that Mobutu had been an informant for Belgian intelligence and the CIA for years previously.

The ousting of Nkrumah in Ghana and Lumumba in the Congo followed a similar pattern of US interventions: such “deliberate violations of democracy” had taken place in Iran in 1953 or in Guatemala in 1954. The CIA would support in various ways  — indirectly, and sometimes directly  —  the overthrow of governments that had been democratically elected. These governments were deemed unacceptable by America because they had the misfortune of believing that their nations deserved to exercise self-determination, not simply have it in name. The US would then help install brutal dictatorships — like Mobutu’s — that used torture to repress critics and treated the national treasury as their own personal piggy bank. For American policymakers, this was an acceptable outcome, even though it contradicted the values of their own constitution. Communism was kept in check. Black lives did not matter.

We are in the midst of a frenzied post-colonial “reckoning” but, with notable exceptions (like Vincent Bevin’s absorbing Jakarta Method, published last year), this reckoning has focused on events that took and take place on American soil. For all the interest in black people, there has been little interest, even on the Left, in the African continent — except as a historic victim of Europe. The enemy is 19th century colonialism, which gave rise to the slave trade; 20th century American imperialism has been largely ignored.

But as refugees pour out of Kabul, dragging the failures of American intervention into the spotlight, the revelations in White Malice are perfectly timed. Perhaps now we’ll collectively object to the fact that American companies  —  Apple, Google, Dell  —  are using child miners in Cobalt mines in the Congo. Perhaps we will realise that little has changed in America’s relationship to Africa since the Cold War.


Ralph Leonard is a British-Nigerian writer on international politics, religion, culture and humanism.

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David George
David George
2 years ago

“Africa will never recover from US imperialism”
Seriously? Never?
The relatively minor and localised influence of post war USA in Africa can hardly account for the ignorance, poverty, corruption and tyranny that characterises that continent. Obviously everything’s all whiteys fault but I think Africa has more pressing issues than what happened, or didn’t happen, half a century ago. The ruthless and violent religious terrorists (Boko Haram, ISIS, al Shabaab etc.) and the neo imperialist ambitions of China for instance.

Galeti Tavas
Galeti Tavas
2 years ago
Reply to  David George

Most people do not know of how FDR forced the European Allies to mostly de-Colonize immediately post WWII. He imposed this on the Europeans – in my opinion, partly to break their economy, same as in my conspiracy laden mind how he refused to invade through Greece, going into Marseille instead, and doing absolutely no good, despite Churchill’s pleadings – and so allowed Russia to take the Balkans and East Europe, to also break Europe – my guess is he was sick of war in Europe (Or then thought it was time for USA)

“When Franklin Roosevelt stopped off in The Gambia, ** Travelling through the streets of Bathurst — now known as Banjul — he was appalled at the poverty. “Those people are treated worse than the livestock,” he said in dismay to his son Elliott. â€œTheir cattle live longer!”
The experience hardened his belief that European colonialism was out of date. In August 1941, in discussions on the Atlantic Charter — which laid out the Allied goals for a post-WWII order — FDR stressed the inclusion of an article on self-determination, much to Winston Churchill’s anxiety.”

I have always believed this result was to turn the colonies out onto their own resources without having fully trained up an administrative and technocrat class of locals, to take over the work of growth and stability. India and the 1946 India vote, Attlee, the Partition, all the greatest example of too fast an exit… And same with much of Africa.

I think Colonialism could have had a much more beneficial ending, if only it was not so politically rushed, and hugely underfunded by the bankrupted Europeans. It is a great pity Trueman did not set up a sort of Decolonizing Marshall Plan sort of thing. If West just pulled out of Africa and left total vacuum would not have been better than how it was managed. The writer thinks America and Europeans stayed around too long, I think they pulled out too fast and without sufficient investment. But the past was a different land, and who knows.

A Spetzari
A Spetzari
2 years ago
Reply to  Galeti Tavas

I have always believed this result was to turn the colonies out onto their own resources without having fully trained up an administrative and technocrat class of locals, to take over the work of growth and stability. India and the 1946 India vote, Attlee, the Partition, all the greatest example of too fast an exit
 And same with much of Africa.

Yes this was the case for UK colonies. The Foreign Office and other colonial entities had established plans for a more gradual hand over of authority as they knew most countries were not ready for an immediate transfer of power.
However pressure from the Left in the UK, and the US among others, caused a rapid acceleration of decolonisation – and arguably most of the chaos that ensued for years after

Cheryl Jones
Cheryl Jones
2 years ago
Reply to  A Spetzari

Having colonies is expensive, time consuming and frustrating. I imagine both colonised and colonisers get sick of it.

Galeti Tavas
Galeti Tavas
2 years ago
Reply to  Cheryl Jones

Have you read Kipling’s Poem, ‘White Man’s Burden’?

Scott Norman Rosenthal
Scott Norman Rosenthal
2 years ago
Reply to  Cheryl Jones

However, mining, etc., is lucrative for corporations.

R S Foster
R S Foster
2 years ago
Reply to  A Spetzari

…I’d be very interested to know if the development trajectory of UK Colonies accelerated or decelerated after we left; although I suspect we could all guess the answer pretty accurately…

Galeti Tavas
Galeti Tavas
2 years ago
Reply to  A Spetzari

Clement Attlee was obsessed with de-colonizing – he was very much the wrong man at the wrong time. Like the later Labourite Blair, great harm was caused to the world by this man thinking he was doing the right thing.

Biden is the latest incarnation of the Left wrecking everything. I know Attlee is loved for his NHS – but it was coming anyway, and it could have been better, I think more along French lines of some personal contribution so people fund it more, and also feel they have some stake in it – as what is free is abused.

Charles Hedges
Charles Hedges
2 years ago
Reply to  Galeti Tavas

Britain was bankrupt by 1942. Attlee realised we did not have the funds. The main issues for Britain was the Welfare State, building homes for those whose houses had been bombed or were squalid slums and supoorting NATO and Nuclear Defence. Post 1948 there was threat of communists taking over in France , Italy and Greece. By 1945 Britain had been through two world wars and a depression. By creating a Welfare State he removed any support for the communists and a class war.
I would suggest that Attlee and Bevin did more to stop communism any anybody else. He sent British jungle troops to Vietnam who nearly defeated the Vietminh but had to to be sent back to India in 1946 and Special Forces to Greece to fight the communists. Attlee and Bevin made sure communists never gained politcal power.

Alexander Morrison
Alexander Morrison
2 years ago

I would like to read this book, and I am sure Ralph Leonard has given an accurate account of its arguments – but from his description it sounds as if it suffers from a common failing of modern American scholarship, namely that in a well-meaning desire to give an account of the USA’s crimes it always places American agency front and centre of events, and does not give enough consideration to local actors. Ironically enough by attributing so much importance to American intervention in post-independence African states you end up marginalising African agency and writing Africans out of their own history. Certainly the examples of American interference here are particularly egregious, but I’m not sure they can be held to characterise the history of every African state since independence, nor even in these cases was the American role necessarily decisive.
There is a hint of this in the description of Nkrumah’s fall, where the CIA seems to have taken advantage of domestic discontent created by his own increasingly erratic and tyrannical behaviour. Even in Congo the Belgians, Rhodesians and South Africans also played a role in destabilising Lumumba’s regime. Another problem with this focus on the US is that it tends to overlook Soviet interventions in Africa, which in Ghana and Congo may have been a figment of the CIA’s imagination, but elsewhere were very real, and often propped up equally unsavoury dictators (Mengistu’s Ethiopia, anyone?). This is now very well-documented through the work of Cold War historians such as Odd Arne Westad.
Finally (and here I take a deep breath as I realise I am treading in very sensitive territory), I’d be interested to know how Leonard would contrast European colonialism, in its many and varied forms (there were really significant differences between the British, French, Belgian and Portuguese regimes just in West Africa) and the arms-length subsidies, gatekeeper states, unequal economic relationships and rule by local dictators which in many (not all) cases followed it. The one thing you could potentially say about colonial regimes was that they had a long-term stake in the countries they ruled – their officials might spend their entire careers there (in the British case they almost certainly would). They had power, often exercised very unjustly, but they also had responsibility, and faced a degree of accountability for their actions (again particularly true in the British case, where there was some Parliamentary oversight of what they did). This was not true of the American imperialism which followed, whose actions were long-range, secretive and could always be disavowed.

Galeti Tavas
Galeti Tavas
2 years ago

It is Political, not history.

GA Woolley
GA Woolley
2 years ago

‘The enemy is 19th century colonialism, which gave rise to the slave trade;’ And this column is supposed to be taken seriously?

Galeti Tavas
Galeti Tavas
2 years ago
Reply to  GA Woolley

Some Livingston books need to be read, how in all his African Traveled he was left alone, even protected by the Arab colonizers/slavers who controled the interior, and parts of the Coast, such was Livingston’s personal aura.

Saudi Arabia outlawed slavery in 1962.

Scott Norman Rosenthal
Scott Norman Rosenthal
2 years ago
Reply to  GA Woolley

Obviously, the Slave Trade pre-dated the 19th Century.

Charles Hedges
Charles Hedges
2 years ago

Yes it is mentioned in Sumerian texts.

Scott Norman Rosenthal
Scott Norman Rosenthal
2 years ago
Reply to  Charles Hedges

Not the trans-Atlantic slave trade. That is under discussion here.

David Shepherd
David Shepherd
2 years ago
Reply to  GA Woolley

Read it again! He is saying that the Left believes the enemy is 19th century colonialism.

Pascal Bercker
Pascal Bercker
2 years ago

Mr. Leonard – being of Nigerian descent – must surely know this Interesting fact:
“Nigeria has a history of slavery and actively participates in the slave trade.[1][2] Slavery is now illegal internationally and in Nigeria.[2] However, legality is often overlooked with different pre-existing cultural traditions, which view certain actions differently.[2] In Nigeria, certain traditions and religious practices have led to “the inevitable overlap between cultural, traditional, and religious practices as well as national legislation in many African states” which has had the power to exert extra-legal control over many lives resulting in modern-day slavery.[3] The most commons forms of modern slavery in Nigeria are human trafficking and child labor.[2] Because modern slavery is difficult to recognize, it has been difficult to combat this practice despite international and national efforts.[2]”
Slavery in Nigeria — Wikipedia Republished // WIKI 2
If you are not embarrassed to use the term “white malice”, neither then am I embarrassed to use the term “black complicity” – since the former was made possible by the latter, which continues to this very day.
  

Jonathan A Gallant
Jonathan A Gallant
2 years ago

While I do not contest Mr. Leonard’s account of the US treatment of Nkrumah and Lumumba, his knowledge of earlier history is thrown into question by misstatements like this: “The enemy is 19th century colonialism, which gave rise to the slave trade.”
The slave trade flourished in the 17th and 18th centuries; the 19th century, which comes after the 17th and 18th, was when the slave trade was outlawed, first by the UK and the US, and then by other states. So, 19th century colonialism in Africa—symbolized by the Berlin Conference on Africa in 1884-5—could hardly “give rise” to something that had already been abolished.

Galeti Tavas
Galeti Tavas
2 years ago

The writer of ‘White Malice’ seemingly has such high regard of subtle machinations of a very few Americans to utterly dominate the Continent that I wonder how her book would read on the results of tens of thousands of combat troops and the greatest amount of the highest sophistication of weaponry, and 2$ Trillion dollars, spent over 20 years, and this fallowing 20 years of war driving Russia out, yet failed to bring the simple country of Afghanistan to their control.

I wonder what she would make of the Vietnam Colonial history along similar lines to Africa, and their burgeoning industrial successes now, after throwing off the Colonizers through a protracted war.

Were Idi Amin and Mugabe also CIA informants? Charles Taylor of Liberia, Joseph Kony in the CAR?

When I hear of the wicked Dulls Brothers I am always utterly appalled – but still, I have a hard time understanding how they got such spectacular results by the meagerest levels of intervention, like the locals were not that passionate about it (we all remember Mosaddegh and Guatemala ((and Bay of Pigs)) A quote from Allen Dulls, and he would know this better than anyone:

“”There is, as far as I know, only one certain rule in international relations. Interference by one country in the internal affairs of another causes resentment. It is sure to produce a result exactly the opposite of that intended..”

But seemingly the writer does not support this line, as she implies the USA was always very successful in interfering in Africa.

Lesley van Reenen
Lesley van Reenen
2 years ago
Reply to  Galeti Tavas

The US wielded and still to an extent wields huge influence in parts of Africa for a myriad reasons, including South Africa where I live. The thrust in SA during the 70s and 80s was mainly anti-communism iro the war against the Cubans which was waged in Angola.

Last edited 2 years ago by Lesley van Reenen
Galeti Tavas
Galeti Tavas
2 years ago

Was/is USA a malignant force in Africa?

I remember the Cubans in Angola, what players on the world table they were back then.

Cheryl Jones
Cheryl Jones
2 years ago
Reply to  Galeti Tavas

The fact the book is called ‘White Malice’ renders it a source not to be taken seriously

Dapple Grey
Dapple Grey
2 years ago

As other posters have said, China is rapidly extending its empire in Africa.

Lesley van Reenen
Lesley van Reenen
2 years ago

Anyone interested in this subject should watch the movie about Patrice Lumumba called simply ‘Lumumba’. A shocking and hugely upsetting account of the actions that led to the murder of Lumumba by the US (CIA) and the Belgians, in order to secure their political and commercial interests. He didn’t stand a chance.

Galeti Tavas
Galeti Tavas
2 years ago

Leslie, I just went looking for a book I read on the Belgian Congo of the 1960s to quote it here in case you read it – but could not find it – But I did find my copy of ‘The Magic Mountian’ which got a review here on Unherd, and I rambled on a lot of my of my similar feelings in posts – and I put it by my bed, can one read such a book anymore? With the internet always calling?

I heard storied of Mobutu which I wish I had not as they still bother me… great pity Lumumba was shot – although I think he really was Communist leaning (May be wrong), but we know history went really bad after.

Time for a CIA reckoning though. Maybe Trump will be the man to do it.

Galeti Tavas
Galeti Tavas
2 years ago

If refugees are to be taken I would put SA Farmers at the top of the list. We have some SA posters here – what about it? (I had listened to some Katie Hopkins on their plight – she got canceled for that (and for much else) The Left cancels when it has no argument – as it has the complete power to do so.

Peter Mott
Peter Mott
2 years ago

Portuguese and Dutch visitors to Kongo in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries remarked on the “miserable poverty” there. Technology was rudimentary by European standards, with the Kongolese having neither writing, the wheel, nor the plow.

Why Nations Fail (p. 87). Profile. Kindle Edition. 

The reason was that anything extra they produced would be taken from them by what Acemoglu calls the “extractive” institutions of the then Kingdom of Kongo. The oppression of the Congolese goes back to the 1400s and no doubt before.
The persistence and resilience of “extractive” (oppressive) institutions is extraordinary. Can they ever be eliminated?

Cheryl Jones
Cheryl Jones
2 years ago

As soon as this article referenced a book called ‘White Malice’ I switched off.

hayden eastwood
hayden eastwood
2 years ago

I personally don’t find the problem of imperlalism, in and of itself, a satisfactory explanation for the trajectory of much of the continent in the last few hundred years. This is because:

  1. North Africa and Southern Africa have had very different trajectories. Egypt, for example, produced mathematics, architecture and much else, while Southern Africa remained trapped in the early iron age.
  2. Homo sapiens sapiens have been living in Africa in their anatomically modern form for 200 000 years. If we take it that imperialism is responsible for the last 300 years of African difficulties, we are still missing an explanation for the previous 199,700 years.

I have 3 hypotheses in light of the above:

  1. Much of Africa would have severe problems in the absence of external influences.
  2. Much of the cause of the disparity between North and Southern Africa is because of two factors: 1. trade and 2. conquest and war, which allowed new ideas and innovations to be exchanged. The South, inaccessible because of impassable rivers running only East to West, as well as huge forests and deserts to its North, only came into contact with foreign peoples’ and cultures very late in the day. In this context, then, the problem with Southern Africa from a technological point of view, was not that it was colonised too much, but that it was colonised too little.
  3. The West, in general, imagines itself to be more powerful than it Afghanistan is only one of many examples of this. It will be a welcome lesson when Westerners realise that there are problems in this world larger than their ability to fix them.
Last edited 2 years ago by hayden eastwood
Jacob Mason
Jacob Mason
2 years ago

It is good to find more about the international actions of the US (my own nation) in recent decades, for the good and the bad.
I find it easy to believe that the OSS and CIA supported these kinds of behaviors in the 1940s and following, and I am sure there were at least some negative consequences.
After all, haven’t we seen the same with the Arab Spring uprisings?

My skepticism is piqued, however, when any society/nation/people is set out to be a complete bad actor with the other side being blameless.
I am also increasingly resistant to claims which make racism the primary cause of a bad actor’s behavior. (Case in point: as other commenters have pointed out, the US was not particularly generous to some ‘white’ European nations either.)
Human nature is fallen.

I am sure there were evils committed by US governments, organizations, and individuals. We should learn lessons from these events and hopefully work for their repair.
I am reluctant to take lessons from a writer who seems to make America out to be little more than “the great Satan”.

Peter LR
Peter LR
2 years ago

This article has made me wonder if a book exists about all colonialism written by someone without a political axe to grind. I’m not sanguine about the possibility but it would be very good reading.

Michael Kellett
Michael Kellett
2 years ago

American hypocrisy and sanctimony are as old as the United States themselves. For an example of egregious treatment of native peoples, we need look no further than the near genocide of native Americans across the continent; and of course, the disgraceful treatment of coloured people, in the southern USA especially, was at least as bad in 1943 and for long afterwards, as anything observed by Roosevelt in The Gambia. US empire building pre-dates even the mid-20th Century, with its territorial grabs in the Philippines, Panama, the Caribbean and in the Pacific. The USA was and still is, just another very powerful state that pushes other states around in order to achieve its objectives, no different to other powerful states before it and no doubt those still to come.

Last edited 2 years ago by Michael Kellett
Scott Norman Rosenthal
Scott Norman Rosenthal
2 years ago

Vietnam became a war between the North and the South. The “Viet Cong” were largely destroyed after the TET offensive and Operation Phoenix. That is what the North wanted. The elimination of rivals.

Earl King
Earl King
2 years ago

The Author obviously thinks that some African intellectual awakening would have occurred were it not for European and American involvement. I can safely say we’ll never know…..but his contention is dubious. Why is it that Black Activist who throw around the evil of whiteness never discuss who actually stated and maintained the African Slave Trade. Africans. Black Africans. Talk about not caring about the Black Man….they only have themselves to directly blame. That others exploited their lack of concern for their fellow Africans is to be expected. Humans are only waking up to human rights. We have spent many centuries being cruel to each other.
Africa suffers from one problem.Tribalism. It is no longer European or American colonizers. Africa is largely self ruled these days…..and by in large it hasn’t done much better than the colonizers. Cruelty, corruption, war, and tribalism still exists. I will remind this gentleman the Pres. Bush did much to help with the Aides epidemic. Bill Gates alone is trying to cure the scourge of Malaria. Countless amounts of Aid and Relief and Food has been sent by America to feed Africans for generations. Live Aide Concerts raised money for famine in Ethiopia.
Past sins? How about this Author look at Africans past sins…..instead of blaming African problems all on Europe or American or white people. Hundreds of thousands of white people have been offering help to African for century if not longer.

Andrew Holmes
Andrew Holmes
2 years ago

Many of these contributions made me think of President Johnson’s Great Society. It’s premise was that obviously people living in slums must prefer to live in modern towers. After all, that represented the thought of policy makers who lived in manses. And so, at great expense, America constructed vertical slums while simultaneously destroying vibrant communities. This comment doesn’t celebrate slums; it decrys the impulse to define righteousness from outside.
As in the US, so in Afghanistan, and Africa. No number of indigenous, highly educated administrators and technocrats will succeed with policies neither understood nor shared by much of the populace, particularly when those policies disrupt the known, shared expectations that provide a community’s glue. Unless, of course, you wish to emulate Stalin, Mao, and others of the 20th century.

Chris Wheatley
Chris Wheatley
2 years ago

Interesting to see if Chinese imperialism will improve things. I suspect that it will.

Franz Von Peppercorn
Franz Von Peppercorn
2 years ago
Reply to  Chris Wheatley

Maybe. They are more popular than the west, for now.

hayden eastwood
hayden eastwood
2 years ago

Franz, from my observation of Zimbabwe, Zambia and Mozambique, this is not the case. The Chinese have a terrible reputation for their treatment of workers. My friend, in mining, the other day recounted to me how the Chinese mine he worked on had a manager who beat his workers with whips. In Zambia, dislike of the Chinese is severe enough to command strong votes for anti Chinese candidates during voting years.

GA Woolley
GA Woolley
2 years ago
Reply to  Chris Wheatley

Chinese aims in Africa are entirely selfish; buying up current and future supplies of resources, agricultural land and food production with the enrichment of corrupt African leaders and their cronies, while piling up massive debts for Africans over infrastructure projects which will provide the Chinese with a stranglehold on future governments. All the while knowing that a growing African population, faced with increasing poverty, starvation, and joblessness, will export its problems to Europe.

Dapple Grey
Dapple Grey
2 years ago
Reply to  GA Woolley

Re debts, won’t the African leaders just refuse to repay the debts?

DA Johnson
DA Johnson
2 years ago
Reply to  Dapple Grey

That the African leaders either won’t or can’t repay their infrastructure debt is China’s purpose–when the African countries default, China will then “own” their infrastructure, including deep water ports. Many articles have been written about this “belt and road initiative” which China is pursuing relentlessly in Africa.

Galeti Tavas
Galeti Tavas
2 years ago
Reply to  DA Johnson

‘Debt Diplomacy’ is the Chinese thing now. Even in Europe

“Balkan country Montenegro may be forced to cede part of its territory to Beijing as the country is struggling to repay the $1 billion it owes to the Chinese government. Montenegro had borrowed money in 2015 from Beijing in a bid to pay a Chinese contractor to build a highway allowing faster access to remote parts of the country. But now, six years later, the work is nowhere near complete and the money has already been spent by the government. “