Media reports presented Kamala Harris’s recent trip to Africa as a historic departure for US policy toward the continent. Beneath the hype, however, the Biden administration is carrying on with the same militarized, self-serving approach as its predecessors.
Elizabeth Schmidt is professor emeritus of history at Loyola University Maryland and the author of six books about Africa. Her most recent book is Foreign Intervention in Africa After the Cold War: Sovereignty, Responsibility, and the War on Terror.
Pope Francis’s recent visit to the Democratic Republic of the Congo has focused world attention on a region long exploited by outsiders. But it should not require a visit from the pope for the ravages of colonialism and war to be taken seriously.
From the Cold War to the war on terror, Washington has backed a series of Ethiopian governments while turning a blind eye to their human rights abuses. The Biden administration’s appeasement of Abiy Ahmed’s government is the latest example of this shabby record.
Since the 1990s, no government has been able to control the whole of Somalia’s territory. Lurid news reports about piracy and terrorism obscure the fact that big powers like the US have repeatedly intervened in the country’s affairs and worsened its condition.
Joe Biden has announced the return of US ground troops to Somalia. Far from helping Somalis, the long, destructive history of US intervention since the 1970s has merely worsened their country’s deep crisis and fueled the rise of the terrorist group al-Shabaab.
For too long, military force and myopic power plays have dominated US foreign policy toward Africa. We need an entirely different approach — one that allows ordinary Africans the space to build a more just and democratic continent.