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Selected Publications written or edited by William Minter

2011 - African Migration, Global Inequalities, and Human Rights: Connecting the Dots.
Current African Issues Paper for Nordic Africa Institute.


August 1, 2010 - Oped in Providence Journal U.S.-Africa 'reset' requires honesty about America's wrongs
President Obama has inspired hope in Africa and around the world. Africans who heed his call to build the future, however, must still reckon with the stubborn fact that the United States can be an obstacle as well as a partner.


Spring, 2010 - Foreword to issue of Articulate - End "Aid," Invest in Global Public Goods
Let us agree that the "aid paradigm" is fundamentally flawed, in that it is based on a model of the rich "helping" the poor. But the paradigm advanced by free-market fundamentalism, that poor countries and poor people can and should lift themselves up by their bootstraps, without benefit of support from the wider society, is also fallacious.

April, 2010 - Zimbabwe: Demystifying Sanctions and Strengthening Solidarity, by Briggs Bomba and William Minter
In the case of Zimbabwe today, both supporters and opponents of sanctions exaggerate their importance. The international community, both global and regional, has other tools as well.

October, 2009 - Africa: Climate Change and Natural Resources, by William Minter and Anita Wheeler
Africa will suffer consequences out of all proportion to its contribution to global warming, which is primarily caused by greenhouse gas emissions from wealthy countries. But Africa can also make significant contributions to mitigating (i.e. limiting) climate change, by stopping tropical deforestation and ending gas flaring from oil production.

March, 2009 - Making Peace or Fueling War in Africa, by Daniel Volman and William Minter, for Foreign Policy in Focus html | pdf (283K)
Will de facto U.S. security policy toward the continent focus on anti-terrorism and access to natural resources and prioritize bilateral military relations with African countries? Or will the United States give priority to enhancing multilateral capacity to respond to Africa's own urgent security needs? If the first option is taken, it will undermine rather than advance both U.S. and African security.

February, 2009 - Inclusive Human Security: U. S. National Security Policy, Africa, and the African Diaspora, edited for TransAfrica Forum html (150K) | pdf (2.8M)
Fundamentally, it is necessary not only to present a new foreign policy face to the world, but to shape an international agenda that shows more and more Americans how our own security depends on that of others. The old civil rights adage that "none of us are free until all of us are free" has its corollary in an inclusive human security framework: "None of us can be secure until all of us are secure. "

April, 2008 - Migration and Global Justice, pamphlet written for American Friends Service Committee html | pdf (379K)
"As the global economy drives global inequality, movement across borders inevitably increases. If legal ways are closed, people trying to survive and to support their families will cross fences or set sail on dangerous seas regardless of the risks. "

December, 2007 - "The Armored Bubble: Military Memoirs from Apartheid's Warriors," pp. 147-152 in African Studies Review html | pdf (70K)
"The books reviewed in this essay are a small sample of one genre of war literature: detailed accounts of battle from the perspective of those among South Africa's military veterans who have no question that they were fighting a just cause in defense of their country. "

Jan 31, 2007 - Oped in Providence Journal "Don't replay Iraq in Horn of Africa"
"Somalia is not Iraq, of course. ... But the similarities are nevertheless substantial. The United States and Ethiopia cut short efforts at reconciliation ... They disregarded Somali and wider African opinion in an effort to kill alleged terrorists. And while chalking up military "victories," they aggravated long-term problems."

Jul 8, 2002 - "Invisible Hierarchies: Africa, Race, and Continuities in the World Order" (pdf)
"The failure to acknowledge race as a fundamental feature of today’s unequal world order remains a striking weakness of radical as well as conventional analyses of that order. Current global and national socioeconomic hierarchies are not mere residues of a bygone era of primitive accumulation. Just as it should be inconceivable to address the past, present, and future of American society without giving central attention to the role of African American struggles, so analyzing and addressing 21st-century structures of global inequality requires giving central attention to Africa."
In Science & Society, July, 2005

Jul 8, 2002 - "Aid—Let's Get Real"
"There is an urgent need to pay for such global public needs as the battles against AIDS and poverty by increasing the flow of real resources from rich to poor. But the old rationales and the old aid system will not do. ... For a real partnership, the concept of "aid" should be replaced by a common obligation to finance international public investment for common needs."
In The Nation, July 8, 2002, with Salih Booker.

Nov 3, 1992 - Oped in Christian Science Monitor "Savimbi Should Accept That Democracy Worked in Angola"
"Just one month after Angolans peacefully thronged polling stations in their first multiparty election ever, the conflict-battered Southern African country is on the brink of all-out war. ... The international community, including the US, has been unanimous, in urging Savimbi to accept the election results, but Savimbi and his close-knit group of top officers remain both unpredictable and militarily potent. The new conflict, which appears to the starting, will be hard to contain."

April, 1988 - "When Sanctions Worked: The Case of Rhodesia Reconsidered", with Elizabeth Schimdt, in African Affairs html (97K) | pdf (3.4M)
"Sanctions, while not the only factor in bringing majority rule to Rhodesia, made a significant long-term contribution to that result. ... Moreover, more strongly enforced sanctions could have been even more effective. If Rhodesia's petroleum lifeline had been severed and if South Africa had not served as a back door to international trade, ... the country could not have survived for more than a matter of months."

1968 - "Action against Apartheid," in Bruce Douglas, ed., Reflections on Protest: Student Presence in Political Conflict
"But the government usually seems to be a very distant and unresponsive target [for anti-apartheid protests]. Therefore exposure of U.S.A. business involvement in Southern Africa - by demonstrations, withdrawal campaigns, etc. - is at least equally important.

Aid—Let's Get Real

By Salih Booker & William Minter

This article appeared in the July 8, 2002 edition of The Nation.

The Africa trip of Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill and Irish rock star Bono produced a bumper harvest of photo ops and articles about aid to Africa. Unfortunately, media coverage was mired in the perennial and stale aid debate: Should we give more? Does it work?

If the O'Neill-Bono safari resulted in Washington finally paying more of its proper share for global health, education and clean water, that would be cause for applause. But any real change requires shifting the terms of debate. Indeed, the term "aid" itself carries the patronizing connotation of charity and a division of the world into "donors" and "recipients."

At the late June meeting in Canada of the rich countries known as the G8, aid to Africa will be high on the agenda. But behind the rhetoric, there is little new money--as evidenced by the just-announced paltry sum of US funding for AIDS--and even less new thinking. Despite the new mantra of "partnership," the current aid system, in which agencies like the World Bank and the US Treasury decide what is good for the poor, reflects the system of global apartheid that is itself the problem.

There is an urgent need to pay for such global public needs as the battles against AIDS and poverty by increasing the flow of real resources from rich to poor. But the old rationales and the old aid system will not do. Granted, some individuals and programs within that system make real contributions. But they are undermined by the negative effects of top-down aid and the policies imposed with it.

For a real partnership, the concept of "aid" should be replaced by a common obligation to finance international public investment for common needs. Rich countries should pay their fair share based on their privileged place in the world economy. At the global level, just as within societies, stacked economic rules unjustly reward some and punish others, making compensatory public action essential. Reparations to repair the damage from five centuries of exploitation, racism and violence are long overdue. Even for those who dismiss such reasoning as moralizing, the argument of self-interest should be enough. There will be no security for the rich unless the fruits of the global economy are shared more equitably.

As former World Bank official Joseph Stiglitz recently remarked in the New York Review of Books, it is "a peculiar world, in which the poor countries are in effect subsidizing the richest country, which happens, at the same time, to be among the stingiest in giving assistance in the world."

One prerequisite for new thinking about questions like "Does aid work?" is a correct definition of the term itself. Funds from US Agency for International Development, or the World Bank often go not for economic development but to prop up clients, dispose of agricultural surpluses, impose right-wing economic policies mislabeled "reform" or simply to recycle old debts. Why should money transfers like these be counted as aid? This kind of "aid" undermines development and promotes repression and violence in poor countries.

Money aimed at reaching agreed development goals like health, education and agricultural development could more accurately be called "international public investment." Of course, such investment should be monitored to make sure that it achieves results and is not mismanaged or siphoned off by corrupt officials. But mechanisms to do this must break with the vertical donor-recipient dichotomy. Monitoring should not be monopolized by the US Treasury or the World Bank. Instead, the primary responsibility should be lodged with vigilant elected representatives, civil society and media in countries where the money is spent, aided by greater transparency among the "development partners."

One well-established example of what is possible is the UN's Capital Development Fund, which is highly rated for its effective support for local public investment backed by participatory governance. Another is the new Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis & Malaria, which has already demonstrated the potential for opening up decision-making to public scrutiny. Its governing board includes both "donor" and "recipient" countries, as well as representatives of affected groups. A lively online debate among activists feeds into the official discussions.

Funding for agencies like these is now by "voluntary" donor contributions. This must change. Transfers from rich to poor should be institutionalized within what should ultimately be a redistributive tax system that functions across national boundaries, like payments within the European Union.

There is no immediate prospect for applying such a system worldwide. Activists can make a start, however, by setting up standards that rich countries should meet. AIDS activists, for example, have calculated the fair contribution each country should make to the Global AIDS Fund (see www.aidspan.org).

Initiatives like the Global AIDS Fund show that alternatives are possible. Procedures for defining objectives and reviewing results should be built from the bottom up and opened up to democratic scrutiny. Instead of abstract debates about whether "aid" works, rich countries should come up with the money now for real needs. That's not "aid," it's just a common-sense public investment.