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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.

Editor's Commentary

Don't replay Iraq in Horn of Africa

January 31, 2007

William Minter

For additional background, analysis, and links on Somalia, see http://www.africafocus.org/country/somalia.php.

William Minter is editor of the Washington-based AfricaFocus Bulletin This commentary originally appeared in the Providence Journal (http://www.projo.com) in Providence, Rhode Island.

Washington. As Congress debates how to withdraw from a failed war in Iraq and President Bush begins his troop surge, U.S. policymakers seem determined to replicate the Iraq debacle in Africa. In the last two months, Washington has backed an overwhelming Ethiopian invasion of neighboring Somalia and has launched air strikes on alleged terrorists, killing an unknown number of Somali civilians. The United States is now counting on the African Union to replace Ethiopia as the military sponsor of a weak Somali government.

Somalia is not Iraq, of course. Somalia's 11 million people are less than half of Iraq's 27 million. The African country is also flanked by two powerful neighbors that are U.S. military allies, Ethiopia and Kenya. Instead of sending in U.S. troops, Washington strategists have relied on Ethiopia for troops, tanks and planes, limiting the direct U.S. presence to air strikes and special forces. Somalia's clan divisions also differ profoundly from the sect-based schisms in Iraq. And the recently defeated regime was not an entrenched dictatorship but a diverse Islamic coalition that had brought security to the Somali capital for the first time in 15 years.

But the similarities are nevertheless substantial. The United States and Ethiopia cut short efforts at reconciliation and relied on hyped-up intelligence. 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. Far from advancing an effective strategy against terrorism, the intervention is providing opportunities for terrorist groups to expand their reach.

This new Somalia intervention comes 11 years after the last U.S. troops withdrew from an earlier botched adventure there. It seems to crystallize a new pattern for U.S. military action in Africa: Identify the location of terrorists or regimes that may harbor terrorists, combine selective U.S. military action with support for clients eager to advertise their anti-terrorist credentials, marginalize diplomatic options and leave it to international agencies to pick up the pieces.

As in the Cold War, when African interests took second place to superpower rivalry, concern for the fate of African peoples gets lip service at best. A similar dynamic played out in a less-noticed U.S. intervention in the Sahara and Sahel regions, beginning in 2003. Relying on deceptive intelligence from Algeria, the U.S. military portrayed a hostage taking in southern Algeria as a full-fledged terrorist threat to the entire region, and stepped up U.S. military engagement to train and guide regional militaries in anti-terrorist tactics.

The result, according to Sahara expert Jeremy Keenan, of Exeter University, has been to intensify "anger, frustration, rebellion, political instability, and insecurity across the entire region." Now the United States has turned to Ethiopia, which has fought two wars with Somalia since 1960, to prop up a Somali government. This not only destroyed the brief stability enjoyed by residents of the capital, Mogadishu, under the Islamic courts. It has also strengthened extremists against moderates within the Islamic coalition and mobilized Somali sentiment against the United States and the new regime.

As the Royal Africa Society's Richard Dowden commented in The Independent, of London, that regime, despite nominal international recognition, is led by "one of Somalia's nastiest warlords," Abdullahi Yusuf. Yusuf "has made a pact with the country's age-old enemy. ... Think Oswald Mosley [the British fascist leader] being installed by the Germans as president of Britain in 1940 and you get close to the feeling Yusuf's government inspires in Somalia today."

After Ethiopia's quick military success, Jendayi Frazer, the State Department's top Africa official, is encouraging African Union peacekeeping troops to replace the Ethiopians. She is also advising the new Somali government to seek dialogue with moderate Islamists as well as with clan leaders. Frazer and her colleagues seem unaware that their own policies of fostering the Ethiopian invasion and unleashing air strikes have dramatically reduced the prospects for dialogue.

As in Iraq, short-sighted U.S. policymakers have found it easier to support instant nation breaking than to plan for long-term nation building. If Somalia manages to avoid further anarchy, it is likely to be due not to better U.S. planning, but to the Somali desire for peace and to diplomatic efforts that U.S. action has made more difficult. Recent reports say Washington may soon establish a military command for Africa. Unless policymakers drop the Iraq script from their playbook, this will be counterproductive, both for African security and for U.S. interests.