John Stremlau. Foreign Affairs. Volume 79, Issue 4. July/August 2000.
Cold War Hot Wars
Following last year’s military interventions in defense of human rights in Kosovo and East Timor, Western leaders proclaimed a new determination to stand up to similar abuses whenever they occur. On one continent, however, warfare still rages unchecked, and far too little is being done about it. Renewed clashes in Sierra Leone and on the Ethiopian-Eritrean border are two recent examples of deadly African conflicts that have killed and displaced millions of people. Yet despite occasional bursts of aid and attention, the United States and Europe have remained largely disengaged. The reasons for their lack of involvement in conflict prevention and peacekeeping there are fairly obvious. War in Africa seems to pose no clear and present danger to U.S. interests. Furthermore, most African conflicts are fought within, not between, states. The international norms, institutions, and political will to intervene in such hard-to-solve conflicts remain inadequate. So do Washingtons defense doctrine, bureaucracy, and budgets, all of which are still dedicated to preventing or settling traditional conflicts between states.
Yet those who argue that Washington and its allies should become more involved in solving Africa’s problems make a powerful case. Africa is a vast continent of 70o million people with abundant natural resources and deep historical and cultural ties to the United States. It is simply too big and too important to be neglected. The question should be not whether, but rather how, to intervene there.
Of course, preventing conflict in Africa is primarily a task for Africans. But the 1990s showed that outside help is needed. The nicesounding nostrum of “African solutions for African problems” became an excuse for neglect, until the images of human suffering in Africa became impossible for the West to ignore-leaving humanitarian relief as the only real option.
There are alternatives, however. Preventing wars, rather than fighting them, has always appealed to American strategists, so long as no vital national interests are compromised. Washington’s greatest foreign policy success-winning the Cold War peacefully through military deterrence and the building of a strong coalition of democracies vindicated the strategy of containing conflicts before they erupt. That strategy should now be adapted for and applied to Africa, where most wars result from bad governance. Weak, authoritarian African governments lack the institutional capacity to manage factional struggles. They exclude majority or minority groups from power and suffer from poverty and gross income inequality. All of these tensions throw off sparks that can start a war.
Any strategy for preventing conflict in Africa must therefore address these fundamental flaws. In deciding how to do that, and how to do it affordably, Washington should remember the Cold War lesson that working closely with democratic partners spreads the burden and gives policies greater legitimacy Although Africa has few ready candidates for such a partnership, the region’s most politically capable and economically advanced state-South Africa-does share key interests and values with the United States. Developing a strategic partnership with Pretoria must therefore become the foundation for conflict prevention and democratic development in Africa.
Such a strategy will require serious U.S. backing for South Africa’s lead. Much more generous engagement by the American government, the business community, and nongovernmental organizations is needed to help develop the economic foundations of South Africa’s new democracy. Only then will South Africa be able to effectively inspire and support democracy elsewhere on the continent. A real partnership based on support and mutual respect-the kind America once created with postwar Europe and Japan-could profit the region tremendously And it would be in Washington’s interests as well. For although the world may have changed since the Cold War, America’s broad goals of preventing conflict and promoting a liberal international order remain the same.
Focusing on these goals in Africa will also help the United States overcome the lingering effects of two of the worst failures of President Clinton’s foreign policy: the 1993 military debacle in Somalia and the failure to prevent the 1994 genocide in Rwanda. Both disasters had a profound impact on Washington. Although the American public and Congress would never tolerate a repeat of the Somalia intervention, unease persists about not having done more to prevent the massacres in Rwanda. Devising a new threshold for intervention, somewhere between the extremes of Somalia and Rwanda, is now necessary. But any new strategy will be easier to sell, both in Africa and in America, if it is seen as part of a broader strategy involving reliable regional partners.
Two Steps Forward, Two Steps Back
War and poverty remain dominant realities in Africa. According to the State Department, last year Africa had more major conflicts than any other continent. Wars causing at least 1,000 battle deaths per year plague Angola, both Congos, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Rwanda, Somalia, and Sudan. Meanwhile, low-intensity conflicts simmer in Burundi, Chad, Djibouti, Senegal, Sierra Leone, and Uganda. And several other countries, notably Nigeria, the region’s most populous, suffer from internal instability that could erupt into greater civil strife. “Preventing such wars,” wrote U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan in an unusually frank May 1998 report, “is no longer a matter of defending states or protecting allies [but] a matter of defending humanity itself:”
Approximately 8.1 million of the world’s 22 million cross-border refugees live in Africa, with many more millions having been displaced within their own countries. An August 1999 global assessment of humanitarian emergencies by the National Intelligence Council paints a very grim picture of the continent, noting that the overall “demand” for humanitarian assistance through 2000 will likely exceed the willingness of major donor countries to respond. Africa is home to 23 of the world’s poorest countries, and an estimated 290 million Africans survive on less than $1 a day. External debt burdens (totaling more than $200 billion), weak governments, and widespread corruption complicate efforts to alleviate poverty. On top of this, another recent National Intelligence Council report estimates that half of the world’s infectious disease deaths take place in Africa, with old and new viruses posing global threats that governments must devise collective means to combat. 11. 5 million Africans have died of AIDS, and in 1998, 70 percent of the world’s new AIDS infections occurred there.
Other trends point in more positive directions. Until the late 1980s Africa’s only functioning multiparty democracies were Botswana, Senegal, tiny Gambia, and the island of Mauritius-and the first three had never managed to produce a change in government. But according to a recent Freedom House survey, 32 of 53 African countries are now either democratic or at least partly free, with elections of varying credibility.
In June 1999, sub-Saharan Africa’s two most important countries celebrated major democratic rituals. President Thabo Mbeki succeeded Nelson Mandela in South Africa, and Nigerians ended 16 years of increasingly repressive military rule by electing Olusegun Obasanjo as president. The two new presidents then teamed up diplomatically in June, successfully persuading the Organization of African Unity to agree to sanction any African government that comes to power by military means.
Meanwhile, Senegal has moved closer to accepting human rights and democracy. In February, Senegal’s High Court took the unprecedented decision to prosecute exiled former President Hissene Habre of Chad for “complicity in acts of torture” following complaints filed against him by several human rights organizations. And a month later, Senegal’s long-serving President Abdou Diouf gracefully accepted defeat as voters ended 40 years of uninterrupted Socialist Party rule.
Economically, the world’s poorest region is also showing some improvement. Negative rates of per capita growth in the 1980s have turned positive, with a three percent rise forecast for this year. More than 30 countries are implementing broad macroeconomic reforms, many for the first time. These include liberalizing trade and investment rules, reducing tariffs, rationalizing exchange rates, ending subsidies, stabilizing currencies, and privatizing state enterprises.
Yet setbacks are still occurring, and these highlight the need for preventive action. President Robert Mugabe’s disregard for the rule of law in Zimbabwe, where he has sought to rewrite the constitution and has condoned both the intimidation of the opposition and the violent appropriation of white-owned farms, is one such example. Another is the renewed violence by warlord Foday Sankoh’s Revolutionary United Front in Sierra Leone, which included the seizure of several hundred predominantly African U.N. troops in a bid to wreck an otherwise promising peacekeeping operation.
What all this means for Washington is that whichever party takes control of the White House early next year will have to take a fresh look at America’s stakes in a changing Africa. To properly plan America’s next move, however, requires understanding its past steps and missteps, starting with those taken by the Clinton administration.
With Friends Like These
Old Africa hands were initially surprised and delighted by the amount of attention Bill Clinton paid to Africa. His original national security adviser, Anthony Lake, was the first Africa expert ever to hold the post. Within weeks of the inauguration, an unprecedented White House Conference on Africa was held to signal a new chapter in U.S.-Africa cooperation. Since then, a steady stream of cabinet-level delegations has gone to Africa at the rate of about one every eight weeks. In March 1998, Clinton made his own unprecedented eleven-day, six-nation tour.
But neither the frequent high-level visits nor special events, such as the first-ever U.S.-Africa Ministerial Meeting, held in March 1999 for representatives from 50 countries, have resulted in major new programs. The main achievement of the ministerial, for example, was a unanimous call for the U.S. Congress to pass the stalled African Growth and Opportunity Act that grants improved U.S. market access to African textiles and other products. Yet it took more than a year for the White House and its allies in Congress to overcome pressure from U. S. textile interests (who were opposed to doubling Africa’s o.8 percent of imports) and pass this modest measure. Given the preferences already enjoyed by Asian textile producers, the reluctance to fill American promises to help create jobs in the world’s poorest region was seen in Africa as another example of U.S. hypocrisy
Today, less than one percent of U.S. trade and investment is with sub-Saharan Africa. Of that, nearly 85 percent goes to just four countries. Three are oil producers-Angola, Gabon, and Nigeria and the other is South Africa. The United States currently gets more than i6 percent of its oil from Africa, and oil accounts for America’s nearly $7 billion trade deficit with the continent. Furthermore, with huge new discoveries in Angola, oil imports from Africa could surpass those from the Persian Gulf by 2010. Washington has rarely seemed to care what is done with the revenues from these sales, which have fueled war in Angola, enriched a corrupt clique in Gabon, and until last year, sustained military repression and horrific corruption in Nigeria. The oil sales also obscure the surplus that the United States runs with the majority of other subSaharan African countries, primarily with South Africa; in 1998 (the last year for which such figures are available) that surplus amounted to $1 billion.
A similar disparity between promises and performance has arisen over peacekeeping. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright and Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Susan Rice often speak about the seriousness of Africa’s wars, calling the conflict in the Congo “one of the most dangerous in the world,” and even comparing it to World War I. But neither their administration nor Congress has been willing to consider more than token funding for U.N. or regional peacekeeping forces, and each has consistently ruled out U. S. troop contributions under any circumstance.
When Secretary of Defense William Cohen visited Africa earlier this year-at the height of diplomatic activity to raise a U.N. force to implement the Lusaka peace accord for the Congo-he told journalists that the United States is “stretched so very thin” militarily that Washington could not be expected to play a role in African peacekeeping missions. Such comments have fueled African cynicism about American claims that Washington is doing all it can to bring peace. The problem is clearly one of will, not means, for any African with access to a television or newspaper knows the scale of the U.S. role in Yugoslavia. African governments are similarly aware that the United States, with 1.4 million armed troops on active duty and an annual defense budget that equals 80 percent of the combined GDPS of all 48 sub-Saharan countries, could do more if it wanted.
To be fair, African leaders have also shown a reluctance to commit to peace operations. Richard Holbrooke, the U.S. Permanent Representative to the U.N., used his time as chair of the Security Council to declare January 2000 “Africa Month” and threw his weight behind resolving the Congo war. But after convening in New York, the key players in the conflict failed to take advantage of the opportunity to work out a peace accord.
Further complicating matters, the Clinton administration’s pledges to support democracy have likewise been dogged by a credibility gap. Part of the problem is historical. Before the end of the Cold War, U.S. policy was aimed primarily at gaining and holding reliable allies, and what went on within those allied states hardly mattered. In the 1980s, the four biggest African recipients of U.S. assistance were three dictators-Samuel Doe of Liberia, Muhammed Siad Barre of Somalia, and Mobutu Sese Seko of Zaire-and the Angolan insurgent Jonas Savimbi. The Clinton administration has tried to distance itself from this past-witness its embrace of a new bloc of leaders in East and Central Africa during the mid-1990s-but to little effect. Those heralded as America’s new partners were Rwanda’s Paul Kagame, Ethiopia’s Meles Zenawi, Eritrea’s Isaias Afwerki, and Uganda’s Yoweri Museveni. Washington hoped these undemocratic but market-oriented strongmen would bring stability to their countries and then liberalize, all the while accepting advice from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank. Yet human rights groups claimed that Washington had merely substituted international economic allegiance for anticommunism as its criterion for support. Currently all four “partners” are at war, Ethiopia and Eritrea with each other and Rwanda and Uganda backing insurgents in the Congo. The lesson learned should be that Washington must from now on apply standards of good governance, not merely economic performance, in choosing its partners, lest it seem to reward repressive and even aggressive behavior.
Money Where Their Mouths Are
A new approach to conflict prevention and democratic development in Africa will require changes in both the substance and tone of American foreign policy The first and easiest step will be rhetorical: the next U.S. president should designate conflict prevention as a primary goal of U.S. foreign policy. This should be followed by a concerted effort to win the support of Congress and the public. The president should call for a truly national commitment, one involving business, labor, and a broad range of civil society.
States at risk, such as Nigeria today or South Africa in the waning days of apartheid, benefit from the involvement of human rights groups and nongovernmental organizations. These groups pressure troubled regimes to reform and to resolve factional differences through political means. American businesses can have a similarly powerful impact, showing their support for peaceful change through their investment decisions, and should be encouraged and backed by Washington to do so.
Internally, the U. S. government should take a number of steps to strengthen its approach to conflict prevention. Better interdepartmental communication and cooperation is necessary, especially between the State and Defense Departments. Early warning is rarely the problem. Rather, as in the case of Rwandan genocide, it is the failure to respond in time and with sufficient force.
Current U.S. political and military programs, such as the African Crisis Response Initiative or the International Military Education and Training Program (IMET), are useful but much too small: Africa’s biggest IMET program, in South Africa, amounted to only $800,000 last year. Funding for these programs must be increased to build their capacity for conflict prevention and peace enforcement while helping to ensure that African militaries remain accountable to civilian authorities. Another urgent reason to work with African militaries is to help them cope with AIDS infection rates that run as high as 50 to 60 percent among some forces-a human tragedy that threatens the viability of Africa’s militaries.
On an organizational level, senior American bureaucrats and embassy personnel should be allowed greater flexibility and resources to initiate preventive diplomacy, including offering to broker domestic disputes and to provide quick support from democracy-building programs. Also necessary is a long-overdue reform of what is left of U. S. foreign assistance, bringing it into line with a foreign policy dedicated to conflict prevention. In a similar vein, the State Department’s public affairs programs and the operations of the United States’ foreign broadcasting services must adopt prevention as a central theme, countering local hate radio that, as in Rwanda, is often a precursor of deadly conflict.
Finally, new funds will have to be found under current U. S. budget caps. This year the United States will spend less than one percent of the federal budget on non-defense-related international affairs about half what the Reagan administration invested in international affairs in the mid-1980s. This country cannot be a good partner, much less a leader, in conflict prevention when it has so little money to spend on it.
Apart from its own efforts, the United States should encourage the World Bank and other international donors to likewise stress conflict prevention in potentially troubled countries. The bank has already made good governance a priority, has embarked on several postconflict reconstruction efforts aimed at avoiding further fighting, and has begun cooperating with U.N. conflict-prevention efforts. But more could be done. International loans should be tied to demands for the protection of human rights, the rule of law, and transparency, while ensuring that they do not exacerbate conflict by favoring one faction over another.
Support for such moves exists in Africa itself Subregional organizations in western and southern Africa are beginning to address abuses of power in Zimbabwe, Sierra Leone, and elsewhere. Such efforts deserve strong U.S. backing. More broadly, this new attitude was evident in May, at the first meeting of the Ministerial Conference on Security, Stability, Development, and Cooperation. The conference arose from a 1991 initiative by Obasanjo, Nigeria’s current president, when he led a group of prominent Africans to adopt a set of human rights and good governance provisions modeled on those of the Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe. Whether the fledgling body will match the CSCE’s achievements, however, remains to be seen.
The Southern Strategy
South Africa is of singular strategic significance to U.S. Africa policy. It is the continent’s most advanced democracy by far, with an economy that accounts for 40 percent of sub-Saharan Africa’s total GDP. Excluding oil imports, 60 percent of U.S. trade with Africa is with South Africa. The late U.S. Commerce Secretary Ron Brown included it in his list of the world’s ten “Big Emerging Markets” vital to America’s economic future. Such faith in the country as the economic engine of Africa appears well placed.
Roughly half of South Africa’s economy depends on trade, and its fastest growing export markets are in Africa. Two-way trade with the rest of the continent shot up 20 percent between 1996 and 1998. The total volume of Pretoria’s Africa trade in 1998 was just under $4 billion, compared to $5.75 billion with its biggest partner that year, the United States. And although South Africa ran trade deficits with industrial countries, it achieved a surplus with Africa of over $2.7 billion-enough to cover its deficits with three of its major trade partners, the United States, the United Kingdom, and Japan. These economic ties to the rest of Africa are vital to Pretoria’s attempt to pull the country out of its apartheid legacy of inequality and unemployment. Although South Africa’s economy grew only one percent in 1999, it is projected to increase by six percent over the next two years as the result of a highly disciplined macroeconomic strategy.
Business and government leaders in South Africa assert that they have only begun to penetrate African markets. Leaders of the country’s newly empowered black business community, drawing on personal networks that date back to the anti-apartheid struggle, claim to be doing especially well in quickly expanding joint ventures across the region. South African companies, which enjoy greater proximity and familiarity with African conditions than their Western competitors, are expanding rapidly in areas of infrastructure development, telecommunications, and mining in Central, West, and North Africa. In 1997, South Africa surpassed the United Kingdom as the biggest exporter to Kenya. And last year, the South African Broadcasting Corporation launched Africa’s first all-Africa 24-hour news service, available to satellite subscribers throughout the continent.
All of this is relevant to conflict prevention, since South Africa now promotes democracy elsewhere to serve its vital interests. Simply put, the rule of law is good for South African business. More important, human rights and democracy are essential for stemming the deadly conflicts that create millions of refugees (many of whom could become a burden to Pretoria), divert and destroy scarce resources, and discredit Africa internationally. When South Africa’s leaders call on governments to hold each other more accountable for their domestic behavior, they make clear that this is not merely a moral issue, nor an effort to export their domestic values. It is what Nelson Mandela called “democratic realism,” noting,
The neglect of human rights is the certain recipe for internal and international disaster. The powerful secessionist movements that are found throughout the world are nurtured by neglect. The erosion of national sovereignty by global forces, from trade to communications, has paradoxically been accompanied by an increase in the means to ensure separateness: the right to differ has, tragically, become the fight to differ.
On balance, Pretoria is living up to its commitments. Earlier this year, Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, South Africa’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, announced that two newly discovered covert slush funds from the apartheid era would be used to strengthen “electoral and conciliation skills for emerging democracies in Africa” with an initial $30 million grant-an amount nearly equal to what the U.S. Congress provides annually to the National Endowment for Democracy Another investment in conflict prevention is the $140 million “lifeline” of emergency loans and credits to help stabilize Zimbabwe’s economy and halt its slide toward authoritarianism and mass violence. Although its leverage in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Angola is more limited, South Africa continues a strenuous diplomatic campaign seeking political, not military, solutions.
Globally, South Africa serves as a key bridge between North and South, promoting human rights and democracy as the chair of several important bodies, including the 113-nation Nonaligned Movement, the Board of Governors of the IMF, the 53-member Commonwealth, and the U.N. Conference on Trade and Development. In recent months, South Africa has sought to forge a coalition with Brazil, Egypt, India, and Nigeria to press for the resumption of world trade talks. South Africa is also the sole African member of the new “Group of 20” initiative proposed by the United States as a way of bringing together major industrial and developing countries.
In less than a decade, South Africa has gone from a pariah state to Africa’s indispensable country. If the United States is to develop a network of politically capable states in Africa to help manage transnational threats such as terrorism, crime, drugs, and the spread of deadly diseases, then South Africa must become its strategic partner and the hub of that network. Yet so far, the U.S.-South African relationship has failed to live up to expectations.
In march 1998 Bill Clinton became the first U.S. president to address the South African Parliament. He used the Sotho term masakane—”working together”—to describe the kind of relationship Washington seeks with Pretoria. This seemed natural given the oft-noted convergence of interests and values between the two countries, and on the surface relations do now appear very close. A 1999 opinion survey by the Chicago Council on Foreign Relations ranked South Africa among the top ten countries that Americans most admire, a view shared by leaders of both parties.
Most U.S. politicians grew up during the civil rights struggles of the 1960s and have a visceral understanding of the enormity of South Africa’s political achievement, as well as the negative effects that images of mass violence there might have had on race relations in America. South Africa’s first universal election in April 1994 thus came as a relief and provided an encouraging contrast to the simultaneous failure of democratization elsewhere. That same month, genocide erupted in Rwanda and within weeks more than half a million civilians there were dead. In the Balkans, NATO aircraft mounted their first attacks in reaction to outbreaks of violent ethnic nationalism.
To show support for democratic South Africa, the United States provided $210 million in foreign assistance in 1995 and launched an extraordinary Binational Commission (BNC), chaired by Vice President Al Gore and South Africa’s then deputy president, Thabo Mbeki. The BNC met every six months and included as many as seven cabinet ministers from each side. Since 1995 a plethora of bilateral committees and subcommittees have met under BNC auspices to discuss problems and propose new initiatives in the areas of trade and investment, education, energy, agriculture, science and technology, defense, and justice. But as with other aspects of U.S. Africa policy, the BNC has so far amounted to more symbolism than substance. It has produced highly publicized protocols, often with useful training and exchange components, but without the financial backing to effectively help South Africa overcome the legacies of apartheid.
By 1998, in fact, South Africans had grown so wary of binational initiatives that are expensive to administer but bring no substantial benefits that they insisted that Clinton’s state visit be billed only as a “goodwill mission.” They had good reason to do so: the U.S. Agency for International Development’s South Africa budget, which pays the U.S. costs of the BNC, had dropped 80 percent, to about $47 million an amount roughly equal to 8 percent of the U.S. trade surplus with South Africa that year. U.S. diplomats blame the budgetary straitjacket imposed by Congress but insist that the bilateral relationship has become a “normal one,” similar to those with America’s major Western partners.
Yet huge differences persist between the two countries, and the U.S.-South Africa partnership has a somewhat shaky foundation. It rests primarily on shared values but does not reflect similar needs or domestic capabilities. The U.S. economy is more than 50 times bigger than South Africa’s and has just a tiny fraction of South Africa’s unemployment rate. White South Africa enjoys a standard of living comparable to Spain’s (24th in the world) whereas black South Africa gets by at the level of the Republic of the Congo (123rd in the world). Crime levels are among the highest anywhere. And the government’s capacity to deal with these and other problems is being severely constrained by the skyrocketing costs and social impact of AIDS, which spreads to 1,700 new individuals each day Meanwhile, South Africa’s 86 percent black majority still owns less than 20 percent of the country’s land. (Such unequal land distribution has inflamed conflict in neighboring Zimbabwe.) Social upheaval in South Africa remains a danger, despite the country’s magnificent political achievements and sound economic policies. Assisting South Africa to reduce this danger should be a top priority of U.S. Africa policy.
The next U.S. administration should issue fewer empty pledges and back a new strategy of more substantial and comprehensive engagement, one involving business, civil society, and state and local governments to support South Africa’s economic and social transformation. This will require returning the country to the centrality in U.S. Africa policy it had during the Reagan administration. Second, the BNC should be broadened and better funded, with more substantial public-private partnerships in such high-priority areas as education, health, crime prevention, micro-enterprise, and rural development. Third, a return to the assistance levels of the mid-1990s is necessary to encourage much greater private-sector and civil-society participation by Americans and South Africans. Such measures hardly seem extravagant when weighed against the basic values and long-term interests America has at stake in South Africa’s democratic success.
A Whole New World
South Africa today is a microcosm of global inequities and is trying to build a decent society against huge odds. It has escaped civil war, but the danger of a slide toward chaos or authoritarianism however slight-must never be discounted. In light of this, U.S. reluctance to more generously help South Africa’s domestic transformation seems dangerously shortsighted.
Substantial new support would be welcomed by Pretoria. South Africa also needs U.S. backing for debt forgiveness elsewhere in Africa, for cheaper access to lifesaving drugs-especially to combat AIDS and for giving developing countries a greater voice in the policy debates of the IMF, the World Bank, and the U.N. (by expanding the Security Council). This would show Pretoria’s critics that tangible benefits can result from a democratic North-South partnership.
South Africa’s call for reform of the U.N. system reflects Mbeki’s vision of a grand global bargain. Under it, developing countries would accept stricter international accountability for human rights and democracy locally, while wealthy nations would agree to broaden governance globally. The U.N. and international financial institutions, whose job it is to define and enforce stricter standards of national accountability, also must become more representative of the world’s people. Until recently, South Africa’s cry to the world was for freedom. Now it warns of the coming challenge: to rein in rising inequities that threaten not only its democracy but also the liberal international order that America is committed to uphold.
Seventy-five years ago, W. E. B. Du Bois wrote that the denial of democracy in Africa and Asia hinders its realization in Europe and America. Today it is no longer the simple creation of democracy in Africa but rather its development and entrenchment that should matter most to Europe and America. Only with lasting democracies especially in South Africa and Nigeria, sub-Saharan Africa’s major powers-will Africa have a realistic chance at conflict prevention. Achieving such democratization in Africa need not take as long or cost as much in blood or treasure as it did in Europe. But it may well, unless the United States and other Western nations realize that their best interests lie in helping Africans find a faster pathway to democracy and peace.