"American business can assist [African] hands”: the Kennedy administration, US corporations, and the Cold War struggle for Africa

Angelo, Anne-Marie and Davies, Tom Adam (2015) "American business can assist [African] hands”: the Kennedy administration, US corporations, and the Cold War struggle for Africa. Sixties, 8 (2). pp. 156-178. ISSN 1754-1328

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Abstract

While there has been significant historical interest in President Kennedy’s approach to Africa, historians have not considered in-depth how American economic aid to Africa became tied to the expansion of US business involvement on the subcontinent. A close examination of these issues reveals that the Kennedy administration saw the US Agency for International Development (USAID)’s economic aid programs as a critical mechanism for the resolution of America’s balance of export payments problems, and that Kennedy administration officials worked assiduously to bring American corporate interests to bear on questions of African economic development. This essay argues that the Kennedy administration promoted and fostered an environment that encouraged increased American business investment in Africa. This contention emerges from an analysis of the evolution of Kennedy’s views on Africa, including his support for African nationalist aspirations and for economic development and education, and their impact on administration policy. We examine sources from the Kennedy administration and from the papers of G. Mennen Williams, Kennedy’s Undersecretary of State for Africa and in so doing, we argue that the Kennedy administration fostered an approach to Sub-Saharan African economic development that forged a robust relationship between government aid and American business investment. The Kennedy administration’s embrace of the principles of free enterprise heralded a major shift in US relations with Africa. This point is further underscored by our examination of the significant growth of US-headquartered multinational corporations’ investments in Africa during and immediately following Kennedy’s presidency.

Item Type: Article
Keywords: Kennedy; Africa; development; business; USAID; foreign policy; neoliberalism; globalization
Schools and Departments: School of History, Art History and Philosophy > American Studies
School of History, Art History and Philosophy > History
Subjects: E History America
E History America > E151 United States (General) > E0171 History (General)
E History America > E151 United States (General) > E0740 Twentieth century
E History America > E151 United States (General) > E0838 Later twentieth century, 1961-2000
E History America > E151 United States (General)
Depositing User: Anne-Marie Angelo
Date Deposited: 11 Nov 2015 12:56
Last Modified: 08 Mar 2017 06:08
URI: http://sro.sussex.ac.uk/id/eprint/57501

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