Structure and Scope of the Foreign Relations Series

This volume is part of a subseries of volumes of the Foreign Relations series that documents the most important issues in the foreign policy of the administration of Jimmy Carter. This section on Sub-Saharan Africa is one of three parts of Volume XVII on Africa. The other two parts address the administration’s policy toward the Horn of Africa and toward North Africa. This compilation on Sub-Saharan Africa traces the administration’s handling of events in East, Central, and West Africa. For readers interested in U.S. policy toward southern Africa, the transition toward majority rule, the South African occupation of Namibia, and the role of Cuba in Angola, see Foreign Relations, 1977–1980, Southern Africa, Volume XVI.

Focus of Research and Principles of Selection for Foreign Relations, 1977–1980, Volume XVII, Part 2

The focus of this volume is on the Carter administration’s approach to events in Sub-Saharan Africa in particular. First, the volume addresses the debates within the administration on how to approach the continent as a whole. Memoranda and interagency studies demonstrate that the administration aimed to rethink the U.S. approach toward Africa, but acknowledged its predecessor’s fear of Cuban and Soviet influence in the continent. The volume also includes sections on regions in Sub-Saharan Africa. The chapter on West Africa provides documents that concentrate on the role of Nigeria as a powerful player in African economies and politics, the U.S. response to a Liberian coup that overthrew a long-time U.S. ally, and U.S. relations with the smaller countries in West Africa. The chapter on Central Africa largely focuses on U.S. relations with Zaire, in particular the handling of the two Shaba crises and the recovery of the Zairian economy, as well as on aid and investment in Sudan and parts of the Sahel. Finally, the chapter on East Africa traces the U.S. response to the threatening behavior of Idi Amin in Uganda and the subsequent Tanzanian invasion to overthrow him. At the same time, the United States strengthened its relations with Tanzania and Kenya, in order to further U.S. goals in southern Africa.

The Carter administration’s most important goal in its Africa policy was the transition to majority rule in southern Africa. Further documentation is printed in Foreign Relations, 1977–1980, Volume XVI, Southern Africa. Documentation on the Horn of Africa, including the Eritrean insurgency and the issue of Cuban forces in Angola, is printed [Page VIII] in Foreign Relations, 1977–1980, Volume XVII, Part 1 Documentation on the nations of North Africa and the conflict in the Western Sahara is printed in Foreign Relations, 1977–1980, Volume XVII, Part 3.


The editor wishes, in particular, to acknowledge the assistance of archivists at the Jimmy Carter Library: Ceri McCarron, Brittany Parris, and James Yancey. The editor collected and selected documentation and edited the volume under the supervision of Myra Burton, Chief of the Africa and Americas division, and Adam Howard, General Editor of the Foreign Relations series. Stephen P. Randolph reviewed the volume. Chris Tudda coordinated the declassification review under the supervision of Carl Ashley, Chief of the Declassification Division. Stephanie Eckroth, Thomas Faith, and Heather McDaniel completed the copy and technical editing under the supervision of Mandy A. Chalou, Chief of the Editing and Publishing Division.

Louise P. Woodroofe